Holiday Movies Spotlight Utah

It’s summer and it’s snowing outside of the Tower Movie Theater. There are bundled up couples wearing earmuffs and sipping hot chocolate at tables arranged in front of the theater. Two giant nutcrackers guard the Tower’s entrance and the marquee above reads “The Nutcracker, Dec. 1 to 24.” But don’t panic, not climate change at work. It’s just another Hallmark Channel Christmas movie being filmed in Utah.

Dozens of Christmas (or holiday adjacent) movies and counting have been filmed in Utah, many are low-budget affairs for the assembly line of films that air each season on Hallmark’s “The Countdown to Christmas.” But why Utah? State incentives for film and television production, homegrown crews, great locations and an easy jaunt from L.A. are a recipe for holiday cheer. 

Christmas Movies Utah
Mr. Krueger’s Christmas  © Universal, Photo courtesy of Everett Collection.

Mr. Krueger’s Christmas (1980)

Filmed in Salt Lake City, this NBC Christmas special, starring James Stewart, became a household classic in Utah following its premiere on Dec. 21, 1980. Featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the short tells the tale of an elderly widower who relies on his daydreams and faith to get through a lonely Christmas.

Better Off Dead (1985)

Starring John Cusack, this teen romantic comedy tells the story of high school student and avid-skier, Lane Myer, who is suicidal after his girlfriend breaks up with him just before Christmas. The ski scenes including the finale “K2 Race” against the film’s bad guy were filmed at Snowbird, Alta and Brighton Resorts.

Christmas Movies Utah
The Housewives of the North Pole. Photo Courtesy of Peacock.

The Housewives of the North Pole (2021)

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum, Kyle Richards, and Breaking Bad actress, Betsy Brandt, star as a type-A duo who battle for the neighborhood title for Best Holiday House Decorations. The Housewives of the North Pole was filmed in locations around Salt Lake City and Ogden.

Good Luck Charlie, it’s Christmas! (2011)

Based on the popular Disney Channel original series, Good Luck Charlie, this festive film follows the Duncan family’s road trip. Idiocy strikes when a woman and her daughter get separated from their family during the holidays. The production filmed in Salt Lake City’s Gateway Mall, the Salt Palace Convention Center and in St. George.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Who knew that one of the filming locations for the Grinch’s mountain top redoubt is right here in Utah? The film adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey and Taylor Momsen, was filmed at Solitude Mountain Resort, where the powdery peaks provided the backdrop while mean old Mr. Grinch plots to ruin Christmas for all the Whos in Whoville. 

Switched for Christmas, Photo Courtesy Hallmark.

Switched for Christmas (2017)

A Hallmark Channel regular until she left the network in 2021, Candace Cameron Bure filmed many films for Hallmark in Utah. Notably, Switched for Christmas, the story of twin sisters who swap lives until Christmas Day. In doing so, each woman gains a deeper perspective and appreciation of what she has. Filmed in downtown Salt Lake, Federal Heights and the Utah State Fair Park

Learn more about the incentives drawing film productions to Utah.

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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