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Charlestown’s Christmas City: Small Town, Big Holiday Spirit

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Photo Courtesy City of Charlestown


There’s a different bustle to work around the city, a feeling in the air in the weeks leading up to Light Up Charlestown. The excitement is palpable in the town’s local diner, and on local Facebook feeds – Christmas is coming.

The day after Charlestown’s Halloween celebration on the square, the buzz begins. Charlestown is a close knit town, and one full of people who are quick to tell you what they’re grateful for. Thanksgiving isn’t overlooked – but around here, we’re Christmas people.



Crews with the City of Charlestown have been busy preparing Charlestown’s annual “Christmas City” display – work begins each year in October, and throughout the month leading up to the annual  “Light up Charlestown” event, city employees and volunteers work diligently to prepare for the elaborate light show that takes place on Charlestown’s square and in neighboring Greenway Park. The event is one of the largest of its kind in the region, and Charlestown officials estimate it brings in thousands of visitors annually.

The show grows every year – both in display elements, and in turnout. If there’s one thing people from surrounding counties know about Charlestown, its Charlestown’s love for all things Christmas.



Charlestown City Square’s LED Light Show runs each night through the Holiday season from 6-11 pm. Photo Courtesy City of Charlestown


The Christmas Season officially kicks off in Charlestown on the Friday after Thanksgiving – slated this year for November 23rd. The light show continues every night from 6:00 to 11:00 pm, and runs through January 2nd. Visitors cruising from the warmth of their cars will spot a sign on the square prompting them to tune in to a local radio frequency, where Christmas music plays in synchrony with the LED light show. In years past, the display has even been live-streamed via the City of Charlestown’s website.

“Charlestown during the Christmas season, beginning with Light Up Charlestown on the Friday after Thanksgiving, is an amazing place to be. Whether you are awed by the Animated Lightshow on the Square, calmed by the peaceful beauty of the lights in Greenway Park, dazzled by the Family Activities Park, or excited by a ride on the Charlestown Express train, your holiday season is not complete until you have been a part of it. It will become a family tradition after your first year in the Christmas City.” – City of Charlestown Spokesperson John Spencer,

There are over a hundred thousand lights in Charlestown during the Christmas season, between the light show on the square, Greenway Park, and at the Family Activities Center. But that’s not all – local businesses get into the holiday spirit, setting up their own Christmas displays along Market Street in “lots” – a friendly competition ensues, each business hoping to take home the coveted annual title for best display.


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Light shows aren’t the only thing Charlestown has to offer this time of year – visitors can take in the amazing display by train via the Charlestown Express Christmas Train, which departs from the City’s Family Activities Park located at 1000 Park Street at regular intervals throughout the evenings. There’s also a synthetic ice skating rink located at the park, and Santa visits on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays beginning 11/23 at 7:00 pm.

Operating hours are Monday through Thursdays from 6-9 pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 6-10 pm.

Charlestown’s Christmas City has it’s own Facebook page – you can follow along here for updates and to share your photos and videos.

If you’re looking to make a night of it, be sure to check out some local dining favorites:

The Charlestown Pizza Company – located right on the square, you can’t miss it (or the light show). They are open Tues – Friday from 11am – 9pm, and on Saturdays from noon – 9 pm. They’re closed Sunday and Monday. Check out their menu online, and tell them the Charlestown Courier sent you.

The 1894 Lodge – located just up the road (Highway 62), in less than 10 minutes you can be in New Washington, Indiana. The Lodge has a unique atmosphere, and an even more unique menu. If there’s a little snow on the ground, it’s a beautiful drive – head up before dusk for dinner and you’ll be back in Charlestown after sundown. Let Logan know we sent you! Check out their Facebook page – the food pics are heaven and there’s usually a special menu item or some kind of event going on.

Dav and Peg’s Copper Kettle – a small town diner feel, with an affordable and delicious menu. They close at 7:00 pm and are located just caddy-corner to the Charlestown square. Get their early for a hearty meal, then stroll around the square and take in the lights. You can usually find their daily special listed on their Facebook page.

The Charlestown Family Activities Park is now also booking Church Groups, Company Parties and Family Outings. Dates are still available for groups of 20 or more on November 27th & 28th, December 3rd, 4th, 5th, 11th & 12th from 6:00pm-8:00pm. The cost is $10 per person and includes Train Ride, Skating, Mini Golf, and a Free Hot Chocolate Email Rhonda Davidson, Parks Director at for more information.

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