Earlier this month, we were in Indianapolis for Dave to attend a conference, and I had a free day to explore. While driving through downtown Indianapolis, I saw a sign for “Festival of Trees.” Since I love all things Christmas, I was intrigued. A google search led me to the Visit Indy website, which listed many interesting things to do and explore in the city – including the Festival of Trees at the Indiana Historical Society!
Located downtown, close to other museums, the Indiana Historical Society’s annual Festival of Trees featured 72 decorated trees throughout the museum – up from 50 trees in 2015. The exhibit opened November 18th and closes on December 30th. It seems to be an annual exhibit, so if you miss the display this year, be sure to mark it on your calendars for next year!
The trees are spread throughout the museum, which offered me the opportunity to explore the entire building and all of the exhibits (though I admit I was determined to see every single tree!).
Pro tip: Admission to the Indiana Experience is $9 for adults and includes complimentary parking in the lot behind the museum.
After purchasing my admission, I collected a guide to all the trees and their locations, and started my journey.
In the lobby, it was hard not to miss the tree decorated by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The main hall of the museum displayed many of the trees – each decorated or sponsored by a different local organization or company.
Walking through the main hall I found the Cole Porter salon – a room dedicated to Indiana native Cole Porter, the famous songwriter and composer. His Tony award for Kiss Me Kate was on display as were other photos documenting his life. A singer was leading the room in singing of Christmas carols and Cole Porter songs, which was especially festive.
The Tony Award Cole Porter won for Kiss Me Kate
The “I Love Paris,” themed tree in the Cole Porter room
While I enjoyed the beautiful trees, there were also interesting exhibits to explore. There were interactive exhibits on Ball Mason Jars, Eli Lily and Company, and the founding of the state of Indiana. In each of these exhibits we were ‘transported’ back in time as actors/historians dressed in period dress and answered questions.
Women works at the Ball mason jar company exhibit
A worker answers questions as we enter Eli Lily’s druggist store
These gentleman told us about the founding of Indiana and the writing of the state constitution
These exhibits were all interesting, as were the facts about Indiana’s statehood displayed throughout the museum (and they were especially timely as Indiana was celebrating its Bicentennial on December 11). But, I wanted to be sure to see all the trees, so I kept wandering.
Snowman Tree presented by At Home – the Home Decor Superstore
A tree of books
I loved this tree decorated by the Zoo
This Frozen themed tree was downstairs near the cafe. It was presented by Total Restoration General Contractors – I appreciated the metal pipes/tubing decorating the tree
The museum’s cafe is one level down from the main entrance, and offers hot and cold food and drinks for purchase. With the cold weather outside, it offers a nice option for a rest and a snack break while exploring the museum.
Pro tip: Check the cafe’s serving hours. I saw a sign saying the cafe closed at 4:00 PM, but when I went down for a snack at 3:30 PM, they were no longer serving food.
A Ball themed tree presented by the Ball Brothers Foundation
It was truly magical wandering the museum and seeing all the differently decorated trees.
So many trees!
After seeing all of the trees, I voted for my three favorite trees near the entrance. It was hard to pick a favorite as each one was unique.
I saved time at the end of my trip to visit the gift shop, and I am glad I did. There were many items made in Indiana, including a few Indiana Bicentennial Christmas ornaments (I purchased one), t-shirts, books, games and other novelties. I was impressed by the selection!
Pro-tip: Be sure to check the sale rack in the back of the shop. I found a book on a WWII photographer from Indiana for $5!
The Enchanted Forest tree presented by Carson Pirie Scott sits next to the ticket desk and right outside the Basile History Market
If you love the Christmas season, and are like me, can not get enough of holiday decorations, the Festival of Trees at the Indiana Historical Society is not to be missed if you are visiting Indianapolis!