A Visitor’s Guide to Watching General Conference at Temple Square – With or Without Tickets

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We recently visited temple square in Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The experience was inspiring to say the least. Life-changing would better fit the description. Attending General Conference in person can be a powerful, testimony-strengthening experience. I recommend it to everyone who might find it possible to go.

For those who have never been to Salt Lake to attend General Conference, there are a few things which might be helpful to know before you go:

SEVERAL MONTHS BEFORE CONFERENCE:

  1. Request tickets as soon as possible. (We have already requested tickets for next year.) Contact your stake executive secretary to request tickets for those in your immediate family. Those who are 8 and older are permitted to view conference in the conference center.
  2. Arrange for accommodations. If you will be staying in a hotel, you might consider reserving your room as soon as possible, since hotels in that area could fill quickly as conference approaches. There are several hotels which are within walking distance to temple square. You may want to find one, as we did, which is close to the TRAX transportation system. TRAX does not charge a fee during General Conference weekend. The trains run regularly and take you right to temple square. This is an excellent way to get to and from your hotel quickly and minimize walking to and from conference.

IF YOU HAVE TICKETS TO A SESSION

  1. You cannot bring large amounts of food into the conference center. However, if you feel you will need a small water bottle or snack for health purposes, you are permitted to bring those in. Please, however, be very cautious that no trash remains after you leave.
  2. Your tickets will have an assigned section to sit in, but not an assigned seat within that section. You do not have to worry about getting there several hours early to obtain the most favorable seat, unless you want the front row of your section, which some people do. We found that most people arrive at the conference center about an hour before the session starts. There will be lines and security to go through, so give yourself plenty of time so you may remain relaxed and not feel hurried. It is suggested you be seated in the conference center 30 minutes prior to the session start time. Trust me, this is wonderful time to relax, feel the Spirit and prepare to be taught by God’s prophet and general leaders. Allow yourself plenty of time so you can feel peace prior to the session.
  3. You will receive a parking pass with your tickets. The parking areas vary, and some are several blocks from the conference center. I recommend placing a cooler full of food in your car. The earlier you park that morning, the better space you will get, which will allow quicker access to your food between sessions. (This will be discussed further.) If you leave your car at the hotel and walk, you may need to purchase food at or around the square.
    1. NOTE – They did allow me to enter the conference center with my water bottle and small bag of almonds. When I brought the bag out and began to put a few in my mouth, however, I felt very uncomfortable. I would not eat a snack during sacrament meeting, and I felt it was not proper nor appropriate to do so sitting in the same room as the prophet of God while we were being instructed. Next time I go, if I feel I need a snack (which I will try to prevent with better planning) I will likely excuse myself and step out briefly. This is just my opinion and experience.
  4. EATING between sessions. We talked to many people on temple square the night before, to see if there was anywhere to leave a cooler. The only answers we received were that coolers would not be permitted into the viewing areas, nor could they be left anywhere on temple square unattended. So – because we were planning on attending both sessions both days, we decided to leave a cooler in our parked car. This turned out to be a perfect solution. Though we walked and/or took TRAX to the square, we left very early that morning to go park the car closer to the conference center, with the cooler inside. We then went back to the hotel and walked to conference as a family. After the morning session, we spread out a blanket on the grass next to where our car was parked and had a quick picnic lunch. As soon as we cleaned up, it was time to get in line for the next session. It worked great! (This is especially helpful on Sunday, so no food would need to be purchased on the Sabbath. Just some prior preparation is all you will need!)
  5. As a special NOTE – When you are in the conference center, be watching the far right entrance to the podium area about 5 minutes prior to the start of the session. Be prepared to feel, and share, a deep reverence, love and respect for our dear prophet as he walks in and takes his seat on the stand.

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IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TICKETS TO A SESSION

I don’t know of anyone who receives tickets to EVERY session of conference. But if you are very lucky, you may receive tickets to 2 or maybe even 3 sessions! This does not mean, however, that you have to miss the sessions you do not have tickets for, or even watch them in your hotel room. There are a few places right on temple square where you can watch the live broadcast!

  1. The Tabernacle. This building has the longest line – for a reason. People start lining up here SEVERAL hours prior to the session. This is because they take those who arrived at the Tabernacle FIRST into the conference center to fill the vacant seats, shortly after the conference begins. Many people anticipate the possibility of being taken to the center, even though they do not have tickets, so they line up here hours early. If you would like to try your chances of being taken into the conference center, I would arrive BEFORE 2 hours early. For those who are not taken to go into the conference center, you still get to watch it inside the Tabernacle and it is still a wonderful experience!
  2. You can watch the session in the theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. They have soft seats and it’s a lovely place to view the conference! I recommend arriving there BEFORE 1 hour early to secure a seat.
  3. Just across the grass from the Tabernacle, is the north visitor’s center. If you go inside and down the stairs, you will find a theater with conference playing on the big screen, just like a movie theater. We arrived here both days an hour early, and were the first people there!  The room did fill up before the session began but there were still a few places to sit for late comers! Some even sat against the back wall or on the stairs. This is a fairly relaxed place to view the conference and many children are taken here as well. It is a family friendly theater, yet still is full of the Spirit as the conference is being broadcast! We became very fond of this little room. (I refer to it as General Conference’s ‘Best Kept Secret’!)
    • NOTE: It is fairly easy to save seats in this theater, so your family can go and view the exhibits in the visitor’s center while waiting! This is an added bonus for children, in my opinion.
    • I did not feel nearly as uneasy eating a snack in this room as I did in the conference center.
  4. There are many who arrive at temple square early with signs of how many tickets they would like for that session. Some people have extra tickets and are willing to share with those who indicate they are in need. You can make a sign or simply hold up a number of fingers with how many tickets you would like. I don’t know how many of these people actually get the tickets they desire, but I do know we had an extra ticket for the priesthood session which we were able to share with someone who was holding up one finger.

Attending General Conference in person is an incredible experience. At least it was for me, my family, and everyone I know who is able to go. The Spirit can be felt almost as soon as you step out of your hotel room in your church clothes. As you begin making your way to temple square, you find yourself joining many others who are dressed in a similar fashion and heading in the same direction. Everyone smiles knowingly and a feeling of unity and the Spirit of the Lord begins to surround the square. This experience was a cherished and very memorable one for me. I hope you will find it to be the same!

Come, listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the word of God!

(With over 22,0o0 brothers and sisters.)

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What a blessing it is to attend the General Conference of the Lord!

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