Embracing the Magic of Park City Utah for Christmas

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Some of my absolute favorite memories from my childhood were from our family ski trips.  Combine a family ski trip with Christmas and you’ve got a magical combination. I tell people over and over again that for Christmas I’d pick a ski vacation over any other trip EVERY TIME!  

Park City is unique among most other locations because it has an amazing set-up for convenience, accessibility, and family friendliness.  It’s also been named one of the top small towns to visit at Christmas.

Photo courtesy Park City Chamber/ Bureau

Why Park City is great for Christmas

Here are a few things that make Park City, Utah an especially great place to spend Christmas in 2019. It’s a fantastic town that’s designed for easy vacations, especially for family ski trips.

1. Close to the airport.

If you spend Christmas in Park City Utah, you’re only about 35 minutes from Salt Lake International Airport.  That means that you can get off the plane and get straight to the slopes without wasting more travel time. In fact, it’s so close to the airport that you can just grab a shuttle to your hotel and use the free in-town shuttle in Park City, or make a weekend trip from Salt Lake to visit.

2. Free Shuttle

Photo courtesy Park City Chamber/ Bureau

Take my advice and just don’t rent a car when you come to Park City unless you plan to go explore Salt Lake or Midway (and I highly recommend both at Christmas).  Between driving in the snow, paying for parking and dealing with traffic on icy days, having a car when you ski in Park City really just isn’t worth it. When you’re in Park City, just take the free shuttle that goes all over town for most of your travel needs.  The shuttle is awesome, and if you have kids, they’ll probably become quite obsessed with it as mine have!

3. Historic Main Street is just off the slopes

Photo courtesy Park City Chamber/ Bureau

Main Street is the perfect place to unwind after a day of skiing. It’s a great place to shop, grab a treat (Java Cow is one of our faves), and if you want to make a night of it, grab some dinner at a local restaurant and enjoy the simplicity of just walking home!  

4. Chairlift access in the middle of town

How many towns can say that you can ski right into downtown?!?  This is one of my absolute favorite things about Park City because it makes the entire town feel like a ski-in ski-out place to stay.  When you’re ready to hit the slopes in the morning, just hit the town lift and you’re skiing right away. Head here for discount lift tickets to Park City.

5. Huge variety of lodging options

Park City really does have it all in terms of lodging, so you can find something that suits every travel style and budget.  This is great, especially if you’ve got a group of family or friends who are traveling together for Christmas. Many Airbnb hosts decorate for Christmas, so if you’re looking to rent a home with a Christmas tree, that shouldn’t be too hard to find!

We absolutely LOVE staying in Airbnb’s when we travel and some of our favorite Airbnb’s in Park City are this stylish townhome that sleeps 7, this cute condo in Prospector Square, and this rental that feels like a lodge.

6. Great activities to do on NON-SKI days

Photo courtesy Park City Chamber/ Bureau

No matter how much you love to ski, the reality is that on a family ski vacation, you’re going to be doing more than just skiing, so choosing a location with several other activities is really important.  Especially at Christmas, the slopes can get really crowded, so plan on doing a variety of activities in Park City at Christmastime. Here are some great things to do on your non ski days in Park City.  

  • Head out for a sleigh ride in Park City.
    There are several different options for sleigh rides in Park City and most of them are in the evening.  Several sleigh rides in Park City include dinner.  
  • Go snowmobiling in Park City.
    If your family didn’t get enough speed and adventure while you were out skiing, you absolutely need to head out for a day of snowmobiling.  
  • Go sledding in Park City.
    If you’re coming to Park City, sledding is an absolute MUST!  NOt only because it’s incredibly fun, but also because it’s incredibly CHEAP (or free).  The best sledding hills in Park City are at the Park City Ice Rink and behind the Middle School (go after school hours, please).  Sleds are cheap and can be picked up at sporting goods stores or Walmart, and some hotels even have sleds you can borrow. If you’re looking for a facility that offers sledding, head over to Soldier Hollow in Midway (about 20 minutes away) where you can get tubes as well as be towed back up the hill.  
  • Go to the Ice Castles in Midway.
    The Midway Ice Castles are a truly unique and exciting experience for kids young and old.  Located at the Homestead Resort, the Midway Ice Castles have twisting tunnels, ice sculptures, fountains, and even ice slides meant for racing, it’s one of the coolest things you can do around Park City.  While you’re over there, you should also plan on going swimming in the geothermal crater at the Homestead Resort for an absolutely amazing swimming experience. 

7. Ski terrain for all abilities

Photo courtesy Park City Chamber/ Bureau

When you ski in Park City, you will literally find something for everyone, because this is just SO MUCH TERRAIN. If you’re planning on teaching your own kids to ski, make sure to READ THIS. Between Deer Valley and Park City (the largest ski resort in the US), the terrain options seem endless. Are you looking for the best ski runs at Deer Valley or the best ski runs at Park City?  We’ve got you covered – Get discount lift tickets for park city resorts here.  Go here for discount lift tickets to Park City.

