The heart of communities throughout Johnson County can be found in their downtown areas.
And this holiday season, those downtowns come alive in illuminated, festive splendor.
With a flip of the switch, Franklin’s courthouse square becomes a winter wonderland. Santa rolls into Bargersville via railroad. A 50-foot-tall “megatree” lights up New Whiteland. Residents come together in Edinburgh for carriage rides.
To get the most jingle-jangle joy over the coming weeks, here is a guide to help make sure you don’t miss a minute of holiday cheer this year:
Bargersville Santa Train
Details: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 24 N. Main St., Bargersville
Santa Claus’ normal mode of transportation is his magical reindeer-led sleigh. But for one day each year, he steams into Johnson County on a bright red Indiana Rail Road Co. caboose car.
The Santa Train is back in Bargersville on Dec. 2, bringing with it holiday cheer, activities for the whole family — and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will once a
gain be greeting children of all ages and taking free pictures aboard vintage passenger cars. While waiting in line, participants can meet beloved characters, and when they’re done, they can mail a letter to Santa. Live reindeer will interact with people, a choir will fill the streets with holiday cheer, and people can enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies.
To go along with the Santa Train, Bargersville officials have put together a Christmas Market where people can find handmade goods, locally produced gifts and baked treats to pick up.
Franklin Holiday Lighting and Winter Market
Details: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 3, downtown Franklin
The seasonal festivities last all day long in downtown Franklin, with a packed schedule of events planned in advance of the traditional lighting ceremony.
Start with a hearty breakfast, with jolly ol’ St. Nick during Breakfast with Santa at Compass Park. Check out the creativity of local organizations during the Johnson County Museum of History’s Dec-A-Tree display, or catch storytime with Mrs. Claus at the Library Services Center. A live Nativity will be on display at BYTAVI Boutique, while people can decorate cookies at Gray Goat Bicycle Co.
People can pick out the perfect Christmas gift from local vendors, who will be displaying their unique creations during the Winter Market. Have your picture taken with Santa at the history museum, submit your most cherished baked goods for the holiday cookie contest, and meet Olaf from “Frozen.”
As night falls, the holiday spirit surges. The Lighted Parade, with illuminated floats and
luminous entertainment, will roll through downtown. Live entertainment sponsored by the Franklin Symphonic Council and a concert by the Whiteland Community High School Shades of Blue choir will provide festive music.
Finally, at 7 p.m., the courthouse holiday display goes on, officially signaling the start of the season.
Details: 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 31, Tracy Road and Ashland Avenue, New Whiteland
One of the newest additions to Johnson County’s holiday traditions is the creation of the MegaTree, a 50-foot digital tree that will be mounted just off of Tracy Road on the west side of New Whiteland. The programmed light show experience features ever-changing colors and images, making the nights from late November through New Year’s Eve merry and bright.
Details: Lights go on at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 to 31, Greenwood Amphitheater, 100 Surina Way
The parkland around the Greenwood Amphitheater receives an illuminated glow-up during the holiday season, with lighted displays set up for a free stroll through the greenspace.
The trail, which was created by the Greenwood Parks & Recreation Department during
the pandemic, has become a new tradition in the city. Residents and visitors can tour the lights with their families and friends at their own pace.
Along the way, people will pass by 85 trees of lights, 18 standing figures of various sizes, five archways of lights, a 12-arch candy cane tunnel, and more than 3,600 lights on the bridge near the amphitheater. In total, the display features nearly 43,000 lights.
Details: 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9, Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library, 424 S. Tower St.
The restored Indiana prairie outside Trafalgar’s library branch is one of Johnson County’s natural gems, and during this holiday, it gets a festive makeover. Participants can visit with beloved Christmas characters, meet a reindeer, make some goodies in Santa’s Wo
rkshop or channel your inner Mariah and Bing during holiday karaoke.
Holiday of Lights
Details: 4 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10, John R. Drybread Community Center, 100 E. Main Cross St., Edinburgh
2022 has been a year of celebration for Edinburgh, which continues during the annual Holiday of Lights.
The Bicentennially Bright Parade will light up the night with festive floats through downtown Edinburgh. A community chili supper will fill up your stomach to brace the cold December evening. Vendors from all over the region have signed up to create a holiday market, where people can buy all kinds of artisan goods for friends and family.
Caroling, holiday music, crafts, games, hot chocolate and more will be featured throughout the event. Carriage rides are available throughout the evening, and kids can get photos with Santa Claus at the town community center.
Finally, the Pixy Theatre offers up its Christmas show, with Night Owl Country Band headlining the event.
IF YOU GO
Schedule of events
Bargersville Santa Train
4 to 7:30 p.m.: Craft vendors; free hot chocolate and cook
ies (until supplies run out)
4:30 p.m.: Santa Train arrives
5 p.m.: Train departs
4:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Pictures with Santa
5 to 6 p.m.: Christmas caroling with Greenwood Community High
Franklin Holiday Lighting
8 a.m. to noon: Breakfast with Santa, Compass Park, 690 State St.
10 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Dec-A-Tree Display, Johnson County Museum of History, 135 N. Main St.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Live Nativity, Center for Global Impact and BYTAVI Boutique, 51 W. Monroe St.
Noon to 4 p.m.: Cookie decorating, Gray Goat Bicycle Co., 25 E. Court St.
1 and 2 p.m.: Storytime with Mrs. Claus, Johnson County Library Services Center, 49 E. Monroe St.
1 to 7 p.m.: Food vendors, West Court Street
1 to 8 p.m.: Winter market, North Main Street and Elks Lodge 1
818, 56 E. Jefferson St.
1:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Kids crafts and pictures with Santa, Johnson County Museum of History
2 and 7:30 p.m.: “A Christmas Story,” Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St.
3 to 4 p.m.: Holiday crafts, Library Services Center
3 to 7 p.m.: Holiday cookie contest, Mutual Savings Bank, 80 E. Jefferson St.
5:30 p.m.: Lighted Parade
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Wagon rides, DriveHubler.com Amphitheater at Youngs Creek Park
6 to 7:30 p.m.: Live entertainment, West Court Street
6 p.m.: “Frozen” character meet and greet, Library Servic
7 p.m.: Lighting of the Courthouse; Compass Park ground display lighting
7:30 p.m.: Whiteland High School Shades of Blue Choir Concert, amphitheater
Holiday of Lights
Downtown shops open late
5 to 8 p.m.: Community chili supper, Edinburgh Presbyterian Church, 306 E. Main Cross St.
5 to 8 p.m.: Ornament crafts with 500 North
5 to 9 p.m.: Holiday market
5:30 p.m.: Bicentennially Bright Parade, from East Side Elementary through downtown
6 to 8 p.m.: Pictures with Santa, John R.
Drybread Community Center, 100 E. Main Cross St.
6 to 10 p.m.: Carriage rides
7 p.m.: Christmas show with Night Owl Country Band, the Pixy Theatre, 111 S. Walnut St.