Walking in a Winterlights Wonderland

Merry Christmas!  This holiday season is going by faster than any I can remember and the past month has been a blur!  Luckily before I got wrapped up in everything I had to do, I was able to slow down and enjoy several Christmas festivities with friends and family like the Handmade Ornament Exchange and the Carmel Christkindlmarkt.  Another holiday activity I enjoyed earlier this Christmas season with my parents was the inaugural Winterlights at Newfields, the new name for the Indianapolis Museum of Art and its gardens.   A million lights were used to create the Winterlights display and they make for a magical atmosphere to walk through on the grounds of Newfields.  Instead of traditional holiday light display sights like Santa Claus and snowmen, this display focuses on nature.  In the past, the Indianapolis Museum of Art had a one-night Winter Solstice celebration of ice sculpting, music, and shopping and season-long Christmas decorations in the Lilly House, but this event runs several weeks and is on a much bigger scale.  Winterlights was designed by Tres Fromme, who has designed several large well known holiday displays such as those at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania and Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee.  Winterlights runs through January 7 and more information on dates, times and tickets can be found on Newfields’ site.

Exiting the doors of the museum and entering the garden display is like walking out of the back of the wardrobe and stepping into Narnia.  First you cross the Snowflake Bridge, where the snowflakes glowing overhead were inspired by the scrollwork on the illuminated iron bridge gates that date back to the early 1900s.  Snowflake lights dance across the ground and music plays, as huge snowflakes float overhead.  We went on a Tuesday night and it wasn’t crowded at all, so we really enjoyed lingering on the Snowflake Bridge and enjoying how pretty it was.  The photos don’t do it justice!

After the Snowflake Bridge, you enter the Frosted Forest, where every branch of huge old trees are covered in lights.  These trees were a highlight of me, because the lights define their every limb and they seem to glow of their own accord as if they grew that way into towering illuminated trees.  The lights were strung by arborists to avoid damage to these historic trees.

Next up is the Landscape of Lights on the large lawn in front of the Lilly House, the centerpiece of Winterlights.  Colorful lights dance to the Nutcracker, and sweep across the lawn in time with the music.  It’s a mesmerizing show and I could have watched it for nearly an hour, but the threat of rain kept us moving after staring for several minutes transfixed.

We stopped for a photo at the Kissing Arbor, then went inside the Lilly House, where every room of the historic house is decorated for the holidays similar to how it might have been in the 1930s.  I was happy to see that the décor had been updated and changed for Winterlights.  The sparkly snowy village was a highlight for me, as were the elaborate floral displays.  The Lilly House has been decorated for Christmas since 1971 and I’m glad the tradition is continuing on.

Along the path to the Whimsical Terrace were fire bowls to warm up by as well as beverages and s’mores for purchase.  The Whimsical Terrace is a fun area for kids, with colorful curtains of lights hanging in giant “Whimsy Trees,” smaller trees decked out in pink lights, and at the center of the terrace, a fifty-foot tall tree made of toys called Playtime in Indy by artist Karl Unnasch.

Inside the museum, we met up with Santa Claus, who visits Winterlights on Tuesdays, underneath the Crystal Grove of trees hanging inside the entrance.  We also enjoyed walking along Poinsettia Path, and stopped by the museum shop.  I highly recommend a trip to the IMA before January 7 to experience Winterlights firsthand if you are in or near Indianapolis.  Happy, happy holidays to you and yours!  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog these last few months, and stay tuned for a lot more in store in 2018!




  1. Marilee | 31st Dec 17

    This is a beautiful artistic light display. Enjoyed every minute of it. So glad we did it early when the temperatures were 40’s and before the Christmas time crunch. Be sure to add it to your Christmas to do list next year. I give Winterlights five snowflakes! ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

    • Denise Breimeir | 4th Jan 18

      ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️ That’s a cute review! It sure was enjoyable in the warm weather with no crowds. I can’t wait to see it next year!

  2. Wendie | 2nd Jan 18

    Your photos are so pretty Denise! I really enjoyed Winterlights too, even though it was much more crowded when we went. I can’t wait to see what they do next year!

    • Denise Breimeir | 4th Jan 18

      Thanks! I loved seeing your photos of Winterlights too! You were so brave to withstand the cold!

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