A Merry Prairie Holiday Continues at Conner Prairie
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided by Conner Prairie
Nothing says Christmas like twinkling lights. Thousands of them are spread throughout the grounds of Conner Prairie for A Merry Prairie Holiday. In fact, many think of the Reynolds lights as the centerpiece of the festival.
“We’ve been adding to them every year for the last two years and switching them out with LED lights, which are good for the environment as well as being more energy efficient,” says Katie Warthan, director of marketing and brand strategy for Conner Prairie.
Most importantly, the lights serve to put guests in the holiday spirit. There are other fun activities too, including storytelling, carnival games, festive treats, and quality time with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
New this year is a 3D projection on the William Conner house, which tells the story of “The Night Before Christmas.”
“It’s the oldest, most iconic house on the property, and the 3D projection makes it look like people are actually in the house,” Warthan says. “You can see Santa coming down the chimney. It’s a neat immersive experience.”
The staff is bringing back the 150’ Polar Bear Plunge tubing hill, which was new last year. There is also Kringle’s Carousel, live music from local performers on Blitzen’s Bandstand, and holiday shopping at the Conner Prairie Store. In addition, the red barn located near the playground and balloon is transformed into the North Pole Workshop for the winter festival.
Visitors can immerse themselves in historic experiences in Prairietown, where they can learn about various Christmas Eve traditions of the 1800s as well as holiday traditions from around the world, some new and others nostalgic. Santa will be at the North Pole Village, inviting kids to snap a selfie with him and Mrs. Claus. Plus, Trinket Puddingmoon, the official list keeper of the North Pole, lets guests know if they have made the naughty or nice list.
Ice skating is a favorite winter activity for many, but let’s face it, not everyone is as coordinated as they’d like to be, and ice can be rather unforgiving. At A Merry Prairie Holiday, however, guests can take off their shoes and burn off excess energy by going “ice” skating in the covered outdoor pavilion. If you happen to take a tumble here, you won’t walk away with a chipped tooth or broken bone.
Visitors are invited to explore the grounds and check out the covered bridge.
“We do this cool light-up to music within there, making it a favorite spot to take family photos with the twinkle lights in the background,” Warthan says.
Guests may also stop by Café on the Common to warm up with a hot chocolate or a hot adult beverage for the big kids.
A Merry Prairie Holiday runs from November 26 to December 19 on Fridays through Sundays, as well as a few days right before Christmas (December 21 and 22). Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $11 for members and $22 for nonmembers.
In December of 2020, Conner Prairie mandated advance ticket sales due to COVID-19. This year, though visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets online, they may also purchase tickets upon arrival. Tickets are limited due to parking, since parking is not allowed on the grass in the winter.
Nicole Lewis, Founder of Art 2 the Extreme, says she and her family have made the event an annual tradition.
“From the magical lights and cozying up next to my littles in the hayride to seeing the pure joy as they slide down the Polar Bear Plunge, this event has such a wonderful selection of activities that is inclusive to every member of our family,” Lewis says. “My oldest loves learning about holidays around the world, so we will be spending some extra time experiencing Prairietown at night this year. I’m most excited for the new addition of the 3D projection show on the William Conner house this year since our family comes for the lights.”
Last year approximately 19,000 people enjoyed A Merry Prairie Holiday.
“We were thrilled with that number, particularly since it was only our second year,” Warthan says. “That’s our goal again this year.”
Jeanine Bobenmoyer, chief mom officer of theCityMoms, has thoroughly enjoyed visiting Conner Prairie for the event each year.
“So many local holiday activities are geared toward families with littles, or adults-only gatherings,” Bobenmoyer says. “We instantly fell in love with A Merry Prairie Holiday for not just filling in the gap of holiday fun with our tweens, but also providing a timeless experience that bridges across many generations.”
Conner Prairie is located at 13400 Allisonville Road in Fishers. If you have questions about COVID-19 safety precautions at Conner Prairie or would like to purchase tickets to A Merry Prairie Holiday, visit connerprairie.org or call 317-776-6000.