Indianapolis Thanksgiving Events Guide

Things to Do in Indianapolis Thanksgiving Weekend

This Thanksgiving weekend, Indianapolis comes alive with festive events that are perfect for family and friends. Start your holiday season at the Circle of Lights at Soldiers and Sailors Monument. This event lights up the city with thousands of bulbs, making it a spectacular sight and a great photo opportunity for everyone.

Just a short drive away, experience a slice of Germany at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. Here, you can shop for unique crafts and try out some authentic German treats like bratwursts and pretzels. It's a wonderful place to find gifts and enjoy the cozy holiday atmosphere.

For family fun, visit the Jolly Days Winter Wonderland at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. This event transforms the museum into a magical holiday-themed space with activities and displays that captivate the imaginations of both young and old.

Another great activity is a ride on the Nickel Plate Express. This train ride offers beautiful scenic views accompanied by holiday music, creating a relaxing and joyful experience. It's a unique way to see the countryside and get into the holiday spirit.

Each of these activities offers a special way to enjoy the holiday weekend and make lasting memories. Whether you're shopping, sightseeing, or just enjoying the festive atmosphere, Indianapolis has something for everyone this Thanksgiving weekend.

Explore Circle City Traditions

Discover Indianapolis S Unique Customs

Begin your Thanksgiving weekend in Indianapolis by diving into some of the city's favorite traditions. A must-see is the Circle of Lights. This event beautifully illuminates the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, turning it into what's often called the world's largest Christmas tree.

Picture this: more than 4,784 lights cascading from the monument's peak to its base, lighting up the area with a breathtaking glow.

Held annually, the Circle of Lights ceremony signals the start of the holiday season in Indianapolis, offering a place for the community to come together in celebration. As you join the crowd, you'll be surrounded by joyous faces, all sharing in the holiday cheer. It's a perfect opportunity to connect with others and soak in the festive atmosphere.

While you're there, take a moment to look at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument itself. This landmark isn't only a central feature of the event but also a tribute to Indiana's historical and architectural significance. The monument honors the state's military personnel who've served and sacrificed.

Attending this event is a wonderful way to kickstart your holiday celebrations with a sense of community and historical appreciation.

Visit Carmel Christkindlmarkt

After your visit to Circle City, make your way to the Carmel Christkindlmarkt in Indianapolis. This market is a treasure trove for unique holiday gifts, including handcrafted wooden toys, detailed nutcrackers, and intricate music boxes. The market evokes the essence of a traditional German holiday market, providing a festive shopping experience.

As you explore the various stalls, you'll find a range of beautifully crafted ornaments and the sought-after collectible boot mug, which is particularly popular among market-goers. This is a great opportunity to pick up distinctive and memorable gifts for your loved ones.

Treat yourself to some traditional German holiday treats while you're there. Enjoy a warm cup of Glühwein, a spiced mulled wine ideal for the cooler weather, or choose a rich hot cocoa if you're looking for a non-alcoholic option. Taste the soft, spice-infused Lebkuchen (gingerbread), indulge in the creamy Raclette cheese, and don't miss out on the Stollen, a festive fruit bread filled with nuts and spices, all adding to the authentic German experience.

Enhance your visit by skating at the Ice at Carter Green skating rink, which is open during the market from November 22nd and 24th to 26th. Skating here, under the festive lights and to the sound of seasonal music, caps off a perfect holiday outing with an extra touch of magic.

Enjoy Jolly Days Winter Wonderland

Festive Winter Wonderland Fun

Looking for a unique family event this holiday season? Visit the Jolly Days Winter Wonderland at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, running from November 25 to December 24. Immerse yourself and your loved ones in a magical setting that captivates both children and adults.

Upon your arrival, you'll meet Jingles the Jolly Bear along with a variety of festive characters who truly make the holiday season come alive. These engaging figures add a fun, interactive element to your visit, enhancing your holiday experience.

One of the highlights at the museum is the synthetic ice rink where you can ice skate in your socks! This twist on traditional ice skating adds a fun challenge and is sure to delight your family. Additionally, explore the Ice Castle's dazzling ice walls and towering structures designed to spark everyone's imagination.

