When people ask me what my favorite Christmas activities and events are in Indianapolis, I always start my list with the arrival of Santa the Friday after Thanksgiving. Year after year, we line the driveway of the Indiana State Museum along with a small crowd and we wait with anticipation for Santa and Mrs. Claus to arrive in their helicopter. On Friday, November 29th, 2019 Santa and friends will arrive on the lawn of the Indiana State Museum to greet all of the good girls and boys, kick off the magical season and open Celebration Crossing.

Santa Arrives in a Helicopter in Indy

The elves watch from the roof of the Indiana State Museum and then they signal the crowd below that Santa is on his way. Children and adults watch the sky to see the helicopter circle the museum lawn before finally landing. Watching Santa land and get out of the helicopter is one of our favorite Christmas traditions with our kids. After Santa and Mrs. Claus have said hello to their friends and fans, they make their way in to the museum where there’s typically a balloon drop to welcome him with fanfare as he takes his seat in the Santa house to pose for holiday photos.

Before Santa’s arrival, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir will perform at 11 a.m. in the Great Hall. Meijer will be onsite to offer free cider and doughnut holes from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Watching Santa’s Helicopter landing is free. All other activities at Celebration Crossing require museum admission. Parking is available for a fee in the underground garage. Families that qualify can receive discounted admission to the Indiana State Museum throught the Indiana Access Pass.

Celebration Crossing Holiday Exhibit

After Santa’s arrival, all guests who purchase museum admission can make their way up to Celebration Crossing, the Indiana State Museum holiday exhibit, and ride the vintage L.S. Ayres Santa Claus Express train. This year, museum visitors can participate in fun activities in Santa’s Workshop and Santa’s Front Yard, help pack Santa’s sleigh full of presents, enjoy interactive story times, help train miniature reindeer in the reindeer flight school and even more family fun activities.

L.S. Ayes Tea Room

A visit to the L.S. Ayres Tea Room is a long-standing tradition for many Indianapolis families and is a tradition we embrace every few years. While I can’t speak for all of the menu items, I can tell you that our whole family loves the Classically-Inspired Tea Experience, and there’s even a children’s portion. You’ll have tea and then a three-tier curate stand is brought to you with a selection of pastries, sandwiches, scones and fruit. Reservations are recommended, as I mentioned, this is one of the top traditions for Indianapolis residents of many ages. Reservations can be made by calling (317) 232-1637.

Visiting the Indiana State Museum Exhibits

While you’re at the Indiana State Museum for Celebration Crossing and the Santa’s Arrival in Indy, check out the permanent and visiting exhibits. One of our favorite ones is still at the museum, A•MAZE•D: The Puzzling World of Dave Phillips will be on site through the holidays!

More Santa Arrivals in Indy

Santa Arrives by firetruck at the airport

Santa arrives by IndyCar at the Children’s Museum