Everything You Must Do in Indy This Winter

Though the weather outside is frightful -- or at least nippy and cloudy -- Indy’s winter social scene is downright delightful. Over the next few months, look for everything from gargantuan Christmas light displays to beer-themed road races to an epic ghost hunt in a famous (and famously creepy) downtown building. Don’t forget about a massive anime convention, the Big 10 basketball championships, and plenty more seasonal Circle City delights. Here’s everything you need to do in Indianapolis this winter (and here's everything you should check out in Indianapolis any time of year).

Through December 22
Phoenix Theatre
If you prefer your holiday entertainment spiked with satire, check out Winston’s Big Day: A Very Phoenix Xmas 14. Full of original material that’s been in the works for months, the show is biting, edgy, and just barely suitable for kids as well as adults. Well, probably not little kids. But teenagers, for sure.  
Cost: $25-$78

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Through January 5
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
In what’s quickly become a holiday tradition, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway unspools approximately three million lights during Lights at the Brickyard to create a two-mile-long series of illuminated exhibits positioned along the sides of the world’s most famous race course. Guests take in this “Greatest Spectacle in Lighting” from the comfort of their cars, by driving (slowly) through the display. 
Cost: $25-$100

December 13
The Sanctuary on Penn
The Sanctuary on Penn hosts the first annual Nightmare Before Beer Festival, featuring costumed Halloween/Christmas characters, holiday-inspired food, a deejay, live music, and tastings of approximately 20 winter, pumpkin, and holiday ales from local breweries.
Cost: $39

December 14
Indianapolis City Market
The City Market serves up The 12 Chefs of Christmas, in which a dozen culinary professionals pair with a dozen area breweries to create dishes that are a perfect melding of entrees and suds. Guests can enjoy samples of all the creations while milling around on the market’s upper mezzanine level, enjoying live music.
Cost: $35-$65

Santa Hustle Race Series
Santa Hustle Race Series

December 15
Departs from the American Legion Mall
If your belly’s turning into plum pudding from too much holiday indulgence, the Santa Hustle Indy could turn things around with a 5K, half marathon and kids’ dash. All three of the events start early in the morning from the American Legion Mall. Planners really want you to dress like Santa for the race, to the point where some race packages actually include a Santa suit and beard.
Cost: $10-$65

December 16
The Cabaret
The touring cast of the Broadway smash Hamilton (which is in town December 10-29) will serve up a cabaret-style show called Songbirds and Slaaaybells, mixing everything from Broadway tunes to jazz to pop. Proceeds benefit The Damien Center and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Cost: $45-$650

December 18
Clowes Memorial Hall
Remember Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the crudely made stop-motion Christmas special that debuted in 1964? Of course you do, as does everyone else born within the last half-century. If you’d like to see it on stage, Clowes offers Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, featuring actors prancing around (and no doubt furiously sweating) inside reindeer costumes. Be advised that you and your ironic/nostalgic friends will be outnumbered 100-to-one by actual children.
Cost: $39-$59

December 21
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
All real Hoosiers love basketball. And they really love the Crossroads Classic, featuring clashes between the state’s four premier college programs: Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University and Butler University. Prepare to yell like there’s no tomorrow.
Cost: Varies widely depending on game and seat

Winter Fest
Broad Ripple Beer Fest | Brewers of Indiana Guild

January 31-February 1
Indiana State Fairgrounds and Event Center
Presented by the Brewers of Indiana Guild, the 12th annual Winterfest offers a sprawling, comprehensive sampling of the state’s brewing scene, with something like 75 Indiana producers pouring the fruits of their fermentation tanks for thirsty attendees. Saturday afternoon is the main tasting session, preceded by a VIP and rarities session Friday night.
Cost: $40-$125

February 9
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Post Malone brings his Runaway Tour to Indy for one very crowded performance in support of his newest album, Hollywood’s Bleeding. Hear all the hits from his busting-at-the-seams catalog, including “Sunflower” and “I Fall Apart.” Guest acts include Swae Lee and Tyla Yaweh.
Cost: $154 and up

February 14-15
Hilbert Circle Theatre
What could possibly make the classic film Casablanca even better? Having the score performed live by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. If there’s a better Valentine’s Day warmup act, we don’t know what it is.
Cost: $35-$95

February 15
Centerpoint Brewing Company
Holding an outdoor beer tasting in February doesn’t seem like the greatest idea, but the Frigid Digits Winter Beer Fest must be doing something right. Sponsored by Centerpoint Brewing Company, this is the third edition of the event, which takes place on a partially covered outdoor lot on the Centerpoint Brewing property. Prepare to experience dozens of local brews, live music, food…and possibly frostbite, if you don’t pack a good pair of drinking gloves.
Cost: $10-$34

February 21-23
Indianapolis Marriott East
Having trouble locating folks in your peer group who share your love of Japanese animation? That won’t be a problem at Anime Crossroads, where you’ll find panel discussions, anime showings, video games, a dealer’s room, cosplay competitions, autograph sessions, and perhaps the most important thing: plenty of folks who share your predilection. 
Cost: $40-$100 for three-day badges

February 22
Athenaeum Theatre
The century-old Athenaeum isn’t just a theater and a social club. It’s also (according to some) one of the city’s most haunted structures. Find out for yourself during this one-night-only Overnight Ghost Hunt event. Amateur paranormal investigators can spend the night in the mysterious building, investigating the theatre and its backstage area (and also the autopsy room, which seems like a very odd thing to have in a theatre.) Bring your own cameras and other equipment, and enjoy a private ghost hunt ‘till 4 am.
Cost: $50 (only 50 tickets available)

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

February 29
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
What could possibly make The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis even more entertaining? Kicking out all the kids and staging an after-hours, over-21 party called Museum by Moonlight featuring top-notch booze and food from the city’s premier restaurants. Guests can dine, drink, and take in the museum’s five floors of exhibits without having to constantly dodge double-wide strollers. Festivities run from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Cost: $65-$150

March 4-8
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
All 14 Big 10 teams (yes, we know it makes no sense) descend on Indianapolis to hash out who’s the league’s top female squad. This is the 27th time the regular season-ending showdown has taken place in Indy.
Cost: $55-$75

March 8
Starts & ends at Mashcraft Brewing
Shake off those winter pounds with the Mashcraft Brewing Beer Run, a “5k-ish” trot that begins and ends at MashCraft on Delaware, the brewery’s downtown location. There will absolutely be a cold beer waiting for you at the finish line, along with live music and food. Also, exercise!
Cost: $30-$100

March 11-15
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
This is the eleventh time that Indianapolis has hosted the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament. The series moves to Chicago next year (before returning to Indy the year after), so get in while the gettin’s good.
Cost: $20-$400

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Sam Stall is a multimedia journalist based in Indianapolis. He’s written for numerous print and web publications, and also done quite a few fiction and nonfiction books