Things to Do

Holiday Magic Awaits: Must-See Light Displays Around Indy

Sleigh Bells are ringing, and the snow is definitely glistening — but what winter wonderland would be complete without a fabulous display of holiday lights, right?

Fortunately, if you live in Indianapolis, you’re never really far from a whole world of holiday enchantment. The city has some impressive displays of lights almost everywhere you go. 

Not quite sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. Pile the kids in the car, grab some hot cocoa for the road, and check out the list below.

Christmas Nights of Lights – 168 E. 42nd St. through Jan. 12, 2022

It’s getting cold out there, so nobody will blame you if you don’t really want to get out of your car — and you can drive right through this 35-minute long interactive display at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Experience two full miles of synchronized lights and music (which will play right through your car’s radio). If you’re looking for something that will really dazzle the kids, the floating snowflakes, tunnels of lights, and dancing candy canes should make them feel like they’re entering the real world of holiday enchantments. 

The cost is $30 per vehicle load (up to eight passengers), $50 for 9-15 passengers, and $75 if you’ve got a busload of 16 or more. Online reservations are required so that the wait times to roll through stay reasonable.

Christmas at the Zoo – 1200 W. Washington St. through Dec. 30

Christmas at the zoo — any zoo — has become a popular event nationwide, but the Indianapolis Zoo is where the event first started way back in 1967. Adults and kids (and kids-at-heart) will all love the beautiful lights, plus the chance to visit with Santa’s reindeer (who are merely resting up before the big trip) and the penguins. This is also a good spot for a date night since the zoo is offering holiday-themed drinks and mistletoe is hidden along the walks.

The hours for this special event are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every weeknight, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends. (Please note: The Zoo is closed both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.) Admission is $15.75 per adult ($13.75 for seniors) and $11.75 for children between two and 12 years of age. Babies and toddlers under two get in for free.

Celebration Crossing – 650 W. Washington St. through Jan. 2, 2022

The Indiana State Museum is definitely full of Christmas cheer, and they’ve got tons of wonderful holiday-themed happenings to explore. You can ride the Snowfall Express through a magical, whimsical wonderland, stop to visit Santa in Santa’s Front Yard, and even visit the Reindeer Barn while taking in all the decorations and lights.

Tickets are $11 for adults (seniors get a discount) and $8 per child, making this a very affordable outing if your family enjoys hands-on experiences in addition to the holiday lights.

Winterlights – 4000 N. Michigan Rd. through Jan. 2, 2022

Are you looking for someplace romantic to take your significant other this holiday season? You won’t find anyplace better than the Winterlights presentation by the Bank of America at Newfields Garden. More than 1.5 million lights are strung around the campus in the Landscape of Light and the Ice Storm Walk. Plus, you can pick up a few treats, like hot cocoa or warm cookies, to make your walk extra sweet.

Tickets must be purchased in advance so that appropriate crowd sizes can be maintained for everybody’s enjoyment. They cost $25 for adults, $17 for children between six and 17 years of age. (Kids five years of age and under get in for free.)

Circle of Lights – 1 Monument Circle through Dec. 30, 2021

If your holiday budget is a wee bit tight, you can still capture all of the magic of the season — for free — by heading to Monument Circle in Downtown Indy. The Circle of Lights is the city’s most time-honored holiday tradition, with lights adorning the entirety of the 242-foot-tall Soldiers and Sailors Monument. 

Nightly shows include music and appearances by the Jolly Old Elf himself at 6:30, 8, and 10 p.m. This year, the “Shining a Light” display combines lights, audio, and video to transform the Circle into what’s been described as a “life-size snowglobe,” for a truly dazzling experience.

Festival of Trees – 450 W. Ohio St. through Jan. 8, 2022

This is one gorgeous display of holiday decor by the Indiana Historical Society that you don’t want to miss — even if you don’t want to leave home. You can experience this annual Indy tradition in-person or through a high-tech virtual experience that will let you zoom in on all 75 of the displays so that you can really appreciate all the detail and work that went into each. Each tree is elaborately decorated in its own theme, and there’s holiday music, Story Time with Santa, and more.

The price of admission is $13 per adult, $12 for seniors, and $5 for kids between five and 17 years of age. Children under five can take in all the wonder and magic for free. The event is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. It’s closed on Mondays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Neighborhood Displays – All Around Indy through early 2022

Still don’t have your fill of lights? A little elf whispered to us that you can find some wonderful private light displays if you travel down historic Meridian St. You can also visit 6415 Linden Dr. to check out an amazing light display that’s synchronized to holiday music, or check out the entire Williams Creek district (which is well known for its holiday cheer)

All of these displays are free and unscheduled, so that makes it easy to fit into your spare time and your budget.

We know that the short days and long nights can wear on people’s nerves in the winter, but that’s all the more reason to visit these gorgeous holiday displays. They illuminate the darkest winter night and remind us all that brighter days are still ahead!