December First Fridays: Downtown for the Holidays

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, craft activities, roving costumed characters like The Grinch, Rudolph, Stu, and Swoop, plus live reindeer, double dutch with the ND Jump Rope Club, and more!
Santa will be arriving around 6:30 p.m. to light the tree, followed by a fireworks show. Santa's House will be open for visitors after that, approximately 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
Free cookie decorating will be taking place in the DoubleTree atrium from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. that evening, and 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 monthlong celebration of the holidays in downtown South Bend. For full details on the over 75 events and performances taking place throughout December, click here.

As always, Transpo will be offering FREE shuttle rides on one of their new CNG buses from 5:00 to 9:00 pm., and their new shuttle route includes the South Bend Museum of Art! Click here for a map of the new shuttle route. Transpo shuttle service will pass each stop approximately every 15 minutes. 

The shuttle service now has First Fridays Tour Guides! They will tell you all about the different activities and promotions that are taking place downtown at First Fridays, as well give general info about the downtown businesses, mixed with historical tidbits and fun facts. Grab a seat on the new First Fridays Transpo Tour, and enjoy the informative ride! 

If you're interested in being a First Fridays Tour Guide, click here for more information.

Entertainment & Activities

Tree Lighting Ceremony & Santa's Arrival

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

The annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at the Gridiron with entertainment starting at 5:00 p.m. Enjoy live music by the Valleyaires, craft activities, live reindeer, a letter-writing station for notes to Santa, costumed characters, double dutch with the ND Jump Rope Club, and more as we await Santa's arrival. The South Bend Chocolate Cafe will be also be selling hot chocolate out on the Gridiron. Once Santa arrives, the Gridiron tree will be lit and fireworks will fill the sky.   

Visits with Santa

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Gridiron

Santa's House will open up for vistors directly following the fireworks show, at approximately 7:00 p.m. Bring your camera for free photos with Santa in his red house by the South Bend Chocolate Cafe. If the line is long on the night of the Tree Lighting, and you want to go do other First Fridays activities instead, don't worry - you will have chances to visit Santa throughout the month of December (see hours below.)

Fridays – Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 • 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays – Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23 • 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
Sundays – Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24 • 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  
Wednesday – Dec. 20 • 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  
Thursday – Dec. 21 • 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  

Free photos with the Grinch at South Bend Chocolate Cafe

6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
122 S. Michigan St.

Visit the Grinch this First Fridays at the South Bend Chocolate Cafe and bring your camera for free photos. The Grinch and Rudolph will be at the Chocolate Cafe on alternating weekends throughout December, on the same schedule for Santa's House & Workshop (see above.)

Musician Marcus Clingaman will also be playing a free show from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Also take advantage of their First Fridays special of 2 for $17 any crunch/pretzel combo.  The Council Oak Woodcarvers will aso be at the Chocolate Cafe this First Fridays, in the Rockne Room, doing carving demonstrations and selling their handmade Christmas ornaments.

Free Cookie Decorating

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

Enjoy free cookie decorating across from the Gridiron in the DoubleTree atrium. Sidewalk Strings string quartet will be providing free entertainment from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., Starbucks will have a hot chocolate stand, and Baker's Bar & Grill will have some holiday themed adult beverages. Cookie decorating will continue throughout the month of December, but will move to the South Bend Museum of Art. Click here for schedule. 

Holiday in the Gallery

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Join the South Bend Museum of Art for an annual tradition of art, music, food and festivities to celebrate the season!
*Reception for the SBMA Student/Faculty Exhibition, with awards announced at 6:00 pm.
*Musical entertainment by the John Adams High School Show Choir at 6:30 p.m.
*See The Funnies: Vintage Comics 1940s-1960s, The Best American Comics Selections 2014-2017, On The Move: A Selection of Contemporary Animations, 2017 Student Faculty Exhibition, and works of our Permanent Collection.
*Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts in The Dot Shop, featuring art for everyday living created by local artists.
*Refreshments sponsored by The Art League

Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides

7:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Pick up & Drop off by South Bend Chocolate Cafe

Dream Coach Carriages will be offering horse-drawn sleigh rides from 7:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets will go on sale beginning at 7:00 p.m. by the South Bend Chocolate Cafe. The cost is just $20 per 15 minute sleigh ride, which can accommodate up to four passengers.

Holiday Entertainment

5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Throughout Downtown

Enjoy free holiday entertainment throught the evening!

