The holidays are a magical time of the year, full of scents, sounds and sights that everyone can enjoy. One of the major delights of the season is spending time with your family while you look at all the Christmas lights.
Well, crank up the holiday tunes and get ready. We’re going to explore the most dazzling displays of the year in the hope that your holidays are truly bright and merry!
Christmas at the Zoo
Many zoos decorate for the holidays these days in what has become a national winter tradition. Why not go where the whole trend started way back in 1967? The Indianapolis Zoo is celebrating its 51st year of Christmas celebrations with the brand-new addition of Santa’s Village under the Bicentennial Pavilion.
Come to see Santa and decorate holiday cookies in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen. Then, grab the kids and head over to Santa’s Barn to catch a peek at Old Nick’s sleigh and some of his reindeer. If you don’t have kids, you and your partner can have fun looking for the 10 hidden sprigs of mistletoe around the zoo. There’s also a mirror maze full of flying snowflakes and a tunnel of light, making this one of the most enjoyable places to visit during the winter. Oh — and did we mention there are penguins? Depending on the weather, you can catch the lovable goofballs every evening from 6-8 p.m.
Lights at the Brickyard
From Nov. 27 through Dec. 5, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is transformed into a two-mile stretch of extraordinary light displays with a race car theme. If you love Indy’s racing tradition, this is an out-of-the-car experience you don’t want to miss, since you can even walk the raceway oval right past the start-finish line.
Not sure you can make it before the displays get packed away for another year? No worries! From Dec. 13-24, there’s another winter wonderland located inside the IMS Plaza Village where you can explore all the holiday goodies for sale, hanging out by the fire pits making s’mores, and pose for photos with your family. The IMS Pagoda will also be lit up during that time, in expectation of Speedway Santa’s arrival.
Winterlights in Newfields
Every night between 5-9 p.m from before Thanksgiving until after the New Year, more than a million tiny lights will shine in a holiday display curated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. 2019 is the display’s third year in existence, and the sights and experience just keep getting better.
Entrance to the display does require tickets, but you can dance under the twinkle of holiday lights on the lawn, explore the Frosted Forest and sip hot chocolate (with or without a shot of something stronger) on the Snowflake Bridge with your love. When you’re done, feel free to examine the beautifully decorated rooms in historic Lily House for additional fun.
Christmas Nights of Lights
Do mobility issues limit your ability to walk around? Maybe you simply can’t enjoy a light show when you’re out in the cold. Well, pile everybody you can fit into your vehicle and head over to the Indiana State Fairgrounds at dusk for a brand new lighted display that goes on every night at dusk until New Year’s Day, 2020.
You can stay in your car while you sing along with the holiday tunes that are piped through your car’s radio as you drive around. Even better, the lighted displays are synced to the music, for a holiday light show like no other. A single $30 fee covers everybody in the vehicle — although single tickets are also available for $7 each.
We’re talking about the town, not the Jolly Old Elf. Santa Claus, Indiana, lives up to its name every year by being a perfect spot for families and friends to get their holiday spirit soaring. Bundle everyone into the car and head over to Lake Rudolph for an incredible 12-mile show that re-tells the classic story of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in holiday lights.
When you’re done, check out Santa’s Candy Castle to explore a variety of holiday treats and spend time roasting chestnuts and learning more about how American Christmas traditions have evolved. You can also see the Santa Claus Post Office, where volunteer “elves” respond to all the letters Santa gets in the mail.
A Merry Prairie Holiday
Rising out of love for community and Christmas, Conner Prairie has been celebrating the holidays in style for more than 40 years. Christmas past and Christmas present combine in a unique array of sights and activities, including the Winterland Wagon Ride that will take you through a forest of lights over the historic grounds.
When you’re done, take time to explore. Carolers will be strolling around, the Kringle Carousel is there to ride and the Animal Encounter Barn is sure to delight your little ones. You can also see re-enactments of how Christmas used to be celebrated during the Civil War and join in for storytime with Mrs. Claus. (We happen to know that the kids can also drop off letters to Mr. Claus while they’re there.)
If you’re looking for a friendly, festive getaway this season, Indiana has plenty of holiday attractions for singles and families alike. There’s something for everyone, whether you love modern light shows or are looking for something nostalgic. Just don’t blame us if you fall so much in love with the state’s Midwestern charm that you end up relocating here permanently!