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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tis the Season! Holiday Events in Bloomington

Categories: Indiana University, General, Family Fun


The holidays are indeed holly and jolly, but in Bloomington, they are anything but ordinary. As the temperatures fall (maybe some snow too), get into the spirit with holiday events, unique shopping, and plenty of delicious treats to share with your loved ones, big and small. 

Holiday Tradition: The Magic of Toy Trains: Nov. 7- Dec. 30 | Monroe County History Center |
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

While it’s difficult to imagine a Christmas tree without a train chugging around it, they’ve only been paired together for little over a century. Three American toy companies; Lionel, Marx, and American Flyer, helped revolutionize the industry and spark the imagination of children wishing to be the conductor of their own trains. Their dreams often came true Christmas morning. This exhibition tells the story of how the Christmas tradition came to be, how companies developed and expanded the industry, and how these trains became a mainstay in popular culture.

It's a Wonderful Life: Nov. 10-11; Nov. 16-17 | Musical Arts Center | 7:30 pm

Jake Heggie, of Dead Man Walking fame, brings the evergreen favorite to the stage with an eye-popping production and some fascinating new twists.

Driving the plot is Clara—an upwardly mobile angel intent on earning her “first-class” status. She’s out to help George Bailey, who’s done the right thing his entire life, including giving up his dreams of college to take over the family’s banking business. But when his addled uncle loses a major deposit, George faces financial ruin for himself and most of the town. George is on verge of suicide until Clara arrives to save the day. Heartwarming and insightful, this opera “soars…in a production that’s a metaphor for the possibilities in every life.” Houston Chronicle

it's a wonderful life

Bloomington Handmade Market: Nov. 11 | Monroe Convention Center | 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Join in Bloomington Handmade Market's 13th event celebrating and supporting shopping local and handmade. Over 60 vendors showing the best of indie handmade, featuring handmade bath and body, screen-printed tees, illustrations, cards, and original paintings, gorgeous jewelry, handmade children's items and clothing and so much more.

Copy of bloomington handmade

Christmas at the Fair: Nov. 11 | Monroe County Fairgrounds | 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Come one and all. Over 60 crafts & vendors in 2 buildings! Jewelry, scents, crafts, woodwork, clothes, food & so much more. Take your photo with Santa from 10 to 2 pm. 

Canopy of Lights: Nov. 24 | Courthouse Square

Celebrate our sparkling holiday tradition of lighting the downtown lights with Bloomington Brass Band playing holiday tunes. City and County officials as well as Polka Dot the Clown will be on hand to welcome Santa to the stage to light the Canopy of Lights. Costume characters, hot chocolate, holiday snacks and more will help with the festive atmosphere. Don't forget to check out all the other great events happening all day downtown. Free parking downtown all day. Learn more about the history of the Canopy of Lights here.

Copy of Copy of Canopy of Lights

Holly Days with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra: Nov. 24 | The Buskirk-Chumley Theater | 5:30 & 8:00pm

Join us before or after the Canopy of Lights for a magical, memorable holiday program featuring your favorite Christmas carols, seasonal favorites, a sing-along, and so much more. Special guests include Soprano Amy Cope, IU’s Musical Beginnings Program, and of course, that jolly old elf himself, Santa! Pre-concert Christmas cheer provided in the lobby by the Bloomington Brass Quintet. Our early (5:30 pm) show is perfect for families with children, while the later show (8:00 pm) features a wider range of holiday music.

Copy of jacobs-school-orchestra

Bloomington Holiday Market: Nov. 25 | City Hall Showers Building |10 am - 3 pm 

Don't miss the 15th annual Holiday Market! Shop your favorite locally grown farm products, and arts and fine crafts created by local artisans, all while listening to the music of the season. The TubaSantas fill the Market with the holiday spirit, and St. Nick and his reindeer will visit too! 


Shop Small Saturday: Nov. 26 | Downtown Bloomington | All Day

Move over big chain retailers, it's time for small businesses to take the spotlight. Visit our local shops to get all of your holiday shopping done in one fell swoop. To help you plan, we've rounded up the best deals happening on Shop Small Saturday here. Make a day of it; visit an art gallery, get a massage, enjoy a delicious nosh and make some new friends. 

jl waters


Santa at Fountain Square Mall: Dates Vary | Fountain Square Mall

Fountain Square Mall is full of holiday cheer this time of year. Stop by and enjoy the holiday decorations and if you've been good, drop a letter in Santa's mailbox with all your wants for Christmas. Santa even stops a few times in December for storytime and photos. Learn more about Fountain Square Mall's holiday events. 

fountain square mall

A Christmas Story: Nov. 26 | Buskirk-Chumley Theater | 3:00 pm

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

christmas story

The Nutcracker: Dec. 1-4 | Musical Arts Center | 7:30 pm & 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday

Breathtaking sets, beautiful costumes, beloved music, and, of course, wonderful dancing—what's not to love about The Nutcracker? Make the holiday season especially magical for the children in your lives with this dream ballet that bewitches with its Sugar Plum Fairy and her handsome Prince, dancing snowflakes, and toys that really do come alive when little Clara falls asleep under the Christmas tree. A sellout event year after year.


Another Round Holiday Concert: Dec. 2 | Buskirk-Chumley Theater | 8:00 pm

Another Round is the only all-male and "mostly single" a cappella group at Indiana University. It is comprised of 12 of IU's finest singers and performers. The group originated as Straight No Chaser in 1996 and the name has since changed but the legacy lives on. In addition to a wide variety of music (everything from Bill Withers to Justin Bieber), their performances provide the audience with an opportunity to get to know the guys and maybe even laugh a bit. Their show is sure to be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds and will definitely put a smile on your face.

another round iu

Chimes of Christmas with Singing Hoosiers: Dec 2 | IU Auditorium | 2:00 pm & 7:30 pm

Bloomington’s favorite annual musical extravaganza, Chimes of Christmas, returns to IU Auditorium to help audiences celebrate the holidays in style. “Chimes of Christmas is known every year as the most cheerful and family-friendly event among all of the Bloomington public,” a Bloomington resident said in the Indiana Daily Student. “I love attending it every year in time for the Christmas season, and I will continue going as long as they have it. It really is that spectacular.”

singing hoosiers

Krampus Rampage and Holiday Bazaar: Dec. 2 | Showers Common | 5:00 - 9:00 pm

Will you be naughty or nice? Everyone will be there: the Angels, St. Nicholas, and of course the Krampus! Make Krampus crafts, watch the parade, get up have your photo taken with the Krampus.

krampus bloomington
Photo: Herald Times 


Bloomington Brick + Mortar Holiday Hike: Dec. 7 | Downtown Bloomington

Enjoy a holiday shopping experience with your local shops, Thursday, Dec 7th, from 6-9 pm. Get your shopping done in one day while taking advantage of specials and joying some light refreshments. At each participating shop enter to win $50 worth of downtown merchandise.

Cardinal Stage Company Presents Peter Pan: Dec. 15 - 30 | Buskirk-Chumley Theater

All children grow up - except one. Clap your hands and believe this holiday season as Peter, Wendy, and Captain Hook soar to Neverland.

peter pan

Emily Hines

Emily Hines

Emily Hines is a Bloomington transplant by way of St. Simons Island, Georgia and is the digital content Coordinator for Visit Bloomington. When she's not blogging or grammin' you can find her hiking in the Hoosier National Forest with her husband and two black labs or enjoying a craft beer and slice of pizza in town.