by Laurie Sherck
For me, the holidays in Shipshewana is the most wonderful time of the year. This year is no exception. Please let me share with you 7 Shipshewana holiday events that absolutely dazzle me and are bound to dazzle you too.
1. Shipshewana Light Parade and Lighting Ceremony
One of my favorite events of the year is the upcoming Shipshewana Light Parade and Lighting Ceremony. This event takes place on November 10th this year. It’s a great experience to enjoy with family and friends, hot chocolate, laughter and cozy blankets. Take a peek at our Shipshewana Christmas video. It includes shots from the Light Parade and you’ll get an inkling of what to expect when you visit Shipshewana during the holidays.
On Lighting of Shipshewana Day you’ll find things to do all day long throughout town leading up to the most magical time of the day—the lighted Christmas parade, the reading of the Christmas story, the singing of carols and finally the countdown to lighting the entire downtown of Shipshewana and the giant Christmas tree located in front of the Blue Gate Restaurant. This year’s parade theme is “Christmas Lights and Winter Nights”. Perfect, isn’t it?!! The complete schedule of events, map and parking suggestions can be found here. Hint: Plan to make a day of it!
2. Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy Drive Through
There are some new additions to the holiday festivities in Shipshewana this year. The new event I’m most excited about is “Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy”. More than two million LED Christmas lights will be displayed in a mile-long symphony of various light scenes. This drive through adventure opens November 16th and will be open 6pm-9pm on Thursday and Sundays, 6pm-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays until December 30th. I can’t wait to take my grandchildren through this holiday display and hear their exclamations! You can bet we’re not going to miss this opportunity for family fun! Check out the details here.
3. Chocolate Day Walk
What is there not to love about Chocolate?! On my goodness! What makes the Chocolate Day Walk in Shipshewana extra sweet is that 100% of the net proceeds are donated to a local charity or cause each year. This year in our Shipshewana community, a local school teacher and her family experienced the heartbreaking loss of their newborn baby. Not only is this a chance for all of us (myself included) to be able to come alongside them and show them love, but this gives us the opportunity to tangibly help a hurting family meet some of their needs. The owner of Aunt Millie’s Candy Shop, Linda Bontrager, who sponsors the Chocolate Day Walk has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know! I love that she “gets it” when it comes to understanding what Christmas is really all about. It’s the perfect way to show love and support to those in need during this beautiful season of the year.
I highly endorse and support this event and encourage you to do the same. This event takes place November 17th. Beginning at 9am you can purchase & pick up your box at Aunt Millie’s Candy Shop located on the 3rd Floor of The Davis Mercantile and then travel around Shipshewana to various shops to fill your box with delectable chocolate pieces. It’s a Win-Win in my book!
4. Christmas Shopping in Shipshewana
November 24th is Shop Small Saturday around the Nation. Our small town is made up of small family owned and operated businesses that offer unique products and a relaxed shopping atmosphere. Not only do I get quality Christmas presents but I get to help families realize their dreams. A typical shopping day in Shipshewana may look like this: shop a little, eat a little, shop a little, drink a coffee or hot chocolate, shop a little and eat again. I’ve discovered that the gifts purchased in Shipshewana are always the most unique and most appreciated. In addition to Shop Small Saturday, there’s Shipshewana’s Wana Night Out on November 27th, an evening when shops stay open later for our friends and offer special deals. It’s something a lot of locals as well as visitors look forward to every year. Something new this year is LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Great Holiday Shopping Passport which is an opportunity to shop, fill out the shopping passport and be entered into a drawing for a $250 gift card. Sounds fun to me. Check out the details here.
5. Kids Day and Santa Visits
Kids Day and Santa Visits is December 1st and is circled in Red on my calendar. That is because my grandkids want to make sure I don’t forget about it. They look forward to this day each year. This year we will begin A Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes, pick up our itinerary, participate in Reindeer games, chat with Elsie the Elf and then travel around town to take part in interactive holiday activities designed just for kids. Santa parades though town in a horse-drawn carriage and this year will get deposited at the Farmstead Expo Barn where he will visit with children from noon to 3pm and distribute free goodie bags to the first 200 children.
Something new this year, that I’m excited to “spring on” the kiddos is the Winter Wonderland Walk Thru experience, located on the 2nd floor of the Expo Barn, which is where Santa will be greeting kids. Rumor has it, the theme for the walk through is “What Christmas Elves do the Day after Christmas”. Sounds hilarious to me! I’m not sure who has more fun, my grandchildren or me.
6. Ship-Chic Craft & Vintage Show: Holiday Bazaar
This is a ME day! I love going to this event and picking up Christmas decorating ideas and hand-made Christmas gifts for my family. This event takes place on December 8th this year. This indoor handmade and vintage market is a pop-up market featuring vendors who specialize in antiques, crafts, handmade items, primitive, artisan goods, furniture, salvage, home & garden décor, baked goods, gifts and the list goes on. There is a $5 entry fee, but worth every penny. Check out the info here.
7. Shipshewana Ice Festival
The Shipshewana Ice Festival takes place during a great time of the year for our family, right between Christmas and New Year’s, December 27th & 28th. This 2 day festival is AMAZING! . On December 27th, professional ice carvers will descend on Shipshewana and turn big chunks of ice into works of art! It’s fun to bundle up, grab a mug of hot chocolate and watch this interesting transformation! I always tell people to come and stay, because on December 28th an ice carving competition takes place in the Wolfe Building Parking Lot. Professional Carvers are given a large piece of ice and 3 hours to create spectacular sculptures. Bragging rights and cash prizes await the top three winners at the end of the competition. Wow! Is all I can say! They turn out some very complex and amazing art.
During the ice carving competition, the Shipshewana Chili Cook-off is a great way to take a break from the winter elements inside the Wolfe Building. A $5 entry fee (or free if you’re wearing an Ice Festival Pin) gets you into the cook-off and gives you the opportunity to sample all the chili you like and vote on your favorite. The votes are tallied and the winner is announced. The winners receive trophies and cash prizes. This festival is a family favorite!
Shop owners and their employees do their best to make the holiday experiences in Shipshewana unforgettable. I have to admit, what I appreciate most about Shipshewana at Christmastime is that our small town still holds to our small town values and pauses to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Other than the hotels and gas stations, everything else is closed on those days so that everyone can take time out of their otherwise hectic schedule to spend time with their families and loved ones to celebrate the true meaning of the holidays. I don’t think it gets any better than this.
Laurie Sherck, Director of Shipshewana Retail Merchants, is a wife of 42 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 11 and loves to tell people why Shipshewana is so special…. Just ask her!