December 2, 2022

2021 December First Fridays event info appears below.

2022 event info will be coming soon!

Santa Claus is coming to town this First Fridays, and downtown South Bend will be alive with holiday cheer. 

It all kicks off at the Gridiron at 5:00 p.m. with live music by The Erly, dance performances by the IU South Bend Kickline and Southold Dance Theatre, a holiday photo op, roving mascots, a Santa letter station, giveaways, and more! 
Santa will be arriving a little after 6:00 p.m. to light the tree, and Santa's House will be open for visitors directly after, approximately 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

You'll find a variety of First Fridays activities and promotions all around downtown. Check out all the details below.

This First Fridays is just the start of a month-long celebration of the holidays in downtown South Bend. For full holiday details, click here.



Parking (on-street and in City-managed garages) is always free in downtown South Bend nights and weekends.  For full details on downtown parking options, click here

Entertainment & Activities

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Tree Lighting Ceremony & Santa's Arrival

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Gridiron

This year's Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature live holiday music by The Erly and dance performances by the IU South Bend Kickline and Southold Dance Theatre. There will also be holiday giveaways, a holiday photo op, roving mascots, and a Santa letter writing station.

Be sure to check out the Gingerbread Village Display in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott!

 Santa will make his grand entrance to downtown a little after 6:00 p.m. for the lighting of the Gridiron Tree. Santa’s House will then officially open for visitors at approximately 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. To avoid people crowding in a line to see Santa, visits will be done through timed reservations, which can be made online. Walk-ups are also welcomed. The link for each weekend's Santa visits will appear on this site the Tuesday before each weekend.

Tree Lighting Schedule

(times are approximate)

5:00 p.m. - Holiday songs by The Erly

5:30 p.m. - IU South Bend Kickline

5:45 p.m. - Southold Dance Theatre

5:55 p.m. - Interactive holiday songs with The Erly

6:10 p.m. - Santa's procession with Mayor Mueller

6:20 p.m. - Tree Lighting & Fireworks

6:25 p.m. - ND Jump Rope Club Performance

6:35 p.m. - More holiday music by The Erly

Visits with Santa

6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Gridiron

Santa's House will open up for visitors directly following the tree lighting, at approximately 6:30 p.m. 

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following protocols will be in place for our Visits with Santa:

  • To avoid people crowding in a line to see Santa, online reservations are highly recommended for Santa visits. The link for each weekend's Santa visits will appear on this site the Tuesday before each weekend at 2:00 p.m. Each 10-minute slot can accommodate a family/group of up to 8 people.

  • We will also be able to accept walk-up visitors, and a physically-distanced line will be created for those without reservations.

  • Plexiglas will separate Santa from guests.

  • Guests are encouraged to wear masks while waiting to see Santa, but it is not required.

  • Hand sanitizer will be available.

Click here for more information on downtown Santa visits, which will take place throughout December:

Fridays - December 3, 10. 17 • 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
(Santa's house will open December 3 right after the Tree Lighting Ceremony, approximately 6:30 p.m. ; additionally Santa visits will pause for an hour on Dec. 10 as Santa takes part in the Holiday Light Parade from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
Saturdays - December 4, 11, 18 • 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
(Santa's house will open at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 as Santa makes his way back from visiting children at the Holiday Extravaganza at Four Winds Field)
Sundays - December 5, 12, 19 • 12:00 p.m. - 4:00  p.m.
Thursday - December 23 • 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Friday - December 24 • 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Gingerbread Village Competition
December 3-24
121 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
View the 2021 Gingerbread Village Competition entries inside the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott and vote for your favorite!

Double Dutch with the ND Jump Rope Team

6:25 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Gridiron

Members of the ND Jump Rope Team will be doing double dutch in the parking lot west of the Gridiron for kids to join in, following their 10-minute performance at 6:25 p.m.

BOGO at Dellstar VR

Noon to 9:00 p.m.

207 W. Colfax Ave.

Welcome to our newest First Fridays participant - Dellstar VR! They recently opened up on Colfax just west of Main and offer virtual reality gaming experiences for ages 10 and up, including birthday party packages. Check them out on First Fridays and take advantage of their 15% off First Fridays special all day!

Sock & Toiletries Drive with Raclin School of the Arts
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Gridiron
The IU South Bend Kickline and Raclin School of the Arts will be holding a Holiday Sock Hop - a sock and toiletries drive - at First Fridays, collecting donations for The Center for the Homeless and Our Lady of the Road Charities. Additionally, they will be collecting donations at their holiday event featuring performances by their band, choir, and dance groups that same night at IUSB at 7:30 p.m. Free admission to their event is available with the donation of socks or toiletries.

CASA Toy Drive

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Gridiron

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program of St. Joseph County will be collecting gifts this First Fridays. They will be located in the Gridiron parking lot from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

CASA encourages community residents to delight in the holiday season by celebrating the joys of giving back.

There are many ways to help the children in our community. As the holiday season kicks off and the shopping frenzy begins for residents in St. Joseph County, it can be easy to forget that many children, especially those in crisis, may not have the same joyful experiences this year that many people have come to expect.


