Things to do in Hamilton County for the holidays

Ultimate Guide to Hamilton County Christmas Events: Unwrapping the Magic (2023)

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Ready for the ultimate guide to Hamilton County Christmas events? December is full of holiday fun – especially here in Hamilton County Indiana. I’m lucky to live here as there are so many unique holiday and Christmas events near me. Take your pick of holiday lights, special events, shopping, and more!

Now, some people think you need to jet off to faraway places to catch that perfect holiday magic. But you don’t have to fly over the Atlantic to find the twinkling lights of a Christmas market or the soothing harmonies of carol singers. Nope, right here in Hamilton County, we’ve got it all—the charm, the festive spirit, and those special moments you’ll treasure forever.

Over the years, my family and I have been diving into every holiday event Hamilton County has to offer. From heartwarming traditions that make you feel like a kid again to new experiences that leave us awe-struck, we’ve seen it all! And, boy, do I have some gems to share with you!

So cozy up, maybe grab a steaming mug of hot cocoa or a spicy cup of mulled wine (no judgment here! 😉), and let’s unwrap my ultimate guide to the 11 most unforgettable Hamilton County Christmas events.

A Merry Prairie Christmas

1. A Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie

In the last few years, Conner Prairie has added a fun new event called A Merry Prairie Holiday. Conner Prairie is already one of my favorite places to visit, so I was super excited when they added this event.

What’s new for 2023

There are two new updates for 2023: From Prairietown all the way south through Civil War Journey, Conner Prairie has strewn a whole new set of twinkling lights that will simply take your breath away. And just wait until you walk through the new light tunnel that guides you to the Tubing Hill.

Although everyone will enjoy this event (even my jaded teenagers had fun last year), younger kids will LOVE this. There are so many fun things for them to do, from the tubing hill to the sock ice skating there are plenty of activities geared toward family fun.

My favorite things are the Tubing Hill and the holiday lights. It was magical to walk through thousands of twinkling lights with music in the background! The bridge was especially fun – we grabbed decadent coffees from The Java House and spent quite a bit of time enjoying the various light shows!

Another highlight includes the holiday celebrations in Prairie Town. The town residents share their Christmas Eve traditions in various homes throughout town.

At the Doctor’s house you can enjoy Christmas carols, and laugh at the residents camped out across the street who weren’t invited to the doctor’s celebration. You can share the first Christmas with another family in Prairie Town, and check out what is happening at the Inn.

It is also fun to watch the “Holidays from Around the World” show in Prairietown. When we were there, we were singing along by the end!

Pick a nice night and plan to spend several hours enjoying this holiday event – you’ll create fun memories for the whole family!

Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Rd. Fishers, IN

2. Magic of Lights at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center

A fairly new Hamilton County Indiana holiday event is at the outdoor concert venue in Noblesville, IN. Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center has added a holiday light drive-thru with the lights synchronized to music called “Magic of Lights”.

I haven’t had the chance yet to completely check out these Christmas lights at Ruoff Music Center, but have driven by it a few times and it looks like there are a LOT of lights. If it’s too cold to do something outdoors, it would be fun to pick up a few hot chocolates and stay warm enjoying the display from your car.

My daughter went to the Ruoff Christmas lights with one of her friends last year and in addition to driving through, there was an area where they could get out and take pictures of each other with the holiday lights – perfect for teen (or family) Instagram photos!

Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center, 12880 E. 146th Noblesville, IN

Carmel Christkindlmarkt

3. Carmel Christkindlmarkt: A European Holiday Tradition in Indiana

The Carmel Christkindlmarkt has been around for a few years and just keeps getting better and better! It’s become an annual tradition for my family and many of our friends too. We visit several times each season.

If you like ice skating, delicious food, tasty adult beverages, and unique holiday crafts, this is one to add to your schedule. Plus, admission is free – you’ll just pay extra for food/drinks and ice skating.

Although the Christkindlmakrt is only open until Christmas, ice skating is available through February, so keep that in mind for future fun winter activities.

❄️ Pam’s insider tip: When you visit be sure to dress warmly as the entire event is outside and it can get pretty cold in the winter.

Carmel Christkindlmarkt, 10 Carter Green, Carmel, IN

👉 Book your stay at the gorgeous Hotel Carmichael in Carmel, Indiana to be right in the middle of all the holiday fun! Check rates at Booking.com

Holiday Light walking tour at Federal Hill Commons in Noblesville, IN

4. Skate, Sip & Selfie at Federal Hill Commons

Federal Hill Commons in Noblesville is home to a holiday light walking tour (perfect for selfies), a Christmas Cottage, and ice skating. Combine all three and you’ve got a perfect holiday trifecta!

