HolidayFest 2015: Holiday traditions in downtown Fort Wayne


2015 HolidayFest logo


News release from the Downtown Improvement District:

Holiday Traditions in Downtown Fort Wayne
10. . . 9. . . 8. . . 7. . .

(November 5, 2015) – Holiday joy is upon us! Join us in Downtown Fort Wayne for HolidayFest 2015. The excitement kicks off with the Night of Lights on Wednesday, November 25th where we join together, count down, and light up Downtown with Santa and His Reindeer, the Merry Christmas Wreath, Northern Lights, and many more. The night’s activities do not end there because the Festival of Trees, Santa’s Workshop, Festival of Gingerbread, and more festivities begin that night, as well. And, the evening would not be complete without the Ringing of the Bells by Downtown churches at 7:30pm and the Parkview Field Fireworks at 7:45pm.

New This Year: Experience Downtown as it used to be with the brand new Downtown Holiday Window Decorating Contest. Come Downtown and have your senses thrilled as you stroll down the sidewalk and view the beautifully decorated windows. This year’s theme is Yesteryear, and it promises to transport you back. Relive old memories and create new ones as you turn each corner and become immersed in the creativity and joy that each Downtown window conveys. Nobody does the holidays like Downtown Fort Wayne!

Activities: The fun doesn’t stop with the lighting ceremonies as great activities will take place throughout the evening. Warm up with Cocoa and Carols at the Allen County Courthouse or participate in activities like Night of Lights at the Cathedral Bookstore, Minecraft: Build a Winter Wonderland at the Allen County Public Library, and Merry Craft-Making, also at the library.

HolidayFest featuring the Night of Lights is presented by your Downtown Improvement District and sponsored by PNC Bank, Fort Wayne Newspapers, Visit Fort Wayne, Hanning & Bean Enterprises Inc., Targeted Services P.C., Majic 95.1, and Fun 101.7.

HolidayFest continues through the end of the year with performances, festivals, art events, Holly Trolley Shopping, and so much more. For a complete list of lighting ceremony activities as well as a comprehensive holiday calendar, visit


Night of Lights Schedule 2015: Wednesday, November 25th

  • 5:15 pm – History Center Turret Lighting (Barr Street)
  • 5:30 pm – Christ Child Festival Nativity Lighting (Ross Building on Main Street)
  • 5:45 pm – Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights (Pearl Street)
  • 6:00 pm – Community Center Santa’s Workshop Display (Main Street)
  • 6:15 pm – Santa and His Reindeer at PNC (Main and Berry Streets)
  • 6:45 pm – Wells Fargo Holiday Display and Indiana Michigan Power Merry Christmas Wreath (I&M Power Center Plaza at Calhoun and Wayne Streets)
  • 7:15 pm – Botanical Conservatory & Embassy Theatre Window Lighting (Jefferson Boulevard)
  • 7:30 pm – Ringing of the Bells (Downtown Churches)
  • 7:45 pm – Parkview Field Fireworks (Jefferson Boulevard)


Check out these special Downtown activities during Night of Lights:

Downtown Holiday Window Decorating Contest

November 25th-December 14th
Downtown Fort Wayne

The tradition of stores and businesses decorating their windows for the holidays is back! This year’s theme is Yesteryear. Enjoy a stroll through Downtown and a trip down memory lane as you check out the beautiful and creative window displays. Make sure to vote for your favorite at Call 260-420-3266 for more info.


Indiana Michigan Power & Wells Fargo

Wayne and Calhoun Streets

The Northrop High School Show Choir performance at 4:30pm on the Plaza and the Wells Fargo Stage Coach picture opportunity.


1st Source Bank

200 E. Main St.

Come in and enjoy refreshments from Main St. Bistro and check out Santa’s Scooter and Sidecar.


Santa’s Workshop

Community Center
233 W. Main St.

