Mesa Temple Christmas Lights will be on 5-10 p.m. each evening from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2023. Come and enjoy a wonderful feeling of peace and Christmas enchantment at the Mesa Temple & Visitors’ Center. See the Christmas lights and feel the spirit of Christmas at the International Nativity Display. All activities are open to the public, free of charge, and family friendly.
The lights are on every night, 5-10 p.m., from Friday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Dec. 31, on the north lawn of the Mesa Arizona Temple, 101 S. LeSueur, in downtown Mesa. Free parking is available nearby.
Celebrate the original Christmas story by visiting the Mesa Temple International Nativity Display — with more than 100 nativities from around the world. We invite you to explore the Christmas story as you witness inspiring works of art depicting Christ’s birth. Open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. each evening from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31 at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E. Main St. (just west of the temple grounds on the corner of LeSueur and Main Street).
In Remembrance Of Me - Murals Of Christ
Come and see the murals that commemorate the life and works of Christ at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center. On this tour, you will see floor-to-ceiling murals reminding us of the miraculous gifts the Savior offers. The Visitors’ Center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the holiday season. Guided and self-guided tours are available.
Arizona Giving Machines
What is a Giving Machine? This vending machine is full of service items needed by selected Arizona charities and 100% of the funds collected go directly to the donated items and the receiving charities. Check back here for 2023 locations in Arizona. Those unable to visit a machine in person can still participate by making an online donation at LightTheWorld.org/give.
"And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God."
Want to know more about what the Book of Mormon says about Jesus Christ's birth and ministry?
Hours and parking
Christmas Light Hours: Dusk to 10:00 p.m. daily
Visitors’ Center Holiday Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily
Christmas Nativity Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily
Frequently Asked Questions
When is it?
The lights are on every night, 5-10 p.m., from Friday, Nov. 24, though Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. Guests are also invited to enjoy the Mesa Temple grounds during the day and the Visitors’ Center across the street during holiday hours, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. A unique display of international nativities from around the world is hosted inside the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center. The event is free and open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights event, Nov. 24-Dec. 31.
Where is it?
On the north lawn of the Mesa Temple, 101 S. LeSueur, on Main Street between LeSueur and Hobson, in downtown Mesa.
Where can I park?
Free parking may be available in the city’s Park and Ride lot at the northeast corner of Mesa Drive and Main Street just north of the Mesa Temple Visitors Center.
Visitors also encouraged to travel to the temple grounds via Valley Metro’s Light Rail System. Light rail park and ride locations are found at Gilbert and Main, Dobson and Main and other locations along the Light Rail route. A Light Rail stop is located just west of the Mesa Temple.
Schedule: RAIL Valley Metro Rail | Valley Metro
PLEASE NOTE: There is a lighted crosswalk at the corner of LeSueur and Main Street from the stop to the lighting event. Please use the crosswalk for your safety.
Is there a Valley Metro Light Rail stop near the temple?
Yes, a light rail stop is located just west of the Mesa Temple grounds near the corner of Main Street and Mesa Drive. From there, it is a short walk to the lighting event. On Friday and Saturday evenings there will be no charge on Main Street from Gilbert Road to Sycamore in Mesa.
For more info, please check: RAIL Valley Metro Rail | Valley Metro
PLEASE NOTE: There is a lighted crosswalk at the corner of LeSueur and Main Street from the rail stop to the lighting event. Please use the crosswalk for your safety.
What else is going on in downtown Mesa during the Christmas lights event at the temple?
International Nativity Display, International Nativity Display at Visitors’ Center during Christmastime – MesaTemple.org. Enjoy more than 100 nativities from around the world from 5-10 p.m. inside the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E. Main St. Free admission.
The city of Mesa and local businesses have events all along the light rail route downtown, including music, vendors, food, an ice-skating rink, holiday activities, and more!
Jack Frost’s Food Truck Forest, Merry Main Street. Start (or end) your journey along Merry Main Street at Jack Frost’s Food Truck Forest at Pioneer Park, 526 E. Main St., on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Holiday Happenings at the MAC, www.mesaartscenter.com. The internationally acclaimed MesaArts Center comes alive with shows throughout the holidays. Calendar here: Calendar – Merry Main Street.
Mesa Santa Express, HOME | mesasantaexpress. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 9-10 and Oct.16-17, in a special Light Rail car, children and adults will sing songs, enjoy cookies, and, best of all, meet Santa! Children are invited to wear pajamas and enjoy the season in this child-friendly and festive tradition. Free, but riders need a ticket.
Mesa Christmas Market, www.mesachristmasmarket.com. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 9-10and Oct. 16-17, local vendors in outdoor festive pop-up shops feature food, handcrafted items, and live performances.
Merry Main Street, Merry Main Street. Enjoy many holiday activities downtown each evening, kicking off 5-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24. This fun, family event includes:
Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, Merry Main Street. Located at the new Plaza at Mesa City Center, the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink is a great way to enjoy the amazing winter weather while skating under the stars.