The ice skating rink is super popular with teens, but families also enjoy it. There is a hot chocolate truck nearby to help you warm up, and skate rental is included in the cost. It’s one of my kid’s favorite winter activities – they spend many days over the holiday breaks at the rink.

On the weekends you’ll often find food trucks too, but regardless of the day you choose to skate, your rental is for all day so you can leave to grab a bite to eat and then go back and skate again later.

The lights are free to enjoy anytime, and children are welcome to drop off letters to Santa at the Christmas Cottage!

Federal Hill Commons, 175 Logan St. Noblesville, IN

Small Business shopping in Noblesville, IN

5. Small Town Shopping in Noblesville: A Gift-Givers Paradise

All of the Hamilton County cities have wonderful places for holiday shopping, but my favorite has to be Noblesville. Located around a traditional downtown square are plenty of small, locally-owned businesses full of holiday gift ideas!

Every year we spend Small Business Saturday (or sometimes “second chance Sunday: as we call it) supporting our local stores and finding goodies perfect for everyone on the holiday list.

In addition to terrific boutiques, you can also enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, sip on a delicious coffee from Noble Coffee & Tea, or an afternoon beer and snack at Primeval Brewing.

It’s easy to spend an afternoon or an entire day shopping, dining, and enjoying the festive atmosphere!

6. Take a Ride on the Reindeer Express

Noblesville Indiana has really been stepping up their game with themed train rides, and the holiday season is no exception. This year there are several choices, a Holiday Cheers ride (with a cash bar and sweet treat) and then one geared towards families – the Reindeer Express.

The Reindeer Express is an hour-and-a-half ride, and you’ll get to meet Santa. The ride starts in Noblesville, and heads to Arcadia and back. You’ll enjoy a holiday treat, listen to music, and can purchase hot cocoa or other beverages. Kids who are crazy about trains love this experience.

Nickle Plate Express, 825 Forest Park Drive, Noblesville, IN

7. Reign in the Holidays with Carmel’s Holiday Trolley Ride

The Carmel Holiday Trolley is your holiday chariot! Decked out in all the holiday trimmings, it cruises through the main Carmel shopping districts (Arts & Design District, Indiana Design Center, and City Center), making your shopping adventure not just easy but utterly delightful. Honestly, it’s like stepping into a Hallmark holiday movie, minus the drama and plus a whole lot of jolly!

The ride is entirely free, just look for the red and white tents indicating the trolley stops. It runs during the Thanksgiving weekend and continues on weekends throughout December. Catch it on Friday evenings to kickstart your weekends with a dose of holiday spirit or hop on Saturday afternoons for a shopping spree that’s nothing short of delightful.

Make sure you catch a ride on the Carmel Holiday Trolley this year! It’s a fun way to take your holiday shopping to the next level.

Lights at Seminary Park in Noblesville Indiana

8. Dazzling Lights at Seminary Park

Seminary Park is a small but lovely park just south of downtown Noblesville. Every year, they have a wonderful free light display perfect for strolling and taking holiday pictures.

We make a point to stop each year with a peppermint mocha in hand and admire the lights at the park. It’s a great activity to combine with the lights at Federal Commons or just as a way to cap off an evening with an after-dinner walk.

One of the coolest aspects of this light display is that many of the decorations are restored vintage decorations that were used by Noblesville in the past. So, next time you have an extra half an hour in December, wander over to Seminary Park.

Seminary Park, 350 S. 10th St. Noblesville, IN

9. Enjoy a Night Out at a Holiday Show

There’s no doubt that Hamilton County knows how to bring the razzle-dazzle during the holiday season. And if you’re anything like me, you know that nothing beats the electric atmosphere of a live show to get you in the Christmas spirit! And there are three fantastic venues located in Carmel Indiana with plenty of holiday shows to pick from.

Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel

First up, there is the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. This venue is a showstopper. The moment you walk into the grand lobby, you’re greeted by glittering chandeliers and a sweeping staircase that screams elegance. It’s the perfect setting for a fancy holiday outing and the lineup of shows is quite diverse – Christmas classics, ballets, and holiday-themed concerts.

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre: Elf the Musical, Anyone?

