Circle of Lights

Circle of Lights

The lights on Monument Circle have been lit and the holidays are officially underway. Indianapolis doesn't skimp when it comes to celebrating, and there are ample opportunities for you and the family to enjoy special events all around the city over the next several weeks. Here's a list of the 20 holiday celebrations we're hoping to catch between now and the new year.

Lights at the Brickyard

  • Through Dec. 30
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • indianapolismotorspeedway.com
  • Few things are more Indianapolis than “The Brickyard.” This massive display of over 3 million lights illuminates the historic race track with a 2 mile drive-thru display that takes viewers through the IMS infield and down the front stretch. Sure to light up your holiday experience.

Christmas at the Zoo

  • Through Dec. 30
  • Indianapolis Zoo
  • indianapoliszoo.com
  • Dating all the way back to 1967, the lights display at Indianapolis Zoo is the oldest zoo lights exhibit in the nation.  Take a stroll and enjoy the festive beauty while sipping a warm cocoa with a loved one. Animal lovers will still get what they came for with several of the animal exhibits remaining open late including an appearance by Santa’s reindeer.

Festival of Trees

  • Through Jan. 5
  • Indiana History Center
  • indianahistory.org
  • Eighty trees trees will greet you at the Festival of Trees. Each of them will want your vote, each of them will want you to proclaim them your favorite, which will make it difficult for you because you have to choose. This year, they say, they have a showstopper.  Will it live up to the hype? In addition to the trees, you can take your kids to the Sugarplum Breakfast where Nutcracker characters will say their hellos.

Winterlights at Newfields

  • Through Jan. 6
  • discovernewfields.org
  • Winterlights is the perfect opportunity to gather with loved ones and take this beautiful display on the Lilly House Lawn.  Keep warm with hot chocolate and s’mores. For an even more jaw dropping experience, Newfields is offering special glasses to view the show transforming each of the 1.5 million lights used into snowflakes.
WInterlights at Newfields

Winterlights at Newfields

Jingle Rails: the Great Western Adventure

  • Through Jan. 21
  • Eitlejorg.org
  • If you have someone in your family who is nuts over model trains, don’t bring them here. You’ll never be able to drag them out again. The nine working model trains blow past the the skyline of Indianapolis in miniature--including Monument Circle, Union Circle, and the Eiteljorg, of course-- on their way to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Falls, Old Faithful, and Northwest Coast native villages. Then again, maybe you will be able to drag your family member out of Jingle Rails: promise them a cross-country Amtrak ride out west next summer.  

Garfield Park Conservatory Crossing

  • Through Dec. 31
  • Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens
  • garfieldgardensconservatory.org
  • The idea of a tropical conservatory might not scream Christmas to some, but Conservatory Crossing brings some holiday cheer to Garfield Park’s Conservatory and Sunken Gardens.  With fun for the whole family ranging from family story hours to hand crafted treats from Mrs. Claus’s personal recipe book, this display is sure to delight everyone.

Holiday Lights at Reynolds Farm

  • Through Jan. 1
  • Reynolds Farm Equipment, Fishers
  • reynoldsfarmequipment.com
  • This giant John Deere Equipment “farm” in Fishers has been putting on light displays for over 20 years.  The free drive-thru extravaganza is larger than life, literally, with megalithic light structures guaranteed to leave the kids wide-eyed.

Holiday Author Fair

  • Dec. 1
  • Indiana History Center
  • indianahistory.org
  • During this annual event, more than 70 authors will be on hand for mixing, mingling and book signing. Book topics will range from sports and biography to youth historical fiction and politics and more. There will be appearances by basketball star and Olympic athlete Tamika Catchings, Jeffrey L. Sparks, and James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. Author Fair guests can pose for photos with Santa, enter to win a gift basket, and enjoy a special performance by the Circle City Chamber Choir.

Live! Family Christmas

  • Dec. 1
  • Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
  • bhpsite.org
  • The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site uses the Christmas season to stage a recreation of the short time between when the museum's namesake was elected 23rd President of the United States in 1888 and when he took office in 1889. A guided tour will be accompanied by live holiday preparations with Harrison family members and household staff, all done up in period style.

