This post was updated November 2018.
Looking for something special – an activity that puts the sparkle in your day?
Fort Wayne at Christmas time is the perfect place to find a little magic.
Whether you’re looking for a group experience or a place for a little personal contemplation, there are plenty of places to explore – and these are spots you can return to, again and again!
6 Magical Experiences in Fort Wayne
1. Festival of Trees
November 21 – 28
The Festival of Trees is definitely a must-see if beautiful Christmas trees, antique architecture and a touch of 1920’s glam is your thing.
The theme, this year, is “White Christmas.” Situated in the Embassy Theatre lobby and the neighboring Indiana Hotel Lobby, the Festival of Trees features over fifty decorated trees in a wonderful blizzard of creativity.
The auditorium of the Embassy is open for visitors who want to watch events on stage; events range from special music on the Grande Page Organ, a regional dance group, or a children’s choir singalong.
When you file through the trees, the lobby is brilliant with light but the auditorium is thoughtfully dim and hushed.
2. Fantasy of Lights
November 20 – December 31
Do you get a thrill when you see multi-colored lights twinkling, sparkling and glowing? Then the Fantasy of Lights is for you.
Tons of lights are set up to depict candy canes, tall tin soldiers, crèches, rocking horses, cowboys and any number of other colorful designs, based on the individual sponsor.
It’s especially beautiful when there’s a fresh blanket of snow that lets you look out your open car window and appreciate the silence of a wintry night. This is a display that looks beautiful in the rain, snow, or in clear weather.
If you’re up for an outdoor adventure, open carriage rides are also offered. Walking is not encouraged, as this display takes place after dark and cars usually only have their parking lights on.
3. Fort Wayne Ballet Nutcracker
December 2 – 9
Can you mix grace, beauty and a sparkling sensation all in one event? Then the Fort Wayne Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker is just what you want to see.
In the hushed theatre, the dancers make the story of Clara and the Nutcracker come to life. There’s just something about the Dance of the Snowflakes, with its beautiful blue lighting and swirling, costumed dancers that takes you to another world. At the end, when Clara discovers that it has all been a dream, you, too, feel like you’re waking up from a beautiful memory.
4. The Botanical Conservatory – "Victorian Christmas"
November 17 – January 6
The Gardens are all indoors, and the poinsettias are always gorgeous. If you think snow and plants don’t mix, well, try looking at the Conservatory’s indoor displays!
There’s something about wandering around the Christmas and winter scenes, listening to the waterfall and breathing in the calming scent of plant life that is peaceful. Visitors like to take photos in the special display garden area – this is just the background you need for a Christmas photo.
On some weekends, special events – like live reindeer and or breakfast with Santa– are offered.
5. The Festival of Gingerbread
November 23 – December 9
What scent makes you think more about Christmas than gingerbread? The History Center hosts a large room filled with gingerbread creations that visitors can wander about. From candy-filled pre-K creations to works of fantastic art in glazed candy windows and crafted icing, there is something for every age to enjoy.
The old-fashioned Christmas decorations lend an antique charm to the whole experience, taking you back to a time when Christmas was simpler.
In the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, there is a beautiful mix of walk-through and drive-by sights to see.
There is the giant Santa Claus Sleigh display on the side of PNC Bank, the huge Merry Christmas Wreath at the I & M Power Center Plaza, and the lovely, old-fashioned illuminated windows at the Embassy Theatre, just to mention a few sites.
Driving slowly through the downtown area, you never know when you’ll find a brilliant splash of color.
If walking is more your style, then the nostalgic store windows are just what you want to see. Walk on the sidewalk right next to the Embassy Theatre, peering into the different scenes. The windows give you a taste of early twentieth century Fort Wayne, with a different scenario set up each year: elves, Santa and Mrs. Claus, twinkling ornaments, penguins, and snowmen may be part of the scenes!