A Lawrence Christmas: Annual Winterfest celebration kicks off the weekend after Thanksgiving


The City of Lawrence’s annual Winterfest kicks off the Saturday following Thanksgiving with A Lawrence Christmas, starting at 2 p.m. and running through 8 p.m. Nov. 25 at Civic Plaza, 5710 Lawrence Village Pkwy.

The celebration includes a skating rink, vendors offering food and holiday gifts, a parade, musical performances and tree-lighting ceremony.

Chief of Staff Cori Korn said after A Lawrence Christmas, Winterfest is open every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 7 p.m. through Dec. 23.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We will have live entertainment both on Saturdays and Sundays as well as the skating rink. And then this year we will have a winter market every day that we are open at Civic Plaza.”

Vendors at the outdoor winter market will have three-sided tents to protect those inside from the cold, she said, creating a shopping village around the outskirts of the skating rink, which will be set up in the center of Civic Plaza.

The skating rink is synthetic, so it’s not dependent on freezing temperatures.

“The theory is it glides like ice, but that it’s actually a little bit easier for newbies to learn to skate on,” Korn said. “Our parks department installs that and that will go up mid-November.”

There is a fee for skating, which includes skate rental. The cost for a day is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

The rink and winter market open at 2 p.m. Nov. 25, with the Christmas Parade starting at 5:30. Korn said the parade starts at Government Center, 9001 E. 59th St. According to the event webpage, the route winds from Post Road to Kent Avenue, south on Lawton Loop to Otis Avenue, ending at Civic Plaza.

Lawrence’s Christmas parade starts at 5:30 p.m at Government Center off Post Road and ends at Civic Plaza. (Photos courtesy of the City of Lawrence)

The parade will feature the Marching Pride of Lawrence Township Drum Corps, Lawrence North dance team Fierce Felines, Mayor Steve Collier, Santa and The Grinch on a firetruck, various city public safety vehicles and more.

Korn said the city is incorporating the 2024 solar eclipse into the festivities.

“Our theme this year for the holidays as we lead into the eclipse is ‘Ice Eclipse,’” she said. “That is the parade theme. So you’ll expect to see Elsa and Anna in there (from the movie ‘Frozen’).”

After the parade, a variety show will feature different performances, and at around 7 p.m., the “tree,” made from lights strung into a tree shape and suspended from light poles, will be illuminated.

“It’s 40 feet tall and stands at the south end of the plaza,” Korn said. “It’s really neat because people can see it coming over the bridge on 56th Street.”

Korn said she anticipates around 2,000 people will attend A Lawrence Christmas on Nov. 25. She said it’s grown significantly over the last decade.

“It’s energizing and it is so much fun and everyone who attends has a great time,” she said. “There are free goody bags for the first 500 children there, and hot chocolate and cookies that are given out by the police department and their support team. Our market is a little bigger that day, we have an expanded kid zone that evening with an area for a picture with your family. So it’s just — it’s a really, really fun day with all kinds of hustle and bustle all day.”

Other weekends during Winterfest will include the rink, winter market and entertainment, she said. Santa will be at the Civic Plaza on Saturdays. The dates are Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23.

The city has other special Winterfest celebrations planned, including a Winter Solstice event on Dec. 21 with the new Fort Ben Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library; and Breakfast with Santa with MSD of Lawrence Township and the Fort Ben YMCA on Dec. 9.

Arts for Lawrence and Heartland Films both have holiday-themed events throughout the month, as well.

For more, visit visitlawrenceindiana.com/events/winterfest.

Korn thanked the sponsors for this year’s holiday festival: Purple Ribbon Office Solutions, Cohron Homes, Ed Martin Automotive Group, Keystone Group and United Consulting, Inc.

Skaters enjoy the synthetic skating rink at Lawrence Civic Plaza, installed every year for the monthlong Winterfest.

A Lawrence Christmas schedule of events

Here’s what’s planned for A Lawrence Christmas Nov. 25 at Civic Plaza, 5710 Lawrence Village Pkwy.:

  • 2 p.m., ice rink, kids zone and winter market open
  • 4:30 p.m., goodie-bag tent opens
  • 5 p.m. parade line-up at Government Center parking lot
  • 5:30 p.m., parade begins
  • 6 p.m., variety show begins, including performances by Lawrence North Fierce Felines, Lawrence North acapella group, soloist Grace McKillip and others.
  • 6:45 p.m., tree lighting and group rendition of Feliz Navidad
  • 6:45-8 p.m. DJ music

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