Don't forget to step inside the Giant Snow Globe for a memorable family photograph. It's not just about snapping a picture, but about capturing the joy of being together in a mesmerizing snowy setting.

Make time for a visit to Santa in his cozy museum corner. It's a great chance for kids to tell Santa their holiday wishes and for you to capture another precious holiday moment.

Jolly Days Winter Wonderland is more than just an event; it's a chance to create lasting memories with your family during the festive season. Whether you're skating, exploring, or chatting with Santa, each activity is designed to provide joy and entertainment.

Ride the Nickel Plate Express

If you're in Indianapolis for Thanksgiving, don't miss the opportunity to ride the Nickel Plate Express. Departing from Forest Park in Noblesville, this train turns into a festive wonder.

Choose from two unique experiences: the Reindeer Express, where you can sing along and meet Santa, or the Holiday Cheers for a more relaxed vibe.

When you step onto the Nickel Plate Express, the train whistle marks the start of your journey. Inside, the carriages are warmly decorated, offering a cozy escape from the cold.

Picture yourself enjoying a hot cocoa as you travel through Indianapolis's picturesque landscapes, enhanced by holiday decorations.

This train ride is much more than a simple trip from one place to another; it's a full-blown holiday event. It's a great way to make new memories with your loved ones, filled with laughter and songs.

Each ride option brings its own festive touch, making your experience unique and enjoyable. So, get your tickets, dress warmly, and get ready for a fun outing on the Nickel Plate Express. It's an ideal addition to your holiday weekend.

Experience Celebration Crossing

Experience Holiday Magic Downtown

Discover the Charm of Celebration Crossing

Starting November 25, the Indiana State Museum transforms into a winter wonderland for Celebration Crossing. Kick off the holiday season uniquely as Santa Claus arrives by helicopter at 11 am. It's not just a spectacular entrance but a fun way for families to start their holiday experience.

After Santa's arrival, witness the lighting of the 92 County Tree. This marks the beginning of a series of festive activities that cater to all ages. It's an excellent opportunity for everyone to come together and enjoy the spirit of the season.

All Aboard the Snowfall Express!

Hop on the Snowfall Express train ride for an enchanting journey through festive scenes. This new addition offers a delightful way for kids and adults alike to feel the excitement of the holidays.

Make sure to stop by Santa's Front Yard and the Reindeer Barn. Here, kids can meet Santa and tell him their holiday wishes. It's a personal touch that adds meaning to their visit, making it more memorable.

Engage in Unique Holiday Activities

Try ice skating in your socks for a twist on traditional ice skating, explore the sparkling Ice Castle, or immerse yourself in the Giant Snow Globe at Jolly Days Winter Wonderland. These activities are designed not just for fun but to create lasting holiday memories.

Why Celebration Crossing is a Must-Visit

Celebration Crossing is more than just an event; it's a blend of tradition and new surprises, crafted to start your holiday season with a smile. From the moment Santa arrives to the end of the day, each activity is thoughtfully placed to ensure visitors of all ages leave with joy and festive cheer.

Don't miss out on making this a part of your holiday tradition. Join us to experience firsthand the magic and thrill of Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum.

Attend Suburban Indy Holiday Show

Planning for the Thanksgiving weekend? Consider adding the Suburban Indy Holiday Show to your itinerary. It's happening from November 24-26. This event brings together a wide variety of exhibitors, ranging from skilled local artisans to unique product sellers. It's a fantastic opportunity to find one-of-a-kind gifts that reflect the diversity and talent of our community.

To make the most of your visit, take a look at the showtimes beforehand. This will help you plan your day effectively, ensuring you don't miss any of the great offerings. Whether you're on the lookout for handmade jewelry, custom home decor, or local gourmet foods, you'll find something special at this show.

Why is this event worth your time? It not only supports local businesses and craftsmen but also gives you a chance to pick up distinct and meaningful gifts just in time for the holiday season. Remember, by attending, you're contributing to the local economy and encouraging community talent.

