Come take part in the holiday jubilee as Downtown transforms into a wondrous winter scene. These events are full of sights, sounds and activities that span the holidays, keeping you and your loved ones occupied for the season!
1. Downtown Indy, Inc. Circle of Lights Presented by IBEW 481
An integral holiday event hosted by Downtown Indy, Inc. is the annual Circle of Lights at Monument Circle on Friday, November 26. This time-honored tradition with over 100,000 spectators gears up for the holiday festivities by illuminating Monument Circle. Most notably, the 4,000+ colorful lights adorning Soldiers and Sailors Monument remains one of Indianapolis’ most noteworthy holiday displays. The annual AES Coloring Contest allows students ages 3-12 to send in their most captivating holiday art for the chance to not only receive a $529 scholarship from CollegeChoice 529 but to also flip the switch to the lights that will illuminate Downtown until December 30. In addition, musical acts chosen from the Tom Wood Talent Search will perform on the Tom Wood stage live and be featured in the made-for-tv special exclusively on WTHR Channel 13. Food trucks, beverages, live entertainment and giveaways will all be offered at this FREE event. More event information here
2. Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo
Dating back to 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo has sought to include the holiday experience into its exhibits, and this year is no different. With beautiful new decor throughout the zoo, you’ll have to check it out! Besides the lights, there are holiday pop-ups for people of all ages to enjoy. Mr. and Mrs. Clause will make appearances leading up to December 23 for sit-downs and holiday decorating. There is also a hidden mistletoe hunt with prizes for the most attentive visitors. Be sure to take advantage of the holiday photo-op for postcard-worthy pictures. To find the specifics for all these exciting displays, visit https://www.indianapoliszoo.com/
3. Downtown Indy, Inc. Holiday Arts Market on the Circle
Following the success of the Fall Arts Market, Downtown Indy, Inc. is thrilled to present the holiday edition on December 11! As always, there will be a wide range of art vendors on the Circle with uniquely Indy gifts, perfect for last-minute shopping. This festive event will also feature food trucks, a selection of live music and performances from local artists, and drinks from Indy favorites for those who are 21+. Check out the talent that our community has forged, and support these artists to continue their efforts. For more information about this FREE Indy event, click here
4. Christmas Nights of Lights at the Indiana State Fairgrounds
Ho-ho-ho! This is quite a show! Head out to the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ Christmas Nights of Lights, Indianapolis’ largest synchronized lights exhibit. Join in a 2-mile car ride through more than 1 million lights jazzing to traditional and newer Christmas music played through your car stereo. The show will feature new music, an extended route and additional light displays including a spectacular 240-foot wall of lights. This dazzling light display will be open daily from dusk until 10 p.m., with extended hours on the weekends, from November 12 – January 2. Sing along to all of your holiday favorites and get yourself in the spirit. Head over to https://www.christmasnightsoflights.com/indianapolis for more information.
5. Winterlights at Newfield
Leave some room in your calendar between November 22 and January 2 to experience the wonder of Winterlights presented by Bank of America! Witness more than 1.5 million lights glittering in The Garden at Newfields this holiday season. For the fifth year in a row, tradition abounds and old favorites return—Landscape of Light dances on Lilly Allée while wind whistles in the Ice Storm Walk. See your family and friends’ eyes twinkle as they take in new additions including Huckleberry Funk’s own projection-mapped rock show and local artist Anila Agha’s mesmerizing sculpture that uses light and shadow to explore concepts of communal space, belonging and exclusion. There are treats, too! Holiday goodies like gooey chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa are served up under the glow of the lights. Grab your friends, family, and some mittens, maybe. Visit https://discovernewfields.org/ for more information regarding this spectacular holiday happening.
6. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Indiana Repertory Theatre
The Indiana Repertory Theatre presents its annual showing of A Christmas Carol, a classic tale about kindness, love, redemption, and community, spanning from November 26 – December 26. Local thespians come together in this chilly weather to provide a heartwarming story for audiences, reminding us all about the true meaning of the holidays. For tickets, check out https://www.irtlive.com/.
7. Celebration Crossing at The Indiana State Museum
Experience the magic of the holidays at the Indiana State Museum for its five-week long Celebration Crossing celebration through January 2! Hop on the new Snowfall Express, the must-ride experience of the holiday season, to discover a forest populated by charming, whimsical characters celebrating the coming winter and the first snowfall. Beyond this, many other favorites are back this year, including visits with Santa, activities in Santa’s Front Yard, the 92 County Tree, Santa’s Holiday Breakfasts, Winter Wonderland Workshops, the Reindeer Barn and more. Find out specifics of the many offerings and register here: https://www.indianamuseum.org/experiences/celebration-crossing/
8. Butler Ballet: The Nutcracker
After a year-long hiatus, 2021 marks the return of live performances for the Butler Ballet, featuring its landmark The Nutcracker show. From December 2-5 at Clowes Memorial Hall, audiences can be immersed in the modern rendering of Tchaikovsky’s music by the Butler Symphony Orchestra and Indianapolis Children’s Choir, as well as world-class dancing, beautiful costumes, and out-of-this-world sets from the Butler Ballet, one of the best dance schools in the nation. Find tickets and more information at https://butlerartscenter.org/.
