Tree Lighting Ceremony
& Santa's Arrival

The Gridiron*

Friday, December 3 • 5:00 — 6:30 p.m.

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—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.

December First Fridays: Downtown for the Holidays

Friday, December 3 • 5:00 — 9:00 p.m.

Downtown businesses will be hosting activities throughout downtown, including holiday open houses, specials on food, drink, and retail, and more!

* The Gridiron is located next to the South Bend Chocolate Cafe.

Visits with Santa
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The Gridiron
​December 3 — 24

Look for the little red and white house located next to the South Bend Chocolate Café (at the 100 Block of S. Michigan St.). Santa’s House is a great place to spend one-on-one time with the “big guy.” Don’t forget to bring your wish list and a camera!

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, and can be made by clicking the "Visit Santa" button below. 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.

​Bring your own camera and take photos of Santa with your loved ones. Visits with Santa are free!

Each child who visits Santa will receive an “I Believe” sticker which will enable them to receive trinkets and discounts throughout downtown South Bend, including a  complimentary chocolate bar from the South Bend Chocolate Cafe. Click here for a list of the 2021  "I Believe" promotions.

NOTE - We will be putting cookie decorating on hold again this year out of caution, but candy canes will be distributed for Santa's visitors, and Santa letter writing will also take place by Santa's house this year with individually-packaged crayons available.


2021 Santa Hours


Fridays – Dec. 3, 10. 17

5:00 p.m.. to 9:00 p.m.
(Santa’s house will open Dec. 3 right after Tree Lighting Ceremony, approximately 6:30 p.m.; additionally Santa visits will pause for an hour on Dec. 17 as Santa takes part in the Holiday Light Parade from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)

Saturdays – Dec. 4, 11, 18
12:00 p.m. to 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 – Dec. 5, 12, 19
1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Thursday – Dec. 23

12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Friday – Dec. 24
112:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Throughout downtown

December 3 — 24

View holiday trees decorated by local sponsors and organizations! Vote for your favorite on DTSB's Facebook page. The winner will be announced December 24 on DTSB's social media. Click the link below to vote for your favorite tree!
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 4th and the winner will be announced December 24th on DTSB's social media. This year's entries include:

Ali on the Boulevard


Idle Hours Bookshop

Lovely Twisted Things

South Blend Cafe

The Music Village

Tree & Wreath Sale

The Gridiron

First two weekends of December 5:00—9:00 p.m.

The Downtown South Bend annual Christmas Tree & Wreath Sale is back again this year, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofit groups. Christmas Tree & Wreath Sales will take place in downtown South Bend the following dates and times: 

Fridays – Dec. 3, 10 • 5:00—9:00 p.m.
Saturdays – Dec. 4, 11 • 12:00—6:00 p.m. 

Sundays – Dec. 5, 12  1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Gingerbread Village
Courtyard by Marriott lobby
Same dates and times as Visits with Santa
The 2021 Gingerbread Village will be located in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott. View the entries and vote for your favorite!
Holiday Light Parade
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Jefferson Blvd.
December 17

The fourth annual DTSB Holiday Light Parade will take place on Jefferson Blvd. Friday, December 17th from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The event has been rescheduled due to predicted rain for December 10th.


Masks will be recommended and attendees are asked to social distance apart from anyone not in their group.


Do you have a float or walking unit you would like to enter into the parade?  Fill out the online application here. The application deadline is Monday, December 13th.



Howard Park

November 26


Mark your calendar for the first annual Winter Open at Howard Park! Celebrate the official opening of ice skating season with an entire day of FREE activities for the whole family. The park will be bustling with holiday excitement.

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Oliver Mansion

December 2 and 5

Experience the joy the wonder of the Yuletide season with the History Museum and Christmas at Copshaholm. Take a self-guided tour of the 38-room Oliver Mansion, decorated for the holidays and featuring beautiful Christmas trees, festooned fireplace mantels, and festive tabletops throughout the historic house.


Four Winds Field

December 4  10:00 a.m.—2:00 p.m.

This fun family event will include a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, free hot chocolate and cookies, holiday music, games, an ornament decorating contest, and more!
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In front of Morris Performing Arts Center

November 28 • 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Community members are invited to gather in front of the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend around sundown to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. The ceremony with community leaders begins at 6:00 p.m. Kids will also be downtown selling Hanukkah items at their shi'shuk market. The Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley will be in attendance offering free jelly-filled doughnuts to ring in the festival of light.


Visit the Morris Performing Arts Center website to see all of their holiday offerings, including the Southold Nutcracker, holiday performances by the South Bend Symphony, Home for the Holidays, and Mannheim Steamroller.

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Check out the December offerings at South Bend Civic Theater, including an original CIVIC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, and North Pole Direct With Santa.

Howard Park

November 26 — December 12

Visit​ this 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. 

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Take advantage of Howard Park’s 16,000 square foot ice trail and pond, open six days a week throughout the cold weather skating season. 


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