That mystical, magical, wonderful time of the year is here! The winter holidays are in full swing once more. Christmastime events and family celebrations alike have all been altered due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the pandemic, but there’s one thing that remains the same: the dazzling displays of lights all over Indy.

Whether you make it a point of going out to see the holiday lights every year or you’ve never done it before, there are plenty of places to explore. Here are a few of the top places to see holiday lights in Indy:

Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center

Rain, snow or pandemic, nothing is stopping the annual “Christmas Nights of Lights” from being held at the Fairgrounds. For 127 years, the Fairgrounds have been a popular attraction for sweethearts and families alike during the holiday season.

This year, the displays are bigger, brighter and bolder than ever — with new music and more lights along a two-mile car ride. More than a million synchronized LED lights will dazzle your eyes, creating walls of color, glittering snowflakes, candy canes and trees as you glide through enchanted tunnels in your car.

The Fairgrounds opened on Nov. 13 this year and they’ll run until Jan. 3, 2021. The price is $7 per person (although children three years of age and under are free), or you can buy a “carload special” for $30 that will let you take seven passengers along for the ride. Several local charities, including Toys for Tots, Pack the Pantries and The Arthritis Foundation will benefit from the proceeds.

Indianapolis Zoo

Who says the zoo is a summertime-only kind of thing? From Nov. 21 through Dec. 30, the Indianapolis Zoo transforms itself into a winter wonderland filled with lights and sights that you won’t get to see anywhere else.

For 51 years, Christmas at the Zoo has been an Indy tradition. While holiday events at zoos are now fairly common, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first on the scene. This year, guests can stroll through the zoo to look at fabulous light displays, including the tunnel of lights in front of Santa’s Village. You can also check out the Snowflakery Mirror Maze by Honda Manufacturing, visit with Santa, decorate cookies in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, and visit with winter-hardy animals like penguins and reindeer.

Parking is $8 per car and tickets to the event are the regular price of admission (but free to members), which makes this an affordable wintertime adventure for the whole family.

Newfields

For the fourth year in a row, the magic of Winterlights has returned to Newfields. This is your chance to stroll hand-in-hand with your loved ones under the enchanting beauty of 90-foot trees glowing with more than a million little lights. You can also catch the Landscape of Light at the Lilly House and buy refreshments for a little extra holiday cheer.

Keep in mind that tickets to this particular holiday extravaganza are limited, so buy them early. The holiday display at Newfields has been open to the public since Nov. 21, and is expected to turn on from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every night through Jan. 3, 2021.

The only major change this year is that it is an entirely outdoor experience, although your ticket to Winterlights ($25 for adults, $17 for children between 6 and 17 years of age) entitles you to a free ticket to visit the Deck the Halls display at Lilly House during daylight hours.

Indiana Historical Society

If you’re like a lot of people, the season really isn’t complete until you see some of those lights shining on a few highly-decorated trees. The best place to do that is at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center’s Festival of Trees. This year’s theme, “Life Is a Gift,” will be reflected throughout the exhibit, which runs until Jan. 9, 2021.

This year, visitors can experience the Festival of Trees in two different ways: in-person and online. You can browse more than 90 brightly lit Christmas trees, each decorated around a theme while the holiday music plays and participate in a holiday scavenger hunt. You can also stay safely at home, if you prefer, and participate in virtual events like Ugly Sweater Thursday or SugarPlum Saturday from your computer or tablet.

Tickets for the in-person experience are $13 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $5 for children between five and 17 years of age. Tickets for virtual events vary between $25-$30, but they include a kit that allows you to fully participate in all the fun. The Festival of Trees is one of the Historical Society’s most important fundraisers each year, so you also have the satisfaction of knowing that your ticket price goes to support a good cause.

Local Neighborhoods

There are also plenty of local neighborhoods already displaying their Christmas spirit this year. If you’re looking for someplace to drive around for free, we have it on good authority that you can check the following places for some holiday sights:

  • East Side Lights, 7519 Davis Lane
  • Stop 11, 334 E. Stop 11 Road
  • Corner of Edgewood, State Road 135 and Edgewood
  • Yellowstone Lights, 6733 Yellowstone Parkway
  • Linden, 6415 Linden Drive

With all these sights to see, don’t wait any longer: Bundle everybody up, hop in the car and head out the door for a little Christmas excitement. Once again, we wish you lots of lights, merry nights and plenty of good cheer this holiday season!

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