Show Dates and Times

Plan Your Visit to the Suburban Indy Holiday Show: Set your reminders for the upcoming Holiday Show from November 24-26. This event is a fantastic opportunity to dive into the holiday mood while supporting local craftsmen and businesses. The show features an array of unique gift options that are ideal for everyone on your list, and you can find beautiful decorations to enhance your home for the season.

Useful Tips for a Great Experience:

  1. Schedule Your Arrival: The doors open daily at 10 AM and close at 7 PM. By arriving early, you can beat the bigger crowds and get the first look at exclusive items.
  2. Buy Tickets Online: Tickets are only $5 online, half the price of those sold at the door. This not only saves you money but also time, as you won't have to wait in line.
  3. Free Parking: Remember, parking is free! The money you save here can go towards an extra gift or treating yourself to something nice from the diverse range of vendors.

Why Attend?

Attending the Suburban Indy Holiday Show is more than just shopping; it's an experience that fosters community spirit and supports local entrepreneurship. Whether you're looking for a handmade piece of jewelry, customized home decor, or a unique toy for the kids, you're likely to find something special while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Enjoy the show, make memorable holiday discoveries, and take pride in knowing that each purchase helps someone in your community.

Featured Exhibitors List

Experience the magic of the holiday season at the Suburban Indy Holiday Show, where you'll find an impressive selection of unique items crafted by local artisans and innovative creators.

As you stroll through the event, enjoy the festive lights that add a cheerful glow to each booth, enhancing your shopping experience.

This event is the largest of its kind in the region, attracting a diverse group of talented individuals, from experienced entrepreneurs to up-and-coming artists.

You'll encounter a variety of products such as handcrafted jewelry inspired by nature, custom home decor that personalizes your living spaces, and gourmet treats that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

Be sure to take advantage of the free parking available, which makes visiting the show convenient and stress-free.

With tickets priced at only $5 when purchased online, it's an affordable way to support local businesses and find unique gifts for your loved ones.

Whether you're on a mission to find the perfect gift or just looking to enjoy the festive atmosphere, the Suburban Indy Holiday Show offers a rich experience that celebrates local craftsmanship and the holiday spirit.

Don't miss this opportunity to connect with the community and find something special!

Skate at Local Ice Rinks

Enjoy Ice Skating Locally

This Thanksgiving weekend, you have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy ice skating, a popular winter activity, at several locations around Indianapolis.

If you're looking for an outdoor experience, Federal Hill Commons Ice Plaza offers a picturesque setting ideal for family outings.

Alternatively, Carmel Ice Skadium provides a covered area that's perfect when you want to escape the cold wind.

Both of these venues are equipped to accommodate skaters of all levels by offering skate rentals. This means you don't need to worry about bringing your own equipment; you can just show up and start skating. This service is especially helpful for new skaters or visitors who mightn't own a pair of skates.

Choosing to skate at either location not only promises a lot of fun but also supports local community spots that become lively meeting places during the holiday season.

Whether you're a seasoned skater or trying it for the first time, these rinks provide a safe and enjoyable environment to create lasting memories with friends and family.

Seasonal Rink Locations

Enjoy the thrill of ice skating at popular spots like Federal Hill Commons Ice Plaza and Ice Ribbon at Grand Junction Plaza in Indianapolis. With the holiday season right around the corner, these rinks become vibrant hubs of activity and cheer.

Ice skating is an ideal way to mix fun with physical exercise, suitable for both experienced skaters and newcomers.

Here are practical tips to enhance your ice skating outings:

  1. Select the Right Rink: For stunning scenery, choose an outdoor rink like Ice at Carter Green. Prefer a warmer setting? Indoor rinks such as Carmel Ice Skadium offer a cozy skating environment.
  2. Schedule Your Visit: Rinks are busier during the holidays. Visit their websites to view their schedules and try to go at times when they're less crowded.
  3. Enjoy the Atmosphere: The cool breeze and festive music can make your skating session more delightful. Remember, it's also about spending quality time with friends and family during the holiday season.

Whether you're skating beneath the open sky or inside a sheltered arena, Indianapolis's ice rinks promise a lively and enjoyable experience.

