Indiana State Museum’s Holiday Events & New Train Ride

The Indiana State Museum’s Celebration Crossing holiday festivities will take on a magical feeling this year with a new 13,000-square-foot, 4½-minute train ride called the Snowfall Express that will transport visitors through a forest where Indiana’s animals past and present are preparing for winter’s first snow.

Snowfall Express Train

From November 26 through January 2, 2022, visitors riding the train will experience the sights, sounds and even aromas of the season.

Related Article: 7 Best Holiday Train Rides in Indiana

“You’re taking that journey through the first snowfall in every way that we can present it,” said Brian Mancuso, the museum’s chief officer of engagement. “The whole thing has a storybook feel, and at the core of it is family memories and bringing families together.”

The new ADA-accessible trackless train has four cars and seats about 18, including adults. The ride, which is free with museum admission, was created and designed by Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites’ staff and enhanced by the artwork of Indianapolis artist Candice Hartsough with original music composed by Fort Wayne-based Eric Van Cleave.

“It’s a bigger, more immersive experience with music and sights, lights and even smells in a couple of places,” Mancuso said. “We think families are going to love it.”

Celebration Crossing

Celebration Crossing begins Nov. 26 when Santa arrives by helicopter at 11 a.m. to light the 92 County Tree and kick-off the holiday season. This year, Santa will be back in his house and available for either up-close or socially distanced visits. Click here for schedule. 

Also this year, the historic L.S. Ayres train will be on display again, and the L.S. Ayres Tea Room will be open for lunch and other events (registration required). The Great Hall will again be decorated with giant ornaments and lit-trees, and experiences that were new last year – like the Reindeer Barn – will be returning. Next to the Reindeer Barn will be a new feature called the Tot Spot, where the museum’s youngest visitors can enjoy toys and activities built for them.

Holiday Programs and Events

Celebration Crossing 2021 also features these programs and events. Find all details and purchase tickets at indianamuseum.org/celebration-crossing.

Lunch Buffet in the L.S. Ayres Tea Room
Wed.-Sun., Nov. 26-Jan. 2, 2022, plus Dec. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28
Seatings at 11 and 11:15 a.m. and 12:30, 12:45, 2 and 2:15 p.m.
$26.50/adult, $15.50/youth (ages 3-12), free for children younger than age 3

Treat friends and family to a nostalgic lunch buffet in the beloved L.S. Ayres Tea Room™. Throughout the holiday season, you can indulge in favorites like chicken velvet soup, tea-time sandwiches, miniature desserts and more. Tea Room gift certificates are available for purchase at indianamuseum.org.

Santa’s Holiday Breakfast in the Great Hall
9 to 9:45 a.m., Nov. 28, Dec. 4, 5, 12 and 18
$35/adult (ages 13+), $25/youth (ages 3-13), 25% discount for members; free for children younger than age 3

Enjoy a delicious and festive buffet breakfast with Santa amidst the holiday splendor of Celebration Crossing featuring holiday music, decorations and Santa’s helpers in the Great Hall. Registration required at least 24 hours prior to each event.

Holiday Sounds
10 to 10:30 a.m., 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Dec. 1-5, 8-9 and 15-17
Included with museum admission

Listen and watch as school and community choirs, bands, ensembles and soloists perform holiday music daily in the museum’s Great Hall.

Magical Mornings 
For ages 6 and younger
9 to 10 a.m., Dec. 3, 10, 17 and *31
Included with museum admission

During this early opening hour for families with young children, you can visit Santa, engage in two different interactive story times (9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) and experience our new toddler area and holiday fun in Santa’s Front Yard. This space features an interactive Reindeer Barn where families can learn more about these amazing wintery animals. Magical Mornings feature fewer light shows, limited sounds and small crowd sizes to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for the littlest museum visitor and children with autism spectrum disorder. (*Santa will be back at the North Pole and not present on Dec. 31.)

Winter Wonderland Workshop
11 a.m. to noon, Dec. 4 and 9
$14/youth, 25% discount for members; museum admission not included

Celebrate winter festivities with this hands-on, STEAM-inspired workshop for 4- to 6-year-olds as kids design and engineer their own (inedible) cardboard gingerbread homes.

Putting on Ayres: Tales from the Tea Room
3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5
$22.50-$30.50/ person

Enjoy a festive dessert buffet including mini pecan ice cream balls, lemon berry mascarpone cake and miniature pastries, plus add a Clown Cone or Snow Princess option, from the L.S. Ayres Tea Room™ as museum staff share items from the collection that are associated with the Tea Room. Registration required by 3:30 p.m. Dec. 2. This event is for ages 15-plus.

Snowflake Pajama Party
6 to 8 p.m., Dec. 14
$10/person, $5/Access Pass member, 25% discount for members, free for children younger than age 2

Explore Celebration Crossing and see Santa while wearing your PJs during this night filled with wonder and hands-on holiday activities.

Family New Year’s Eve: Sparkle & Shine
6 to 9 p.m., Dec. 31
$16/person, $8/Access Pass member, 25% discount for members, free for children younger than age 3

Start off the 2022 festivities with glittering tattoos, music, a dance party, and more. Strike a pose at one of the photo ops, visit activity stations in the galleries, experience a science show and end the night with a balloon drop and confetti celebration at 8 p.m.

In addition, for those staying home, the Jingle Hangout – an assortment of games and activities – will be back online at indianamuseum.org/jingle-hangout.

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