A unique exhibit of nativity sets from around the world conveys the universal message of Christmas, while music by performing groups from across the state adds a warm and personal Arizona feel to the annual Mesa Temple Garden Christmas lights display, called Celebrate the Life of Christ in Lights and Music.

With hundreds of thousands of lights hung in interesting patterns throughout the beautiful gardens, adorning the ground-level flower gardens to the palm trees high over head, the stunning display is recognized as one of the most magnificent in the Southwest, attracting some one million visitors each year.

The lights serve as the perfect backdrop for the free outdoor concerts that are presented each night. In addition, visitors enjoy the large outdoor nativity display and the life-size replicas depicting Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem and showing the Biblical prophet Isaiah, who prophesied of Christ’s birth.

Inside the adjacent Visitors’ Center the exquisite international nativity display features nativities from across the United States and all over the world, including large sets by well-known artists and a unique collection of miniatures. Also in the Visitors’ Center is a 13-foot replica of the original Christus sculpture, other exhibits and dioramas, and a 10-minute film about the birth of Christ.    

The Mesa Arizona Temple Garden Christmas lights display, now in 30th year, has become a yearly tradition for families from across the state and is a popular holiday tourist attraction as well.

Started as a gift to the community by local leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the display has grown to be the largest known volunteer-driven Christmas lights display, with more than 10,000 volunteer hours going into its creation each year.

The opening ceremony and official lighting will be Friday, November 27 at 7 p.m. Artist Angela Johnson, who is known for her inspiring sculptures of Christ, will flip the switch to light this year’s display.

Following the lighting ceremony, the gardens will be lit from 5:30 until 10 p.m. each subsequent night through New Years’ Eve, January 1, 2010. The free half-hour concerts, featuring a variety of groups and musical styles, will be presented at 7 p.m. each evening, through December 31. On some nights, two concerts will be presented, one at 6 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. For a complete list of this year’s performers, visit www.mesachristmaslights.com.


 

There is no charge for any portion of the event: the outdoor display and all of the Visitors’ Center attractions are free. During the weeks of the lights display, the Visitors’ Center, which is typically open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., will open at 10 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. each day.

The Mesa Arizona Temple and Visitors’ Center, located at 525 E. Main Street, has free parking available in adjoining parking lots or on neighboring streets.

For more information about the Mesa Temple Garden Christmas Lights, see www.mesachristmaslights.com. To inquire about photo opportunities, please contact Cecily Markland at 480-507-6570 or by e-mailing writeone@cox.net.