Last revised: May 27, 2023
By: Adam Burns
Utah is truly home to one of the best kept secrets in tourist railroading, the Heber Valley Railroad in Heber City. This community is located about 28 miles northeast of Provo and offers guests a beautiful train ride through the Heber Valley and along the Provo River. More information about their Christmas-themed train rides may be found further below.
Utah is a breathtaking place to celebrate Christmas with its beautiful mountain chains like the Uintas, Wasatch, and Oquirrhs in addition to many open valleys and tributaries. The state offers many exciting holiday events that the entire family can enjoy.
From dazzling light displays to festive parades, there's something for everyone in Utah. If you are interested in experiencing Christmas in other ways besides aboard the Heber Valley Railroad here are some of the state's most popular annual events.
Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color is an enchanting holiday light display that is sure to dazzle visitors of all ages. The event takes place in South Jordan, Utah, and features over a million colorful lights that are synchronized to music. Visitors can drive through the display in their cars while listening to the holiday tunes. There are also food trucks and vendors on site, as well as a Santa photo op.
The Christkindlmarkt is a traditional German Christmas market held annually in Salt Lake City. The event is held at This Is the Place Heritage Park and features over 50 vendors selling handmade crafts, gifts, and German food. There are also live performances, a petting zoo, and horse-drawn wagon rides. This event is perfect for families who want to experience a traditional European Christmas market.
Ogden Christmas Village
Ogden Christmas Village is a holiday wonderland located in downtown Ogden. The village features a train display, holiday lights, and live entertainment. There are also free horse-drawn carriage rides and visits with Santa Claus. The event is free to attend, making it an affordable option for families.
Luminaria is a magical holiday light display located at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. The event features over a million lights that create a stunning walk-through display. Visitors can also enjoy hot cocoa, s'mores, and other holiday treats. Luminaria is a unique and memorable experience that the whole family will love.
Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees is an annual event held in Salt Lake City. The festival features over 800 decorated Christmas trees that are available for purchase. All of the proceeds from the festival go to support Primary Children's Hospital. In addition to the trees, there are also live performances, a holiday boutique, and visits with Santa Claus.
Christmas on Temple Square
The Temple Square Lights are a beloved holiday tradition in Salt Lake City. The lights on the Salt Lake Temple and surrounding buildings create a stunning display. Visitors can also enjoy live performances, free concerts, and holiday decorations. This event is free to the public and is a beautiful way to celebrate the season.
ZooLights is a popular holiday event at Utah's Hogle Zoo. The zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with over a million twinkling lights. Visitors can enjoy hot cocoa, s'mores, and holiday treats while wandering through the zoo. There are also live performances, crafts, and visits with Santa Claus. This event is perfect for families who want to enjoy the holiday lights and animals at the same time.
In conclusion, Utah offers a variety of exciting Christmas events that are perfect for the entire family. From dazzling light displays to traditional holiday markets, there's something for everyone in Utah. So gather your loved ones, bundle up, and enjoy the holiday magic that Utah has to offer!
(Heber City): The North Pole Express takes kids on a magical ride to see Santa. During the trip they can listen to choir-performed Christmas songs, play games, enjoy refreshments, and take in the beautiful scenery. The train is hosted during select dates from late November until just before Christmas.
The Heber Valley Railroad is Utah's only heritage railroad; it maintains 13.6 miles of the ex-Denver & Rio Grande Western's old Provo Canyon Branch between Heber City and Vivian Park (originally the line extended 25.5 miles from the main line at Provo to Heber City).
The route offers some spectacular scenery within the Provo River Canyon which draws folks back year after year.
When not down for restoration or the mandatory 1,472-day inspection you can ride behind one of two 2-8-0 "Consolidations," Union Pacific #618 or Great Western Railway #75.
They also feature one other steamer on display; Columbia Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) 0-6-0 #300 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925. Check out their website to learn more about all of the trips and packages the railroad has to offer.