As the holiday season approaches, joy and cheer fill the air in Indianapolis, especially at the Indiana State Museum, where Celebration Crossing, a beloved holiday tradition of over 30 years, returns. Beginning November 24 and continuing until December 31, visitors are welcomed into a festive wonderland from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with hours extended to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
Celebration Crossing is supported by the Nicholas H. Noyes Jr. Memorial Foundation, Inc. and the Ayres Foundation.
Santa’s Helicopter Arrival
On opening day, Santa Claus himself whirls in via a helicopter provided by Sweet Helicopter at 11 a.m. The jovial visitor will greet families and share a special Christmas story before lighting the spectacular 92 County Tree in the museum.
Santa continues to meet visitors daily in his enchanting house, decorated with cheerful artworks by local artist Candice Hartsough. Hartsough’s vibrant illustrations bring holiday cheer to every corner of Celebration Crossing, even around the popular Snowfall Express.
The Snowfall Express
The Snowfall Express captivates families with its whimsical charm. The 18-passenger train on the museum’s third floor takes passengers on a journey through a snowy forest filled with music, movement, and wonder as woodland creatures come to life in delightful winter scenes.
Visitors have ample opportunities for more holiday magic around the museum. They can engage in hands-on activities in Santa’s Front Yard and the Reindeer Barn, hear holiday tunes from local choirs and ensembles at Holiday Sounds, and view the original Santa Claus Express, a vintage train relic from downtown Indianapolis’ L.S. Ayres store from 1991.
An additional festive highlight is the 25-foot tall 92 County Tree located at the museum’s Washington Street entrance. A proud fixture since 2008, the tree was recently revamped for this year’s celebration, now featuring 37 new ornaments hand-crafted by Indiana artisans. A complimentary digital kiosk offers visitors insights into each county’s unique ornament and the artist behind its creation.
To mark the end of the holiday season, the Family New Year’s Eve celebration invites everyone to ring in 2024 early with fun activity stations, dancing, face painting, and photo opportunities, highlighted by an impressive balloon drop finale.
Access to Celebration Crossing is free for members and included in the museum admission, which costs $20 for adults, $14 for youth (ages 3-17), and $18 for seniors. Visitors can also enhance their holiday experience by reserving additional events like Breakfast with Santa, Snowflake Pajama Party, Winter Wonderland Workshop, and Putting on Ayres: Shared Stories.
L.S. Ayres Tea Room
Adding a tasty touch to the holiday revels, the L.S. Ayres Tea Room™ serves a rich array of dishes daily, from succulent chicken velvet soup and tea-time sandwiches to tempting desserts.
Breakfast with Santa
Dates: Nov. 26; Dec. 2, 3, 10, 16 and 23
Time: 9-9:45 am
Address: 650 W Washington St
Dates: Nov. 25; Dec. 9 & 17
Time: Seatings at 8, 8:30, and 9, and 9:30 am
Address: 650 W Washington St
Enjoy a delicious and festive breakfast featuring live music in the Indiana State Museum’s Great Hall or in the L.S. Ayres Tea Room. After breakfast, visit Santa in his house and take a ride on the Santa Claus Express train—tickets required at least 24 hours before your seating.
For more information on ticket purchasing, program reservations, and holiday events across the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites’ 12 locations statewide, visit www.indianamuseum.org.