Create Christmas traditions at Tuacahn
The recent announcement of the new Allegiant Airlines service between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and St. George, UT, means flying options from the Phoenix/East Valley area for the holiday season are even more exciting! Arizona residents can consider flying into St. George for a quick trip to see relatives or to spend a long weekend enjoying well-known sights such as Tuacahn, a red rock canyon with theater productions.

If you’re looking for the heart and soul of Christmas this season, it can be found in the, well, heart, of Tuacahn’s majestic red rock canyon in southern Utah. Known for its top-notch professional theater productions in the summer, as well as serving as a venue for year-round concerts and events of all kinds, Tuacahn is a gem that is cherished by many, but still waiting to be discovered by others. And Christmas is the perfect time to uncover it.

Perfect pre-Christmas gift
Like someone wrapped a bow around the entire canyon, Tuacahn CEO Kevin Smith says he hopes everyone will enjoy this year’s gift to the community that includes the Christmas in the Canyon light display, the live nativity produced in the magnificent outdoor amphitheatre, synthetic ice skating beneath the stars and a production of “Fairy Tale Christmas” in the indoor Hafen Theatre. In addition, patrons can take a ride on the Old Salty Train, visit with Santa Claus, and enjoy delicious hot chocolate and other treats around an open fire. Plus, Chef Hog’s Café will be open for dinner each evening during Christmas in the Canyon. And if you’re looking for that special gift for your loved one, you’re bound to find it inside the beautifully decorated Gift Gallery. “We want to have offerings that build on the family memories people create when they come to Tuacahn,” Smith says. Not the least of which, of course, revolve around theater.

‘Fairy Tale Christmas’
After a successful run during last year’s Christmas season, “Fairy Tale Christmas” returns this year to bring the joy of the season to even more people. Written by M. Scott McLean with music and lyrics by M. Scott McLean and Michael McLean — the duo who made “The Forgotten Carols” a must-see for the Christmas season — “Fairy Tale Christmas” tells the story of a group of classic fairy tale villains who are fed up with the way they are depicted in children’s stories, so they decide to take matters into their own hands — by kidnapping Santa Claus! “It’s very clever and fun,” says Scott Anderson, artistic director for Tuacahn. After witnessing its inaugural run as a full-fledged production at Tuacahn last year, Scott McLean says he was “delighted with how it all came together.” “They did such a beautiful job,” McLean continues. “It was just an amazing collaborative experience.”

Audiences seemed to agree; with ticket sales and word of mouth spreading so much last year, Tuacahn officials decided to bring the show back again this season to meet the demand. “Anytime you have a new show that sells that well you’re really pleased,” Smith says. The pleasing part, for audiences, includes the clever way in which seven actors take on the roles of 22 different characters, sometimes changing back and forth from a villain to a hero right before the audiences’ eyes. It’s a really poetic way of seeing that there really is good and evil in everyone, Scott McLean says of the decision to have each actor portray multiple roles. The ability to pull off such a creative interplay comes down to casting the right talent, which Scott McLean says is an area in which Tuacahn excels. “I’m amazed and grateful that Tuacahn can set such an amazing standard for this show,” Scott McLean says. Right now, Tuacahn is the only theater where you can witness this delightful Christmas story come to life. It’s also the only place you can revel in the rest of the holiday spirit this remarkable canyon has in store.

Christmas in the Canyon
If the magnificence of the towering red rock canyon against a starry winter night weren’t enough to take your breath away, now imagine the space draped in roughly 250,000 twinkling lights. In the midst of this cheerful glow, different groups of volunteer actors come each night to take part in telling the nativity story from the Bible, complete with live camels, sheep, a donkey and more. “With everything else that goes on during the Christmas season, this gives everybody a moment to take a little breath and say, ‘Oh yeah, this is what it’s all about,’” Heidi Anderson says of the live nativity. “It turns into a really neat experience for the actors and for the audience.”

Spirit of the season
Whether your Christmas tradition includes shopping, sweets, family memories, great stories or twinkling lights, there is definitely something to be shared at Tuacahn this year. Christmas in the Canyon takes place 6 to 9 p.m. on selected dates between Nov. 23 and Dec. 22. The live nativity shows twice each of those nights at 7 and 8 p.m. Tickets to the live nativity are $3 per person or $20 for a family of 10. For more information about Christmas in the Canyon, “Fairy Tale Christmas,” synthetic ice skating, the live nativity and more, log onto www.tuacahn.org

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