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Bright lights for cold, winter nights

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There are a few perks to getting to the time of year when the sun is tucked away beyond the horizon by 5:30 p.m. and the temperature struggles to get above freezing.

Getting to be with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas is good, yes, but there’s also the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Below isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you can do in Indianapolis over the next month or so, but it should be a good start.


It’s perhaps the most iconic holiday sight in Indianapolis. Thousands of people will pack around Monument Circle to watch it turn into a Christmas tree. Along with the lighting ceremony, entertainers will also perform.

• When: Nov. 29 — Festivities begin at 6 p.m., monument lighting will be at approximately 7:55 p.m.

• Where: Monument Circle, 1 Monument Circle

• Cost: Free

• Learn more: 317-232-7615


The Broad Ripple Village Association will host its annual Broad Ripple Lights Up Holiday Festival and Parade, featuring holiday-themed activities for children, live entertainment, a lighting ceremony and of course the twilight parade.

Children can explore Wonderland Village, where they can make ornaments, necklaces, bookmarks, gingerbread men and more.

The parade starts at Broad Ripple Avenue and the Monon Trail, heads west on Broad Ripple Avenue and circles back east on Westfield Boulevard to Wintrhop Avenue.

• When: 3-6 p.m. Dec. 1. Parade starts at 5:30 p.m., lighting ceremony starts at 6 p.m.

• Where: 818 Broad Ripple Ave.

• Cost: Free

• Learn more: 317-251-2782


Winterlights at Newfields is back for a third year. Stroll through the Winter Wonderland, enjoy apple cider or hot chocolate (with spiked options for adults), and make s’mores over a fire pit.

The grounds will also feature light displays, including the Lilly House lawn. Newfields will have special eyeglasses for guests that turn each of the 1.5 million lights into a shimmering snowflake.

Guests can also visit Deck the Halls at the Lilly House, where the historic mansion will have decorations, including holiday floral arrangements.

• When: 5-9 p.m. through Jan. 5 (check online or call for exact schedule)

• Where: Newfields, 4000 Michigan Road

• Cost: Through Dec. 2: $20 adults, $12 youth (6-17), free for children 5 and under. After Dec. 2: $25, $17 and free, respectively.

• Learn more: 317-923-1331 


Indianapolis is perhaps most famous for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and guests have been able to take their own wheels on the historic track to enjoy the lights display. More than 3 million lights take up a two-mile course that goes through the infield and the oval, including the Yard of Bricks start and finish line.

• When: Hours vary Nov. 27-Jan. 5 (check online or call for exact schedule)

• Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 4790 W. 16th St.

• Cost: Ticket prices vary

• Learn more: 317-492-8500


The Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the country to have a holiday lights event in 1967, and it’s added even more for the 51st year. That includes Santa’s Village, where guests can visit Santa through Dec. 23, see Santa’s sleigh and reindeer, get up close to penguins and more.

Christmas at the Zoo has been voted in the top five of USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights three years in a row.

• When: Nov. 23-Dec. 30 — 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (check online or call for exact schedule)

• Where: Indianapolis Zoo, 1200 W. Washington St.

• Cost: Ticket prices vary by day and are cheaper online

• Learn more: 317-630-2001


The Indiana Historical Society will have 92 trees on display. Festival of Trees is famous for having trees that are upside down and made from unconventional material such as tires and books.

• When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Jan. 4 (check online or call for exact schedule)

• Where: Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St.

• Cost: $13 adults, $12 seniors, $5 youth 5-17, children under 5 are free

• Learn more: 317-232-1882

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