Christmas at the Fort

Maybe you’ve seen the high wooden walls of the Old Fort on Spy Run. And perhaps you’ve seen how cozy it looks, with snow gently falling around the brown-and-white exterior. Well, if you’ve ever wanted to explore the Fort in the winter time, this is your chance to mix a little historical fun with Christmas shopping.

Christmas at the Fort is taking place on Saturday, November 29 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. If you’re in downtown Fort Wayne, you can hop on the Holly Trolley and get a lift to the Fort Stop. There will be a warming station, donut bobbing for the kids, and a bake sale, just to get you started.

Inside the fort, each ‘apartment’ will be open, featuring different handmade items for sale. Crafters from all over Indiana, including Lebanon, Peru, Converse, North Manchester, and Huntington, will be there to show you their products and perhaps to demonstrate how their items are made.

This event is completely family friendly, and it comes on the Saturday right after Thanksgiving – so why not make a day of it and bring the whole gang along? While most of the terrain inside the fort is even and paved with crushed rock, there are steps to get up into the ‘stores,’ so you might want to park the stroller outside and bring the kids in.

11christmas16 soldier re enactor helps with crafts Christmas at the Fort

Kids and historical re-enactors work on crafts at the Christmas at the Fort

As you shop, you’ll find everything from woolen hand-spun and hand-stitched items to carved bowls and blacksmith products. Silver jewelry, pottery, leather goods and beeswax items are also for sale. Products offered here are all made with an eye to traditional craftsmanship, so there will be no batteries involved!

11christmas10 demonstrating at the Fort Christmas at the Fort

Why not make some holiday decorations while you’re at the Fort?

Costumed demonstrators may be present at the Fort, too, to lend an air of authenticity to the situation. After all, the fort is a reconstruction from 1815-16 – why not take a step back into time and see what it looked like, too? Children’s activities include an opportunity to don period clothing for a photo opportunity with “General George Washington” alongside his cannon. Children are also welcome to create a s’more treat, toasting their own marshmallow over a cozy fireplace.

11christmas07 A fire and a wreath Christmas at the Fort

What could feel more like Christmas than a warm fire, a pine wreath and candles?

If you’re driving over to the Fort, the address is 1201 Spy Run Ave., and parking is available in the Spy Run lot, or near Lawton Park (across the river.) Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

Louisa

About

Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Your Carriage Awaits in Downtown Fort Wayne

Horse and carriage rides. Is there anything more romantic or sentimental? Especially for those once-in-a-lifetime occasions you want commemorate, but also for those otherwise normal nights out when you just feel like doing something special. If you are visiting Fort Wayne or are just downtown for an event, why not book a carriage to make your night complete?

Full disclosure, here. My husband and I have used two of the three horse and carriage companies I’ll profile below. One on the day we got married- we rode from the church to our reception, and one on our anniversary 10 years later- we took a tour of downtown. Both times were wonderful, and both companies professional with outstanding service.

Here are your three choices if you’d like to book your adventure!

Camelot Carriage Rides

In business since 1997, Camelot Carriage Rides is a family-owned and family-run business. “Camelot Carriage Rides’ drivers are very courteous and safety-conscious. Our customers are our number one priority. Our drivers are dressed in the appropriate attire for your occasion, whether it be a wedding or proposal, or just an evening night out with your special significant other.”

Camelot’s horses are Draft horses- White Percheron and Black Clydesdale, and the carriages are white Vis-a-Vis, which can be open or fully enclosed. You can also choose a full-size wagon for large groups.

Details: Rides begin and end at Don Hall’s Gas House & Takaoka downtown, although special locations can be negotiated. Call 260-223-2417 for more information. For tours in and around downtown Fort Wayne, $35 gets you half an hour, and $65 one hour.

camelot 300x225 Your Carriage Awaits in Downtown Fort Wayne

Camelot Carriage Rides

Rosewood Carriage Rides

Rosewood Carriage Rides is another great option. In business since 2003, Rosewood is based in Huntertown, but serves Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas.

“Rosewood is a licensed family owned business whose owner has operated carriages since 1984 and prides itself on providing safe and excellent service to all customers. Our white Vis-a-Vis carriages can be transported to your location and completely enclosed to protect passengers from foul weather. Coachmen are experienced professionals and are always suitable dressed for the occasion. A majestic Percheron Draft horse pulls each carriage so you can sit back and enjoy the leisurely pace of a horse-drawn carriage ride.”