Mesa’s Christmas Tree, Merry Main Street. This 40-foot-tall tree is Mesa’s official Christmas tree. Check it out on Macdonald north of Main Street and experience the magic of the season…and take a few photos while you’re there.
Visits With Santa, Merry Main Street. FREE visits with Santa Friday and Saturday evenings. Bring your cell phone or camera for pictures.
Mesa’s Menorah, Merry Main Street. Mesa’s official Menorah is a sleek, modern 12-foot-tall candelabrum. It will be set on North Macdonald and lit each night of Hanukkah.
Is there disability parking?
Special needs parking in the lot directly east of the north temple grounds on Hobson; parking attendants will assist visitors.
There are handicapped parking spaces in the south parking lot of the temple grounds, but these will only be available for temple patrons until after 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. They are open all day Sunday-Monday.
What if I come by bus?
A spot for drop off and pick up from busses is located on Hobson, on the east side of the temple grounds.
Are certain nights more crowded than others?
The weekends are typically more crowded, as well as Mondays and Wednesdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best evenings to visit. Any night after 8 p.m., attendance is usually lighter.
Is it free?
Yes, there is no charge to attend the lighting event on the Mesa Temple grounds or for the nativity display in the Visitors’ Center across the street.
Can anyone come?
Absolutely! Everybody is welcome to attend.
Does the Mesa Temple have a Visitors’ Center?
Yes, while visits inside the temple are reserved for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center is located directly across the street on the northwest corner and is open to all! Learn about Mesa’s culturally diverse history, enjoy interactive areas for children and teens, find a listing of local service projects, see a 3D model of the Mesa Temple, watch a gospel-related video, access family history research resources, and much more! Open during the holidays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 25-Jan. 1.
Does the lighting event accommodate strollers and wheelchairs?
Yes, the wide pathways are cement and gravel and should accommodate strollers and wheelchairs.
Who can help me if I have questions or lost items, people at the event?
There will be hosts on the grounds throughout the evening to help assist visitors – you’ll find them if you look for those wearing red badges. They can also help if you have a lost item or become separated from someone in your party.
Where do I find lost children or other family members?
If you’re separated from someone in your party, please find them in the square green grass “Safe Zone” area located just north of the steps on the north side of the temple (please see map).
Will restrooms be provided?
Restroom trailers will be located on LeSueur, between the temple and the Visitors’ Center.
Are there any other Christmas activities at the Mesa Temple?
A unique display of international nativities from around the world is hosted inside the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E. Main, just west of the north lawn of the temple grounds. The event is free and opens 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights event, Nov. 24-Dec. 31.
The History of Christmas Lights at the Mesa Temple
“Our mission is to humbly and worthily create sacred Christmas displays, music and lights, which reflects the beauty and integrity of the Temple, inviting all people to feel Christ’s spirit.”
Mesa Temple Christmas Lights Mission
For more than four decades, the lighting of the Mesa Arizona Temple gardens has been a holiday tradition for many who come to enjoy the lights and feel the spirit of this sacred place.
Over time, what had started out as a small display of lights, has grown to become one of the largest Christmas lighting events in the Southwest, recently drawing more than 1.5 million people during the holiday season.
The event started in 1979 when Mesa Temple President L. Harold Wright envisioned that lighting the temple grounds could be a “gift to the community.”
In its first season, the display included 5,000 clear and blue lights, centered around the visitors’ center roof and the reflecting pool where electrical outlets were available.
Display Grows Over The Years
For 15 years, Murray and Nordessa Coates were assigned the task of developing, designing, and directing the lighting celebration and helped it grow each year.
Lights covered trees and shrubs and even tall palm trees. Early on, men climbed the palms to place the lights, and “cherry pickers” were later used to reach the trees that were as high as 65 feet.
In 1985, when a new sprinkler system was installed in the temple gardens, underground electrical lines were added to make more outlets available so lights could be placed throughout the gardens.
Event Called a "Must-See Extravaganza"
A live nativity scene –with a camel, sheep, and other animals – was part of the presentation in 1984 and again in 1985. That same year, ABC’s television morning show, Good Morning America, called the lighting of the Arizona Temple gardens one of three “must-see” holiday lighting extravaganzas in the United States.
Music was added to the celebration and various local musicians began giving nightly concerts. The groups, representing a variety of cultures and musical styles, include families, school and church choirs, and private ensembles from all over Arizona.
By the early 1990s, more than 300,000 lights adorned the temple grounds, dangling from tall palm trees, wrapped tightly around tree trunks hanging from branches, clustered in bouquet-like arrangements covering flower beds and low walls.
Chartered buses filled with visitors from around the Valley congregated at the temple to witness the display each night. Even when the temple wasn’t on the specified route, some bus drivers were known to adjust their course, just so their passengers could get a glimpse of the spectacular sight.
