A Christmas trip back in time

Posted on Oct 25 2019 in Travel
Amish buggies in winter at Yoder's store in Shipshewana, Indiana on cloudy day in front of windmill
Amish buggies in winter at Yoder’s store in Shipshewana, Indiana, on cloudy day in front of windmill

The simplicity of a “Currier and Ives Christmas” may seem long ago and far away. But it can be as near as your breath in the frosty air before you if you plan to spend just a little time in Shipshewana this holiday season.

The northern Indiana town and the surrounding LaGrange County, home to third largest Amish community in the nation and a large community of Mennonites, harken back to another time and welcome visitors with warmth and hospitality. Out on the backroads, visitors will find many home- and farm-based Amish cottage businesses, foods, and crafts. In town, a host of events with holiday themes are planned.

“Shipshewana is that wonderful combination of feeling like you’ve been transported back in time, while still enjoying modern day conveniences,” says Kelly Lynch, LaGrange County REMC communications specialist and a lifelong area resident. “During the holidays, it’s the perfect destination for relaxing and reconnecting with family and friends. Just remember to watch for buggies while on the search for those Amish fry pies!”

NOV. 9: Lighting of Shipshewana Light Parade

Start your holiday season with a “click, click, click” of lights and St. Nick. The lighting starts at dusk (6 p.m.). Come earlier for all-day activities for kids and families. Santa will be located at the Davis Mercantile from 4-6 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m.

NOV. 8-9, NOV. 21-DEC. 29: Lights of Joy

More than 2 million LED Christmas lights will create a mile-long symphony of various scenes in this drive-through experience at the Shipshewana RV Park. Admission fees per vehicle will apply and hours will vary.

DEC. 7: Kids’ Day Santa Comes To Town Holiday Bazaar

A day of fun activities will run from 10 a.m-3 p.m., and Santa Claus returns from noon to 3 p.m. at Farmstead Inn Expo Barn. The Ship Chic Craft Vintage Holiday Bazaar is a curated indoor handmade and vintage market featuring vendors who specialize in antiques, crafts, artisan goods, home and garden décor, baked goods, and so much more; 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

DEC. 27-28: 12th Annual Ice Festival

See teams of carvers creating themed sculptures from 10 am-8 pm at businesses throughout town on the 27th. Then on the 28th, the Wolfe Building parking lot will be the location for the ice carving competition (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and the 2019 Chili Cook-off (11 a.m. until “they run out”).

Social courtesies to keep in mind when visiting Amish country

The Amish community’s simple way of life is the reason many people visit — to observe, learn about, pay tribute to, and purchase items. The Shipshewana/LaGrange County Visitors Center asks folks to keep these things in mind when visiting.

Please slow down and take extra caution as you travel. Horse-drawn buggies follow the same road rules as motorized vehicles and have a right to be there.

Please don’t honk at the horses pulling buggies. The sound easily could spook the horses.

Please honor their culture and do not take photos of their faces. As part of their religious heritage, Amish believe photographs are “graven images.” 

Please DO stop in at their home businesses on the Amish backroads. You’ll see many signs on the county roads advertising these small “cottage businesses.” When you see a sign, you’re automatically invited to stop in.

Please plan your schedule accordingly. Most shops are closed on Sunday so the Amish can honor the Sabbath with a day of rest and spend uninterrupted time with their family.