Details: Rides begin and end at Don Hall’s Gas House & Takaoka downtown, although special locations can be negotiated. To tour downtown Fort Wayne, $35 gets you half an hour, and $70 one hour. To make special arrangements, call 260-637-5261.

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Rosewood Carriage Rides

Sentimental Journey Carriage Rides

Last, but not least, is Sentimental Journey Carriage Rides. Like Camelot and Rosewood, Sentimental Journey has both carriages for a more intimate ride and larger wagons for big groups.

“Sentimental Journey began in 1993 and offers three elegant white carriages and four beautiful horses to make your occasion spectacular.”

Details: Rides begin and end at Don Hall’s Gas House & Takaoka downtown, although special locations can be negotiated.  $35 gets you half an hour, and $70 one hour for tours of downtown Fort Wayne.  Most days, 24-hour notice is all you need to book your ride! Call 260-341-1133 to arrange special occasions.

Picture1 300x200 Your Carriage Awaits in Downtown Fort Wayne

Sentimental Journey Carriage Rides

If you’ve never taken a carriage ride downtown, what are you waiting for? Take your sweetie, your whole family (carriages will hold two adults plus two to three kids) or a group of your BFFs (reserve a wagon!), sit back, relax and enjoy the view. It will be the best money you’ve ever spent to get around the Fort. What better way to see the holiday lights?

Insider’s Tip: While all three companies provide heavy blankets for your comfort, don’t forget to bundle up! Afterwards, stop by Henry’s for a nightcap.

Wendy Sack

About

Born and bred in Alabama, Wendy has lived in Fort Wayne for just over 12 years, calling historic Williams-Woodland Park home. Asked to describe herself, Wendy is quick to throw out the terms grammar geek, voracious reader, Jim Gaffigan nut and Alabama Crimson Tide football fanatic. Often found with a Diet Coke in one hand and a book in the other, Wendy’s true passion is her family. She is a wife, a mother of two and is always looking for new and adventurous things to do in and around Fort Wayne. Wendy finds humor easily in any situation and is a true believer that laughter really does cure anything.

Have a Holly Jolly time during Holly Trolley Shopping!

HTS 300x199 Have a Holly Jolly time during Holly Trolley Shopping! On Saturday, November 29 you can discover downtown and all of the local shops it has to offer during the Downtown Improvement District’s annual Holly Trolley Shopping Day! Park, shop and ride the FREE trollies from 11am-5pm and check out unique offerings from local businesses both right downtown, and in the Wells Street Corridor.

Participating downtown shops are:

3R Gallery
Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery
Botanical Conservatory
Castle Gallery Fine Art
Cathedral Books & Gifts
Community Center Popup Market
Cottage Flowers
Courtyard Wintergreens and Utopian Coffee Co.
Creative Women of the World
Dunkin Donuts at the Allen County Public Library
Emiley’s Haute Cottage
Fort Wayne Museum of Art Paradigm Gallery
Fort Wayne TinCaps Orchard
Foxy Ladies Art Posse Holiday Gift Market
Historic Fort Wayne
House of Furniture
Indiana Artisan Holiday Marketplace
Pembroke Bakery & Café
Prana Yoga School of Yoga and Health
Saving Grace Vintage
Science Central
Sharon’s Victorian House of Gifts
Stoner’s Funstore
Sunny Schick Camera Shop
The Wood Shack Architectural Antiques
Third World Fair Trade Shoppe
Visit Fort Wayne
Your Virgin Hair Boutique

Wells Corridor participants include:

Big Eyed Fish
Brewers Art Supply, Inc.
C.M. Sloan & Sons Funeral Home
Connolly’s Do It Best
Fort Wayne Guitar Exchange
Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot
G.I. Joes Army Surplus
Great Panes Glass Company
Hyde Brothers Booksellers
Indiana Mexican Bakery
Jay’s Mini Mart Inc.
La Michoana
Linda Lou’s New & Used Furniture
Morings Flowers
Richards Bakery & Big Apple Pizza
Wells Street Variety & Antiques

For those keeping count, that’s 50 (FIFTY) local places you can visit throughout the day! Need a little help mapping your day out with all of these options? Let me give you a few of the places I’m most excited about visiting during HollyTrolley Shopping!

