There is something about gazing upon a beautifully decorated Christmas tree that really stirs up the holiday spirit in my heart. If you feel the same way, then the Indiana Historical Society’s Festival of Trees is an experience you need to see to believe. Read on for details about all of the magic they have in store for you and your family this year.
Location and Parking
Located at 450 West Ohio Street, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center is located on the canal in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. To reach the parking lot, you’ll turn east on New York Street from West Street. Then, you’ll take the first right into the lot. Parking is first-come, first-served, and it is free with paid admission to the History Center.
When you come to the Festival of Trees, you will wander through the main building while perusing 75 beautifully decorated Christmas trees.
Each tree is sponsored by a different business, organization, or family. Many are decorated with ornaments and themes that you would expect to find on Christmas trees, but some are decorated with whimsical and unique themes, often related to the tree’s sponsor. For instance, the Indianapolis Zoo’s tree is typically decorated with animals and Sullivan’s Express created a tree with a train taking a trip around the limbs.
In addition to the sponsored trees, the Historical Society decorates a gorgeous 30-foot tall tree (wow!) in a different theme each year.
While you take in all the sights, you will also be voting for which tree is your favorite. This friendly competition really spurs the decorating to the next level.
There are several opportunities for added fun while touring the trees:
- Look for the History Center’s Elf on the Shelf, Hoosier Buddy, hanging around on the tree trail. Check their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts for clues as to his whereabouts. If you find him, don’t touch him! Just tell the welcome center staff where he is, and they will give you a prize.
- In past years, we hunted for the 10 pickle ornaments (called Weihnachtsgurke in Germany) hidden in the trees. There’s no prize for this one except bragging rights, which might be the only motivation you need. Check with the front desk to see if this is going on during your visit.
- The Adventure Kids really enjoy singing along to Christmas songs in the Cole Porter Room. There you might find a real, live piano man who will not judge your singing abilities. Thank goodness! It’s a lot of fun.
- Your admission ticket to Festival of Trees includes admission to all of the exhibits in the History Center, so make sure you check out the Destination Indiana and History Lab exhibits where learning about history is fun!
You can check out the trees during the following times:
- November 12 through January 8:
- Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm
- Sunday from noon to 5:00pm
Note: They will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
Festival of Trees tickets can be purchased online. These general tickets can be used for any day they’re open:
- $13/person for ages 18-59
- $12/person for ages 60 and older
- $5/person for ages 5-17
- $2/person for visitors with Access Pass
- FREE for ages 4 and under
- FREE FOR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Educators (show your school ID or teaching license)
- Military personnel (show your military ID)
- Healthcare workers and first responders (show your work ID)
- Anyone with a membership/ID to ICAA, Local History Partner Plus, or Time Traveler Network
Holiday Author Fair
On December 4 from noon to 4:00pm, the History Center celebrates their Holiday Author Fair. If you have older kids and/or book-lovers in your family, this could be the perfect day for your visit.
The Stardust Terrace Cafe serves sandwiches, wraps, soups, and desserts. They are open from 10:00am to 3:00pm Tuesday through Saturday.
This year, you can closely peruse each of the trees while sitting on your couch! The virtual experience allows you to zoom in on each of the trees and vote for your favorites. All you need to enter the site is an email address. The virtual experience also includes some fun interactive features, videos, music, story time with Santa, and options for donating to the Indiana Historical Society.
We have really enjoyed our trips to Festival of Trees, and we can’t wait to see who decorates our favorite tree this year! Have you been to this celebration? If so, which was your favorite tree? If not, did you put this on your calendar for this year?