Start your downtown celebration at the Community Center with free holiday activities for the kids. Bring your kids out for free make and take crafts, refreshments and a movie. Kids can shop for inexpensive holiday gifts $3.00 and under. Tuba Playing Santa’s will entertain again this year from 5-6 pm and during the Community Center’s lighting ceremony. Don’t forget to bring your camera! Call 260-427-6460 for more info.


Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights

Aunt Millie’s Bakery
350 Pearl St.

On your way to see the Santa lighting, stop by Aunt Millie’s parking lot for free cider and sample Aunt Millie’s Cranberry Swirl bread. Check out the “Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights” amazing holiday light display. While you’re here, join in with Aunt Millie’s Carolers and spread some Christmas cheer! Call 260-424-8245 for more info.


Night of Lights at the Cathedral Bookstore

Cathedral Books and Gifts
915 S. Clinton St. (at the corner of Clinton & Washington across from the AEP Wreath)

Free Hot Wassail & Cookies! Enjoy your refreshments while browsing our great selection of gifts like home décor, nativities, advent wreathes, ornaments, jewelry and much more! 20% off your entire purchase from 5-9pm. Call 260-399-1442 for more info.


Holiday Kick-Off Party

Botanical Conservatory
1100 S. Calhoun St.

Enjoy hot chocolate and a cookie, meet Mrs. Claus, and get a free professional-quality photo with Santa. You can also meet two live reindeer that know all about the North Pole. Call 260-427-6440 for more info.


Minecraft: Build a Winter Wonderland

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza

Winter is coming….so stop by Young Adults’ Services at Main Library and add a creation to our Minecraft winter landscape. People of all ages are welcome–except Griefers!–but time limits apply. Call 260-421-1200 for more info.


Festival of Gingerbread Opening

History Center
302 E. Berry Street

30th Annual Festival of Gingerbread.


PNC Bank

110 W. Berry Street
5:30pm – 8:00pm

Get photos with Santa and his elves and hot cocoa from the Salvation Army’s cantina while PNC lights Santa and His Reindeer.


Merry Craft-Making

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza

Join Children’s Services at the Grand Wayne Convention Center for some merry craft-making. We’ll have a variety of make-and-take crafts for you to create. Call 260-421-1200 for more info.


Festival of Trees Opening

Embassy Theatre
125 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Beginning with the Night of Lights, the Embassy Festival of Trees is a featured stop in the city’s annual downtown lighting ceremony, offering the opening of the Harrison Street animated holiday windows and viewing of the trees. Founded in 1984, the Festival of Trees is a fundraising and community goodwill event that supports ongoing operational and restoration efforts for the Embassy Theatre Foundation, Inc.


Cocoa and Carols in the Allen County Courthouse

Allen County Courthouse
715 S. Calhoun Street

Top off the Downtown Lighting Fest with Cocoa and Carols in the Allen County Courthouse compliments of the Fort Wayne Children’s’ Choir and the Courthouse Preservation Trust. Call 260-449-7245 for more info.

Also, be sure to check out these other HolidayFest activities throughout the season:


A Christmas Story, The Musical

November 7th-November 22nd
Arts United Center
303 E. Main St.

Ralphie Parker only wants one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder® Air Rifle. A Christmas Story, The Musical is the hilarious account of Ralphie’s quest to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa himself that this is the perfect gift.

This new Broadway musical based on the classic 1983 movie features funny and heartfelt songs, and captures a nostalgic holiday spirit of days gone by. You’ll see all the treasured moments from the motion picture including the school bully, the tongue on the flagpost, the tempermental furnace and more! Call 260-424-5220 for more info.


Christmas on Broadway

Friday, November 20th
Shine and Hardin Law Office
2810 Beaver Ave. at Broadway

Please join us Friday evening to celebrate the lighting of the Christmas tree on Broadway and holiday fireworks display. And, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and their reindeer. And, the Polar Express Holiday Train. Hot chocolate and cookies available. Call 260-222-8973 for more info.


Festival of Trees

November 25th-December 2nd
Embassy Theatre
125 W. Jefferson Blvd.

