From finding the perfect tree to decorate and wrapping presents for loved ones, there is so much do each holiday season. When the calendar flips from November to December, it can be hard to find a spare moment to relax, but make sure you pencil in some of these fun holiday-themed events.
He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake … that’s probably because he seems to be everywhere in the South Bend Region at once! Grab a camera and take your kids, pets or friends to one of the many Santas in the area for the perfect Christmas photos.
Downtown South Bend
Santa returns to the Gridiron in downtown South Bend on Friday, December 1 for the tree lighting ceremony! Festivities begin around 5:00 p.m. with Santa arriving around 6:30 p.m. to light the tree. Make sure to stick around for the fireworks afterwards and remember to look for Santa in the little red and white house next to the South Bend Chocolate Café. Even better, he’ll be there on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout December. Don’t forget to bring your camera to take as many photos as you’d like with Santa. Kids will receive a candy cane and an “I Believe” sticker from the big man himself, which gets them a complimentary chocolate bar inside the Café and discounts at 16 downtown businesses. You’ll also meet Rudolph and the Grinch at South Bend Chocolate!
University Park Mall
Jolly old Saint Nicholas is at University Park Mall through December 24, with a special private Santa event for children and young adults with special needs on Sunday, December 3. Bring your favorite four-legged friend to meet Santa on Pet Night from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 10.
Meet Santa while enjoying a cup of hot cocoa, watching a free screening of the movie Elf, ice skating and creating holiday crafts at Mishawaka Winterfest on Saturday, December 9 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. He’ll return for the Battell Community Center’s Holiday Fun Night on December 23 at 5:30 p.m. Stick around for a free screening of The Polar Express at 7:00 p.m.
If you’re more into conifers and lights this holiday season, there are a number of tree lighting events and Christmas lights trails for you to get into the holiday spirit. South Bend is celebrating First Fridays with Downtown for the Holidays on Friday, December 1 – in addition to the parade and Santa’s Arrival the tree at Jon R. Hunt Plaza will be lit for the first time. If you miss the tree lighting on Friday, you’ll have another chance to see one at University Park Mall on Saturday, December 2! It’s hosting its first ever tree lighting from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Head out to Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanical Gardens to see the Winter Holiday Lights now through December 30. The ½ mile Promenade Pathway is aglow with professional light displays that accentuate the natural beauty of Wellfield. Hot Chocolate is complimentary and crackling fire pits stationed around the Garden trails will keep you warm and toasty.
Layer on the scarves and gloves for the Historic Holiday Walking Tour in downtown South Bend on Sunday, December 3 to see some of South Bend’s oldest homes and businesses. Many will have holiday decorations including the Copshaholm, the Oliver Mansion, which has 38 decorated rooms, and ten Christmas trees throughout the house. They’re offering tours on Sundays, December 3 and 10 and reservations are recommended.
You can also catch holiday floats and walking units on Michigan Street at Downtown South Bend’s Holiday Light Parade on Friday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m.
Once you’ve shared your Christmas list with Santa and trekked through the cold to see Christmas lights, you’ll probably be ready to relax in some warmth. Instead of listening to holiday tunes on the radio at your house, head on out to some of South Bend’s local venues to hear some holiday classics live!
One of the big three boy bands from the late 90s and early 2000s, 98°, is back with a Christmas album and is touring the country this holiday season. You can catch them at The Lerner Theater in Elkhart on Wednesday, December 13.
If you’re looking for more of a classic theater going experience, the perennial holiday movie A Christmas Story has been adapted to the stage and runs from December 1 to 23 at the South Bend Civic Theater. The Nutcracker Ballet comes to the Morris Performing Arts Center December 9 - 10 Chorus. And South Bend’s favorite holiday musical tradition returns December 16 - 17 when the South Bend Symphony Orchestra performs Home for the Holidays.
And finally, what’s better than a snowball fight to get you into the holiday mood? Kids of all ages are invited to take part in a friendly community snowball fight on the Gridiron on Saturday, December 23 at 2:00 p.m. If there’s no snow on the ground, fake snowballs will be provided to keep the fun going.
For more holiday fun, check out Visit South Bend Mishawaka's calendar of events.