The turkey and trimmings of Thanksgiving dinner are still a week away.

But in communities all over Johnson County, the holiday season is ready to start.

Greenwood-A-Glow, the community lighting celebration scheduled for this weekend, is traditionally the first county event in the countdown to Christmas. People will gather in the dark to watch the illumination of 15,000 colored lights, singing carols and sipping on hot chocolate.

In the following weeks, Franklin, Edinburgh, Bargersville and Indianapolis will all feature unique events meant to put people in the holiday mood.

To navigate the coming onslaught of tree lightings, concerts, craft workshops and other happenings, here’s a rundown of 12 activities not to miss this holiday season.

Greenwood City Center Open House

When: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Greenwood City Center, 300 S. Madison Ave.

What: Greenwood’s city government moved into a new home earlier this year, and for residents who haven’t gotten a chance to see it, officials are hosting an open house. Explore the new space, enjoy music by the Greenwood Community High School jazz band and see artwork by the winners of the Old Town Greenwood Association coloring contest. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available as well.

Animals of the North Pole

When: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Greenwood Public Library, 310 S. Meridian St.

What: Santa’s reindeer have a big job ahead of them this Christmas Eve. But with a few weeks to go until the big night, the animals and their handlers will be present in Greenwood to teach about the lives of these Arctic residents. Live animal entertainers Silly Safaris will bring their own authentic reindeer, plus other animals that reside near the North Pole, to teach kids and adults about one of the harshest environments in the world.

Carriage rides

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Greenwood Public Library, 310 S. Meridian St.

What: The grounds around the Greenwood library has been transformed into a winter wonderland for the holidays, and what better way to see it than with a leisurely carriage ride? The rides cost $2 per person, though children 2 and under can ride for free. The money helps support the Old Town Greenwood Association.

Circle of Lights

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 27

Where: Monument Circle, Indianapolis

What: More than 50 garland strands and 4,784 colored lights will descend from the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis, creating one of the largest “tree” lightings in the state. Entertainment by singers, dancers and bands from communities all over Indiana will perform with Sandi Patty, host of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Yuletide Celebration. When the lights go on, the display will be accented by a fireworks finale.

Santa Train

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: Main Street, Bargersville

What: Just like it does every year, Santa is coming early not in a sleigh, but on a train. The Santa Train is a free statewide tradition organized by the Indiana Rail Road, which will pull its decorated passenger train into downtown Bargersville. Kids are invited to come on board and present Santa with their wish list, while everyone enjoys craft and vendor booths, a winter market and hot chocolate.

Jingle Jog 5K Run/Walk and 1-Mile Family Fun Walk

When: 7:30 a.m. Dec. 5

Where: Cultural Arts & Recreation Center, 396 Branigin Blvd., Franklin

What: Work off that Thanksgiving excess before the oncoming tide of parties, family dinners and plates-full of treats that build up in advance of the holidays. This 5K race and 1-mile fun walk will benefit Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Central Indiana, a Whiteland-based agency that provides pregnancy tests and verification, as well as parenting and abstinence education.

Winter Market

When: 2 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5

Where: The Elks, 40 N. Water St., Franklin

What: Mark everyone off your Christmas shopping list at one time during this gathering of local artisans, merchants and crafters in Franklin. Pick up unique handmade artwork, refurbished rustic furniture and homemade food items such as honey and jam while supporting about 20 area vendors.

Cookie contest

When: 3 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5

Where: Mutual Savings Bank, 80 E. Jefferson St., Franklin

What: Johnson County’s best bakers will show off their sugary skills in this community contest. Local residents will submit their best recipe, from decorated sugar cookies to powdered sugar-covered no-bakes, in the hopes of being named the best Christmas cookie in the county. Winners will be chosen in the 12 and younger age group, teens 13 to 17 and an 18-and-older category. The Purdue Extension Services Johnson County will judge, with winners announced at 7 p.m.

Melchoir Marionettes

When: 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5

Where: Tabernacle Christian Church, 198 N. Water St., Franklin

What: Celebrate Christmas with Mozart, Ludwig, Peewinkle and the rest of the characters that make up Melchoir Marionettes. The long-running puppet show is put on by Peggy Melchoir, a Center Grove-area resident whose family has been performing the shows in central Indiana for more than 60 years.

Lighted parade

When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5

Where: Downtown Franklin

What: The only thing better than the traditional holiday parade, with the marching bands, civic organization floats and the arrival of Santa Claus, is to combine it with the spectacle of Christmas lights. The Franklin Chamber of Commerce will host this lead-in to the lighting events at the Indiana Masonic Home and downtown Franklin.

Santa’s Workshop

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12

Where: Edinburgh Public Library, 119 W. Main Cross St.

What: Children and adults can step into a North Pole wonderland during this do-it-yourself activity center. Make your own Christmas crafts, get your face painted and have your picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus for $2 apiece. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available, and people can sign up for a free raffle provided by the library.

Christmas Caroling

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12

Where: Downtown Edinburgh

What: The sound of neighbors singing carols together going door-to-door in downtown Edinburgh captures exactly what the holidays should be about. Individuals, families and groups are encouraged to sign up with the parks department for a festive rotation throughout surrounding neighborhoods.

Holiday Lightings


Full event: 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday

Lighting: 5 to 5:45 p.m.

Where: Greenwood City Center

Franklin Holiday Lighting

Full event: 2 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5

Franklin Masonic Home lighting: 6 p.m.

Downtown lighting: 7 p.m.

Where: Downtown Franklin

Edinburgh Holiday of Lights

Full event: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 12

Lighting: 6 p.m.

Where: Downtown Edinburgh

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.