Well, Christkindlmarkt is Cancelled. Now What?

Welcome to the holiday season of 2020! Judging from the way the previous part of this calendar year has unfolded we might have an unfortunate surprise or two in store. Hopefully not. One thing’s for certain after this horrid year: we have all earned some momentary diversions and the Indianapolis market is prepared to deliver in November and December.

No better year than this one to pretend you’re in another year, so kick off your holiday season at Conner Prairie. Just up the road from Fishers in Noblesville, Conner Prairie is a living museum featuring a replica of an entire small village in Indiana circa the mid 19th century (where the primary concerns included a country tearing itself apart through a literal civil war and deeply troubling society-wide beliefs about race. Such a simpler time, right?!). This year, in addition to the ongoing exhibits such as livestock and a Native America village, Conner Prairie is flipping the script a bit on ‘theme’ and will have electrified light displays throughout the grounds, a ‘dry’ tubing hill along with performances from local musicians. Sticking with the overall theme of the museum, though, there will also be experiences with the museum’s actors/docents who will be conducting readings and storytelling in the various buildings around the outdoor museum. The museum sits on a 1,000 acre plot leaving you and the family the ability to maintain social distance with ease.

Perhaps at the end of a year like none other you might best cope through the holidays by satisfying your sweet tooth. You can do it in style at the Cake Bake Shop in Carmel and have the experience of petting a legit reindeer at the same time. During the evening of December 12 Santa, along with a couple members of his very special sled team will be at the dessert shop for photos with his sleigh.

Traveling south of 96th Street, there are a couple of family-friendly activities that are sure to be found memorable in Indianapolis. First up, Christmas at the Zoo, featuring thousands of lights on hundreds of outdoor Christmas displays. Much of the zoo’s traditional animal exhibits are still available along with a small area called Santa’s Village where the family can meet the big guy himself and grab some treats from the Mrs. in her kitchen. New this year is an encounter with penguins and a scavenger hunt.

Finally, if you’re really into twinkly lights, you’ll love a slow walk through the Newfields Gardens area for their annual exhibit Winterlights. This is the city’s premier Christmas lights display. Over-the-top, unexpected and just – Wow! – are thee ways to describe the installation. It is pricey, but there are over a million lights on display along with some projection shows on the Lilly House with a super-impressive light show that bounces to music, named Landscape of Light. New this year is music from local duo Huckleberry Funk. If Winterlights this year is even remotely similar to years past, be prepared to cave and spend a few more bucks while you’re there. Treats are available including hot chocolate (both traditional and boozy), cookies and even popcorn from local favorite, Just Pop in.

More than anything, be careful this season. Wear your mask, keep some distance between you and others, sanitize those hands and be thankful this year is coming to a close. Onto 2021 and better things yet to come!