“Warm Winter Wishes” is the theme for the 31st annual Festival of Trees from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2. More than 55 beautifully decorated trees, Santa Land and the Animated Holiday windows will once again be a part of the festival with two new events being added for 2015. Call 260-424-6287 for more info.

“A North Woods Christmas” Garden Exhibit

November 21st-January 3rd
Botanical Conservatory
1100 S. Calhoun St.

Imagine the charm of a North Woods cabin during the holidays: nestled into a snow-drifted evergreen and birch forest, the homestead is preparing for Christmas. Take family photos or just stroll through the poinsettia-accented Showcase garden as you enjoy our holiday exhibit.
Call 260-427-6440 for more info.

Garden in Lights

November 25th-January 3rd
Botanical Conservatory
1100 S. Calhoun St.

We’ve decorated not only the Showcase House, where you’ll find the customary poinsettias and elegance, but the Tropical and Desert Houses and the outdoor gardens as well. Call 260-427-6440 for more info.


Extended Holiday Hours

November 26th-December 18th
Botanical Conservatory
1100 S. Calhoun St.

The Botanical Conservatory will be open until 8 pm on Thursday and Friday evenings from Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas. Enjoy an evening downtown at the botanical gardens, done up for the holidays. The gift shop is also open until 8 pm. On Thanksgiving Day, the Conservatory will be open 4:00-8:00 p.m. Call 260-427-6440 for more info.


Galloping Gobbler

Thursday, November 26th

The Galloping Gobbler has become Fort Wayne’s new family tradition for Thanksgiving. Make room for the turkey and trimmings by running the four mile Galloping Gobbler course. The four miler starts at the Hutzell Athletic Center on the campus of the University of Saint Francis and then takes you through Fort Wayne’s historic Lindenwood Cemetery before finishing back at campus. Music, a live turkey, a costume turkey mascot, chip timing, and over 4000 runners make this a time to share with family and friends. Register online at


Festival of Trains

November 27th-29th
Science Central
1950 N. Clinton St.
Fri 10:00am-5:00pm; Sat 10:00am-5:00pm; Sun 12:00pm-5:00pm

Train enthusiasts of all ages are invited to observe model train sets in action, demonstrated by local model train groups during Science Central’s 16th Annual Festival of Trains. This event is free with paid admission to Science Central. Call 260-424-2400 for more info.


Festival of Gingerbread

November 27th-December 13th
History Center
302 E. Berry ST.
Mon-Thur & Sat 9:00am-5:00pm; Fri 9:00am-8:00pm; Sun 12:00pm-5:00pm

The Festival of Gingerbread now in its 30th year, attracts crowds who come to view the creations of individuals of all ages, families, and professionals. Over 100 creations made of edible materials by persons ranging in age from preschoolers to adults including professional chefs are featured.


Holly Trolley Shopping

Saturday, November 28th
Downtown Fort Wayne

Catch a free trolley (and some holiday cheer) and explore more than 50 stores and restaurants Downtown on Shop Small Saturday. Three different routes will take you all over the core of Downtown, towards the west side West End Shops, and up the Wells Street Corridor. This event transforms holiday shopping from a task to a treat.


Indiana Holiday Marketplace

November 28th & 29th
Grand Wayne Convention Center
120 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Sat. 10:00am-6:00pm; Sun. 10:00am-5:00pm

From hand-smithed metal and leather jewelry to handmade organic jams, and from watercolors to wines, the first Indiana Artisan Holiday Marketplace featured work by more than 75 art and food artisans, many of them recognized as the best in Indiana. $7 admission – no charge for those ages 13 and younger. $5 for those with their ticket/stub from the Embassy Theatre’s Festival of Trees. Call 317-607-5243 for more info.


Old Fort Open House

Saturday, November 28th
The Old Fort
1201 Spy Run Ave.