Skating Equipment Rentals

Renting skates at your local ice rink is a fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit during Thanksgiving weekend. You can easily join in the fun at popular spots like Federal Hill Commons Ice Plaza or Grand Junction Plaza, where the magic of skating under the stars or around the unique Ice Ribbon awaits. With skate rentals readily available, there's no need to buy and maintain your own gear.

Every rink in Indianapolis, including cozy spots like Carmel Ice Skadium and bustling venues like The Arctic Zone and Fuel Tank at Fishers, provides a variety of skate sizes and styles. This ensures that everyone, from kids to adults, can find a comfortable pair, making it easy to enjoy hours of skating fun.

The option to rent skates not only simplifies the experience but also adds to the festive mood, turning an ordinary outing into a memorable holiday event. It's all about convenience – just show up, grab a pair of skates, and hit the ice with friends and family.

Meet Santa at Conner Prairie

Visit Santa at Conner Prairie on November 25-26 for a memorable holiday experience. This event offers a fantastic opportunity to share your festive wishes with Santa while enjoying a hearty breakfast. The historic setting provides a unique backdrop that enhances the holiday atmosphere.

How to Enjoy Your Visit:

  1. Capture the Moment: Remember to bring your camera or smartphone to take a photo with Santa. This is a great chance to create lasting memories with your family in a beautiful setting.
  2. Explore the Grounds: After your meal, explore the Merry Prairie Holiday exhibit. Walk through the recreated 1836 Prairietown and the Civil War Adventure area, beautifully decorated with holiday lights and festive activities that offer a glimpse into the past.
  3. Participate Actively: Get involved with the interactive displays and activities available. You could make a Victorian Christmas ornament or listen to stories about holiday traditions from long ago. These activities are designed to be enjoyable and educational for visitors of all ages.

Make your holiday season special by visiting Conner Prairie, where you can't only meet Santa but also dive into the historical and festive spirit of the place.

Shop at Athenaeum Christkindlmarket

Unique Holiday Shopping Experience

Visit the Athenaeum Christkindlmarket from November 25 to December 18 for a festive German experience right in the heart of Indianapolis. The historic Athenaeum transforms into a holiday hub adorned with sparkling lights and a lively atmosphere. Explore a variety of stalls showcasing traditional German crafts, ideal for selecting those special gifts.

Experience the authentic tastes of German cuisine by sampling dishes like bratwurst and strudel across various stalls. Keep yourself warm with a traditional mug of hot Glühwein, a spiced wine that embodies the holiday spirit.

The Athenaeum Christkindlmarket offers more than just shopping—it's a deep dive into German culture. Engage with storytelling sessions, meet the beloved St. Nicholas, and experience the intriguing Krampus on Krampusnacht. These elements enrich your visit with traditional German festivities.

Feature Details Experience
Food German specialties Taste authentic dishes
Drinks Glühwein and other beverages Enjoy seasonal drinks
Crafts Handcrafted German items Shop for unique gifts
Heritage St. Nicholas Fest Meet historical figures
Special Krampusnacht Discover folklore

Make the Athenaeum Christkindlmarket your destination for genuine holiday joy and a unique European flair. Whether you're shopping for gifts or indulging in cultural activities, this market is sure to enrich your holiday season with its diverse offerings and festive atmosphere.


As Thanksgiving weekend nears, explore the festive activities Indianapolis has to offer. You can start with a visit to the Athenaeum Christkindlmarket, where history comes alive among unique crafts and foods that reflect local customs. It's a perfect spot to experience German holiday traditions without leaving the city.

Another not-to-miss event is the Jolly Days Winter Wonderland. This family-friendly venue transforms the Children's Museum of Indianapolis into a snowy paradise, complete with an ice skating rink. Skating here isn't just about fun; it's a chance to create lasting memories with twinkling lights overhead and the city's skyline in the backdrop.

Don't forget to stop by and see Santa! He's making appearances in historical settings around the city, offering a great opportunity for kids to meet the jolly old elf in a magical, picturesque environment.

Indulge in these experiences to fully embrace the local culture and holiday spirit. Each event not only entertains but also enriches your understanding of Indianapolis's rich heritage and community spirit.

Whether you're gliding on ice or exploring a market, these activities are sure to enhance your holiday weekend.

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