9. Nestle Inn Cooking Class: Holiday Sweet and Savory Crepes
As a continuation of its cooking class series, and in the spirit of the holidays, Nestle Inn will be teaching interested attendees the art of making crepes on December 11. A deceivingly easy food, crepes can be enjoyed sweet or savory, breakfast or dinner, holiday or no holiday! To master a recipe and receive professional chef instruction, check out https://www.nestleindy.com/cooking-classes/ for more information.
10. Ann Gasteyer: Sugar & Booze at The Cabaret
Ann Gasteyer, famously from ABC’s “The Goldbergs”, Saturday Night Live, Broadway’s Wicked, and more is sweetening up the holidays on December 11 & 12 with her holiday album and tour, Sugar & Booze. This evening offers a swinging nod to the vintage holidays of yore with a modern and comedic touch and plenty of style. With original songs such as the modern nostalgic title track “Sugar & Booze,” and holiday classics like “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Let it Snow,” you won’t want to miss this intoxicating, merry blend of jazz, pop, soul, funk, blues, and comedy that is sure to give you a holiday buzz, all at The Cabaret! For tickets, check out https://thecabaret.vbotickets.com/events.
11. Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve & Other Stories
The holidays rock a whole lot harder than they ever have thanks to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. By infusing seasonal classics with rock flamboyance and an eye-popping visual presentation complete with lasers and pyrotechnics, what began as a side project for a veteran group of American hard rockers has grown into one of today’s top-selling acts, with over 10 million concert tickets sold since 1999. Come out to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to see one of the most noteworthy national holiday acts in action on December 22! Find tickets and information here
12. Cross Stitch Holiday Ornaments
Develop your artistry at Garfield Park on December 4 and spend the morning cross-stitching your very own ornament. Patterns are provided, and you’ll learn how to create the design for yourself. At the end of the session, walk away with your very own ornament to adorn your tree with, or perhaps a gift. Purchases your tickets today!
13. Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure
Another year in the books! This is a holiday tradition like none other and quite often a family favorite. Jingle Rails is a G-scale model train wonderland containing nine working model trains that wind through a stunning miniature landscape. This exhibit features miniature versions of local treasures of downtown Indianapolis, including the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle, Union Station and Lucas Oil Stadium. The trains then head through the national parks of the American West, passing legendary sites, including grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, and wonders both natural and human-made—Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Falls, Old Faithful, the Las Vegas Strip, Hoover Dam and much more. These structures are built out of natural materials and are decorated in holiday spirit! Reserve a spot here.
14. Winter Wonderland Workshop
Bring the kids out to this STEAM-inspired workshop at the Indiana State Museum on December 4 for tons of gingerbread fun! Unlike typical gingerbread house-building, this workshop will teach kids how to construct and design their own inedible houses with a bit of physics and math involved to create a solid foundation. Register here
15. Magical Mornings (ages 6 and younger)
For families with small children, meet Santa at the Indiana State Museum on December 3. This Magical Morning will accommodate the youngins’ with fewer lights, sounds, and limited crowds to help ensure the experience is exciting, not overwhelming. During this early morning hour, meet Santa, participate in interactive story time, and visit the Reindeer Barn to feed Santa’s helpers. For more information, check out www.indianamuseum.org/.
16. Family New Year’s Eve: Sparkle & Shine
Start off the New Year strong with glittering (temporary) tattoos, music, a dance party, and more at the Indiana State Museum! Become a model and strike a pose at one of the photo-ops, visit activity stations in the galleries, experience a kid-friendly science show, and ride the brand-new Snowfall Express train. At 8 p.m. an epic balloon drop and confetti celebration will take place in light of the New Year—early enough to make sure the youngsters can get back home to get some sleep. As this is a family event, there will be no alcohol served. Find out more information and register at www.indianamuseum.org/
17. Windsor Jewelry’s Annual Snow Promotion
We are gearing up for our annual snow promotion! Wouldn’t it be awesome to get all your gifts for free this year? 100% of your purchases made between November 4th & December 18th will be refunded if it snows 3 inches or more Christmas Day! What better way to spend Christmas Day than knowing that you supported a small business while also maybe getting your gifts for free this year?! Let it snow!!! Visit WindsorJewelry.com for complete details.
18. The Children’s Museum Jolly Days
Holiday happiness begins at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis when Jolly Days: Winter Wonderland opens on November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022. The jolliest of them all, Santa Claus, arrives to the museum on Friday, November 26, 2021. Grab your spot on the museum plaza by 8:45 a.m. to see Santa’s favorite elves rappel down the museum just in time to greet Santa who arrives in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage. Santa’s entourage will be led by 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan. If you think he drives a racecar fast, watch him pedal! On December 31, 2021, bring the family to countdown to 2022 during a festive, family-friendly New Year’s Eve confetti-filled celebration at noon and 1 p.m. Grammy-nominated singer Zac Morgan will keep the party rocking! Learn more here