Each Friday after Thanksgiving, more than 100,000 excited holiday-seekers head to Downtown Indy, Inc.’s Circle of Lights presented by IBEW #481. If you’ve never attended, it’s definitely a bucket-list, festive event. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.
EVENT: The event is FREE on Monument Circle Friday, Nov. 26 from 6 – 8 p.m. There is no seating, so prepare to stand for the spectacular show full of live entertainment, WTHR-13 personalities, Santa and other surprises.
WHAT HAPPENS: From 6 – 7 p.m., performers chosen from local auditions take the stage and put everyone in the holiday spirit. From 7 – 8 p.m., the live, WTHR-13 televised show takes place with the same performers who are always very talented. Carson’s will present Santa’s arrival in an Indiana-made, vintage 1932 Auburn 12 Phaeton convertible in celebration of Indiana’s bicentennial. The winner of the Coloring Contest, appears on stage and greets Santa. Closer to 7:50 p.m., the crowd counts down to light the centerpiece, all 4,784 lights. To conclude the evening, Old National Bank presents the Circle of Lights spectacular fireworks finale.
WHERE TO VIEW: The stage is set up on the south side of Monument Circle. If the temperature is mild, Circle of Lights fans fill South Meridian by 6 p.m. In the colder temperatures, it’s closer to 6:30 p.m. Two large screens flank the front of the stage. Again this year, a large screen will be near Washington and Meridian streets so even more attendees can see the festivities. Also, screens will be posted at each spoke at Market Street. (Five screens total, if you’re counting!)
FUN ACTIVITIES: The north side of Monument Circle features numerous radio station and partner booths with fun, family-friendly activities and giveaways. Don’t forget to check in on Yelp when you’re there and post a photo of twinkling lady liberty!
PREPARE: Eat dinner early and use the restroom BEFORE you find your place on Meridian Street. You won’t want to lose your spot or miss a minute of the festivities once the show begins. (Restroom facilities are located on West and East Market streets.)
ATTIRE/PARKING: Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. Find parking near your last stop for the day. (The entire Circle and spokes are closed to vehicular traffic all day.) Plan on walking a few blocks to Monument Circle. Have dinner or dessert after the festivities to allow some of the traffic to exit.
SPECIAL NEEDS: There is an area for special needs/disabled persons. These families should enter from East Market Street and have security or event staff lead them to a seat.
WHAT TO DO AFTERWARDS: Obviously, you’ll want to take a selfie with the Circle of Lights in the background; use #CircleofLights #DowntownIndy. Next, follow the jolly guy and head to Selfies with Santa at Carson’s from 8 – 10 p.m. Make plans to spend the night at any of the Downtown Indianapolis Hilton family brands through the “Home for the Holidays” promotion from now until Jan. 31, 2017.
HELP KEEP SPIRITS BRIGHT: For 54 years now, thousands of spectators gather Downtown to this spectacular holiday display illuminate. However, most of the electrical hardware and decor has passed its prime and shows great signs of wear. The time to replace and update the decor is upon us. For those who donate $100 or more, you will receive a holiday ornament in 2017 made of an actual light bulb taken from the historic decor the campaign seeks to replace. Learn more and donate here.