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Emiley’s Haute Cottage features unique gifts. (photo via Emiley’s Haute Cottage Facebook page)

Emily’s Haute Cottage

Emily’s Haute Cottaqge is one of the cutest shops in downtown Fort Wayne! Offering everything from unique home furniture and decor, to locally made jewelry, Emily’s Haute Cottage is the place to go if you’re looking for something you ‘re sure to not find in a chain store. Voted 1st place in the Fort Wayne Newspaper’s Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Gift Collectibles Shop, this is the perfect spot to hunt for a gift for that person on your Christmas list that has fun and unique taste (or to buy yourself something fabulous).

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Just a few of the things you’ll find while shopping at Visit Fort Wayne.

Visit Fort Wayne

Obviously, Visit Fort Wayne is a must for this list! Stop by the Visitors Center for gifts that shout your love for Fort Wayne! Whether you’re looking for Fort Wayne branded apparel, or something uniquely Fort Wayne to celebrate our city, there’s a good chance Visit Fort Wayne has it! Want to find something a little more “luxurious”? The Visitors Center carries local favorites Vera Bradley and DeBrand Fine Chocolate too! While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to chat up their knowledgable staff who are always happy to give their recommendations of what to do and see in Fort Wayne!

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Browse Fort Wayne Outfitters.

Fort Wayne Outfitter’s & Bike Depot

Prior to this summer I had never been to Fort Wayne Outfitters. I had heard lots of good things, but never had a reason or opportunity to check it out. Once I did I fell in love with this hidden gem in the Wells Street Corridor! During much warmer weather, Fort Wayne Outfitters is the place to go if you’re looking to really get out and explore Fort Wayne from a different point of view. They offer kayak, canoe, and paddle board rentals for going out on the river, as well as bike rentals to explore our trail system. For your shopping needs, they have a selection of apparel and gear, bikes and boats. This is the perfect place to shop for the outdoorsy person in your life!

hyde 2 Have a Holly Jolly time during Holly Trolley Shopping!

Hyde Brother’s is filled to the brim with books.

Hyde Brothers Book Sellers

If you have a book lover on your shopping list, chances are they already know about Hyde Brothers Booksellers. It is a truly magical place if reading is your thing. They offer over 150,000 titles, and are one of the largest bookstores in all of Indiana! I’ve spent many afternoons combing the shelves at Hyde Brothers, looking for something unique and interesting, and they never disappoint! You’ll find everything from first-edition leatherbound novels, antique special editions and newer titles currently flying off the shelves.

Now, start mapping out your day! Many of the locations along the Holly Trolley route will be offering special holiday items, one-day sales and refreshments for shoppers. Holly Trolley shopping is also great because with two trolley routes, you won’t have to wait long at any given stop to move along to your next stop! Holly Trolley shopping goes from 11am-5pm and riding the trolley is FREE! For more information, check out Visit Fort Wayne or the Downtown Improvement District. And, don’t miss out on all of the other great Holiday Fest activities going on all season long!

Katie

About

Katie Robinson simply loves Fort Wayne! Born and raised in the Summit City, she returned following graduating from Ball State University with a degree in Public Relations in May of 2013. A former Visit Fort Wayner, Katie currently works for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority as the Marketing and Customer Service Specialist. In her spare time you can find her baking cupcakes, Zumba-ing her heart out and relaxing with her husband, Joe, and their adorable Shih Tzu, Gidget.

Kick off the holiday season with the Embassy Theatre’s Festival of Trees

FullSizeRender 300x300 Kick off the holiday season with the Embassy Theatres Festival of Trees

Last year’s Festival of Trees was one of my favorites!

There’s something magical about the holiday season. Everyone is a little cheerier, the cold weather feels more festive than troublesome, houses are decked out in twinkling lights, and Christmas trees are put up and decorated for all to see. To top it all off, Fort Wayne goes all out to usher in the holiday season. From the big Holidayfest kickoff at the Night of Lights, to the illuminated displays you’ll find around town all throughout the season, Fort Wayne is doing it right! Out of all of the great events you’ll find throughout Holidayfest, the Embassy Theatre Festival of Trees is by far my favorite, and it will be yours too!

Each year the Embassy Theatre puts on the Festival of Trees – a festival where trees of all shapes and sizes are decorated elaborately in celebration of the holiday season. While the Festival of Trees is a wonderful display of all things wondrous and magical, it also serves a bigger purpose. Since its start in 1984, the Embassy Festival of Trees has served as a community goodwill event that supports the continuous operational and restoration efforts of the Embassy Theatre Foundation, Inc.. Each intricately, and sometimes gloriously over the top, tree is decorated and/or sponsored by a local group or business, adding even more the true community feel of the event.

