This holiday season, the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) is offering two fantastic ways to experience its 2020 Festival of Trees holiday exhibit — in-person or virtually!
From November 13 through January 9, visitors can get into the holiday spirit by enjoying the exhibit in person at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis. Or you can take part in the new virtual experience at FestivalofTreesIndy.org.
“We’re happy we can provide an online addition to our amazing onsite Festival of Trees experience,” said Jody Blankenship, president and CEO of the Indiana Historical Society. “The virtual experience is beautifully designed, and we’re excited for online attendees to check it out. It only enhances the tradition of this beloved event. Having an indoor and remote option for visiting the Festival of Trees really opens this event up to a wider audience, which we’re grateful to have this holiday season.”
For those visiting on site, this year’s Festival of Trees features a winter wonderland of 50 elaborately decorated trees representing individuals, families and organizations from around Indiana. This year will feature a new theme — Life Is a Gift — that will be seen and felt from the 30-foot centerpiece tree to decorative features throughout the building. Select Friday evenings will offer extended hours for those who wish to see the trees by night. Guests will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite tree.
On-site visitors can also take part in scavenger hunts for The Elf on the Shelf or the Weihnachtzgurken (10 pickle ornaments hidden in trees throughout the building). Hints on locations will be available on IHS’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles.
As guests wander through the building, they can enjoy a virtual story time with Santa or stop in the Cole Porter Room for holiday music. All exhibits will be available for guests, including the recently opened You Are There 1920: Celebrate Indianapolis!
Throughout Festival of Trees, the Stardust Terrace Café by Jonathan Byrd’s will offer extended hours and additional menu options, including holiday-inspired treats and tasty specialty beverages for both children and grown-ups.
Guests can also stop in the Basile History Market to pick up the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones — or themselves — from a commemorative Festival of Trees ornament to other Hoosier-made and Indiana-inspired items.
In order to ensure proper social distancing, advance tickets are required. IHS members can take advantage of their complimentary admission benefit by reserving their timed tickets online. Per CDC guidelines, all guests (except those under age 2) are required to provide and wear a cloth face covering or mask.
The IHS will allow up to 200 guests inside the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at any one time during the Festival of Trees. This number is based on CDC guidelines and event restrictions by Marion County health officials, which currently allows up to 25% capacity for public events. Two-hundred guests represent less than 7% of capacity for the History Center (165,000 square feet), which can accommodate more than 3,000 people.
Festival of Trees hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Select Friday evenings will have extended hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In addition to the on-site event, there will be a digital way of taking in the holiday exhibit. With the new virtual experience, you can enjoy the festivities from the warm comfort of your home or on any mobile device. Upon entering FestivalofTreesIndy.org, an animated segment will lead you to a digital winter wonderland — free of charge!
Thanks to 360-degree viewing technology, you will get to see all 50 trees as they are displayed at the History Center. Zoom in to appreciate the fine details of these festive creations. You can compile your favorite trees in the “Favorites” section to help with the online voting process. Be sure to subscribe to the site’s mailing list, as the winner will be announced via email in early 2021.
Other features of the virtual experience include:
The virtual experience also links back to the Indiana Historical Society website, allowing visitors to explore the many exhibits and opportunities offered year-round.
Festival of Trees is presented by The Salvation Army, with support from The Mothershead Foundation, OneAmerica, Citizens Energy Group and MacAllister Machinery, Inc.
“Life is a Gift” Tree is presented by Lake City Bank; Story Time with Santa is presented by Citizens Energy Group; Cole Porter Room Holiday Music and Virtual Singalong is presented by Old National Bank; and Festival of Trees Virtual Experience is presented by OneAmerica Financial Partners.
For tickets, a detailed schedule of hours, information on in-building and virtual Festival of Trees offerings, and a schedule of virtual programs, visit www.FestivalofTreesIndy.org. Festival of Trees will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.