One way to give back is to donate gifts to the Annual CASA Holiday Toy Drive. Each year the Toy Drive’s goal is to provide gifts to every child in foster care throughout St. Joseph County. With the number of kids in the foster care system rising and over 640 children in crisis to reach, CASA needs the help and support of St. Joseph County residents to bring some holiday cheer to the most vulnerable children in the community.


The CASA Program is happy to accept donations of new, unwrapped toys, books, games, and clothes!

Holiday in the Gallery

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Join the South Bend Museum of Art for their annual tradition of art, music, food, wine, and festivities to celebrate the season!

Ice Skating at Howard Park

11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

219 S. St. Louis Blvd.

Enjoy extended holiday hours on Fridays at the Howard Park Ice Trail & Pond from 11:00 a.m to 9:30 p.m. , with Kids's Skate Club 11:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and DJ Skate Nights from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The DJ for this First Fridays will be DJ Grind. For more info on Howard Park Ice Skating and other activities there, click here

Meet South Bend Alive Grantees

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.


The IMPower Center and South Bend Community Initiatives will be featuring the "Alive & Free" Grantees at the Gridiron. The South Bend Alive grant program is part of the City’s ongoing efforts to reduce incidents of gun violence in the community and provide constructive initiatives for South Bend’s young people. The program, managed by the Office of Community Initiatives, focuses on funding community-based initiatives that provide mentorship for young people, help connect youth with employment training and opportunities, and conduct community outreach and youth engagement activities.

DTSB Festival of Trees

Throughout downtown

December 3 — 24

View holiday trees decorated by local sponsors and organizations and vote for your favorite on DTSB's Facebook page. Voting will start December 6th and the winner will be announced December 24th on DTSB's social media.
DTSB Holiday Window Display Contest
Throughout downtown
December 3 — 24

Take a tour of the downtown decor to view all of the contestants in this year's Holiday Window Display Contest and vote for your favorite on DTSB's Facebook page. Voting will start December 6th and the winner will be announced December 24th on DTSB's social media. This year's entries include:

Ali on the Boulevard


Idle Hours

Lovely Twisted Things

The Music Village

Specials on Dining, Retail & Services


Christmas Tree & Wreath Sales

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Gridiron

The Downtown South Bend annual Christmas Tree & Wreath Sale is back again this year, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofit groups.  Relay for Life is the nonprofit for December 3 - 5 but there are still opportunities for other nonprofit groups during December 10-12. Email Kylie at if your group is interested.


 Christmas Tree & Wreath Sales will take place in downtown South Bend the following dates and times: 

Fridays – Dec. 3, 10 • 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays – Dec. 4, 11 • 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
Sundays – Dec. 5, 12 • 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  

10% off at Lovely Twisted Things

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

439 S. Michigan St.

Welcome to our newest First Fridays participant - Lovely Twisted Things! They offer a whimsical and eclectic mix of home decor, fashion accessories, beauty products, and even some sweet treats, all supplied by over 30 local makers and vendors. They will have a First Fridays special of 10% off.

Friends of the Library Book Sale 

12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
333 S. Michigan St.

The Friends of the Library Book Sale is back open!  Enjoy amazing bargains on books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, and more for both kids and adults from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Howard Holiday Market

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Howard Park

The Howard Holiday Market is a new unique, festive, open air holiday marketplace, open on multiple weekends through mid-December. Enjoy live entertainment, festive food, locally handcrafted goods, and adult beverages to sip on while you shop the market. 

20% off at Idle Hours Bookshop

11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

212 S. Michigan St.

Idle Hours Bookshop will be featuring 20% off all weekend December 3rd & 4th.

Holiday Open House at Bend Yoga

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

321 S. Main St.

Bend Yoga will be having a Holiday Open House December 3rd from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and December 4th from 9:00 a.m. to noon, featuring a Fox & Robin pop-up shop. Stop by and try the Christmas Tree Pose Battle or the Snug in their Beds Savasana Competition, plus other Christmas-themed yoga fun. 

They will also be offering a free sticker with any purchase and a free tote bag with any purchase over $75.

TakeOut 25 Downtown South Bend


Join the TakeOut 25 Downtown South Bend Facebook Group to discover new dishes and restaurants downtown. We encourage you to join the group post pictures of your downtown carryout and in-person dining experiences.  



Baker’s Bar & Grill

123 N. St. Joseph St. 
Buy one appetizer, get one 50% off.


713 E. Jefferson Blvd.
$4 pints every First Fridays; also featuring a First Saturdays special each month: any large 2 topping pizza, an order of breadsticks, and a pitcher of pop (or a 2 liter on carry out orders) for only $22 plus tax.


131 S. Michigan St.
Get one 14″ 1-topping pizza for $12

Chicory Cafe

105 E. Jefferson Blvd.
$1 .50 scoops of gelato and 16 oz. Hurricanes for $5

Edible Arrangements

123 S. Michigan St.
50% off a box of dipped fruit (pick-up)

Hair Crafters

602 Lincoln Way East
20% off for new guests and 10% off all retail

Ironhand WIne Bar

1025 Northside Blvd.

20% off bottles of Henri ​

South Bend Chocolate Cafe

122 S. Michigan St.
2 for $20 any crunch/pretzel combo

Studebaker Grill

620 W. Washington St.
1/2 price appetizers In the Studebaker Lounge


Unique Boutique International

122 S. Michigan St.

50% off the entire store 




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