If you are looking for some of the best Christmas events in Shipshewana, I’ve got you covered. Located in Northern Indiana, Shipshewana transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Its small-town charm and festive family spirit make it an ideal destination if you are seeking a truly magical Christmas experience. As an Indiana local, I recently spent a weekend here, immersing myself in all the yuletide joy this town uniquely offers – and there is a LOT!
Shipshewana hosts so many heartwarming holiday events you’ll be hard-pressed to fit them all into one weekend. I know after my Christmas trip to Shipshewana, I’m already planning a return with more family members as it’s an ideal getaway for the whole family.
Whether it’s the allure of live Christmas shows at the Blue Gate Theatre, driving through the twinkling displays at Lights of Joy, or the charm of holiday shopping in this quaint town, get ready to explore Shipshewana’s festive offerings which will ensure your holiday season is filled with joy and wonder.
❄ A special thank you to the Shipshewana & LaGrange County Visitors Center for hosting my Christmas stay so I can share it with my readers. As always, the opinions are 100% my own.
1. The Holiday Light Parade
The Christmas season in Shipshewana kicks off each year in early November with the Holiday Light Parade. If you’ve never been to a night parade you are in for a treat. Dozens of floats with holiday and Christmas themes and plenty of Christmas lights grace the streets and the community and visitors swarm the streets to enjoy them!
I especially loved the floats that were pulled by horses and ponies – and since this is Shipshewana there were plenty of them! The parade starts at the Flea Market grounds and goes right through downtown. It begins at 7:00 and we were sitting almost at the end of the route and it was over about 8:00 – so that gives you a feel for how long it is!
If you decide to start your holiday season with the Shipshewana Light Parade (and you should), be prepared for really large crowds. Get there early if you want a good view and feel free to bring chairs or blankets. The parade is outside, so dress accordingly. Also, since there are so many people in such a small space, when it’s over just relax and enjoy the evening versus trying to rush to leave – you’ll just be stuck in traffic, so no need to stress yourself out!
2. Holiday Shopping in Shipshewana
If you are familiar with Shipshewana, you probably know it for two things: the Amish population and shopping. And it’s true, Shipshewana has plenty of both, and many of the Amish who live in the area are master craftsmen with gorgeous hand-crafted items to sell.
So, if you are planning a holiday shopping outing this Christmas season, I’d highly recommend adding a day trip (or more!) to Shipshewana to your plans. On my recent trip, I got a good jump-start on my holiday list for this year – and now that I know a lot more about the area, I’m sure I’ll be back next Christmas season to do the same!
Best Items to Look for When Holiday Shopping
You’ll be able to find something for EVERYONE on your list when you shop in Shipshewana, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:
If you have a doll-lover on your list, this shop is a MUST! Find baby dolls, Amish dolls, paper dolls, 18″ and 20″ custom dolls, and more at Kids Kreations! A unique gift idea would be a gift certificate so that your recipient can come back and make their own doll – how fun!
Four floors of shopping fun! Davis Mercantile has everything from yards of fabric to toys to crafts and more. There is even a candy store and a carousel on the top floor so you can keep reminding the kids to be patient with the shopping as there is a treat for them at the end!
I was able to pick up a few unique stocking stuffers for my family members in some of the shops along with a tasty pretzel at Jo-Jo’s and a carousel ride for me.
I’m a sucker for a coffee mug, so I was in heaven when we entered Riverwood Pottery. Located in downtown Shipshewana, this is the place to visit for your pottery gift-giving needs. And as a bonus, if you are lucky, you’ll get to see the pottery being made while you shop – even if there isn’t any production going on you can still check out the studio and get a feel for how the items you purchase are created.
Riverwood Pottery, 175 Morton St. Shipshewana, IN
Are you a lover of reclaimed wood, furniture, or home accessories? Or just love those HGTV shows that highlight reclaimed and vintage design? Either way, you will adore sifting through all the goodies that can be found at Cherry Pickers. This store is a vintage home goods heaven.
Cherry Pickers, 160 N. Morton St. Shipshewana, IN
Silver Star Leather
Visiting Silver Star Leather will take you outside of downtown Shipshe, but that’s a good thing – you’ll get to check out the countryside and visit a working leather shop. Silver Star Leather has plenty of beautiful, handmade leather bags, belts, wallets, and more. The quality of craftsmanship is obvious and you might get a chance to see some of the products being made while you shop.
