Conner Prairie Presents A Merry Prairie Holiday
Writer / Melissa Gibson
Photography Provided by Amy Payne
Conner Prairie is known for its living history experience, inviting the public to learn more about what life was like in the 1800s.
Many of us have attended a field trip or enjoyed a summer afternoon there with our family while visiting the 1816 Lenape Indian Camp, the 1836 Prairietown and one of Indiana’s oldest brick homes, the William Conner House.
The property of 1,000-plus wooded acres in Fishers isn’t just a great place to visit during the spring and summer. The staff has worked to provide amazing experiences all year, including the fourth annual A Merry Prairie Holiday event.
It’s a fun family event held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 25 through December 18, including two special days on December 21 and 22.
“We’re really excited for visitors to experience holidays from around the world in the 1800s,” says Rich Cooper, vice president and chief programs officer at Conner Prairie. “We’re bringing back a lot of our favorites like the carousel, Frosty’s skating rink and sledding hill, along with some new additions.”
Guests can enjoy thousands of Reynolds Christmas lights and displays throughout the Conner Prairie property, and watch an old-fashioned crankie show at the Potter Shop Kiln Shed. Performance times are 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Get a selfie with Santa and visit with Mrs. Claus and the elves as they prepare for Christmas. In Santa’s workshop visitors can watch the elves prepare for the big night, making flight plans, wrapping last minute gifts and more.
If you’re questioning your status on Santa’s list, you can even chat with Trinket Puddingmoon, Santa’s official list keeper, and find out if you made the naughty or nice list.
“The Kringle Carousel is always a big hit, and last year we added a 3D magical experience at William Conner’s house with the story of ‘‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’” Cooper says.
The 3D projection will transport participants nearly 200 years into the past, and gives visitors the feeling and nostalgia of holidays long ago. The show is on a 10-minute rotation from 6 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.
Throughout the evening, catch live music at Blitzen’s Bandstand, featuring rotating local performers at the Café on the Common. If you don’t grab a bite to eat at the Café, you’ll still have a chance at the South Pole Train Station, Blitzen’s Bar and Rudolph’s Bavarian Snack Stand to purchase hot chocolate or an adult beverage to sip while enjoying the scenes.
New this year is the Winter Wonderland stroll, a new set of dazzling holiday lights that connect Prairietown to the Civil War Journey. There is also a new light tunnel that guides guests to the tubing hill, the 150’ Polar Bear Plunge, as well as new and exciting photo opportunities along the way.
“We’ve worked really hard in the last five years to expand our traditional season, from the end of March to the end of October, to engage the community year-round,” Cooper says. “More than all we’re offering, it’s just that time with your family. There are incredible light shows in central Indiana, but at Conner Prairie you can experience nature, engage with storytellers, sit around a fire and create those family traditions. That’s what makes Conner Prairie truly special.”
Although the staff is only in their fourth year of providing the experience, families have quickly made A Merry Prairie Holiday a tradition.
Each night, A Merry Prairie Holiday is open from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and will sell out quickly. Members must also reserve tickets for the special experience and Access Pass cardholders are eligible for the event.
Can’t make it to A Merry Prairie Holiday? There is still plenty of time to catch some of the magic at Conner Prairie.
Sign up to enjoy breakfast with Santa from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday from November 26 though December 18. As you enjoy breakfast with your family, Santa will share Christmas tales, then move to the stage to take photos and visit with each family individually.
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on December 10, those who wish to visit Santa in a sensory-friendly environment can attend. Decorate cookies, play with fidget toys and share your Christmas list with the big guy himself.
Visit connerprairie.org to register for the event and for more information.