This is one of Fort Wayne’s favorite holiday festivals, hands down! Year after year, more and more people are discovering the fun and beauty that is the Festival of Trees. Not only are there gaggles of intricately decorated trees all around the Embassy Theatre and Indiana Hotel lobby, but there are also live performances from some of the areas most talented singers, dancers and musicians. I can guarantee that even the most Grinch-like person will be transformed after walking through the magical hallways filled with holiday cheer (and lights and glitter and ribbon!).

The Embassy Theatre Festival of Trees kicks off on downtown Fort Wayne’s Night of Lights on November, 26th, and continues through Wednesday, December 3rd. While the window to attend the festival is limited, it is worth working it into your plans!

The full schedule for the Festival of Trees is as follows:
Night of Lights, Wed., Nov. 26, 6-9 p.m.
Thurs., Nov. 27, 4-8 p.m. (featuring Grande Page Organ music)
Fri.-Sun., Nov. 28- Nov. 30, 12-8 p.m. (youth entertainment on the Embassy stage)
Mon., Dec. 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Senior Day (open to the public, special information for Seniors)
Tues., Dec. 2, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 3, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tots and Trees (open to the public, special activities for kids)

Don’t miss out! Make the Festival of Trees a new tradition with your family and friends! Admission to the festival is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 4-12. Children 3 and under are FREE. For ticket information call the Embassy Theatre box office at 800.745.3000, or visit ticketmaster. For more information on the Festival of Trees, and all of the other great Holidayfest events, check out Visit Fort Wayne.

Katie

About

Katie Robinson simply loves Fort Wayne! Born and raised in the Summit City, she returned following graduating from Ball State University with a degree in Public Relations in May of 2013. A former Visit Fort Wayner, Katie currently works for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority as the Marketing and Customer Service Specialist. In her spare time you can find her baking cupcakes, Zumba-ing her heart out and relaxing with her husband, Joe, and their adorable Shih Tzu, Gidget.

‘Tis the Season – Christmas Concerts at the Embassy Theatre (and you can win tickets!)

Christmas is coming, like it or not. If you need a little help getting in the mood this year, why not check out one of these great Christmas-themed performances coming to Fort Wayne’s Historic Embassy Theatre this December.

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On Friday, December 5 at 8:00 p.m., Mannheim Steamroller returns to the Embassy Theatre for Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis: 30th Anniversary Tour. Celebrating the release of its first Christmas album, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, this concert will feature many of the contemporary versions of Christmas tunes that fans around the world have loved for three decades. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to “Deck the Halls” off that album right now, which reminds me just how much I love synthesizers. And Christmas. It should be a fantastic show.

The next night, Saturday, December 6 at 8:00 p.m., you can catch the Elvis Tribute Artist Christmas Spectacular, featuring Shawn Klush, The Sweet Inspirations, The Blackwood Quartet, and The Fabulous Ambassadors. Listen, as far as I’m concerned, any “best of Christmas music” list has to include

  • “Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney
  • “Last Christmas” – Wham!
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid
  • Any Johnny Mathis Christmas song
  • Any Elvis Presley Christmas song (but really, we all know “Blue Christmas” is the best)

Having a whole night of amazing Elvis tribute artists perform his Christmas best? If that doesn’t put you in this Christmas spirit, you might want to check the size of your heart…

Finally, over the course of the following two weekends, December 12th and 13th and December 19th and 20th, be a part of a Fort Wayne holiday tradition – The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Holiday Pops. Seeing the Phil perform with Ben Folds just last Friday reminded me how great the musicians who play with the Phil are and how lucky we are to have them. Seriously, do yourself a favor and catch one of the six Holiday Pops shows: December 12th and 19th at 7:30 p.m. and December 13th and 20th at 2:00 p.m. (matinee) and 7:30 p.m.

What a great lineup of holiday performances! What a great venue! For more information on any of these shows, check out www.visitfortwayne.com or www.fwembassytheatre.org.
Win tickets to Mannheim Steamroller here.

Win tickets to the Elvis Tribute Artist here.

Mike

About

Apart from spending his college years in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, Mike Flohr is a lifetime resident of the Summit City. Today he divides his time among his wife, Megan, his job as a college librarian, and his many geek obsessions.