This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019
Thanksgiving Point has just introduced ‘Luminaria: Experience the Light’, and it may very well become one of your family Christmas traditions! Luminaria is a grand celebration of light and color. Imagine, if you will, 8000 colored luminarias covering a long slope and leading up to a 132-ft tall Christmas tree. Now…add the fact that these luminarias are programmable lights, and each is a pixel in moving pictures of Christmas symbols — reindeer, poinsettias, and more. It’s fantastic! You get to stroll a one-mile walk through a completely transformed Winter Wonderland.
The Grand Allee…covered in luminarias
And there’s so much more! When I was visiting in August, the Ashton Gardens staff was already beginning to set up for this event. Poinsettia Place, Candy Cane Lane, Reindeer Woods, and S’Mores Village for a start. There’s a nativity scene and lanterns at the Light of the World exhibit. Interactive games entertain kids of all ages.
Review of Luminaria
My daughter lives in Lehi, UT where Luminaria takes place. She was invited to attend a media preview with her family, and she has written about their experience:
Thanksgiving Point’s Luminaria was a great way to start the Christmas season – we truly felt like we were part of something magical! The spectacular lights, music, and even smells transported us to a Christmas land. With real live reindeer, hot cocoa, hand warming stations, games for children, fires for roasting s’mores, and a beautiful tribute to the true meaning of Christmas, this is definitely an event for the whole family.
It was absolutely magical! My camera couldn’t really do it justice. At some parts of the gardens they piped evergreen and peppermint smells into the air. I don’t know how they did it. But it was like LEGIT MAGICAL. I cried and I laughed and it felt like CHRISTMAS for the first time in years. There was also a 30-ft tall snowman where you could take photos. The Light of the World garden had lanterns floating everywhere. It was so peaceful!
I wondered if it would be easy to get lost here at night, but there’s just one path and it’s lined with staff who direct you where to go. There are occasional hand-warming stations and some firepits, too. All paths are wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Then, I asked my daughter about admission prices…
It’s hard to spend more than an hour there because it’s so cold, and if I hadn’t been invited, I don’t think I could afford to pay $20/adult and $17 for a 3-yr old. I am so glad I was able to go because it was really amazing; I loved it! But $57 for one hour of family fun is pretty steep.
It’s true. The prices are $20 for adults and $17 for youth 3-12 for basic admission. (Pre-sale tickets were sold at a $3 discount during the month of October). There are premium packages that include extras, like a glow necklace, bottomless mug of hot chocolate, hand warmer, and more (starting at $29). You can also rent a fire pit for your group (with s’more kits for 8 included) for $100 for an evening. Ashton Gardens has invested over a million dollars creating this extravaganza of lights. Its continued success may be dependent on charging these prices.
There are several locations where you can purchase food. A sampling includes cinnamon rolls for $3.75, 12 donuts for $5.00, hot chocolate for $2.50, s’more kits for two are $3.75, and a sugar cookie is $3.00.
If you happen to have a Thanksgiving Point membership, you can attend a sneak preview of Luminaria for only $10.00 during a few days in November. Another fun way to see Luminaria is to buy a Luminaria Weekender package. It includes a one-night stay, two VIP Premiere Luminaria adult tickets, and VIP parking for $149 (listed as a $220 value).
If you, like my daughter, feel like it’s still a little too much to pay, there actually is a way to go free. You can volunteer to help as a guide for four shifts (about six hrs each) and you will receive four Luminaria tickets and four Thanksgiving Point Explorer Passes (24-hr admission to Thanksgiving Point’s four venues: Ashton Gardens, Farm Country, Museum of Ancient Life, and Museum of Curiosity)…plus a few extra bonuses like a tote bag, glow necklace, and bottomless hot chocolate mug.
I think some kind of family admission pass might be in order here. Perhaps Thanksgiving Point will consider that option for subsequent years. I’m one who would like to see ‘Luminaria: Experience the Light’ continue after this year and become a new Christmas tradition for all who live in Utah Valley or even Salt Lake County, as well as those who are visiting Utah for the holidays.
Who can’t use a little more MAGIC in their lives at Christmas time?
- Be sure to dress warm and wear comfortable shoes or boots.
- Plan to spend one to 1 1/2 hours.
- It is best to buy tickets in advance because they are sold by time slot. Walk-ins are not guaranteed to be able to purchase tickets during busy hours.
- Guest Service Team available to answer any questions you may have about visiting Luminaria at 801.768.2300