By Chris Bavender
It’s the holiday season, and the City of Noblesville is getting in the festive spirit with the return of Holidays at the Hill at Federal Hill Commons. The event began Nov. 20 and runs through Jan. 9, 2022.
“Last year was a tricky one for so many communities on how best to handle the holiday season in a global pandemic, but we leaned into giving folks options to be outside,” Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen said. “So, we condensed into one area of the city and focused our attention on that area to amplify the holiday experience, and it turned out to be a huge success and a great holiday season for folks.”
Jensen said Holidays at the Hill is a fun way for families to celebrate the season.
“I always say this time of year is the best time of year for families, and in my personal opinion, we have the best city in the state of Indiana, so why not come celebrate here?” Jensen said. “The pandemic opened people’s eyes to the importance of family and spending time with loved ones, so it’s on us as leaders to provide those safe areas to do that.”
Attendees can reserve a private carriage ride through downtown Noblesville for $75. Leading up to Christmas Eve, private rides with Santa will be available beginning Dec. 20.
“The Jensen family took one last year,” Jensen said. “We always, as an extended family, go to the Yuletide Celebration, but that was a no-go last year, so we pivoted and stayed local and did a carriage ride, and then had dinner at Matteo’s. It is magical, and downtown is magical, and it just fits perfectly.”
There will be a special mailbox at the Christmas Cottage for letters to Santa.
“We have Santa out in the community quite a bit in December,” Jensen said.
Santa will be the featured guest at the “Home for the Holidays Tour,” which will travel through neighborhoods the first two weekends in December. More details and routes will be announced soon.
“We decided to take Santa to the neighborhoods, and it ended up being a huge hit,” Jensen said. “Over the course of two weekends, we take Santa and fire trucks and police cars and snowplows, etc., and have a mini parade all through the neighborhoods. We take Santa to the people. The kids are wonderful, they love to see Santa, but to see some of our homebound and our seniors come out on their porches and to see the huge smiles on their faces, that just kind of made it for me.
“So, I knew we were on to something special.”
Holidays at the Hill also will feature a temporary ice rink at the Market Plaza. It opened Nov. 20 and will close for the season Jan. 9, 2022. Jensen said it was a popular attraction last year with so many other events around the state being canceled, and he expects it will be even more popular this year.
Another popular part of the event is the transformation of Federal Hill Commons’ lawn into a walkable light display with “great places to take family photos,” Jensen said.
“I am the father of four young ones, and while car displays are wonderful, to be able to park and get out and let them walk around and take cute pictures adds a little more ambiance to it and makes it more enjoyable for our families,” Jensen said.
The Holiday Market will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 4. It will include local restaurants and holiday artisan vendors.
“It’s meant to create an atmosphere where families can come together and remember what the holidays are really about,” Jensen said. “It’s not about that Amazon package stuck on a cargo ship or the hustle and bustle you see on TV. It’s about spending time with family and friends in Noblesville, and that is what I want them to experience when they come to Federal Hill Commons.”
Things to do during Holidays at the Hill
Carriage Rides: Reserve a private 15-minute carriage ride through downtown Noblesville for $75 or a carriage ride with Santa for $125. Carriage rides can seat up to six adults and three to five children on adults’ laps. Santa rides seat five adults and three to five children on adults’ laps. Each ride includes only one group and must be reserved in advance online at secure.rec1.com/IN/city-of-noblesville-in/catalog.
Ice Plaza Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22. Starting Dec. 23, hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Sunday. Special holiday hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 26, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31. The rink will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Rental ice skates: Available in kid to adult sizes. Admission is $13 for ages 13 and older, and $11 for those ages 12 and younger. A 10-skate pass is available for $110, and a five-skate pass is $60. Guests can bring their own skates, but skate rental is included in the admission fee. Skating aids are available for $3.
Parking: The Levinson parking garage is free during the holiday season. The garage entrance is at Maple Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets.