New event in Manti on Dec. 14 designed to capture charm of Christmas festivals in Europe

A scene from Salt Lake City’s Christkindlmarkt shows folks wandering through outdoor shops at This is the Place Monument. This kind of market, and similar European Christmas markets inspired Manti couple to organize a festival in Manti this year.

New event in Manti on Dec. 14 designed to capture charm of Christmas festivals in Europe

By Doug Lowe

Staff writer



Alexis Sorensen and her husband, Steve, have a dream. The seeds for that dream were planted few years back, when Steve was serving a mission in Europe. Those speeds lay dormant until November of 2018, when Steve returned to Europe with his wife, Alexis, and showed her some of the places and things he came to love during his missionary days.

One of those beloved things was the way an entire community would get involved and worked together to make the celebration of Christmas an extra special occasion. Even as early as November, Steve was able to point out to Alexis how preparations for the annual Christmas Festival were already underway. During their journey home, somewhere between Europe and Utah, the seeds of a community Christmas festival in Manti began to germinate.

Now, a little more than a year later, Alexis and Steve are making their dream a reality with the First Annual Manti Christmas Festival. The first incarnation of community Christmas event will take place at Manti High School, in the old gym, on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. And, it promises to be plenty of fun.

Not only will Santa and the Grinch put in appearances, Santa will even be the judge of a contest pitting mortal men against his prodigious appetite for cookies and milk left next to the chimney. The winner of the Man vs. Santa eating contest will win a $100 cash prize. The winners of the festival’s two other contests—the Christmas Desert bake off and a Gingerbread House competition—will also receive $100 each.

Thanks to all the vendor booths that will be set up around the old gym, the contest winners will have plenty of opportunities to change their $100 winnings into armfuls of wonderful Christmas gifts. Throughout the day, a variety of musical performances will entertain festival goers, while food trucks parked outside will provide plenty of tasty options for everyone—for simple snacking as well as serious eating.

When Alexis and Steve first met, working in the same St. George hotel, chemistry and destiny took over. Now, with their two beautiful boys, the couple are putting down deep roots in Manti, where Steve grew up and graduated from high school before he went off to college at Dixie. The hope for the First Manti Christmas Festival is that it will be followed by a second and third and so on, to become something akin to what Steve experienced as a missionary in Switzerland. Meanwhile, up north, in Salt Lake City, the popular, highly successful ChristKindl Festival provides an inspiring example much closer to home.