During the holiday season, Northwest Indiana comes alive with festive activities for all ages. If you haven’t done so already, consider making these fun local events a part of your family’s holiday tradition.
The holiday season begins in downtown Valparaiso on Friday, Dec. 6 with Holly Days, an evening of festive fun for all ages.
From 5 to 7 p.m., the sidewalks of downtown Valparaiso will feature strolling carolers and visitors can ride the holiday train through the streets surrounding Central Park Plaza. These are just a few of the exciting activities planned by Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events.
“This event is a great opportunity for families to slow down and enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the holiday season,” said Jennifer Peek, marketing director at VCFE. Attendees can marvel at the sight of Michiana Ice Carvers creating a giant ice sculptor from 10 blocks of ice and the sounds of live holiday music performed on the Porter Health Amphitheater Stage at Central Park Plaza.
Other activities include a live nativity scene, free family photos sponsored by The Times of Northwest Indiana, Santa’s arrival at the Memorial Opera House and the lighting of the tree on the lawn of the Porter County Museum. In addition, the Holiday Village Market features special vendors, while downtown retailers and restaurants offer sales and specials for holiday shoppers.
“From watching live ice carving and singing along with holiday favorites to riding a train through the downtown streets, this is definitely an event kids and their families will not want to miss!” Peek promised.
'A Christmas Story' Comes Home
Each year visitors flock to the Indiana Welcome Center for the ‘A Christmas Story’ Comes Home exhibit, events and activities hosted by the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. The exhibit runs now through Sunday, Jan. 5.
“A Christmas Story to me really symbolizes and personifies what it was like to grow up in the region during the holidays, the traditional, middle class, uniquely Region things that make this a fun place to grow up and have families,” said Speros A. Batistatos, SSCVA president and CEO.
The exhibit features six animatronic window displays portraying scenes from the movie that were originally showcased at Macy's in New York. This year, the SSCVA unveiled a new window scene, "A Hero’s Dream". The window depicts the dream sequence from the film in which Ralphie uses his Red Ryder BB gun to rescue his family from the bad guys.
“I think our new window is a lot of fun because of the whole dream sequence, imagining what it would be like to have his Red Ryder BB gun and protect the family,” Batistatos said. “I feel that kids can really connect to that window as they aspire to have a toy.”
The exhibit offers the full A Christmas Story experience with Mommy’s Little Piggy Contest on Saturday, Dec. 7 where contestants compete to eat the most mashed potatoes; the Oh Fuuudge! Relay Race, which features parent/child teams “changing a tire” and running through an obstacle course, on Saturday, Dec. 14; and the Write a Theme Contest with entries due on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Children can even climb Santa’s Mountain and have their photo taken before sliding down the big red slide into a pillow of snow.
Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District becomes a Winter Wonderland in December, beginning with the First Friday Art Walk on Friday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.
The evening kicks off with Santa’s ride into town with a police escort as he travels down Franklin Street before settling at his Santa house where he will visit with families. Families also can enjoy free horse drawn carriage rides sponsored by Horizon Bank.
“Winter Wonderland offers an opportunity for families to enjoy the magic of the Uptown Arts District every Saturday in December,” said Tiffany Bley, executive director of the Michigan City Mainstreet Association, as free photos with Santa and horse drawn carriage rides continue Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from noon to 2 p.m. at dh2w, inc., 813 Franklin St, Michigan City.
Also in the month of December, families can marvel at some of the finest historic stained glass in the region during the Stained Glass Tours on Saturdays, Dec. 7 and 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. and visit the Uptown Christmas Bazaar, an indoor holiday market on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. The market features more than 20 vendors of fine arts and crafts.
“There are a lot of great shopping opportunities outside of the events, so we look forward to inviting those families looking for an enjoyable experience in our district,” Bley added.