Tuacahn’s Live Nativity delights crowds at ‘Christmas in the Canyon’

Lighted walkway to Christmas in the Canyon at Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Ivins, Utah, Dec. 5, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Jim Lillywhite, St. George News

IVINS — Tuacahn Center for the Arts’ annual gift to the community is its “Christmas in the Canyon”  with free entrance to all except for a small charge to attend the Live Nativity pageant and rides on Old Salty the train.

The glow of twinkle lights, red and green, produce a breathtaking and mesmerizing glow for visitors on the path to the amphitheatre. Visitors follow dramatic shadows produced by lit trees and a splashing waterfall from the parking lot up three tiers of stairs. A ramp for wheelchair convenience or a golf cart is provided for those in need.

The plaza and buildings are lit up with thousands of lights. Santa Claus, a roaring bonfire, Tuacahn’s gift shop and concessions await guests offering them a chance to feel the spirit of Christmas.

Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon shares its Old Salty Train with Tuacahn for the duration of the event, offering “Christmas Express” rides about the canyon.

Live Nativity 

Likely the most talked-about favorite of Tuacahn’s Christmas is the Live Nativity pageant, shown at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Dec. 23.

Every night features a new volunteer cast. Some troupes consist of entire families, others include students and any community group that signs up. (Next year’s sign-up will take place in September 2017.)

Mary and Joseph entering the gates of Bethlehem during the Tuacahn Live Nativity. Ivins, Utah, Dec. 5, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Jim Lillywhite, St. George News
Mary and Joseph enter the gates of Bethlehem. Live Nativity at Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Ivins, Utah, Dec. 5, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Jim Lillywhite, St. George News

The drama begins with recorded music beautifully amplified by sound engineers.

Characters, including Mary, Joseph and donkey plod along the desert hill. They emerge through Bethlehem’s city gates onto the stage and the resonating voice of Dick Nourse tells the biblical story.

“Joseph … went unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. …”

As the story unfolds, visitors are reminded why we celebrate Christmas: Jesus Christ, whose birth in the lowly town of Bethlehem is the biggest gift of all.

The kings come with their camels bearing gifts, which perhaps inspires visitors to keep the spirit of Christmas, be gentler and feel the message of joy and peace.

David Archuleta’s voice singing glorious songs was a high point of the short drama for many.

Wise men arriving with camels. Ivins, Utah, Dec. 5, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Jim Lillywhite, St. George News
Wise men arive with camels. Live Nativity at Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Ivins, Utah, Dec. 5, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Jim Lillywhite, St. George News

Three wisemen and two dromedary camels walked across the stage. Those who attended the pageant five years ago might remember the camel named Baby Joe, Kimberly Davis, Tuacahn’s animal wrangler, said. Now he is grown and joined by Burt and the two are proficient about walking the stage.

After their performance the camels are taken away to a private stable where they are kept until needed for another show.The camels will be at Tuacahn Saturday Market for rides on Dec. 17, at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., weather permitting.

Event details

  • What: Christmas in the Canyon with Live Nativity.
  • When: Opened Nov. 25 and continues through Dec. 23 every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday | Santa Claus in the plaza from 6:30-8:30 p.m. | Live Nativity shows at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Where: Tuacahn Center for the Arts, 1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins.
  • Cost: Tickets for Old Salty Christmas Express and the Live Nativity production are each $2 or $15 for a family of up to 10 members.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • .... December 14, 2016 at 10:38 am

    This was such a fantastic show and it was a great way to enjoy the joyous festivities of the holiday season with friends and loved ones and I would like to thank all those involved in making this possible.

  • ptarmigan December 17, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Wow! I never knew. So much fun!

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