Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Christmas is a special time in Indy when the entire city by the White River is dressed up in glowing lights. The downtown area, Indianapolis Zoo, and Newfields dazzle both locals and visitors, also offering plenty of things to do and quality entertainment.
Circle of Lights (November 27, 2020–early January; opening is a virtual event)
Circle of Lights is a symbol of Indianapolis Christmas. Every year, in late November, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument downtown becomes one giant Christmas tree. Since 1962, the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Monument Circle has been one of the most beloved local traditions attracting large crowds to the downtown. Entertainment program usually includes musical acts and Santa's appearance. The monument illuminated by about 5,000 lights is one of the most impressive in the Midwest. It is surrounded by 26 large toy soldiers and sailors and 26 peppermint sticks. The Christmas illumination at the Monument can be observed through early January.
Winterlights at Newfields (November 21, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Newfields Winterlights is one of the largest Christmas displays in Central Indiana. The historical garden is illuminated by over 1.5 million lights. Its main highlight is the Landscape of Light display synchronized to the Nutcracker, Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” and other tunes. The choreographed light show will entertain you during your evening stroll through the garden with a cup of hot cocoa. Or you can just sit back and relax at Whimsical Terrace, inspired by Northern Lights.
Christmas at the Zoo (November 20–December 30, 2020)
Indianapolis Zoo looks dazzling during the holiday season! Since 1967, it is hosting its annual holiday lights event. Christmas at the Zoo highlights includes the Tunnel of Lights, one of the most photographed spots in Indianapolis. At Penguin Pavillion kids can meet the birds that enjoy cold weather. Santa's Village, located under the Bicentennial Pavilion, is another kids' favorite. Children can visit the village and meet the Jolly Old Elf in Santa’s Study from 5 to 9 pm on Sundays through Thursdays, and from 5 to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen is another special place that is open through December 23d. Santa’s Barn features a sleigh and a few of Santa's reindeer.