Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays, and there’s nothing like a hometown Christmas festival for creating happy holiday shoppers. As the Shop Local movement grows, communities pull out all the stops with festive lights, parades, pageants, contests, entertainment, bargains — and Santa — to keep holiday shoppers — and their money — in their own communities. No matter what corner of Hancock County you live in, there’s a holiday festival not far from you.
CUMBERLAND — Cumberland hosts the Weihnachtsmarkt starting at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Wayburn Pocket Park, 11501 E. Washington St. Weihnachstmarkt is a holiday celebration of Cumberland’s German heritage. Among the happenings are St. Nicolaus’ house on Main Street, a children’s game and activity tent, live reindeer with Santa’s elves, food trucks and a police escort for Santa. The tree lighting is at 6 p.m. and at 7 p.m., the Flying Toasters band plays until 10 p.m. For more information, go to town.cumberland.in.us or call 317-894-6203.
FORTVILLE — The festivities start early with an 8:30 a.m. Breakfast with Santa, Dec. 5, at the Fortville Community Center, 400 W. Church St. The Fortville Winter Festival, Lights on Main, kicks off at 10 a.m. with many local businesses decorated for the holidays and hosting activities including Santa and Cinderella with J. Scott Photography at Indulge, cookie decorating at Kewpie’s Kloset, reindeer headbands at the Vagabond Girls, an indoor bounce house at Java Junction, reindeer face-painting at Best of What’s Around and snowman bean bag toss at At Home With Us. Santa arrives by classic car at 12:30 accompanied by Cinderella and the Snowflake Prince and Princess court. The Main Street luminaries are lit at 5:30 and the tree lighting ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 317-372-4493.
GREENFIELD — Festival of Lights activities are scheduled for Dec. 5 starting with a 9 a.m. Breakfast with Santa at the Greenfield Christian Church, 23 N. East St. Gingerbread House competition entries are due between 10 a.m. and noon; Santa’s Ornament Workshop is from 2 to 5 p.m. with Mrs. Claus; and the Extension Homemakers’ Cookie Walk from 2 to 5 p.m. are all at the Creative Arts and Event Center, 2 W. Main. Festivities at Greenfield Presbyterian Church, 116 W. South St., include the Little Miss Snowflake pageant for ages three to five, at 3 p.m., followed by the Snow Queen contest for ages 18 and older at 4 p.m. Competition winners ride in the Parade of Lights at 5:45 p.m. Vendor booths are selling crafts and Christmas items east of the Court House from 1 to 8 p.m. Santa arrives to light the tree with Mrs. Claus at 6:30 p.m. Entertainment includes the Greenfield Community Choir, the Mt. Vernon High School Choir, the Brandywine Wind and Dance East Ballet Company. Santa’s house is open at the Court House Plaza until 9 p.m. for visits with children. For more information call 317-462-2141.
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Greenfield Main Street is sponsoring horse-drawn carriage rides through the historic downtown from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 5 and 12. For some indoor activity, the Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main St., is showing “A Christmas Story” on Dec. 5, “Elf” on Dec. 12 and “White Christmas” on Dec. 20. Show times are 2 and 7 p.m. each day. Tickets are $4 per person. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW PALESTINE — The New Palestine Christmas Walk starts at 5 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m. on Dec. 4. Santa arrives at Town Hall at 6 p.m. to light the tree. Children can visit with Santa at the Lions Club location following the tree lighting. Local entertainment is presented at the Town Hall by Jack Johnson and Kim Lowe, and the New Palestine High School choir is caroling through the streets. Attendees have a chance to win $500 by getting a card stamped at the more than 50 businesses participating in the Christmas Walk. Pick up cards starting at 5 p.m. at the Town Hall, the Old Fire Station or the Lions Club. Buses are available to shuttle visitors to all participating businesses. For more information, call at 317-861-2345.
SHIRLEY — The Christmas Walk in Shirley starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday with extended hours for businesses, a tree-lighting with Santa at 7:30 p.m. and an opportunity to win door prizes with Business Bingo. Visitors stroll through the downtown while Christmas music plays and get their bingo cards stamped at each of the participating businesses. Carriage rides are available at the firehouse. The Octagon House and the Railroad Depot Museum will be open for tours.