Walkway of Lights – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Here in Grant County, the winter festivities begin every year with the Walkway of Lights Christmas Parade & Holiday Lighting Ceremony.  Named the Miracle on 3rd and 4th Street, Saturday, November 18 will be a day full of family festivities in downtown Marion with FREE trolley rides, live music and lots of holiday fun!  Other FREE activities include ornament making, face painting, s’more making (and tasting!), scavenger hunt, a puppet show and a holiday movie screening, complete with popcorn! You can even meet a real reindeer!

At 7pm, the parade and tree lighting ceremony makes it official – the lights are aglow and Santa is coming soon! It’s a multi-generational family tradition and an exciting kick-off to the holiday season, because it’s not just any Christmas light display.

A Christmas Tradition

At Matter Park and Gardens, the winter wonderland shines and is chock full of retro holiday vibes that take us back to Christmas past. As such, it is one of the oldest Christmas light displays in the Midwest. In those days, Marion was known for going over-the-top with jolly, dazzling Christmas decorations. Then, an Indianapolis television station got wind of the merry spectacle in 1965 and decided to capture it on film.

As a result, the city was dubbed “Christmas City USA.” Like a fat Santa in a narrow chimney, the nickname stuck. Marion has celebrated the holiday season in a big way ever since. In 1991, the residents of Marion decided to make their decorations bigger and brighter than it ever was before. The light displays were expanded, creating the holiday tradition we know and love today. Thanks to local residents, businesses and organizations, The Walkway of Lights has been going strong for decades. And, it keeps growing and becoming even more spectacular! In 2022, eleven new dazzling and delightful displays were added and the route was expanded into Ballard Field (see map below)!

The Biggest and Brightest Christmas Lights

Over two and a half million twinkling lights stretch along the Mississinewa River walkway for two miles all the way to Matter Park and Gardens. The route boasts over 130 different breathtaking displays, some themed in the merriest of ways.

There are many Hoosier favorites sprinkled about, like the Butler Bulldog, college logos and Indiana’s torch. But, our favorite Hoosier, of course, is Garfield. The feisty feline slides into the holidays on a candy cane.

Illuminated flowers and butterflies sparkle in Matter Gardens, just like the real ones do in summer. It’s hard not to sing each verse of the 12 Days of Christmas when you see five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens. Oh, and you can’t miss the breathtaking illuminating suspension bridge over the Mississinewa River.

The sparkling displays end with two saluting toy soldiers dutifully guarding the Christmas Shoppe. Stop in to warm up with hot cocoa, cider and a few sweet treats. The cookies taste just like the ones grandma used to make. Browse around the Shoppe for ornaments, gifts and nostalgic Christmas finds. On the weekends, Santa Claus makes a magical appearance and The Grinch stops by to spread his grinchy vibe.

New in 2023 – scan this QR code for festive music to accompany your tour through Walkway of Lights! We call it Holly Jolly Radio and think you and your family will love these holiday jams!

New expanded route includes Ballard Field.

You can walk through the winter wonderland for free or cruise through the displays in the warmth and comfort of your car for $5 per vehicle. Or for just $25, get a season pass and drive through as many times as you like.  Christmas City Walkway of Lights runs from 5-10pm November 18-December 31, 2023.

For more information, scan this QR code.

Special Events

Nov. 18 – Christmas City USA Walkway of Lights Downtown Event

Dec. 8 – Family Night at the Garden House

See our calendar for holiday fun all season long!

Grant County

About Grant County

Grant County, Indiana, is home to nifty attractions, outtasight events and rebellious celebrities. Whether it’s saddle shoes, classic cars, vintage bikes, James Dean, or Garfield, we love everything classic and cool. Have a blast just 90 minutes North of Indy.

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