  • Best Beginner Terrain at Park City: First Time Lift and run, as well as High Meadow at the Canyons base area.
  • Best Intermediate Terrain at Park City:  Canyons base area, specifically Saddleback lift and most of the runs east of Tombstone lift. 
  • Best Expert Terrain at Park City:  Jupiter Lift and Bowl, Super Condor Express at the Canyons side.
  • Undoubtedly the best expert terrain at Park City is accessed off the Jupiter Lift.  Up there you’ll find lots of 
  • Best Beginner Terrain at Deer Valley: Quincy lift, Ontario and Bandana runs.  
  • Best Intermediate Terrain at Deer Valley: Keno and Nabob runs, as well as Steins Way.   
  • Best Expert Terrain at Deer Valley:  Ruins of Pompeii and Mayflower Chutes

What should I wear during winter in Park City?

Come prepared ready for cold and lots of snow. While the weather can easily change from day to day, you’ll want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately, because if you’re cold and wet you’ll have a miserable trip. If you’ve got kids, check out these articles to get them the best gear for winter weather (all tested out by my 5 kids):

The Best Snow Boots for Kids
The Best Coats for Kids
The Best Gloves and Mittens for Kids
The Best Base Layers for Kids

Christmas Activities in Park City

You’ll find no shortage of great Christmas activities in Park City. While there are some that are best for adults, most of the Christmas activities in Park City Utah are great for all ages. Here are a few of our favorite seasonal activities that you can do all season long:

The North Pole Express at Heber Valley Railroad

A magical time with Santa on board the North Pole Express train ride.  Let the magic of Christmas come alive onboard Utah’s version of the Polar Express. The trip is 90 minutes total and all passengers get hot cocoa, cookies, a souvenir ticket, and a special gift from Santa.  Live entertainment is provided all along the route. The North Pole Express train runs from November 23-December 23, and you can purchase tickets here.  

Christmas Lights at Temple Square

Temple Square is only about 25 minutes from Park City and lights up the grounds with over 1,000,000 lights.  In addition to the intricate lights, there are frequent performances and events. Find the full Temple Square schedule here.  

While you’re at Temple Square, head next door to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to visit the Giving Machines.  These popular vending machines help you to donate things to people in need both locally and around the world.

Just across the street, is the City Creek Mall.  Parking here is free for the first 2 hours and it’s the best place to park to see the lights at Temple Square.  Make sure to check out the candy window displays at Macy’s, which are sure to impress you with their detail and creativity!

Midway Ice Castles

The Midway Ice Castles are an absolutely magical and unique Christmastime experience.  Enjoy exploring the ice castles, crawling through the ice tunnels, and even racing down the ice slides.  I recommend going around 4:30pm so you can see the ice castles in both the day and night! While you’re in Midway, I recommend a swim in the Homestead Crater and a ride on the North Pole Express Train,    

Christmas Events in Park City

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the scheduled Christmas festivities in Park City, here are some of the main events happening around town:

November 29
Tree Lighting ceremony at the Canyons Village

Join the community for the lighting of the giant tree at Canyons Village.  Get the Christmas started the right way, and celebrate Black Friday with some LIGHT!  There are local vendors, crafts for sale, photos with Santa, and even fireworks!

November 30, 4-7pm
Park City Electric Parade

The Park City Electric Parade is small-town Christmas at its finest!  Join the community as people decorate floats and even the family car for a parade down Main Street.   The party starts at 4pm, and the parade’s official kick-off is at 6pm.

December 13, 14 at 7:30 and December 15 at 6:00
Park City Holiday Spectacular Sing-A-Long at the Egyptian Theater

A Park City classic, this sing-a-long features local talent and the community joining together in song.  The sing-a-long usually sells out, so advance tickets are recommended and are available from the Egyptian Theater. 

December 18-20 at 8pm
Christmas With The Celts at The Egyptian Theater

Come enjoy some Irish Dancers mixed with contemporary Christmas music and traditional Irish Carols. Advance tickets recommended and can be purchased from the Egyptian Theater

December 20-January 5
Snowfest at Park City Mountain Resort

Daily activities for the family are the highlight of Snowfest at Park City Resort.  Make sure to stop by for music, entertainers and more. For a detailed schedule, go here. 

December 21 at 2 and 5:30pm
Ballet West’s Nutcracker at The Eccles Center For The Performing Arts

Enjoy the classical Nutcracker ballet performed by Ballet West, right in Park City.  Advance tickets can be purchased here.

December 21, 5:30pm
Santa Comes Down Town Lift

Every year, Santa makes a magical ride down the Town Lift. This year on December 21, join the community to welcome Santa into downtown Park City.  Events start at 5:30. 

December 21 at 8pm and December 22-25 at 6pm
Kurt Bestor at The Egyptian Theater

Local musician Kurt Bestor performs holiday favorites as well as his originally composed music.  Tickets can be purchased at The Egyptian. 

December 23, 7pm
It’s A Wonderful Life Film at Park City Film

Is it even Christmas without George Bailey?  Come enjoy the free screening of It’s a Wonderful Life at Park City Film.

December 24, Dusk
Park City Mountain Torchlight Parade

Come to Park City Mountain Resort for the 57th annual torchlight parade as the mountain is lit up by skiers holding flames and flares.

December 30, 6pm
Deer Valley Torchlight Parade

Deer Valley holds its annual torchlight parade on December 30 every year.  This event starts at dusk and includes complimentary hot cider and cookies at the Snow Park Plaza. 

December 31, 7pm
New Years Eve at Park City Mountain Resort

If you’re looking to ring in the new year with style, head to Park City Resort on December 31.  The New Years’ Eve Party takes place in the Kokopelli Ballroom at the Grand Summit and is an all-ages event, concluding with a giant fireworks display.    

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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