Each season has its own unique beauty in Shipshewana, Indiana, but winter is one of my favorites. This year my husband and I got to see the annual Christmas lighting ceremony and parade that took place down the streets of downtown Shipshewana, ending in front of The Blue Gate Restaurant and Theater.
Thousands of people gathered early, trying to stake a good place to stand or sit. Mel Riegsecker, owner of The Blue Gate Restaurant and Theater and the new Blue Gate Garden Inn, emceed this year’s festivities, which included dozens of floats, wagons and horses, a live nativity scene, carolers and more, all sponsored by local businesses and organizations. Thousands of tourists and residents alike stood in the crisp winter air (unusually mild for this time of year), and cheered as the parade passed by and the festive lights came on at their appointed time. A highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of a 53-foot Christmas tree in front of the Blue Gate Restaurant and Theater.
The parade and lighting ceremony takes place the first weekend after Thanksgiving every year, and is a Shipshewana holiday favorite. Best of all, it’s free.
An early concert by Wickle Creek began at 4 pm on the main stage on Middlebury Street, and local shops were open until 9 pm to take care of all your holiday shopping needs. Even Santa was on hand to meet and greet the children. An evening concert by The Chuck Wagon Gang followed the lighting ceremony.
Another fun Christmas event to do in the Shipshewana area is to attend the new Blue Gate musical Our Christmas Dinner, brought to you by the same team behind other hit musicals at The Blue Gate (Dan Posthuma, Wally Nason, and Martha Bolton). If you haven’t seen it already, we hope you’ll make plans to attend this fun new holiday event.
Other places to explore while in Shipshewana is the Guggisberg Cheese Factory, where you can see cheese being made.
The annual Shipshewana Ice Festival will be held on December 29th and 30th, with carving taking place from 10am until 6 pm. There will be an ice-carving competition from 10am to 1 pm, and a chili cook off from 10 am to 3 pm. All will take place in The Wolfe Building parking lot.
What better way to spend part of your holiday season than with a buggy ride through Amish country, beautiful Christmas lights, ice sculptures, hot chili or a hearty Amish-style meal at The Blue Gate and other local restaurants, and a laughter-filled new and original musical? So make your plans to visit Shipshewana, Indiana this Christmas season and future ones. Oh, and of course, there is holiday shopping galore in this quaint and beautiful Indiana town! See you there!
Martha Bolton is the author of 87 books, including her newest, Josiah for President, which has now been adapted into a play. She was a staff writer for Bob Hope for fifteen years, and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics. She has also written for dozens of comedians and entertainers, including Phyllis Diller, Wayne Newton, and Mark Lowry. Her popular series of books for middle-agers (Didn’t My Skin Used to Fit?, Cooking With Hot Flashes, and others) have addressed the subject of growing older in a fun and fresh way.
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