Conner Prairie by Candleight & So Much More!

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Writer  /  Kara Reibel

Family traditions are what make the holidays special. But how did these traditions evolve? Were the holidays always celebrated the same way we do today? One local tradition is Conner Prairie by Candlelight. This annual event provides a unique window to the past.

This living history experience explores the celebrations of the families of Prairietown. Guests are able to discover and share in the festivities of Christmas and Hanukkah, as they were celebrated 178 years ago.

“The holiday celebrations of 1836 widely varied, depending on the family and religious background,” said Conner Prairie Interpretation Program Michelle Evans. “For instance, guests are surprised that there is a lack of Christmas trees.” This Victorian holiday influence did not occur until later in the 19th century.

Romantic, peaceful and inspirational – this experience is like none other. The Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is a special destination all year, but the Candlelight event being perhaps a favorite among guests. The guided, 90-minute experience allows guests to interact and assist the families of Prairietown in preparing for their holiday in a variety of ways.

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Holiday Adventures is the daytime version of the Candlelight holiday celebrations, without the structure. This event allows guests to move about at their own pace, with all of the fun of the Candlelight celebrations.

The Welcome Center offers a host of holiday activities. The Gingerbread Village display showcases the talents of local amateurs and professionals. The details, thoughts and planning that go into these creative scenes are priceless. Puppet shows, storytelling, and sing-a-longs are all possibilities for what may occur on stage in the Anything Can Happen Theater. The Science of Baking is explored through experiments with yeast and leavening agents. Another favorite is the chocolate drink in the Conner House. American Heritage Chocolate, funded and researched by the Mars Company, is melted and mixed with spices for a delicious warm beverage.

Children will enjoy dining with the jolly guy in the red suit. The Santa breakfast or dinner events are now open to non-members of the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

Holiday Cheers, the adults-only event, has returned by popular demand after a successful inaugural run last year. This event, held Dec. 18, allows guests to stroll through Prairietown enjoying hors d’ouevres, wine and local craft beer while enjoying the holiday festivities of 1836. This event is supported by the Conner Prairie young professionals’ Horizon Council.

For more reservations and event information, please visit

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