Point of Christmas: Thanksgiving Point’s Luminaria is Utah County’s best Christmas pageant ever

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Luminaria begins with a bright walk down the path to the visitors center of the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. The million-dollar, first-time event begins Nov. 21.

Luminaria begins with a bright walk down the path to the visitors center of the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. The million-dollar, first-time event begins Nov. 21. (Photoa by Dave Blackhurst and Matt Bennett/Utah Valley Magazine)

For 20 years, Thanksgiving Point has harvested its best for Utah Valley in all seasons. Springtime tulips? Check. Summertime top-quality golf? Fore!

Dan and Nicole Kelley of Lehi (with daughters Reese, Nora and Mabel) gather at Thanksgiving Point’s S’mores Village, complete with firepits and sugary kits of marshmallows and chocolate.

Dan and Nicole Kelley of Lehi (with daughters Reese, Nora and Mabel) gather at Thanksgiving Point’s
S’mores Village, complete with firepits and sugary kits of marshmallows and chocolate.

Gorgeous fall foliage and family corn-mazery? Guilty.

The local icon, founded by Alan and Karen Ashton in 1995, even sponsored a drive-through Christmas light show that revved its way into families’ holiday traditions since it opened in 2005.

But that tradition is being replaced by the all-new, all-lit “Luminaria: Experience the Light” starting on Nov. 21 and running through the end of the year. The Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point has invested more than a million dollars in creating this  illuminated extravaganza of color and spirit all rolled into one family-friendly festival.

“Karen Ashton always wanted to do lights in the Gardens, but it wasn’t the right time — until now,” says Erica Brown, vice president of marketing at Thanksgiving Point.

Starting at the visitor’s center to the Gardens, Luminaria takes visitors on the path to new traditions by meandering through 27 themed areas, each with a specific look, feel and smell. Holiday food planned and prepared by the expert Thanksgiving Point pastry team (see next page) adds sweetness to the winter experience.

The Light of the World, which officially opened in September, features 14 scenes from the New Testament and one from the Book of Mormon. During Luminaria, more than 600 lanterns and music enhance the bronze statues created by Highland’s Angela Johnson, including this opening scene titled “It Is I, Be Not Afraid.” (Photo by Dave Blackhurst/Utah Valley Magazine)

The Light of the World, which officially opened in September, features 14 scenes from the New Testament and one from the Book of Mormon. During Luminaria, more than 600 lanterns and music enhance the bronze statues created by Highland’s Angela Johnson, including this opening scene titled “It Is I, Be Not Afraid.” (Photo by Dave Blackhurst/Utah Valley Magazine)

The Luminaria’s greatest gift to attendees will undoubtedly be the Light of the World sculpture garden, highlighting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ with lanterns and selected music at each larger-than-life story.

Luminaria has been years in the making and features the work of Oak Island Creative out of St. Louis, which has also partnered with Six Flags, Anheuser-Busch, Paramount and Colonial Williamsburg.

Topping off the experience — and the hilltop — is a 132-foot Christmas tree on the Tree Top Summit, with 8,000 programmable luminaria offering a gentle hello and goodbye.

Tickets, which are purchased for a specific date and time to manage crowds, are available at thanksgivingpoint.org. General admission for adults is $20. Children (3-12) are $17.

Meet the face between the sweet treats (cinnamon rolls included) at Luminaria here.

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