Welcome the holidays with fun and festivities at the Old Fort. Wander through the buildings, taking in period artisans, dressed in 18th century attire, offering their traditionally-crafted wares. Hands-on living history. Families welcome, with children’s activities and refreshments available. Call 260-437-2836 for more info.

Fun and Fanciful Gifts to Give

Saturday, November 28th
Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza

Feel like being creative with your gifts this year? Come to Children’s Services at the Main library from 2-4 PM and create with us. We will have a variety of FREE make-and-take crafts for your children and you to choose from. Call 260-421-1200 for more info.


The Santaland Diaries

December 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th, 18th, & 19th
First Presbyterian Church
300 W. Wayne St.

This is one man’s account of working as an elf at Macy’s Santaland in New York during the holiday crunch. From one of our funniest contemporary American humorists, with a satirical style reminiscent of Mark Twain, comes this merrily subversive tale—just the antidote if the holidays have overwhelmed you. Kevin Torwelle plays Crumpet, the elf. Call 260-426-7421 for more info.


The Nutcracker

December 3rd-13th
Arts United Center
300 E. Main St.

Tchaikovsky’s glorious, gorgeous holiday tale of Good’s triumph over Evil and a spectacular trip to Kingdom of Sweets performed by the Fort Wayne Ballet and with opening performances accompanied by the Philharmonic! Delicious family fun! Call 260-423-4349 for more information.


Christmas At Home with the Swinney Sisters

December 4th and 5th
Historic Swinney Homestead
1424 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Guests are invited to celebrate the Christmas spirit and take refreshment of a cup of syllabub from our silver punch bowl in the parlor as Settlers’ Hearthstone Ensemble perform holiday music. Delicious sweets, savories, and a pot of tea will be served in the dining room. You may find that “perfect” holiday gift item in the upstairs Gift Shop. Prepaid reservations (260)747-1229 or (260)747-1501; fee $20. Proceeds from this event support
maintenance of the Swinney Homestead.


Visit with St. Nicholas

Saturday, December 5th
Cathedral Books & Gifts
915 S. Clinton St (At the corner of Clinton & Washington across from the AEP building)

Bring your children to visit with St. Nicholas. Every child will have a chance to sit and talk with St. Nick about everything from what they want for Christmas, to “Who is Santa Claus?” Each child will also receive a small gift from St. Nicholas. Enjoy free cookies & hot wassail. 20% off your entire purchase in the bookstore. Call 260-399-1442 for more info.


December Holiday Luncheon

Monday, December 7th
Community Center
233 W. Main St.

Bring a friend or two and join us for this special holiday Monday Luncheon. We’ll be serving at 11:30 am, the fee is $5.00. Reservations are required by December 2nd and payment is due at the time of the reservation. The luncheon is sponsored by Ossian and Englewood Health and Rehabilitation Centers. Call 260-427-6460 for more info.


Totally Terrific Tuesday: Christmas Craft

Tuesday, December 8th
Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza

Use your creative ideas to make cheerful and festive decorations. All supplies provided. For grades 6-12. Room: Young Adults Services at Main Library. Please call 421-1255 to sign up. Call 260-421-1200 for more info.


Holiday Pops: Home for the Holidays

December 11th, 12th, & 19th
Embassy Theatre
125 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Holiday Pops is going back to its roots, and home for the holidays. The Phil and Chorus are joined by special guests in a program of the traditional holiday favorites you know and love. The “Hallelujah” Chorus, a Christmas carol sing-a-long, and visitors from the North Pole sparkle in the majestic Embassy Theatre, decorated in holiday splendor especially for the occasion. Get into the holiday spirit and deliver fun for your entire family. Call 260-481-0770 for more info.


Holidaze: A Survival Guide for the Season

December 11th-20th
First Presbyterian Theater
300 W. Wayne St.

This musical revue by the Fort Wayne Youtheatre takes us through the pageantry, the shopping, the family gatherings, and all the SEASONAL MADNESS! Sing along and laugh with us as we journey through the fun and frustration of the ho-ho-holidays! Friday and Saturday 7pm; Sundays 2pm.


