HolidayFest is a Fort Wayne, Indiana tradition that begins the week before Thanksgiving and continues until we ring in the new year. The flagship event is the Night of Lights, which is always the evening before Thanksgiving. The Night of Lights is an absolute joy and also serves as Fort Wayne's official start to the Holiday season.
This year's Night of Lights falls on Wednesday, November 21. Mark your calendar for the big event, and keep on marking as there’s more to Fort Wayne’s Holiday culture than our stop-in-your-tracks lighting displays. We've got it all!
Fort Wayne, Indiana's Holiday Hot Spots
Night of Lights Schedule – just the lights
If you’re short on time and just want to see all of the lightings - start your evening at the History Center at 5:45 PM, you won't want to miss the light of the Santa and His Reindeer on the PNC Bank building at 6:20 PM and the Merry Christmas Wreath on the I&M Building at 7:00 PM. Wrap up the night at 8:00 PM with Fireworks at Parkview Field.
Night of Lights – The Activities
Many downtown locations offer Night of Lights activities, the evening of November 21. From indoor warm activities to some great family-friendly celebrations, these are the perfect activities to make your holiday celebrations special.
Warm Indoor Activities
Visit with Santa and one of his reindeer at the beautiful Baker Street Train Station or enjoy crafts and entertainment at the Grand Wayne Convention Center holiday open house. There are plenty of other great indoor activities to help you warm up, but make sure you step outside for the ringing of the church bells at 7:30 PM
The Best Family Activities
After delighting in all of the beautiful holiday lightings with your kids in tow, make your way to the Botanical Conservatory's beautiful Victorian Christmas display featuring Santa and Christmas carols with the Fort Wayne Youtheatre. Let your kids explore the Allen County Public Library downtown branch and make an LED snowman!
Can't-Miss Night of Lights Activities
Make your list and check it twice - you do not want to miss out on these classic holiday events. The beautiful Allen County Courthouse will present their Cocoa and Carols with the Fort Wayne Children's Choir, and the Festival of Trees display at the Embassy Theatre featuring beautifully decorated trees throughout the lobby and beautiful window displays (available through November 28.)
After you've had your turkey, make your way to the Embassy Theatre for a screening of "White Christmas" on Thanksgiving Day.
Plus, during the evening where you can stroll through the streets helping to commemorate the start of the holidays, many of the downtown Fort Wayne businesses will be offering treats including hot cider and Aunt Millie's raisin swirl bread at Aunt Millie's Bakers, hot wassail & cookies at Cathedral Books & Gifts, and cookies and cocoa with Santa at Salin Bank.
*All events located in downtown Fort Wayne. Times vary with most activities beginning between 4-5PM
HolidayFest - beyond the Night of Lights
Do you have family coming into town between Thanksgiving and Christmas and want to impress them with Fort Wayne’s Holiday spirit? The following activities, events, and attractions are all part of HolidayFest. You’re sure to find a festive event to fit your interest. Some of the following events are free and some involve a fee/ticket.
The Best Family-Friendly Events
- November 23 through December 9 – Festival of Gingerbread at The History Center
- November 23 through 25 – Breakfast with Santa at the Historic Embassy Theatre
Insider Tip: This always sells-out early. Call the Embassy’s box office at (260) 424-6287 to inquire about availability.
- November 23 through 25 – Festival of Trains at Science Central
- November 24 – Joyeux Noel, A Festive French Christmas at Fort Wayne’s Historic Old Fort
- December 1, 8, and 15 – Santa & The Reindeer at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
- December 7 through 16 – “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at First Presbyterian Theater
Date Night Events
- December 1 and 2 – Jingle Bell Jazz at the downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library
- December 16 – Suzuki Strings Holiday Concert at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
- December 7, 8, and 15 – Holiday Pops performances by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic (located at the Historic Embassy Theatre)
- December 14 through 16 – Heartland Sings: The Spirit of Christmas (located at the Allen County Courthouse)
- November 17 through March 4 - Outdoor Ice Skating at Headwaters Park
- November 25 – Holley Trolley shopping event downtown
- November 30 through December 9 – The Nutcracker performance at Arts United Center
Insider Tip: The Fort Wayne Ballet presents this classic performance every year and it’s a wonderful Holiday tradition. Attend if you’re in town – It’s inspiring to see the hard work of our local youth come to life!
Festive New Year's Events
- December 29 and 30 – 44th Annual Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival
- December 31 – Countdown to Noon at Science Central
- December 31 – Fort Wayne’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
Also, save the date for Winterval on January 26. More details to come!