Downtown Fort Wayne dazzles with holiday traditions

HolidayFest logo.

News release from the Downtown Improvement District:

Downtown Fort Wayne Dazzles with Holiday Traditions

As the days get darker, downtown is getting brighter. The annual ‘Night of Lights’ downtown is one of our most beloved traditions and will be held the night before Thanksgiving, November 23.

It’s the traditions, magical lights and special decorations of the holidays that make the season special for so many of us. Preparations are well underway for light displays and windows decorations that bring nostalgia of a time when browsing department store windows was a source of entertainment. Many of those buildings have changed but the heart of our region is still attractive with dazzling displays, lighted wreaths and seasonal banners. Choirs, dancers, musicians, and theatrical groups are rehearsing for their annual holiday shows and artists are finishing their works for seasonal exhibits downtown. There is no shortage of ways to enjoy the holiday traditions in our city center.

The Downtown Improvement District (DID) is pleased to provide new street decorations this year. City crews are hanging seasonal snowflake banners on major downtown thoroughfares and new lighted snowflakes will be hung next week along Calhoun Street. The DID could only replace half of the aging banners but plans are already in the works to add more of the new lights and banners next year. Meanwhile, these new decorations will be mixed with the old to adorn more areas, including the area around Citizen’s Square.

Blending new with old will also be true on the Night of Lights this year. A wide variety of activities are planned mixing recent additions like Parkview Field fireworks and performances at the Grand Wayne with kick-off events for community favorites such as the Embassy Theatre’s Festival of Trees and History Center’s Festival of Gingerbread. Established traditions are growing and expanding too, with more ways to engage audiences and provide lasting memories.

All activities occur while the annual ritual of downtown lighting takes place. Hot chocolate will be served by volunteers in tents located along the holiday lighting route and is donated by downtown restaurants including the Bagel Station Uptown, Club Soda, Champions and JK O’Donnells.

The first stop on the lighting route is at 5:45 p.m. with the Northern Lights display at Aunt Millie’s at Main and Pearl Streets, where they will be serving hot cider and baked treats. The activity continues at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the Community Center Santa’s Workshop display and the History Center turrets.

At 6:15 pm, the excitement builds with lighting of Santa and his reindeer at the PNC Bank (Main and Calhoun Streets). Mayor Tom Henry and Santa will lead the crowds from there to One Summit for a spirited performance by Fort Wayne Children’s Choir. The lighting of the Wells Fargo holiday display and the Indiana Michigan Power “Merry Christmas” Wreath promise to dazzle.

Bundled up merry makers will journey down Calhoun Street to Jefferson Street for the lighting of the Botanical Conservatory and their “Night Before Christmas” exhibit. At 7:15 pm, animated holiday windows on Harrison Street at the Embassy Theatre will take you back to the days when Wolf and Dessauer’s, Patterson Fletcher, and G.C. Murphy anchored the downtown. Other surprises are in store for those who visit the Embassy.

Parkview Field will wrap up the Night of Lights’ with a bang with a Holiday Fireworks Display at 7:45. And the holiday fun downtown doesn’t stop after the lighting ceremony! Activities continue until at least 9 p.m. at locations across downtown. Downtown HolidayFest continues through the entire holiday season with performances, festivals, art events, new Holly Trolley Shopping, and so much more.

For a complete list of lighting ceremony activities as well as a comprehensive holiday calendar, visit

Parking will be free in most parking garages and lots around downtown starting at 5:30 p.m. for the Night of Lights. Gates may still be down when patrons arrive, but will be open for those who exit after 6 p.m.

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