The Nutcracker

Saturday, December 12th
USF Performing Arts Center
431 W. Berry St.
1:00pm and 6:00pm

Enjoy the New American Youth Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.


Gingerbread Pursuit

Saturday, December 12th
Downtown Fort Wayne

Start a new Holiday Season tradition with the Gingerbread Pursuit 4 Mile Run. “The gingerbread man, he’s out of the pan! Chase him, yes chase him as fast as you can!” Register online at


55+ Holiday Dinner and Light Tour

Monday, December 14th
Community Center
233 W. Main St.

If you’re 55+, reserve your place today for the annual Holiday Dinner and Light Tour. The evening begins at 5:30 pm with a delicious dinner and holiday music. We will board motor coaches (courtesy of Excursion Travel) at 6:30 pm and take off on our planned route of Fort Wayne’s finest Christmas light displays. Registration deadline is December 1st. Fee: $15. Sponsored by American Senior Communities. Call 260-427-6460 for more info.


Holiday Light Tour

Thursday, December 17th
Community Center
233 W. Main St.

See the beautiful holiday light displays around the city from the comfort of a motor coach. We’ll do the driving so you can enjoy the scenery. We will board busses at 6:00 pm and return to the Community Center at approximately 8:00 pm. This evening is sponsored by Grey Stone and Saber Health. Registration deadline is December 4th. Call 260-427-6460 for more info.


Chamber Orchestra: Messiah by Candlelight

Friday, December 18th
First Wayne Street Methodist Church
300 E. Wayne St.

Handel’s most recognizable and revered masterpiece is performed to the warm glow of candlelight in the most romantic of settings. Experience the “Hallelujah” Chorus and other unforgettable favorites in a luminous holiday experience you’ll never forget. Call 260-481-0770 for more info. Call 260-423-4349 for more information.


The Spirit of Christmas

December 19th and 20th
Allen County Courthouse
715 S. Calhoun St.

Start a new holiday tradition with Heartland at The Spirit of Christmas. Under the rotunda of the historic Allen County Courthouse, the singers of Heartland fill this beaux arts-style venue with resonant, a cappella harmonies. This combination of acoustics and architecture enchants audiences of all ages and reminds us of the reason for the season. Call 260-436-8080 for more information.


Gingerbread Storytime and Craft

Monday, December 21st
Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza

Join us for a storytime with books about gingerbread. After storytime we will enjoy the yummy smells of gingerbread as we decorate gingerbread ornaments together to take home. Call 260-421-1200 for more info.


Wintertime Fun

December 26 through December 31
Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Regular Library Hours

Come to the Library during your Winter Break from school and enjoy making a fun craft. We’ll have all the supplies you need available during all Library hours between December 26 and December 31. We’ll see you at the Library! Call 260-421-1200 for more info.


Ice Skating at Headwaters Park

Headwaters Park
333 S. Clinton Street

Ice Skating at Headwaters Park is a highlight of holiday festivities! Due to construction, this year’s ice skating season will begin later. Please check the website for updated information. Call 260-427-6000


Swingin’ Singin’ New Year’s Eve

Thursday, December 31st
Grand Wayne Convention Center
120 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Get all dressed up for a night of music, dancing, drinks, and celebration in the heart of Downtown Fort Wayne. Heartland’s Jazz Vocalists and 17-piece Jazz Orchestra ring in the New Year with big band-style arrangements of jazz standards, classic rock songs, and pop hits. Dance Tonight will offer free lessons for beginner and advanced dancers before the show and perform dance features. A cash bar will be available all night. Call 260-436-8080 for more information.



Saturday, January 30th
Community Center
233 W. Main St.

Come celebrate the winter and visit downtown for a day of FUN! There will be plenty to do for all ages. Watch ice sculptures take shape before your eyes. Go for a horse and carriage ride, play indoor winter games, and watch the Youth Theatre perform. Go to and click on the Winterval link to check out the latest schedule of events. Call 260-427-6460 for more info.


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