It's definitely an all-star cast at this year's Circle of Lights in downtown Indianapolis. Every year, people from all over Central Indiana (and visiting friends and family) gather around Monument Circle to watch the Mayor and a helper throw the switch on the world's largest Christmas tree. This year, we're expecting 100,000 people to be on hand for this year's lighting.

The event takes place on the Circle, with musical acts performing from 6:00 – 7:00 pm, and the live, televised show from 7:00 – 8:00 pm. Hundreds of singers, musicians, and dancers all auditioned for the seven coveted slots. Circle of Lights The Soldier and Sailors Monument, all decked out with Christmas lights, making it the world's largest Christmas tree. Local performers include:

  • Tara Rochford and Ryan Smith, duet from Indianapolis
  • Soul to Sole, a tap dancing group from my hometown of Muncie
  • Macey Estes, soloist from Greenwood
  • Ross Rebennack, soloist from Indianapolis/Bloomington
  • Mount Pleasant Christian Church, from Greenwood, selected as the house band.

But the two big names that has everyone clamoring for a better view are Indiana's own Sandi Patty, and The von Trapp Family Singers. Both artists will also appear at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's Yuletide Celebration this year (Sandi Patty is the host).

Sandi Patty has won numerous awards, including 39 Dove Awards, five Grammys, four Billboard Music Awards, and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004. The von Trapp Family singers, who have performed literally all over the world, are the grandchildren of Werner von Trapp (the inspiration for Kurt from "The Sound of Music").

People start showing up a few hours before the event, and if it's cold like we're expecting, you'll want to visit one of the area coffee shops for a warmup before the festivities begin. I took the family a few years ago for our first ever Circle of Lights lighting, and we loved it. I can't get anyone to go back though, since they're all sort of wimpy about cold weather, so I may end up going by myself.

Once you recover from your turkey coma, bundle up, head to the Circle, and get there early enough to find parking. Your best bet will be to stick around for several minutes afterward so the crowds will clear out and you can avoid a lot of the traffic.

Photo credit: Big Whiskey (Flickr, Creative Commons)