As has been the case with just about everything in 2020, Christmas on the Square in Danville, Indiana, is going to look and feel a bit different. But the good news is, it is happening!
If your idea of a perfect holiday experience elicits visions of a Norman Rockwell painting or perhaps a scene from the classic movie, A Miracle on 34th Street, then Christmas on the Square may be the event to attend and Danville the place to visit this holiday season.
Folks of every age delight each year the evening after Thanksgiving as the square transforms into a Christmas wonderland with family and friends gathered at every corner. Most refer to this day as Black Friday, but in Danville, it becomes Bright Friday, as they officially turn on the canopy of lights that stream down from every side of the square.
So, let's cover what is changing, what's new and why you should attend this treasured event on the historic Hendricks County Courthouse Square.
The event's official hours will be two hours shorter than usual running from 4-6 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27).
Some traditions, including the holiday characters who roam around during the event, will take a one-year hiatus. So, that means there will be no Santa and Mrs. Claus, their other character friends or carolers this year.
Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and health of their guests, event organizers also have removed some of the usual children attractions such as the trackless train and the inflatables.
Organizers have added some aspects to this year's event that fit the theme and safety precautions.
Taking a page from their popular scarecrow displays in October, local businesses, organizations and individuals will decorate giant postcards (4-foot-by-3-foot plywood) displayed around the square. Following the theme Home For The Holidays, these giant postcards will become a welcome addition to the festivities, and judging by the creative scarecrow displays should provide some great photo opportunities for families.
One other new aspect will still allow Santa to be part of the festivities. Like always, he will help usher in the season by turning on the canopy of lights above the square and the lights on the tree. But he will do so remotely at 6 p.m. and organizers are even working on it being live-streamed so families can watch from home. You can stay up to date on that and all of the latest festival news by checking the Downtown Danville Partnership Facebook page.
Some Traditions Remain
As I mentioned earlier, the annual lighting of the square, which truly is my family's highlight, will still happen. Make sure you do stay, at least, for it. It's magical.
One other big tradition also returns. The Danville United Methodist Church will once again have its live nativity scene on the square. It is something my family always looks forward to and is just so amazing.
One last thing, all of the local businesses around the square also will be open like usual.
So, I would highly recommend you purchase or bring a hot beverage, wander the square taking in all the colors and sights and peruse all the small shops and eateries to get you and your family into that holiday spirit that this event tends to bring out of all its participants.
Thanksgiving weekend is often busy with event after event. But this simple, yet profound activity is free and comes with no extra planning on your part. Just show up and enjoy. There are no tickets to purchase, and you can stay as long as you like, even past the advertised event hours.
If you have family and friends in town for the holidays, bring them. They're sure to enjoy it as well.
You also can get the annual first glimpse of the Winterland drive-through light show in nearby Ellis Park. That attraction always kicks off just as Christmas on the Square is winding down and is just a short drive away.
Christmas on the Square
- When: 4-6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 27 (annually the day after Thanksgiving)
- Where: Historic Hendricks County Courthouse Square in Danville, Indiana