5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - Barbershop Music by The Valleyaries
The Gridiron

7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. - Jingle Jams Concert by The Angles
The Gridiron

7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - TMV Sidewalk Strings String Quartet
DoubleTree atrium

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. - Caroling by Children's Music Workshop

A Merry Evening at the Plaza

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
304 S. Main St.

The main branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library is hosting a "Merry Evening at the Plaza" this First Fridays. Warm up with hot chocolate from Chicory Cafe and sing along with carolers from The Music Village as the library celebrates the holiday season by lighting and decorating their tree. Families welcome.

Annual Holiday Open House at Dismas House

3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
521 S. St. Joseph St.

Dismas House will be holding their annual Holiday Open House this First Fridays, with free holiday cookies, punch, tours of their 120 year old house, photos with Santa, music, and more.  Plus you will be able to purchase holiday gifts for good causes, as Dismas Designs and other nonprofits will be selling jewelry, crafts, and other items. Plus they will be selling their jewelry and crafts. Other not for profits will also be selling their items. Dismas House is a nonprofit organization founded in 1974 to provide transitional housing and support services to men and women who have been recently released from incarceration. 

Memories of Motown at the Morris

6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
211 N. Michigan St.

Bring the entire family to this free event to celebrate Motown the Musical coming to the Morris Performing Arts Center. Stay toasty warm with a hot cocoa bar, entertain the kids with craft projects, and enjoy live music of South Bend favorites on the Jon R Hunt plaza! A non-perishable canned food drive will be taking place on the plaza as well, benefiting the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.  You could win tickets to the Sunday show of Motown! A drawing for free tickets to the Sunday show will take place during the event, and everyone in attendance will receive a coupon for 30% off tickets to see the show. This event is being hosted by the Morris Performing Arts Center and South Bend Venues Parks and Arts.

Latin Dance at WXYZ Bar 

8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
111 N. Main St.

South Bend Latin Dance - the same group that you see in Studebaker Plaza during the summer First Fridays - have moved to their new indoor First Fridays location at the WXYZ Bar in the new Aloft Hotel. This geat new South Bend venue offers a beautiful welcoming environment, full bar, food options, and more. Dance to salsa, bachata, merengue and all the usual groove-gettin' Latin jams. All ages, $5 cover, everyone welcome. Lesson at 8 p.m. followed by open dancing; and head to Cinco 5 afterward to continue the party!

Latin Dance Party at Cinco 5

10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
112 W. Colfax Ave.

The Latin dancing continues at Cinco 5, where they will be playing bachata, salsa, cumbia, merengue, and more. No Cover; 21+ only.

Double-dutch with the Notre Dame Jump Rope Club

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Washington Street

Kids can enjoy some double-dutch fun with the Notre Dame Jump Rope Club from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Washington Street, which will be closed to traffic for the evening.

Roasted Chestnuts & Kennedy's Kitchen at Fiddler's Hearth

5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
129 N. Michigan St.

Stop by Fiddler’s Hearth for some complimentary roasted chestnuts. Kennedy’s Kitchen offers up Irish music starting at 9:00pm.

Rock 'n' Folk Mash-up and Farewell Jam

9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. 
129 N. Michigan St.

Vegetable Buddies will be mixing folk with rock this First Fridays, with three South Bend acts plus special guests - Paul Erdman, Marty & The Martinizers, My Favorite Monster, Anna Miles, and Scott Burns.  Come out early for a great dinner and to make sure you get a good seat. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. with a 9:00 p.m. showtime. 21+, $10 cover.

Don Savoie at Chicory Cafe

8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
105 E. Jefferson Blvd.

Don Savoie will be performing a free concert at Chicory Cafe from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Also enjoy Chicory's First Fridays special of $1.50 one scoop gelato, and 16 oz. Hurricanes for $6.00.

Live Music at LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern

5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
115 W. Colfax Ave.

LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern will have two free live shows this First Fridays - Brian Crant (acoustic) from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Edge of Midnight (blues, pop, and rock) from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Also take advantage of their First Fridays drink specials - $4 beer specials and $5 cocktail of the day.

A Christmas Story at The South Bend Civic Theatre

7:30 p.m. 
403 N. Main St.

This holiday classic debuts on stage at the South Bend Civic Theatre this First Fridays, and runs through December23. Tickets are $22 and can ber purchased online here

Historic Hoffman Hotel Tours

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
120 W. LaSalle Ave. 

