After the Thanksgiving feast and the shopping why not enjoy the holidays with family and friends with FREE Admission to Indy's great attractions! To start off your holiday season begin by joining the Annual Winter Solstice celebration and Circle of Lights festivities. The Circle of Lights® presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 is a annual event that kicks off the season in the Circle City.
Children will adore the 26 larger-than-life toy soldiers and sailors surrounding the Circle, and the 26 peppermint sticks. Santa will join the celebration as Indy prepares to light their Tree that includes 52 garland strands with 4,784 colored lights are strung from the top of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument to its base.
Among the various attractions offering Free admission are some of Indy's finest historic treasures, and on Tuesday, Dec. 14 the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home welcomes you to experience a Victorian Christmas in historic Lockerbie Square with festive Christmas greenery and wreathes. The Hoosier Poet, and author of Little Orphant Annie (Riley), spent the last 23 years of his life in the late Victorian preserved home that was built in 1872. The home itself features simple, elegant decorations and small gifts and party favors that would be typical of the period. The Christmas tree is special because it includes actual Christmas postcards that citizens from across the country sent to Riley after he was recovering from a stroke in 1911.
Also, the Indiana Humanities Council, which encourages Hoosiers to think, read and talk, invite you to tour the house of Indiana author Meredith Nicholson from 10am-3pm on the 14th. The Meredith Nicholson House was built in 1904 and was one of the first Georgian Colonial Revival style homes in Indy. During the day several humanities-inspired programs will take place as well. While you're downtown drop in at the Indianapolis Artsgarden at the Circle for the Mistletoe Music Festival when Indianapolis area high school and grade school choirs will get you in the spirit of the season as they sing a variety of holiday tunes.
The sights and sounds of holidays past will come to life this season at the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park on Tuesday, Dec. 21. There will be family activities inside Conner Prairie’s cozy welcome center and throughout the outdoor 1836 Prairietown. In the welcome center, you can stroll through a wonderland of icing, gumdrops and sprinkles atop remarkable gingerbread creations, visit with the Gingerbread Man and a Victorian era Santa Claus, craft a holiday decoration to take home, enjoy a theatrical presentation, play with 19th century toys and explore Discovery Station. Or, bundle up and stroll through the outdoor 1836 village of Prairietown, where everyone is preparing for the holidays ahead and taking care of winter tasks the 19th century way. While at the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park you can also tour the William Conner’s home.
At the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center on Thursday, Dec. 23 between 10am – 5pm you'll have the chance to exploring scenes recreated from pictures the Indiana Historical Society’s vast collections, complete with costumed interpreters in You Are There. Settings include at a WWII-era store, an automobile repair and fuel station and a violin maker’s shop with You Are There. Take a hi-tech walk through the past with Destination Indiana, which includes 188 time-travel “journeys” at touch-screen stations and several more facilitated journeys at its 22.5-by-7.5-foot cinema screen.
Get a taste of how to take care of your own family treasures with the Fortune History Lab, or enjoy the live music of Hoosier legend Cole Porter. Also on display will be several holiday-related covers of the Saturday Evening Post, and all things leg lamp (a la A Christmas Story) are available in the Basile History Market. Discover the IHS’s state-of-the-art research library, publications, educational programs, special events, gift shop and café, all situated along the historic Central Canal, and learn more by visiting www.indianahistory.org.
Among the attractions offering Free Admission and special programs are The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg, Rhythm! Discovery Center, Conner Prairie, Pres. Benjamin Harrison Home, Morris-Butler House, James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, Meredith Nicholson Home, Lilly House, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Indiana Medical History Museum. To learn more about each attraction and to plan your trip visit www.visitindy.com/12free.
It's so easy to do so much with so many attractions and events held throughout the year in Indiana and in the Circle City of Indianapolis. For great discounts and exciting things to do visit http://www.in.gov /visitindiana/tripplanner/tripplanner.aspx for the Indiana Office of Tourism Development or go to the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association at http://www.visitindy.com.