Now, who here can resist the hilarious charm of Buddy the Elf? This holiday season (2023), Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre is bringing Elf the Musical to life, and it’s a total joyride! We’ve seen it live as a family several times and it’s always a holiday highlight. Actually, I don’t consider it a true Christmas season if we don’t catch at least one viewing on the TV or in a theater.

The Palladium in Carmel

The Palladium is a piece of art itself. Seriously, the architecture alone is like an early Christmas gift for your eyes. But the real magic is the acoustics! They are, in a word, phenomenal. Whether it’s a holiday jazz concert or a children’s choir singing carols, the sound wraps around you like a cozy blanket.

10. Visit Santa’s Wonderland at Cabelas

We stumbled across Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s one year by accident and have enjoyed it for several years in a row now. Cabela’s is a large outfitters store at Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville Indiana.

Every holiday season, they take a section of the store and create a winter wonderland. It starts at the beginning of November and ends at Christmas. Santa is there and you can even get a FREE picture of your kids with Santa. You do need to make a reservation (although the first time we visited they weren’t busy so we were able to get right in).

Another fun activity is that the kids can write and send a letter to Santa. Younger kids really enjoy this whole outing and it could be a fun way to take a break from your holiday shopping.

Cabela’s, 13725 Cabela Parkway, Noblesville, IN

11. Enjoy Westfield in Lights

Ready for a fun way to kick off the holiday season in Hamilton County? How about Westfield in Lights? This event is like stepping into a Hallmark Christmas movie but with a Midwest twist, and trust me, you don’t want to miss it!.

First off, can we talk about the fact that it’s a FREE Holiday festival? Just bring your Christmas cheer and maybe some cash for the tempting food and retail vendors who set up shop to tickle your holiday senses.

Every year there are fun things to do at the festival, often including meeting holiday characters (maybe Frosty and Santa), animals to pet and so much more. The kiddos can try their luck at various carnival games with prizes that make you feel like you’ve hit the holiday jackpot.

And if you’ve ever wondered how you’d look as a caricature, there are artists on hand to doodle your essence onto paper. With live music and a tree-lighting ceremony, it’s truly a night to remember.

Westfield in Lights, Grand Junction Plaza, Westfield, Indiana

A Merry Prairie Holiday Christmas lights

FAQs: Holiday Events in Hamilton County Indiana

What are the best Christmas events in Hamilton County Indiana?

There are so many options, that it’s hard to pick, but Conner Prairie’s and the holiday lights at Ruoff are top choices.

Is Hamilton County a suburb of Indianapolis?

Yes, Hamilton County is a suburb on the north side of Indianapolis.

What to do in Hamilton County this holiday season?

Don’t miss the Carmel Christkindlmarkt

Where to Stay in Hamilton County Indiana

There are plenty of terrific hotels in Hamilton County if you aren’t local or just want to create a little holiday staycation for your family.

My favorites include the Hotel Carmichael in Carmel (perfect if you like bougie) and the Embassy Suites in Noblesville (great for families).

Conclusion: Hamilton County Christmas Events

And there you have it. Hamilton County really is a winter wonderland come the holiday season, offering something spectacular for everyone in the family. From the captivating allure of A Merry Prairie Holiday to the cozy comfort of cruising through Lights at Ruoff, each event has its own unique magic that’s just waiting to be discovered.

If you’re in the mood for shopping, arts, and maybe a trolley ride (because who isn’t?), Carmel’s got you covered. And for those of you who are theater buffs or want to introduce your little ones to the performing arts, shows in Carmel at the Center for the Performing Arts and the Booth Tarkington Civic Theaters will bring the spirit of the season to life on stage.

So, what’s your pick? Are you a Conner Prairie die-hard like me? Or are you planning to dance your way through every event this holiday season? One thing’s for sure, whether you’re looking for Hamilton County Christmas events this weekend or planning out your entire holiday season, Hamilton County is the place to create cherished holiday memories that’ll last a lifetime!

PIN FOR LATER:

Are you ready for some holiday fun? If you are looking for fun things to do near Indianapolis, check out this list of Holiday Fun in Hamilton County. Lights? Shopping? Holiday goodies? All this and more! #holidayfun #holidaymemories #thingstodo
Are you ready for some holiday fun? If you are looking for fun things to do near Indianapolis, check out this list of Holiday Fun in Hamilton County. Lights? Shopping? Holiday goodies? All this and more! #holidayfun #holidaymemories #thingstodo