Indy Christmas Light Displays

Photography by Chantal Doninique

When driving around during the holidays and passing houses covered in sparkling lights, it’s impossible not to feel at least a little bit Christmas-y. But it’s not just residential neighborhoods that get festive this time of year– some of Indianapolis’ most popular attractions also put on dazzling light displays. PATTERN visited Christmas at the Zoo and Winterlights at Newfields to see the beautiful displays and to take some awesome pictures!


Most people know by now that Newfields has more to offer than the Indianapolis Museum of Art– there are also sprawling acres of beautiful gardens as soon as you step outside. But how can the gardens be utilized during the winter? Jonathan Wright, the Deputy Director for Horticulture and Natural Resources at Newfields, took on the challenge of “Winterlights” with his team in order to solve this dilemma. This is the second year of the lights show and it’s even bigger this time, with 1.5 million LED lights. We had the pleasure of exploring the show with Jonathan as our guide. We were amazed by the spectacle of it all– especially by the Lily House lawn which was full of lights programmed to blink along to Nutcracker music. Each lighting panel was programmed to change every sixteenth of a second!

From the 100+ year old trees covered in 70,000 lights each, to the meticulously created paper chains overflowing the Lily House, to the “Kissing Booth” (where 46 couples got engaged last year!) there was clearly a lot of work put into this festive event. In fact, the Newfields team started working on the lighting display in August, and will start planning for next year almost immediately after taking this year’s lights down.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit


Christmas at the Zoo is another beloved display of holiday lights in Indy, and it has been so for a while. This is the 50th year of the Zoo’s lights display, and they were actually the first zoo in the country to make one!

We had the pleasure of exploring Christmas at the Zoo a few weeks ago, and though it was a cold night, we were warmed by the joy of the children and families around us as we all admired the lights.

Christmas at the Zoo is a prime attraction for kids and families, with opportunities to meet and take pictures with Santa, Mrs. Claus and real reindeer! You can also get the chance to play with some penguins, and wander through a tunnel of mirrors. The glimmering lights aren’t the only attraction at the zoo in the winter– there are many activities to explore.

For more information, visit

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