3. Shipshewana Lights of Joy drive-thru lights
I’ve always been a sucker for holiday lights and the Shipshewana Lights of Joy is FABULOUS! For only $20 per car, you can drive through almost 2 miles of stunning holiday lights. It’s located on the RV campground at the famous Shipshewana Flea Market.
From Santa to the manger scene, this light display has it all. There are even some really special holiday scenes set up in little huts – something I’ve never seen before. So grab a cup of hot chocolate, load up your car, and head over to enjoy the experience this Christmas season.
The Shipshewana Lights of Joy opens mid-November and is open nightly (except for Christmas) through December 31st.
🎄Pam’s insider tip: The lines can get REALLY long for this, especially on the weekend, so either be prepared to wait or try to visit during the week, or towards the end of the evening.
4. Stock up on your Christmas goodies at Shawna Rae’s
Who doesn’t love decadent cupcakes, cheesecakes, and other fresh-baked goodies? I don’t know anyone myself (and if you know those people I’m not sure I want to know them 😀!). Seriously though, Shawna Rae’s is full of handmade treats perfect for a holiday gift or to grace your holiday dessert table.
A box of Shawna Rae’s cupcakes would also be a fabulous hostess gift – I know I’d love to receive some. And while you are there, feel free to indulge in a little treat for yourself. After all, it’s the season!
Shawna Rae’s Cafe, 125 Harrison St. Shipshewana, IN
5. Enjoy a Christmas show or concert at the Blue Gate
Every year, the Blue Gate Theatre presents an engaging Christmas show, making it a delightful choice for those who enjoy live theater (like me!). The performances take place at the Blue Gate Music Hall, a charming venue with a seating capacity of 300.
The theater schedules shows from Monday to Saturday, offering a mix of afternoon matinees and evening performances. You have the option to purchase either a standalone show ticket or a combination ticket that includes a show and a buffet (which is delicious!). During my visit, I had the pleasure of watching the Christmas Musical “Christmas Candy Caper,” which was both endearing and thoroughly enjoyable.
For those who might prefer different types of entertainment, the theater also features a variety of holiday performances throughout the season. Alternatively, the PAC (Performing Arts Center), with its larger 1500-seat theater, hosts a range of concerts.
So, if you’re planning a visit to Shipshewana during the holiday season, make sure to check the schedule at the Blue Gate Theatre and consider including a show in your holiday itinerary.
6. Lighting of Shipshewana Christmas Tree
Every year, after the Holiday Light Parade, everyone who watched the parade is invited into the street in front of the main stage to participate in the lighting of the Shipshewana Christmas tree. The audience enjoys a live nativity scene, Christmas carols, and a town blessing, and then we count down from ten and all the Christmas lights in Shipshewana go on at once.
It’s definitely something to see, and will really get you into the holiday spirit. The town remains lit up every night (all night) from the lighting to Christmas, so even if you can’t be there on the actual day, you can still enjoy the holiday lights. Once Shipshewana is lit up, I guarantee you’ll feel like you’re strolling down the streets of a Hallmark Christmas Movie!
7. Christmas Vintage & Craft Bazaar at the MEC
In early November, the Christmas Vintage and Craft Bazaar at the Michiana Event Center (MEC) in Shipshewana presents a unique pre-holiday experience. Coinciding with the Amish Furniture Auction, this event showcases an array of vendors, offering everything from vintage finds to artisan crafts.
When I visited I enjoyed participating in the painting class and had fun creating my own holiday art. It’s a perfect festive shopping event to kick off the holiday season with a touch of creativity and the warmth of community spirit.
8. Wanna Night Out
Shipshewana closes down early – it’s a very community-driven, family-oriented town, so evenings are meant to be spent at home with your family. That means the shops close early (typically 5:00) and aren’t open at all on Sunday.
However, on Wanna Night Out (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving), most of the shops in downtown Shipshewana are open until 8:00 PM. And since this is the time of year when the town is lit up, it’s a lovely time to finish up some holiday shopping or just enjoy retail therapy with your girlfriends or family.
Many stores will have specials that evening, so be on the lookout. Grab a hot chocolate or coffee, bundle up against the cold, and spend your night enjoying a sparkling Shipshewna. Talk about Gilmore Girls vibes.
Other Don’t-Miss Winter Events in Shipshewana
Don’t think that just because the holidays are over there’s no reason to visit Shipshewana because there are plenty of other fun things to do in the winter! Consider planning a visit around one of these fun events, or just enjoy a winter weekend full of shopping, eating, and family-time!