Pet Photo Night

  • Dec. 2
  • Castleton Square Mall
  • simonsanta.com
  • Bring your fur babies to the mall for a special after-hours photo session with Santa. Pet photo nights are hosted after regular mall closing and the set gets an extensive cleaning following the event to remove any potential risk to allergy sufferers. Prices vary.
It's A Wonderful Life

Holiday Film Series

  • Dec. 3, Dec. 10, Dec. 17
  • Athenaeum
  • athenaeumfoundation.org
  • Three separate showings of classic holiday films set to take place at the Atheneum are sure to satisfy that Christmas film itch of any movie lover.  December 3rd Will Ferrell’s performance in Elf will have the whole family jolly with joy.  Searching for something more sentimental? Come by December 10th for everyone’s favorite classic film It’s a Wonderful Life.  Round off the series with the legendary National Lampoon’s Vacation on Dec. 17.

Victorian Christmas

  • Dec. 8
  • James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home
  • rileymuseumhome.org
  • In addition to a Victorian Santa, Indianapolis-based author Linda Mansfield is scheduled to do a book signing at the James Whitcomb Riley Museum during the Victorian Christmas Open House. Mansfield's four books have a total of 52 seasonal short stories set in Indiana. The museum is located in the Historic Lockerbie Square neighborhood, just a short walk from the galleries, restaurants and retail shops that make up the Mass Ave Cultural District.

Conductor Cody's Christmas Express

  • Dec. 8-9
  • IndyFringe Building
  • indyfringe.org
  • Louisville-based professional magician Cody Clark, as his children’s character Conductor Cody, will be performing his holiday-themed magic show, Conductor Cody’s Christmas Express, for the second year in a row. In the style of classic holiday movies like The Polar Express, Cody takes his audiences on a magical train trip to the North Pole, with magic routines featuring hot chocolate, reindeer games, jingle bells, and ending with the magical appearance of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Christmas on the Farm

  • Dec. 8-9
  • Traders Point Creamery
  • traderspointcreamery.com
  • There are a lot of Santas around this season, but chances are this is the only opportunity to see Santa in a big red barn as opposed to a shopping mall. Come and sing carols, make holiday crafts, and check out the beautiful farm on a sleigh-hayride. You could also imbibe eggnog, hot chocolate, and pick from a yummy menu from the Jingle Bell Cafe.

12 Chefs of Christmas

  • Dec. 8
  • Indianapolis City Market
  • indycm.com
  • If you combine a dozen local chefs and a dozen Hoosier breweries you get a tradition that has been a crowd favorite for years. Attendees will sample pairings of food and drink, with full-sized portions available for purchase. Dishes will include protein, dessert, vegetarian, and seafood. And, a special 13th pairing will combine cider with a poke bowl.

Indy VegFest Holiday Market

  • Dec. 9
  • Biltwell Event Center
  • biltwelleventcenter.com
  • For anyone out there searching for the perfect gift for that special vegan or animal lover on your list, look no further than this expansive veggie holiday market.  Tons of local artisans selling everything from prepackaged vegan goodies to cruelty free apparel and home decor, there’s something for everyone. Does the giving season spirit have a hold on you?  This free event also accepts donations to go towards the next Indy VegFest set to take place in March.

Hanukkah Palooza

  • Dec. 20
  • Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation
  • ihcindy.org
  • Come light candles, eat latkes and sufganiyot, and celebrate the Hanukkah season with the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. Children are invited to create arts and crafts, participate in family sing-a-longs, and play Hanukkah games. Meanwhile, adults will have the opportunity to take part in text study, a musical program, and singing. The event is free, but make sure to bring your own dinner and menorah.


Christmas in Brown County

Christmas in Brown County

Christmas in Brown County: Stuff a Stocking

  • Dec. 1
  • Downtown Nashville
  • browncountygives.org
  • Children will have the opportunity to follow a map to over 25 local merchants gathering treats, ornaments, toys, and more to stuff their Christmas stockings. All proceeds will benefit the Brown County Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Brown County area.

Christmas Fun at the Woods

  • Dec. 1
  • Saint Mary-of-the-Woods
  • sistersofprovidence.org
  • Children and their parents will have the opportunity to take part in many activities throughout the afternoon including carriage rides, hayrides, wagon and trolley rides. Nativity sets will also be on display in Providence Hall. Also participate in Christmas sing-a-longs in the O’Shaughnessy Dining Room. Children and families wishing to dress up in front of a nativity scene may do so. Snacks will also be provided throughout the day.

Avon Santa Shop

  • Through Dec. 23
  • Red Curb Theatre, Avon
  • redcurbcomedy.com
  • Red Curb Theatre will host Santa in his cozy workshop for nine days through the holiday season. Adrienne Nicole Photography will provide professional photographs during each family’s visit. Santa’s workshop will offer extra holiday magic and surprises including hot cider, hot cocoa, holiday cookies, Christmas movies, and the opportunity to donate to local charities.