Biblical Vignettes Tell Story of Christ’s Birth
On the grounds are a variety of displays designed to tell the story of Christ’s birth, including a large outdoor crèche underneath a star with nearly 15,000 lights, a shepherd’s field, Mary and Joseph figurines, the prophet Isaiah, and three lighted wise men with their camels.
In the early 2000s, Julie McFarland of Mesa, who, with her husband, Kirt, were serving as lighting directors when they were inspired by the cover of the December 2000 issue of The Ensign which featured a painting, “The Road to Bethlehem,” by Joseph Brickey.
“We wanted to add something more spiritual to the grounds,” said Julie. “This painting seemed to capture the quiet nature of that moment.”
The figurines are the work of artist and sculptor Rennie Godfrey of Safford, Ariz., and debuted on the temple grounds in 2005. Rennie said she spends much time researching and is meticulous in the details: she covers the sheep with real sheep pelts, the donkey’s tail is made of horse’s hair, she inserts eyelashes and hair with a needle, hand-dyes fabrics with natural products and secures items from Middle Eastern countries.
“I try to be as natural and authentic as I can,” she said. “Working on this has a lot of meaning for me and I hope to be able make something that will touch hearts and bring others to Christ; that’s what these images are all about.”
In 2015, special QR codes near the vignettes were added so visitors could use their cell phones to access additional videos and information for these scenes depicted.
Volunteers Make it Happen
The extravagant celebration of lights is possible because of the thousands who volunteer behind the scenes who give of themselves during this busy time of year and find joy in being a part of something that brightens the holidays for so many.
Some of these volunteers start working as early as the spring, when they begin inventory on the lights. The majority work feverishly during November transforming the temple grounds into a breathtaking display.
“It’s a sight to behold!” said Stacey Farr of the amount of time and effort that is given during the weeks leading up to the day after Thanksgiving, when the lights are officially turned on. Stacey began serving as an assistant director of the lighting event 10 years ago and became director in 2015. She, along with her husband, Gary Farr, oversee the many committees that make it all happen.
This ad hoc lighting crew comes from 63 stakes in the Phoenix metro area. Many of these volunteers are young single adults, aged 18-31, who regularly show up on Monday nights to the warehouse where the hundreds of thousands of lights are stored year-round to design and assemble items to be a part of the display.
Sister Farr recalled special memories of some of the countless volunteers over the years.
“My personal favorites were the families that would come and work together to accomplish the area assigned. Or the single parent who brought their children so they would have a wonderful experience. The widow who loved being on the temple grounds found such comfort serving the way they could. The one who was released from jail and wanted to give back so he and his parole officer worked together,” she said.
“Some come with their family and friends,” she added. “Some just walking on the grounds ask how they can help.”
Visitors Feel Special Spirit
“It’s amazing!” Liesl Cardon of Utah told the Church News in 2017. She was visiting the lights display for the first time. “I especially love the reflection of the temple in the pool.”
She paused with her companion, CJ Passantino of Texas, both of whom are BYU students, in front of a large white nativity that appears to float in a small reflecting pond on the north side of the temple.
“I was thinking of how calm the water is,” she said. “It reminds me of the gift of peace that we get from our Savior—through His Atonement, and through prayer. It’s a peaceful place.”
Lubna Dent, who is from Pakistan but was living in Arizona, visited in 2016.
“The moment I entered I was in awe,” she told the Church News. “The people from their hearts are trying to spread the light of Christ and His message of hope. It amazing how they do it out of love and service.”
Lacey Ames of Mesa stood near the large nativity scene in 2017, explaining to her 3-year-old boy about the significance of the moment portrayed.
“Instead of the hype of presents we’re trying to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, which is Christ,” Lacey said. “There is always a special spirit on the temple grounds when you’re looking at the Christmas lights that you can’t get anywhere else.”
A Break in the Annual Tradition
In May 2018, the Mesa Temple closed for a major renovation construction project of the edifice and surrounding grounds. The lighting event was suspended through 2021, when the temple was dedicated in December and a large, white nativity was the only Christmas decorations placed on temple grounds during the public open house and dedication weekend.
The “Gift” of Christmas Lights Return in 2022
In 2022, the lights returned in full glory on the north side of the temple.
From the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, visitors will fill wide pathways of the temple grounds nightly 5-10 p.m.
In addition to the lighting event on temple grounds, a large, international nativity display — featuring more than a hundred nativities from nations and cultures from all over the world — also is presented each year. They are hosted in the multipurpose room at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E. Main Street, (just across from the northwest corner of the temple grounds) throughout the Christmas season.
“The sacredness, the beauty, the purpose, the peace, and, for many of us, the solace and comfort during very difficult times is why this is such an important gift to bring the people who come to visit,” Stacey said.
And for those who come to witness the stunning beauty of these hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights in vibrantly colored display will be reminded of the true reason for the Christmas season: Jesus Christ is the Savior and Light of the World.