The Hoffman Hotel Apartments will offer free tours of their renovated historic apartment spaces, along with free refreshments. The tours will be given every half hour (5:00, 5:30, 6:00, etc.)

The Jacksonian at The Acting Ensemble

7:30 p.m.
217 S. Michigan St.

The Acting Ensemble will debut their new play this First Fridays - The Jacksonian. Set in December, 1964, in Jackson, Mississippi. Colored lights, a decorated tree, and a murder is about to take place. Beth Henley's darkly funny drama is peculiar, perverse, and never boring. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 for seniors and students.

Specials on Retail & Services

European Holiday Market at Purple Porch

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
123 N. Hill St.

Celebrate First Friday with festive food, drink, and local products at the Purple Porch Co-op. Enjoy gingerbread cookie decorating, spiced wine, hot cider (kid friendly), and unique gift items from our selection of local producers including: Soapy Gnome, Naturavila Skin Care Products, Violet Sky Chocolate, Made For You by Vania Lyn, and Fishlake Organic.

20% off Children's Books at Idle Hours

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
212 S. Michigan St.

Idle Hours Bookshop will have a special sale to help you be Santa, with 20% off all children's books!

Painting with Rudolph at The Pigeon & The Hen Pottery

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
217 S. Michigan St.

Come to The Pigeon & The Hen Pottery to paint holiday-themed pottery with Rudolph.

Open House at Boulanger's Barberie 

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
715 E. Jefferson Blvd.

Stop by Boulanger's Barberie for their Open House featuring a detail demo at 6:30 p.m. and a hot lather shave demo at 7:00 p.m. Enter to win a complimentary straight razor shave.

Gift Card Sale at Woochi

5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
123 W. Washington St.

Get an additional $20 gift certificate while purchasing a $100 gift card today. In store and online. 

Tree & Wreath Sales

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

Purchase fresh-cut local trees from J&K Tree Farm of North Liberty. They will be set up on the east side of The Gridiron. Click here for a price list and to see the other dates and times they will be in downtown this December.

Art Shows at CircaArts

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
528 E. Colfax

CircaArts will be hosting the Northern Indiana Pastel Society, who will have prints and cards of their work for sale. Carpenter Gothic will also have their vintage Chrismas pieces, and Vintage Twill clothing and jewelry will be 20% off. 

Giving Back First Fridays at Ali's

10 00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
722 E. Jefferson Blvd.

Ali on the Boulevard will be donating a portion of all First Fridays sales to Pet Refuge.

Friends of the Library Book Sale 

4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
333 S. Michigan 

Enjoy amazing bargains on books, CDs, magazines, and more for both kids and adults at the Friends of the Library's First Fridays Book Sale from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Free Masks for Children at Bombay

5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
122 S. Michigan St.

Children can receive a free mask from Bombay International this First Fridays.

Food & Drink Specials

$1.99 Santa & Grinch Smoothies at Edible Arrangements

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
123 S. Michigan St.

Edible Arrangements will be running a special on $1.99 Santa (strawberry) and Grinch (pineapple) smoothies, in addition to their normal First Fridays special of 1/2 priced dipped chocolate boxes. 

New Beer Release at South Bend Brew Werks

5:00 p.m. to 12:00 am.
216 S. Michigan St.

South Bend Brew Werks will be debuting the new Hoppy Zacca IPA, and will have a chicken pot pie stew as their food special.

Surf & Turf Special at LaSalle Grill

5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
115 W. Colfax Ave.

LaSalle Grill will be offering a date night surf & turf special of steak & lobster tail dinner, two for $99. They will also have a specialty cocktail - LaSalle Christmas Punch - for $6.



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 $19.95 plus tax. 

Ben's Pretzels

122 S. Michigan St.
3 pretzels for $10 (not including sauce).


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

Chicory Cafe

105 E. Jefferson Blvd.
Live music, $1.50 one scoop gelato, and 16 oz. Hurricanes for $6.00

Edible Arrangements

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

South Bend Brew Werks

216 S. Michigan St.
New seasonal beer release 

South Bend Chocolate Cafe

122 S. Michigan St.
2 for $17 any crunch/pretzel combo

Therapeutic Indulgence

903 E. Jefferson
20% off gift cards

Tippecanoe Place

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

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