Neither construction nor the continuing COVID-19 pandemic kept the holiday lights from switching on at downtown Salt Lake City’s Temple Square.
Starting Friday night, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled a limited version of its traditional Yuletide lights display around its landmark Salt Lake Temple — which is in the middle of a four-year seismic upgrade and renovation project.
Areas on the west side of Temple Square, around the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall, are open to the public this holiday season. So are the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the reflecting pool east of the temple, the Relief Society Building, the Church Administration Building and the Beehive House.
International Nativity scenes are being displayed near the Assembly Hall, on the square’s southwest corner.
A new presentation of the Nativity story, “Peace on Earth,” is being projected on the ceiling of the Tabernacle. The four-minute presentation is billed as a child-friendly version of the story of Jesus’ birth, deploying shadow graphics, narration and a musical underscore.
“Peace on Earth” is shown every 15 minutes — alternating between English and Spanish — from 4:30 to 10 every night during the holiday season. The church is making images and audio from the presentation available, through TempleSquare.org, so people can incorporate this version of the Nativity story into their home observances.
Last year, because of the construction and concerns about drawing crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic, the square was closed to pedestrian traffic during the holidays. Some light displays were visible from the square’s perimeter and in an online presentation.
Friday’s debut of the Temple Square lights was part of a busy Black Friday evening downtown. Shoppers flocked to City Creek Center, across the street from Temple Square, to buy gifts and take in another tradition — the candy windows at Macy’s, which were unveiled last week.
The Utah Jazz hosted the New Orleans Pelicans at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday night. Also, the singing trio Gentri performed a Christmas concert at the Eccles Theater, and Orem-born pop-rock band The Aces put on a show at The Depot.