Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy – Your Drive-Thru Holiday Spectacular

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Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy – Your Drive-Thru Holiday Spectacular

The Joy of Lights is a Midwest experience you must not overlook this holiday season. When summer winds down and the flea market closes for the season in Shipshewana, the Christmas prep begins, and this dazzling drive-through light show brings together the quaint charm of a small town with the pizzazz of a big city spectacle. So, grab your hot chocolate and a few Christmas cookies, and let’s dive into this sparkling adventure.

Plan Your Visit

First things first, let’s talk logistics. Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy is situated on the grounds of the Shipshewana RV Park, right next to the grounds of the Shipshewana flea market. The display is a breathtaking 1.8-mile course of Christmas light scenes that will leave you and your family in awe.

The dates and times? This annual holiday experience lights up the upcoming holiday season from early November to Christmas Eve. And the price? It’s super affordable at $20 for a whole carload of joy. Trust me, it’s worth every penny.

The Hip Grandma with pink hair stands in front of a lit tunnel at the Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy

What Is the Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy?

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the display before it opened to the public in 2023. You really must add this to your holiday bucket list! Imagine winding through a long symphony of colorful light scenes that highlight all aspects of the Christmas season. The experience begins with a lively nativity scene, takes you through the 12 days of Christmas, and continues to a tribute to our brave folks in the United States military – it’s all there, brilliantly illuminated.

My favorite part was the lineup of animated window displays toward the end of the route that showcased animatronics in winter scenes – like penguins playing in the winter snow. They feel like a cross between a department store window display and a snow globe come to life! When passing these displays, you’ll want to take in all the details.

Of course, no Christmas display is complete without a cameo by Rudolph, so keep an eye out for him near the end of your visit. You might even want to crack your window to enjoy the sound stylings of this animated Christmas Classic!

An animatronic Rudolph that is situated at the end of the Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy.

The Who, What, When and Why

I must give a shout-out to the folks behind this spectacle. Brian Lambright, the business development director of Shipshewana Trading Place, and Ryan Riegsecker, president of Blue Gate Hospitality, really know how to put on a show. Together, they have partnered with a third party to curate dozens of displays that make this a spectacular drive-through light display experience.

But here’s the twist – it’s not just about the lights. Shipshewana, known for its unique experiences, adds a sprinkle of magic to your journey. You can tune into a special Christmas music broadcast as you drive, making it a merry sing-along adventure. Don’t plan on a fast drive-through. Instead, plan on a fun and leisurely drive where you can bring snacks, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, and a few fuzzy blankets to snuggle in while enjoying the display!

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2023 is the third year of this fantastic display. It all began in 2020 when the world was in the grips of COVID-19, and small towns across the country were looking for ways to celebrate the season safely without sacrificing the overall spirit of Christmas. A drive-through light display was the perfect solution because families could remain socially distant by being in their own vehicles.

a nativity scene made of lights at Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy

It is safe to say the display was a resounding success. That first year, the wait to get into the park sometimes topped out at 3-4 hours because so many people were hungry for a safe place to take in the spirit of the season.

Now, three years later, they have made plenty of changes. What began as a less than 1-mile display has grown to include 1.8 miles of lights. Lights of Joy is now open seven days a week to allow more cars than ever to enter and enjoy the show! And just for a fun perspective, it takes the staff over 30 minutes to turn on all the displays. That’s a lot of lights!

A view from up high showing the Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy

You may still have a bit of a wait to get into the park, but you can shorten it by coming during the week. Locals know the secret is to head for the line about sixty to ninety minutes after the gates open. Arriving a bit later allows the rush to slow down before you enter. And even if you still have a bit of a wait to enter, think of it this way. You’re in the comfort of your car, sipping hot chocolate, munching on Christmas treats, and surrounded by your loved ones.

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How to Double Down on Your Christmas Fun

Each year, the team adds new spectacular displays. It’s fast becoming an annual tradition for many, and it could also be your new favorite Christmas tradition. But how far are you willing to drive? I live about two hours North of the area, and I wouldn’t hesitate to load up the family and head in that direction for an evening of fun.

Consider making it an overnight. Find a place to stay in the area and treat yourself to some downhome Amish cooking while you’re there. You can even get some Christmas shopping in while you’re there.

Explore downtown Shipshewana, where the Davis Mercantile and Blue Gate Shops await with more festive fun. It’s an all-round Christmas experience – from the dramatic reading of the Christmas story to meeting Father Christmas himself!

Need a Place to Stay?

The Big Bad Wolf made of lights at Shipshewana Christmas Lights of Joy

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Shipshewana Decorated for Christmas?

Shipshewana is beautifully decorated for Christmas! During the holiday season, this charming town in Indiana transforms into a winter wonderland, making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the festive spirit. Don’t miss the Shipshewana Lights of Joy, lights, and décor surrounding the Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant, including many Instagrammable photo ops and the Christmas Light Parade as part of the annual Light Up Shipshewana event.

Do you have to have tickets before going to Shipshewana Lights of Joy, or can you purchase as you go in?

You can purchase tickets in advance on the Shipshewana Lights of Joy website, or you can buy tickets at the entrance. Season tickets are also available!

Wrapping it All Up

So, are you ready to light up your Christmas nights with a bit of Shipshewana sparkle? The Shipshewana Lights of Joy is more than just a light show; it’s a peek into the heart of the Christmas spirit. Bring the whole family and make some fantastic memories under the twinkling lights of this special event.

Remember, Christmas time is about making memories with your loved ones, and there’s no better way to do it than immersing yourself in the joy and wonder of Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy. Be sure to tell them that the Hip Grandma sent you!

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