Get ready to bundle up and enjoy all of the different ways to celebrate the winter season. Whether you are looking to have date night, family time, or something fun to do with friends, we have gathered a list of fun things to do around The Bend. 

Gift of Lights at Potawatomi Zoo

Animals want to enjoy the holidays too! Visit the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend for a wonderland of lights and seasonal activities. The Gift of Lights is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting 5 p.m. Nov. 24-Dec. 23. This year, there will be two of Santa’s reindeer in Santa’s workshop for you to meet. 

Winterfest in Mishawaka

Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with the tree lighting, pictures with Santa, a trackless train, ax throwing, ice carver and more. The event will take place on Dec. 2 from 5-9 p.m. at the Ironworks Plaza.

Christmas in New Carlisle 

Head to this charming small town from 1-6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26 for a day with craft and food vendors, photos with Santa, games for kids and a lighted parade. The lighted parade will take place from 6-7 p.m.

Tree Lighting and Santa’s Arrival in Downtown South Bend

Come see Santa make his grand entrance to South Bend. Santa’s House will officially open for visitors at approximately 6:30-9 p.m. Dec. 2. Reservations are highly recommended but walk-ups are welcomed. This event is part of Downtown South Bend’s First Friday

Holidays at the Oliver Mansion

Sugar Plum Fairy Tea

Enjoy a catered menu of savories, sweets, and classic teas, along with a private tour of the first floor of the Oliver Mansion while it's decorated for the holidays during Sugar Plum Fairy Tea. The event will take place on Dec. 2 from noon-2 p.m.

Christmas at Copshaholm 

The Oliver Mansion, also known as Copshaholm, will be showcasing all 38-rooms decked for the holidays for you to enjoy on self-guided tours. The historic home will feature Christmas trees, festooned fireplace mantels and tabletops with Yuletide décor. Tickets are strongly recommended and can be purchased here. The event will take place on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 from 4-7 p.m.

Insights in History – Yuletide Traditions

Curator of Copshaholm Skylar Whited describes Christmas traditions of yesteryear. A first-floor tour of the mansion decorated for the season will be offered. The event will take place on Dec. 6, reservations are required by Dec. 4. 

Go Ice Skating

Howard Park

Brrr, grab your hat and gloves because ice skating at Howard Park opens on November 24. Skate around an ice trail with rolling hills and soft curves. If you’re looking for a more traditional skating experience, check out the ice pond attached to the trail. Ice skating will be available 7 days a week until March 2024. 
Ironworks Ice Rink in Mishawaka

This is no ordinary ice rink. Ironworks Ice Rink offers bumper cars and icebyks for visitors to enjoy. Save the date for its opening on December 2. 

Engage with Community Businesses

Third Thursdays in the Mish
Winter isn't complete without an ugly sweater moment. Find your best funky fit and show it off at Ugly Sweaters in the Mish on Thursday, December 21. The event is designed to encourage interaction between small businesses, artists, local parks, and the city of Mishawaka.
First Fridays in Downtown South Bend
It all kicks off at the Gridiron at 5:00pm on Dec. 1 with live music by The Erly, performances by the Spotlight Performers, IU South Bend Kickline, and South Bend Civic Theatre, plus a holiday photo op, roving mascots, a Santa letter station, giveaways, and more. 

Other Holiday Events Around The Bend

Holiday in the Gallery

Holiday in the Gallery is a beloved community event at the South Bend Museum of Art where all are invited to share their joy for the holiday season. This year it will have a Holiday Art Market, including artists from SBMA's community and local galleries. Enjoy live music in the Warner Gallery provided by the Fischoff Academy while creating snowflakes and treating yourself to goodies and the open bar. This event will take place 5-8 p.m. Dec. 1. 

Gingerbread Village

Be inspired by these one-of-a kind gingerbread houses created by residents of nearby areas. Competing gingerbread houses will be judged upon originality, design, craftsmanship, degree of difficulty, and overall appearance. Visit the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown South Bend from Dec. 1-23 to view this year’s Gingerbread Village and vote for your favorite!