9. Ice Festival
The Shipshewana Ice Festival, a cherished tradition for over a dozen years, brings an enchanting blend of art and winter festivities to Shipshe. Ice carvers, skilled in their craft, take to the streets of Shipshewana, transforming blocks of ice into spectacular sculptures. You can wander through town, marveling at the artists at work, as they drill and chisel their way into creating frosty masterpieces, and you can even vote for your favorite!
Complementing the icy artistry, Shipshewana also hosts a chili cookoff during the festival, adding a flavorful twist to the wintry celebration. Local chefs and cooking enthusiasts simmer their best recipes, vying for the top spot. If I’m unable to make it to any of the Christmas events in Shipshewana, I know that this Ice Festival weekend, brimming with creativity and culinary delights is certainly the time I would choose to visit.
10. Maple Syrup Days
A bit later in the winter, just before spring, are Maple Syrup Days. It is a delightful celebration of this sweet, natural treat and its deep-rooted history in the Midwest. You’ll get a fascinating glimpse into the world of maple syrup production, showcasing three different methods: the traditional techniques of the past, contemporary commercial practices, and simple methods for homemade syrup.
You can even hop on horse-drawn wagons that journey through the maple woods, where you’ll see maples tapped and ready for syrup making. Interpreters stationed throughout the park introduce you to these majestic trees, explaining their life cycle and the syrup extraction process.
In addition to the educational aspect, Maple Syrup Days is a feast for the senses and the appetite. The event features an “All You Can Eat” pancake breakfast, served from early morning until afternoon, where you can savor the rich, authentic taste of freshly made maple syrup.
The Sugar Shack tours offer an up-close look at syrup production, while children can be entertained with maple syrup-themed stories and shows. And, of course, the horse-drawn wagon rides into the Sugar Bush not only provide a scenic view but also a memorable experience for all ages. Remember to dress warmly, as spending time outdoors is a key part of enjoying everything Maple Syrup Days has to offer.
Why Shipshewana for Christmas?
Shipshewana, Indiana, blossoms into a Hallmark-worthy holiday haven during the Christmas season. The town, known for its Amish heritage and rural charm, takes on a special glow with festive decorations that capture the essence of an old-fashioned Christmas adorning its streets and storefronts.
The allure of Shipshewana during Christmas extends beyond its scenic beauty. The town’s community spirit truly embodies the essence of the season. Locals come together to create a welcoming and warm atmosphere, greeting visitors with the same neighborly kindness they show to each other.
This sense of community is palpable at every event, from the twinkling lights of the Holiday Light Parade (where I think almost all of the 853 residents gathered) to the cozy gatherings at the Maple Syrup Days. The residents’ participation and enthusiasm in these festivities add a genuine touch of joy and togetherness.
The Christmas events in Shipshewana are more than just attractions; they are a reflection of the town’s heart and soul. The combination of the picturesque setting, rich traditions, and communal warmth makes Shipshewana a must-visit destination during the holiday season. If your visit is anything like mine, I guarantee you’ll leave with wonderful memories and a longing to return.
Tips for Visiting Shipshewana During Christmas
Shipshewana Indiana is a small town and the downtown only covers a few blocks, so during the fun Christmas events it can get very crowded. Just be aware that there will be a lot of people downtown (especially on the night of the parade), so be patient and remember that it’s the Christmas season.
Since Shipshewana is located in Northern Indiana, the weather is nothing if not unpredictable. We might get a day with 50-degree sunshine followed by a snowfall the next morning. We just never know! So, prepare for all types of weather, and if you plan on being out at night, definitely pack warm clothing as the temperature drops quickly after sunset.
Map of Christmas Events in Shipshewana
How to Get Around Shipshewana
Shipshewana is a pretty small community, but if you want to explore the countryside you will need a car. You’ll also need a car to get to Shipshewana as the nearest large airport is in Chicago. Luckily parking is free throughout town, so no worries there.
Where to Stay in Shipshewana
There are a number of good places to stay in Shipshewana but there are two that I would highly recommend – I’ve got them listed as 1 and 2, but honestly, you’ll be happy with either choice.
Conclusion: Christmas Shipshewana
I’m sure that by now it’s clear that the charming Midwestern town of Shipshewana Indiana offers more than just holiday events; it provides a warm, inviting atmosphere that truly embodies the spirit of the season. From the twinkling lights of the Holiday Light Parade to the cozy warmth of Maple Syrup Days, each event is full of community and joy.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor (like me), Shipshewana during Christmas is a place where memories are made and traditions are born – I can definitely see it becoming an annual holiday tradition for my family. So, if you’re looking for a holiday experience that combines the charm of small-town America with the magic of the season, look no further than Shipshewana.