Guide to Christmas in Indianapolis: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Christmas tree on Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis
Henryk Sadura / Getty Images

Leading up to the holidays, Indianapolis' calendar is packed to the brim with festive events and extravagant light displays to wow spectators of all ages. From the make-believe baking and ice skating at the Children's Museum to the million-plus lights that adorn Newfields, there's no shortage of winter entertainment in Indy—you can even find yourself partying with Colts players if you're lucky. Find out how to celebrate the yuletide season in Indiana's capital city.

01 of 06

Join the Children's Museum's Jolly Days

Jolly Days exterior

Jolly Days

At the Children's Museum's Jolly Days Winter Wonderland—from November 21, 2020, to January 3, 2021—kids can make it snow in the Giant Snow Globe, ride down the Yule Slide, "ice skate" in just a pair of socks, and meet the Jolly Days characters, from Scrooge to Mrs. Claus. The event will feature an ice castle, “ice fishing” in a pretend pond, make-believe baking of wintertime sweets, and simulated snowball fights using soft yarn pom-poms. Santa will of course be in attendance to take letters to the North Pole and pose for pictures from afar.

02 of 06

Walk Through the Festival of Trees

Indiana Historical Society historical exhibit

Indiana Historical Society

Walk through a holiday forest featuring more than 80 elaborately decorated trees at this Indiana History Center event, held from November 13 to January 9. During the 2020-2021 season, the festival will take place both in person and virtually. It will include weekend visits from Santa, craft-making, light displays, and more. A Sugarplum Breakfast would normally be attended by familiar characters from "The Nutcracker," but that has been canceled this season.

03 of 06

Marvel at the Winterlights

Winterlights at Newfields


Some of the most spectacular light displays in the city can be found at Newfields, the 152-acre campus surrounding the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Here, guests get the opportunity to marvel at millions of dancing lights as they stroll along the garden paths on their own accounts. Holiday tunes, hot cocoa, and s'mores by the fire make the event even more festive. This season's Winterlights will be on display from November 21 through January 3. Advance tickets are required.

04 of 06

Enjoy Elaborate Decor at Lilly House

Lilly House at Newfields decorated for Christmas


Also at Newfields, the Oldfields–Lilly House (a U.S. National Historic Landmark that opened in 1913) gets a festive makeover ahead of the holidays each year. The Great Hall will become "a scene from a snow-covered park, complete with trees, a gate, and snowballs," Newfields says, while the dining room will be "frozen over with icicles." This year's decorations—on display from November 17 to January 3—are inspired by nature. Educators will be on site every Saturday and Sunday to teach visitors more about the house and the families who once lived there. Again, advanced tickets are required.

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05 of 06

Attend the Colts' Blood Donation Party

Indianapolis Colts annual blood drive and holiday fest

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts host Indy’s largest single-day blood drive in partnership with the Indiana Blood Center, CBS4, Indiana University Health, ATI Physical Therapy, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the 20/20 Institute. At the Bleed Blue Blood Drive and Holiday Fest, you can give the gift of life by donating blood, then reap the rewards of locker room tours, meet-and-greets with the Colts cheerleaders, and more. In 2020, the usual tours, games, holiday movies, and hands-on activities will not take place. The blood drive will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 12, 2020.

06 of 06

Celebrate With Beef & Boards Dinner Theater

Beef & Boards performing "A Christmas Carol"

Beef & Boards

The Beef & Boards dinner theatre company has been presenting its annual holiday variety show for decades. In addition to plenty of well-performed Christmas classics, the show also features a superb orchestra playing holiday favorites and terrific choreography. Beef & Boards also hosts other Christmas holiday shows throughout the winter, such as "A Christmas Story" and "A Christmas Carol" in the past; however, the theatre will remain closed through the 2020-2021 season.