The City of Lawrence’s annual Winterfest kicks off the Saturday following Thanksgiving with A Lawrence Christmas, starting at 2 p.m. and running through 8 p.m. Nov. 25 at Civic Plaza, 5710 Lawrence Village Pkwy.
The celebration includes a skating rink, vendors offering food and holiday gifts, a parade, musical performances and a tree-lighting ceremony.
Chief of Staff Cori Korn said after A Lawrence Christmas, Winterfest is open every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 7 p.m. through Dec. 23.
“We will have live entertainment both on Saturdays and Sundays as well as the skating rink,” she said. “And then this year we will have a winter market every day that we are open at Civic Plaza.”
The skating rink is synthetic, so it’s not dependent on freezing temperatures.
“The theory is it glides like ice, but that it’s actually a little bit easier for newbies to learn to skate on,” Korn said. “Our parks department installs that and that will go up mid-November.”
There is a fee for skating, which includes skate rental. The cost for a day is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.
The rink and winter market open at 2 p.m. Nov. 25, with the Christmas Parade starting at 5:30. Korn said the parade starts at Government Center, 9001 E. 59th St. According to the event webpage, the route winds from Post Road to Kent Avenue, south on Lawton Loop to Otis Avenue, ending at Civic Plaza.
The parade will feature the Marching Pride of Lawrence Township Drum Corps, Lawrence North dance team Fierce Felines, outgoing Mayor Steve Collier, Santa and The Grinch on a firetruck, various city public safety vehicles and more.
Korn said the city is incorporating the 2024 solar eclipse into the festivities.
“Our theme this year for the holidays as we lead into the eclipse is ‘Ice Eclipse,’” she said.
After the parade, a variety show will feature different performances, and at around 7 p.m., the “tree,” made from lights strung into a tree shape and suspended from light poles, will be illuminated.
“It’s 40 feet tall and stands at the south end of the plaza,” Korn said. “It’s really neat because people can see it coming over the bridge on 56th Street.”
Korn said she anticipates around 2,000 people will attend A Lawrence Christmas on Nov. 25. She said it’s grown significantly over the last decade.
“It’s energizing and it is so much fun and everyone who attends has a great time,” she said. “There are free goody bags for the first 500 children there, and hot chocolate and cookies that are given out by the police department and their support team. Our market is a little bigger that day, we have an expanded kid zone that evening with an area for a picture with your family. So it’s just — it’s a really, really fun day with all kinds of hustle and bustle all day.”
Other weekends during Winterfest will include the rink, winter market and entertainment, she said. Santa will be at the Civic Plaza on Saturdays. The dates are Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23.
Holiday events in Lawrence
The City of Lawrence has additional Winterfest celebrations planned, including a Winter Solstice event on Dec. 21 with the new Fort Ben Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library; and Breakfast with Santa with MSD of Lawrence Township and the Fort Ben YMCA on Dec. 9.
Arts for Lawrence will screen Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Jr., a one-hour musical adaptation of the classic Christmas story, starting at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2; and 3 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Theater at the Fort, 8920 Otis Ave.
Arts for Lawrence also will offer a shortened version of “The Nutcracker Suite,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 and 1 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Theater at the Fort. The performance is directed by Oybek Tashpulatov, Cristina Pretorius and Alexandra Harrill, and supported by Andrea Hagan of A-List Dance Center, featuring dancers of various ages.
For tickets, visit artsforlawrence.org/tickets.
Heartland Films is planning Merry Movie Nights starting Dec. 7 at the Theater at the Fort. Tickets are not yet available for this event but will be sold through artsforlawrence.org/tickets.
Additional winter activities will be listed as they are announced at visitlawrenceindiana.com/events/winterfest.