Posted on November 20, 2023 by Dina Miller
No bah-humbugging allowed when the holidays and winter roll around in Northern Indiana! If you’re entertaining family for the annual yuletide get-together, looking for your own festive jaunt, or just want to shake off any winter blahs, head out for dazzling lights and festivals, entertainment of all kinds, and plenty of outdoor activities. During the holiday season and well into the New Year, take time to discover all that makes winter wonderful in Indiana’s Cool North.
Where: Downtown Shipshewana
When: November 11, 2023
Kick off the holiday season by attending the Lighting of Shipshewana on November 11, 2023. The magical Light Parade starts at 7pm, and is followed by the official lighting of the town, and the amazing tree by the Blue Gate. There’s plenty to do all day in Shipshewana before the evening festivities.
Where: Hesston Steam Museum, Hesston
When: First two Saturdays and Sundays in December (Dec 2-3, 9-10) 2023
Christmas magic reigns as the Candy Cane Express chugs out of the station at the Hesston Steam Museum in the LaPorte County community of Hesston. The annual event features train rides and a visit with Santa.
When: December 1-2, 2023
The story of the first Christmas comes to life at the Bremen Holy Walk as visitors trace the journey of Mary and Joseph from the community of Bremen to a farm outside of town in a unique live dramatization of the birth of Jesus. On the way to the manger, walkers visit a Biblical-era village.
When: January 19-20, 2024
Works of art emerge from huge blocks of ice as professional ice carvers create amazing sculptures. Roam the streets of downtown Shipshewana to watch the artists in action.Then taste masterpieces of a different kind at the chili cook-off. Shipshewana Ice Festival
Where: Harvest Tyme Family Farm, Lowell
When: November 24 - December 30, 2023
Hundreds of thousands twinkling lights in a drive-thru over a mile long at the Harvest Tyme Family Farm. The Christmas Tyme Lights feature unique creations and the seasonal characters you’ve come to love. Be sure to buy your tickets online before going.
Where: Fair Oaks
When: November 17 to December 31, 2023 (weather permitting)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and Fair Oaks Farms invites you to walk their magical trail in the Forest of Lights! There are interactive color displays and changing scenes of color, that are bigger and better than ever.
Where: Washington Park
When: December 2, 2023 - January 01, 2024
The annual Washington Park Festival of Lights features a variety of holiday and traditional displays that are truly a sight to behold. It kicks off with the Festival of Lights Celebration and Parade on December 2.
Where: South Bend
When: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, November 24-December 23, 2023
The Potawatomi Zoo is proud to present The Gift of Lights, a holiday lights experience. The Gift of Lights will run Friday through Sunday, November 24 to December 23, 5 to 9 pm (last admission at 8:30). More than a million lights will be wrapped around trees and in free-standing displays.
When: November 17-19 (Friday-Sunday) Nov 24 – Dec 31 (seven days/week) (Closed 12/25, & 12/26) 2023
Visitors love Shipshewana at holiday time, and now there’s even more reason to visit: the fantastic drive-through light display, Shipshewana Lights of Joy. More than 2 million LED lights illuminate both whimsical and religious scenes along the nearly 1.5 mile-long route.
When: November 18, 2023 to January 1, 2024
Dazzling light displays in this Valparaiso park get visitors in the holiday mood as they drive past an array of scenes, many custom-made by Sunset Hill’s maintenance staff. You’ll see unique lighted, moving scenes such as a 20-foot-tall roller coaster, Santa and his reindeer, and an Indiana farm.
When: November 24-25-26 December 1-2-3, 8-9-10, 15-16-17, 20-21-22-23 December 26 & 27
Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights, presented by Welch Packaging, will transport you to a magical setting with lights, sound and beauty, perfect for families to enjoy during the holiday season. Enjoy this special opportunity to see Wellfield after hours in a wintry paradise! Featuring professional light displays accentuating the natural beauty of Wellfield, the ½-mile Promenade Pathway is aglow with color and texture, framing our Garden spaces as you’ve never seen them before! Experience this great event with family and friends while enjoying the sounds of the season around the Promenade.
Grab your hat and mittens and embrace winter in South Bend! The new ice trail and pond at Howard Park is the new premier winter destination. The Merrifield Park Ice Rink offers skating and skate rentals several days a week. Squeals of delight fill the air on the innertube runs at Ferrettie/Baugo and St. Patrick’s County Parks. St. Patrick’s also offers cross-country skiing.
Skaters love the NIBCO Water & Ice Park, complete with an ice rink and path, skate rentals, and a warming facility with concessions. Cross-country skiers head for the groomed trails at Ox Bow County Park and Bonneyville Mill Park a few miles away. Both parks offer sledding and snowshoeing too.
At Valparaiso’s open-air William E. Urschel Pavilion, you’ll hardly notice you’re outdoors. A roof protects you from any wintry elements, and lights, music, and a well-maintained rink make ice skating a dream. Part of downtown’s Central Park Plaza development, the pavilion includes an indoor area for skate rentals and hot drinks during the winter months.
The Kube Sports Complex in Hammond offering ice hockey, figure skating and trampoline activities. They have regular open skates, rat hockey and stick n’ puck.
Where: Michigan City
Here’s an ultimate winter escape for a few hours or a few days! At the Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa in Michigan City, the beat goes on 24/7 year-round with 65,000 square feet of gaming space, including 1,700 slot machines and 40 table games. Add in musical entertainment, fabulous food, luxurious lodgings and a pampering spa to complete the fun.
A boutique bowling experience in Schererville where an upscale restaurant and bar collide with an entertainment facility. Enjoy 50,000 sq. ft. filled with 20 bowling lanes, axe throwing, laser tag, Cybersport and 60 arcade games.
The historic Morris Performing Arts Center provides an outstanding venue for Broadway shows, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, plus other entertainment. Also in town, Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center features concerts, theater performances and film.
This state-of-the-art complex includes the intimate Blue Gate Theatre, and the Event Center, featuring shows and musicals.
Built in 1923 as a movie house, this historic theater has been completely renovated. It features concerts, theater and films. During the holiday season, various holiday productions are scheduled.
Experience thrilling action as the Fighting Irish compete in men’s basketball and hockey and women’s basketball at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.
For gift shopping or post-holiday bargains, here are some ideas: