Here are some of the more interesting events, deals, websites and other travel tidbits that have come across our desk recently:
•The Indianapolis Zoo touts Christmas at the Zoo, its holiday lighting event, as the first in the country, dating way back to 1967. This year’s version begins Nov. 23 and runs until Dec. 30, though it’s closed Dec. 24-25. There will be special lighting displays throughout the zoo. The highlight will be Santa’s Village, including Santa’s Study and Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, the chance to see a few of his reindeer, holiday sweets, a holiday shop and more. https://tinyurl.com/yb4b4ktc
•If a trip to Germany’s Christmas markets isn’t in the cards, consider a visit to the much closer Carmel, Ind., which will be opening its Christkindlmarkt Nov. 17. Open Wednesday through Sunday until Dec. 23, except for Thanksgiving Day, it will have German food and gifts for sale, a toy-making demonstration by German toy craftsman Christian Warner, performances by an alphorn group and an ice-skating rink. www.carmelchristkindlmarkt.com
•Downtown Rockford will be hopping Nov. 24 as the annual Stroll on State kicks off the holiday season. A parade steps off at 3 p.m. and will feature floats and eight large-scale helium balloons. Other activities include rides on horse-drawn wagons, live entertainment at a variety of locations, ice sculptures, hot chocolate and s’mores stations, vendors and the official lighting of the Rockford Christmas tree. www.strollonstate.com
•The popular Santa Cruise on Geneva Lake will begin Nov. 23 and continue through the end of the year, with departures from Williams Bay, Wis. The cruise to Santa’s North Pole hideaway passes lighted Christmas displays on shore, and on Fridays and Saturdays the last cruise of the night is for adults only. There are multiple sailings each day, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. www.santacruiselakegeneva.com
•“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical” will be staged Nov. 20-25 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee. Several hotels are offering specials in conjunction with the play. There are both matinee and evening performances during the weekend but no show on Thanksgiving Day. https://tinyurl.com/y9bt9d3h
•The 33rd annual Festival of Trees will be held in the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport, Iowa, on Nov. 15-25. The event showcases more than 150 designer trees, as well as holiday rooms, wreaths, fireplace mantles and gingerbread village creations. Popular attractions from previous years include the Festival Express Train, Reindeer Games Children’s Activity Center, Gingerbread Village and Treat Shoppe. The main festival begins Nov. 17, but there are special ticketed events that are held the 15th and 16th. Among those are a beer and wine tasting and Teddy Bear Tea. www.qcfestivaloftrees.com
•The Nickel Plate Express, a historic train that provides excursions between Atlanta and Noblesville, Ind., will be running its Reindeer Ride Express on weekends in November and December starting Nov. 23. The train will be lighted up in a Christmas motif, and there will be caroling and a visit from Santa. https://tinyurl.com/yd5y8soc
•The holiday season gets into full swing Nov. 24 with the Parade of Lights in downtown Champaign. The parade steps off at 6 p.m., but there are a variety of activities in the afternoon, including visits with Santa, horse and carriage rides and live entertainment. https://tinyurl.com/y7z4ac9v
•Detroit’s Woodward Avenue is the place to be the morning of Nov. 22 for the 92nd anniversary of America’s Thanksgiving Parade. The 3-mile-long parade begins at 8:45 a.m. at Kirby Street and Woodward Avenue and includes floats, larger-than-life character balloons, marching bands and specialty groups like the Distinguished Clown Corps and Big Head Corps. www.theparade.org
•More than a million lights create Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Scheduled Nov. 17 through Jan. 1, the event features outdoor light displays, holiday drinks and treats, and the popular Gardenland Express Holiday Flower & Train Show. Advance ticket purchase is recommended. https://tinyurl.com/y77ubgkc
•Elk Horn and Kimballton in southwest Iowa celebrate their Danish heritage during Julefest, Nov. 23-24. There will be live entertainment on the streets of both towns and special events such as the old-fashioned Julemarket at the historic 168-year-old Danish Windmill in Elk Horn. The Museum of Danish America, also in Elk Horn, will be open for tours. https://tinyurl.com/ydg8acvy
•Noble Park in Paducah, Ky., will be getting a holiday vibe when Christmas in the Park launches Nov. 22. Half a million twinkling bulbs will set a holiday theme, with the display running until Dec. 31. https://tinyurl.com/ybc7m5dl
Deals and websites listed here have been checked for availability as of press time. Listings are not endorsements. Send tips at least a month in advance to ChicagoTribTravel@gmail.com.
Phil Marty is a freelancer.