The holiday season brings many wishes each year. From children writing letters to Santa to store patrons dropping change in a Salvation Army bucket in order to help the less fortunate, there is never a shortage of wistful, or wishful, thinking during these winter months. Some are wishing for a white Christmas, while others wish that it would never fall below 80 degrees outside. Some wish for gadgets and trinkets, and others wish for more time at home with their loved ones. Anyone wishing for a little Christmas cheer, however, need not look far. Central Indiana hosts countless holiday attractions each year that are aimed at people with many different interests, from race cars to history to classic Christmas fun.
Circle of Lights
Although the Circle of Lights celebration kicked off on Black Friday with over 100,000 people in attendance, and even a performance by a band of AU students and alumni, the 242-foot tall monument will be lit with nearly 5,000 lights until Jan. 6. The Circle of Lights has been listed by Travelocity as one of the top five Christmas trees in America.
The Circle of Lights is located on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, conveniently located near the Circle Center Mall, and there is no charge to see the tree.
Christmas at the Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the U.S. to host a Christmas light celebration. The event, which began in 1967, returns again this year with countless LED Christmas lights strung throughout the zoo, free refills on hot beverages, Christmas carolers and even a mistletoe scavenger hunt. Countless other Christmas festivities can be found throughout the zoo, including a 4-D theater featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, photo opportunities with Santa and a holiday-themed gift shop.
This event runs from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until Dec. 30 and is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Admission to the event is included with daily admission costs to the zoo, which opens at 12 p.m.
Lights at the Brickyard
In its inaugural year, the Lights at the Brickyard display allows visitors to drive their own vehicles on the famed bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are over 40 scenes featured with over 400 light displays, and the journey covers 1.7 miles. A variation of exhibit themes, including racing displays, is present.
Gates open at 6 p.m. each night. Sunday-Thursday nights, the gates close at 9 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays, the gates close at 10 p.m. The event runs until Dec. 31 and is located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prices to experience the Lights at the Brickyard vary from $25-$100. More information can be found online at https://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/lights.
Outdoor Holiday Adventure
Visitors will experience an 1800s Christmas at Conner Prairie. Opportunities for learning and participation in the winter activities are endless. The holiday events at Connor Prairie vary daily. Visitors will meet many characters as they prepare for the holidays and will have the opportunity to discover the holiday foods, games and gifts of the times. As part of the holiday celebration, Conner Prairie will host several walking tours that simulate a Christmas Eve in Prairietown more than 175 years ago.
The Outdoor Holiday Adventure will run until Dec. 31 and is located at Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana. Admission for holiday events is $12. Park hours and event details can be found online at www.connerprairie.org/
Festival of Trees
The Indiana Historical Society’s annual Festival of Trees boasts 72 Christmas trees this year, with themes ranging from the World Series and Super Mario Brothers to classic holiday displays. Visitors can interact with the display by voting for their favorite trees. Live music, a new feature this year, will be played at night while visitors admire the trees.
The event runs until Dec. 30. Admission for adults is $9. Hours for the Indiana Historical Society are Tuesday, 10 a.m. through 9 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 12-5 p.m. The Indiana Historical Society is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Other events include “Jingle Rails: The Western Rail Adventure” at the Eiteljorg Museum, “Christmas at the Lilly House” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and “Celebration Crossing” at the Indiana State Museum. More information for these events, and those mentioned above, can be found at www.visitindy.com/indianapolis-holiday-attractions.