This November, give thanks for an abundance of exciting holiday events Downtown. Bring the family Downtown for one (or more) of these fun and inexpensive – or better yet, free – events in Downtown Indy. Here are 20 events under $20 for your holidays.
Celebrate local traditions
1. Grab your hat and gloves and head to Monument Circle beginning Friday, Nov. 27 where you can admire the Circle of Lights presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW #481. After the Monument is lit, head to Carson’s Department Store for free Selfies with Santa from 8 – 10 p.m. Can’t make it on Nov. 27? The lights remain lit through Jan. 8.
2. Shop local, shop late. Enjoy all that Mass Ave has to offer, plus get a jump start on holiday shopping, during Midnight Shopper. Many Mass Ave merchants will be open until midnight to allow shoppers a chance to enjoy Indy’s best boutiques. Take a break from shopping and pop in The Hot Room for a free Gratitude Hot Yoga Flow from 8 – 9 p.m. (sock donations for Wheeler Mission will be accepted).
3. Nothing says the holidays like Jimmy Stewart in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life. View this classic film on the state’s largest movie screen, IMAX Theatre, on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $7 each and $1 from each ticket will go to Downtown Indy’s Beautification Fund.
4. Rowdie Claus is coming to town (or Victory Field) on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Bring the family and get free photos taken with the Indianapolis Indians mascot while tasting complimentary treats and hot chocolate.
5. Georgia Street comes to life for City Sidewalks presented by BMO Harris Bank on Friday, Dec. 18 and Saturday, Dec. 19. The three blocks of Georgia Street will be transformed into a free winter wonderland complete with Santa, holiday shopping, live Nativity, kid’s activities and fresh-cut Christmas trees for sale. While you’re there, snap a photo next to the holiday trees lining the Boardwalk – all decked out by local businesses.
6. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art becomes a locomotive wonderland during its annual Jingle Rails exhibit which includes a network of trestles, bridges and tunnels. Watch seven trains pass through replicas of actual Downtown Indianapolis destinations including Monument Circle, Lucas Oil Stadium and Union Station through Jan. 18. New this year: the flashy hotels and distinctive signage of the Vegas Strip.
7. Experience a variety of holiday activities during Celebration Crossing at The Indiana State Museum Nov. 27 – Jan. 3. Kids can ride on the Santa Claus Express, make crafts to take home and gaze into a replica of L.S. Ayres store windows. Don’t miss opening day on Friday, Nov. 27 when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on the Museum’s front lawn by helicopter.
8. Unwind and explore the joy of silence during Silent Night at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Saturday, Nov. 28. This free event encourages families to unwind with “slow-looking” tours around the galleries, private headphone concerts, massage, meditation spaces and more.
9. Visit The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Thursday, Dec. 3 from 4 – 8 p.m. for a Jolly Days-themed Target Free Family Night. Come back to the Museum on Christmas Eve and enjoy free admission (plus a visit with Santa) from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
10. Wrap up your holiday shopping at Holiday Hullabaloo on Thursday, Dec. 3 from 4 – 9 p.m. at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. During this free event, shoppers can peruse the IMA’s Museum Store, Greenhouse Shop and Lilly House Christmas Shop while enjoying live music, complimentary giftwrap, holiday treats and special holiday pricing.
11. Take the family on a unique Christmas tour of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site on Saturday, Dec. 5. During LIVE: Family Christmas at the President’s Home, staff will dress up as President Harrison and his family and be “home the holidays” wrapping presents and talking about the excitement of Christmas Day.
12. Also on Dec. 5, check out the Holiday Author Fair at the Indiana Historical Society from noon – 4 p.m. Meet more than 70 Indiana authors (including Dan Wakefield, Philip Gulley, James Alexander Thom, Helen Frost and Dan Carpenter) at a fun-filled day of mingling and book signing. Free admission includes the Indiana Experience.
13. Winter Solstice at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is a free community day Thursday, Dec. 17 from 5 – 9 p.m. with ice carving demonstrations, live reindeer and caroling. Visitors can cozy up to a fire and enjoy hot chocolate as well as food from local food truck vendors. The Greenhouse and IMA store are open late for holiday shopping.
14. Bundle up and take a stroll on the eight-mile Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Browse the public art along the trail or veer off and explore one of the six Cultural Districts that are connected. Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. ensures that the Trail is clear of snow and ice during the winter months.
15. Grab your sleds, hats and snow boots and head to the sledding hill at Garfield Park. While you’re there, check out Conservatory Crossing through Thursday, Dec. 31 and experience the Conservatory’s winter wonderland, complete with a poinsettia display. Running model trains, a train village and thousands of twinkling lights will delight all.
16. Enjoy local eats at the Indy Winter Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Platform at the Indianapolis City Market. Shop an assortment of locally produced food, garden and household products, watch a cooking demo or learn about local food and sustainable living.
17. Shop more than 50 vendors and snag a unique, handmade gift for everyone on your list at the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange: Holiday Mini on Friday, Dec. 4 from 5 – 10 p.m. at the Harrison Center for the Arts. During this free event, shop everything from Frittle Candy to letterpress stationary to handmade growler bags to jewelry, all while supporting independent businesses. Enjoy food trucks out front on Delaware Street, plus First Friday activities inside Harrison Center’s galleries.
18. Bring the kids to Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio for Christmas at the Puppet Studio on Dec. 8 – 28. There will be plenty of audience participation, music and free popcorn. Children under two can attend for free.
19. What if you could visit all of your favorite local shops in one place, at one time? Shop more than 150 local businesses during Yelp’s Totally Bazaar on Thursday, Dec. 10 at the Central Library. This FREE pop up shopping event brings together people across Indiana for jewelry, photography, graphic prints, food, t-shirts, body products and more. For a list of participating businesses, click here.
20. Send a letter through Santa’s Mailbox, open through Sunday, Dec. 13. Every year, this holiday mailbox is placed on Monument Circle for children of all ages to drop off their letters addressed to Santa. Each letter should have a return address so Santa can send his reply.