Top 10 Holiday Events in Indianapolis

Halloween is over and now it’s time to make plans for holiday fun! Here are our picks for the top 10 holiday events in Indianapolis you’ll want on your calendar!

1. Elf The Musical at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Nov. 23- December 31 | Beef & Boards 

A young orphan, Buddy, is raised as an elf after he crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is taken to the North Pole. Unaware that he is a human, Buddy grows much larger than the other elves. Between his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities, Buddy is forced to face the truth and embarks on a journey to find his true identity. Discount of $6 off per ticket available to children ages 3-15. Children under age 3 cannot be admitted to this show.


2. Santa’s Arrival at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Nov. 23 | The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Clear your calendar the morning after Thanksgiving and join us for Santa’s Big Arrival and Jolly Days: Winter Wonderland! Santa arrives at the museum Friday morning via IndyCar, skids to a stop in the museum’s plaza around 9:00 am. Come join the fun, along with the elves, as you enjoy a free cup of cocoa. Welcome the jolly old elf into the museum with a sing-along led by The Chorduroys. Bonus: Recieve a 30% discount at the museum store from 8:30-10 am. 

Santa Will Arrive at The Children’s Museum to Ring in Winter Fun!
Santa arrives at the museum Saturday morning as chauffeur Ed Carpenter, driver and owner of the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing IndyCar

3. Downtown Indy, Inc.’s Circle of Lights

Nov. 23 | Monument Circle

Generations of families are drawn to this beautiful centerpiece each year with 52 garland strands and 4,784 colored lights strung from the top of the Monument to its base. Additionally, the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument will be surrounded with 26 larger-than-life toy soldiers and sailors, along with 26 peppermint sticks.

Millions of sightseers will take in this brilliant spectacle throughout the holiday season, lit through early January.  Travelocity named the Circle of Lights® one of the top five “must-see Christmas trees” in the nation.  USA Today also listed the Circle of Lights® as one the “10 Best Holiday Attractions.”


RELATED ARTICLE: FREE things to do this Holiday Season

4. Santa’s Mailbox

Nov. 19- Dec 10 | City Hall and Fishers Parks & Recreation

This holiday season, let us deliver a little magic straight to your mailbox! A Fishers tradition, children in 4th grade and under can drop off their letters to Santa in our special mailboxes to be sure they arrive safely to the North Pole. All letters must be dropped off by Monday, December 10 at 4:30 PM to ensure that Santa has enough time to reply. Please be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your letter. Santa’s Mailboxes are available inside City Hall (1 Municipal Drive) and at the Fishers Parks & Recreation office (11565 Brooks School Road).

5. Christmas at the Zoo

Nov. 23-Dec. 23 & Dec. 26-30 | The Indianapolis Zoo

Dating back to 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the nation to hold a holiday lights event. Year after year, Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union continues to grow. This year we’re offering more opportunities to visit, with Mondays and Tuesdays added in as well as extended hours until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. And the best part is it’s all included with regular admission!


 light displays at Christmas at the Zoo
Light displays at Christmas at the Zoo

6. Celebration Crossing At Indiana State Museum

Nov. 23 – Jan. 6 | Indiana State Museum

Celebration Crossing is the Indiana State Museums holiday experience, featuring photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus in their house, holiday music from local bands and choirs, rides on the Santa Claus Express train and other interactive activities.

New this year, visitors can tinker in Santa’s Workshop on the second floor, where they can create on the elves’ workbenches, map the flight of Santa’s reindeer around the globe and help pack Santa’s sleigh full of presents. Also new this year, on the first floor visitors can explore Santa’s Front Yard outside his house, where they’ll build a snowman, create fake snowballs, decorate trees and more.

7. Jingle Rails Returns To The Eiteljorg Museum

Nov. 17 – Jan. 21 | The Eiteljorg

photo credit is courtesy of the Eiteljorg Museum and Applied Imagination.
Jingle Rails; photo credit is courtesy of the Eiteljorg Museum and Applied Imagination.

The Eiteljorg Museum’s Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure is a journey to the Great American West – the real West and the West of the imagination. The popular locomotive wonderland and Indianapolis family tradition opens Saturday, Nov. 17.

New to Jingle Rails this season is a representation of U.S. Route 66, the iconic highway that carried motorists between Chicago and Los Angeles during the mid-20th century. Starting with the classic Chicago skyline and Route 66 sign, the new addition passes notable tourist attractions from the route’s heyday, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Cadillac Ranch in Texas, Sinclair filling station with its signature dinosaur and Blue Swallow Motel in New Mexico, all depicted in miniature. The scene ends in California at the Pacific Park Pier with a dazzling fully operating and illuminated Ferris wheel.

8. Festival of Trees at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center

Nov. 16 – Jan 5 | Indiana History Center

Experience the joy of the holiday season at the History Center! Eighty elaborately decorated trees are packed into our grand building to delight people of all ages. In past years, we’ve had upside-down trees, trees made from unconventional materials and even a virtual reality tree. You can vote for your favorites, but it will be a tough choice. This year, we’re decking out our 30-foot showstopper in an Indiana theme.

There’s something magical happening every day, and you’ll want to check out our special programs, too. Bring the kids and grandkids to the Sugarplum Breakfast to meet characters from The Nutcracker, imbibe in craft brews at Good Beers and Ugly Sweaters and channel Ralphie at A Christmas Story Day.

9. IPL Yuletide Celebration 

Nov. 30 – Dec. 23  | Traders Point Creamery

Broadway’s best singers and dancers will bring the Yuletide magic and music to life on the Hilbert Circle Theatre stage. Enjoy the traditions of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” the famous tap-dancing Santas, and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” This year also features “Holly Jolly Dollies,” “Jingle Belles and Beaux,” and Angela’s transcendent performance of “Mary Had a Baby.” And you won’t want to miss a new 2018 edition of the North Pole reality singing competition, “Santa’s Choice!”

New this year: Expressenz!
Indy’s own dance group Expressenz takes the Yuletide stage! When Expressenz competed in World of Dance, judge Jennifer Lopez was blown away. She said, “It was so perfectly in sync with every emotion and moment that you tried to create. It really moved me. I had goosebumps from the beginning.”

Visit for tickets and showtimes.

10. Winterlights at Newfields 

Nov. 18 – Jan. 6 | Newfields

Return to Winterlights this November 18 through January 6. The lights will dance again on the Lilly House lawn as you amble side by side with family and friends. You can still enjoy warm drinks, handmade s’mores, and unique photo ops. But this time? It’ll be among the glow of a million and a half lights. Our new Wintermarket will open, alongside some bigger, better light designs. Wanna upgrade? We’re offering special glasses that transform each and every light into a shimmering snowflake. Each pair comes with a complimentary warm drink and a tear off tab for buy one get one free admission from January 8 through Valentine’s Day weekend.

For more holiday events in Indianapolis make sure to check out the Indy’s Child calendar.

Indy's Child
Indy's Child
For 40 years, Indy's Child has been the trusted source for Indianapolis families seeking fun, educational, and enriching experiences. Our award-winning magazine and website are dedicated to providing expert advice, insider tips, and up-to-date information on everything from the best local attractions and events to parenting resources and support. As local experts deeply rooted in the central Indiana community, our passionate team at Indy's Child is dedicated to uncovering the best family-friendly experiences and resources our city has to offer. Whether you're new to parenting or looking for new ideas, Indy's Child is here to help you enjoy the adventure of raising a family in central Indiana.

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