Holiday Happenings Around the 219

"First, we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."  


The holiday season is here, and that means that people all over the Region are getting into that 'Buddy the Elf' spirit.   No matter what holiday scene you're trying to re-enact, this guide is designed to help you navigate all the holiday festivities the 219 has to offer.  Egg nog not included.

Holly Days (Valparaiso)

WHEN: Friday, December 6 (5:30 - 7:30 PM)

We're kicking off our list with Valpo's annual celebration of the sights and sounds of the holiday season, Holly Days.  Enjoy miniature train rides, ice carving, and hot chocolate as you take in the festive sights of the decorated downtown streets. 

One of the best things about this event is location - if you need a break from the cold, you can always pop into one of the many amazing businesses that call the Valpo square home.  Points of interest include Designer Desserts Bakery (be sure to try a seasonal cupcake) and dinner at Stacks Bar & Grill, Albano's or Ricochet Tacos

© 2012 Jon L. Hendricks -

Mistletoe Market (Chesterton)

WHEN: Saturday, December 7th (9 AM - 3 PM)

The Chesterton European Market, located in downtown Chesterton, is one of the most-trafficked farmer's markets in the region.   While it’s season ended in October, the vendors come back together every holiday season for their annual tradition of craft gift shopping, live entertainment, and festive community spirit. 

Drink some mulled wine, find that perfect, one-of-a-kind holiday gift you've been looking for, and experience a little bit of Europe right here in your backyard.

“A Christmas Story”  Comes Home

WHEN: November 9 - December 31

This one hits as close to home as it does to our childhoods (nostalgia trip anyone?)  Put on yearly by the Indiana Welcome Center, this special event features six animated displays depicting scenes from the holiday classic (which was famously set in Hammond, Indiana by the way) "A Christmas Story."

Have your picture taken with Santa atop Santa's Mountain and slide down into a pillow of snow.  Necessary stops include the gift shop for official "A Christmas Story" merchandise.  And yes, you can buy your very own leg lamp souvenir to bring home with you.

Christmas Story Kid Model Train Hammond Indiana

A Visit to Albanese Candy Factory

WHEN: Whenever They're Open

Support local business by stuffing your stockings with the World's Best gummies and chocolates - that just so happen to be made by one of your Northwest Indiana neighbors!  However, having the best selection of gourmet and nostalgic candies isn't all they're known for: their Santa is as authentic as it gets.

Tour hours can be found here.

Albanese Candy Factory Northwest Indiana

Werner Christmas Wonderland

WHEN: Thanksgiving - New Years Day

Located at 9108 Morton St. in Merrillville, Indiana is a house that's lit up so brightly you might just be able to see it from space.  The display runs from 5 PM-midnight every night from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. 

Don't forget your sunglasses!

Ice Skating


If there's anything The Region has down when it comes to winter, other than creamy, thick soups (lemon rice anyone?) - it's the outdoor skating rink.  In the 219, options abound - Merrillville, Crown Point and Valpo each have their own outdoor ice skating rink, with each providing its own unique skating experience.  Open-skate begins in November and runs as long as weather permits.  Both Valpo and Crown Point parks also host hockey leagues, so check their site for closures.

More info on Valpo

More info on Crown Point

More info on Merillville

ice skating

Winter Lights Festival

When: November 23 (3-8 PM)

Winter Lights Night is the official kickoff event of the now-institutional holiday light display at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.  This family-friendly event includes a chance to meet Santa, make crafts, decorate cookies, sing carols, enjoy s'mores by the bonfire, and even catch a fireworks show!  Cost of admission is $5 per car to attend.

The lights display stays up until just after the new year. Visitors can drive through the display all the way through New Years at no charge, but donations are welcomed.

Fa La La La Lights :  Holiday Lights & Brewery Tour

WHEN: December 14 (4-10 PM)

Ever wondered what you get when you mix a brew tour and a holiday light tour?  Fa La La La Lights!  Presented by Dig the Dunes and Harbor Country Adventures, this bus tour starts at Fish Camp in Michigan City, then heads through Burns Harbor and Imagination Glen (making sure to take the scenic (and festive) route) before stopping at 18th Street and Byway Brewing.  Riders are then taken through Peteyville, Merrillville and Crown Point's in search of local Clark Griswold-types, before the last stop at Off Square - and back.

The $50 price of admission includes the bus tour and spiked hot chocolate (drinks/food at breweries on the way are pay-as-you-go)


Long Johns On Winter Warmer Bash

WHEN: January 19

Burn 'Em Brewing's 4th Annual Long Johns On Winter Warmer Bash answers the age-old question: who doesn't want to stand outside in January and drink beer?  In all seriousness though, this event is cool as hell and all takes place in a heated tent.  Expect multiple barrel-aged bottle releases, a specialty tap list, live music, and more!  All ages are welcome, but must be 21+ to enjoy their brews.