Christmas in Indy is the best time of year — the lights, the trains, the trees, the snow. My children can’t wait to visit with Santa and go ice skating. I’m looking forward to the tree lightings and holiday theater shows. We’ve listed tons of the best Christmas events in Indianapolis and the surround areas.
We’ll be adding 2018 updates all season long!
Indianapolis Area Christmas Traditions
Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure at the Eiteljorg. Model trains make their way through miniature landscapes representative of Indianapolis and the American West. Nearly 1,200 feet of track fill the gallery as nine trains pass by 30 different landmarks. Don’t miss Old Faithful when it erupts!
Jolly Days at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Ice skate indoors on a synthetic ice floor, slide down the famous Yule Slide, have a snowball fight and find all of your friends at Jolly Days! Special events and programming take place throughout the season and Santa is available to visit with children on select days.
Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum. Visit with Santa, ride the L.S. Ayres train, build something and create crafts, visit other popular exhibits and enjoy special holiday programming and meals.
The Indiana Historical Society’s (IHS’s) annual Festival of Trees holiday exhibit. 80 elaborately decorated trees are on display at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. As visitors tour the winter wonderland, they also can take part in scavenger hunts for The Elf on the Shelf or the Weihnachtzgurke, 10 pickle ornaments hidden in trees throughout the building. When legs get weary, guests are invited to take a break in the Cole Porter Room, where a singer leads guests through holiday-themed songs, as well as popular Porter standards.
Circle of Lights on Monument Circle. Circle of Lights illuminates Monument Circle in a large festival and then remains lit through the New Year with lots of fun things to do on the Circle.
Fishers Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland. Celebrate the start of the holiday season at Fishers’ Nickel Plate Amphitheater! Free children’s activities, ice carving demonstrations, a petting zoo, live music from Fishers Music Works, and more. Stop by anytime during the season to see the perfectly alight display.
Lights at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Enjoy a two mile driving course through over 500 displays made up of three million Christmas lights. Santa will visit on scheduled nights and on Tuesdays, motorcycles are invited to drive the course to see the lights.
Winterlights at Newfields. Stroll through the gardens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art beneath the glow of one and a half million lights. This popular event sold out last year so get your tickets right now.
Polar Express Trains
Santa Express at Sullivan’s Hardware. This trackless train runs through intricately decorated winter and Christmas scenes and ends at the “North Pole” to visit with Indianapolis’ most popular Santa Claus. Children can participate in activities while they wait. Beverages are available for purchase at the “train station.”
Reindeer Ride at Nickel Plate Express. Hop aboard the Nickel Plate Express, departing from Atlanta, Indiana! Visit with Santa, sip hot chocolate, and enjoy the holiday lights aboard the Reindeer Ride Express.
Polar Express at Whitewater Valley Scenic Railroad. Board the train at Grand Central Station in Connersville to pick up Santa Claus at the North Pole. Once on board, Santa will come and visit with each child on the train to give them the special first gift of Christmas. Hot chocolate and cookies are served on board.
French Lick Scenic Railway Polar Express Train Ride. Once the train is underway, the conductor will punch your ticket as the book, The Polar Express, is read aloud and enhanced with song and dance by our crew, with a special Cookie & Hot Chocolate presentation, just like in the movie! When the train pulls into the North Pole, Santa Claus himself jumps on board and he presents each child with their own “first gift of the season”, a shiny silver sleigh bell. You will also be entertained by Santa’s elves with interactive songs and dance that everyone can participate in.
Holiday Concerts and Shows
The Nutcracker in Indianapolis. There are so many wonderful interpretations of the Nutcracker (hip hop, short, full length, ballet). Find the one that’s right for your family.
A Christmas Carol at Indianapolis Repertory Theatre. Watch a classic on stage at the IRT. A great show for the whole family.
A Christmas Carol at Beef & Boards. If you’re looking for dinner and show, visit Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre for an award winning buffet and a performance of a Christmas Carol.
It’s a Wonderful Life at the Palladium in Carmel. This live radio play will ring this holiday classic to life on stage through traditional radio show storytelling.
Carmel Symphony Holiday Pops at the Palladium. This annual concert is a favorite for locals of all ages. The afternoon performance features Santa and Mrs. Claus as special guests.
Handle’s Messiah at the Palladium. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir performs the greatest story ever told.
Festival of Carols at the Palladium. The Midwest’s beloved holiday tradition includes your favorite carols and Christmas music featuring the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and musical surprises for kids from 1 to 92.
Peanut Butter & Jam: Holiday on Strings at the Center for Performing Arts. Children ages 1 – 7 will love the fast paced, entertaining cabaret of hand-crafted marionettes. Children and adults will delight in the hilarious antics of the marionettes and the skill of the puppeteers. Everyone will want to sing along with the holiday classics and favorites.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical at Clowes Memorial Hall. Based on the animated television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and the stage production directed and conceived by Jeff Frank and First Stage. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, as they come to life.
NOËL the Musical at Clowes Hall. a heartwarming tale of a little girl (Noël), who is preparing for her starring role in a school Christmas play when her mother suddenly disappears. To avoid being taken into care, Noël keeps her mother’s disappearance a secret and embarks alone on a quest to find her.
Littlest Angel at Schrott Center for the Arts. The Christmas Spirit and the Beauty of Dance in three Magical performances.