Indianapolis EventsIn addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit.
The city's signature event, the Indianapolis 500 draws more than 300,000 auto racing fans to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend.
Preceding the race is the Indianapolis 500 Festival , a monthlong celebration that includes a festival queen contest, a children's day, a gala ball and a grand parade. The event kicks off the first weekend in May with the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon , considered the nation’s largest half-marathon. Runners line up at West and Washington streets, heading northwest past the zoo for a full lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and back to downtown. Memorial Day weekend begins with a stirring remembrance for fallen veterans at Monument Circle. On Saturday, thousands line the 2-mile parade route along Pennsylvania and Meridian streets to see floats, marching bands and giant balloons.
The race itself is a little like Mardi Gras—a rowdy street party starts on Georgetown Street the night before and lasts into the wee hours. Fans who've waited in line all night are rewarded with a prime parking spot when the gate opens at 4 a.m. From here, it's one big tailgate party in the 224-acre infield—and one of the biggest days in motorsports.
There’s more on the city's events calendar than just Indy 500 festivities, of course. For starters, there’s June’s Vintage Indiana Wine & Food Festival in Military Park, where you can attend workshops on cooking and wine pairings and taste free samples from wineries across the state. Manicotti, antipasto, spumoni, cappuccino—no one goes hungry at the Italian Street Festival , a 2-day June event featuring traditional food, music and dances. In the evening, a religious procession leads to the steps of the Holy Rosary Church.
Indianapolis continues its celebration of cultural heritage in June with the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival , showcasing the works of more than 150 artists from 60 tribes across the United States and Canada. Dancers, storytellers, craft demonstrators and food vendors are part of the fun at the 2-day event; museum admission is included. In mid-July, the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration highlights African-American achievements, commerce, artists and culture. More than 300,000 people attend this 11-day event at the Indiana Convention Center.
Honoring the state's agricultural heritage since 1852, the Indiana State Fair is a perennial August favorite. Here's all that's great about the Midwest fair: midway rides, livestock judging, harness racing, fiddle contests, homemade food, celebrity shows. The fair is famous for its cream puffs, but don't miss the deep-fried Oreos. The 4.5-acre cattle pavilion—where you can also see llamas, alpacas and pygmy goats—is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
August also brings the Indianapolis Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Church in nearby Carmel.
September has two popular ethnic celebrations: Oktoberfest at German Park and Indy's Irish Fest in Military Park. The Penrod Arts Fair , held at Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art) on the first Saturday after Labor Day, is a festival of arts and crafts. Live entertainment—including opera, theater, ballet and mime—is provided by Indianapolis' performing artists. For 10 days in mid-September, the sultry strains of jazz, blues, funk and soul fill Opti Park and venues around town during the Indy Jazz Fest , which features performances by regional and national artists.
In late September or early October, the Circle City Classic , one of the largest bowl games between historically African-American colleges, is played at Lucas Oil Stadium and is complemented by events like a cabaret, a comedy jam, a tailgate party and a parade.
The Indy International Festival each November at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is the state's largest and most diverse celebration of cultural treasures, people and traditions from around the globe.
After Thanksgiving, the Circle of Lights marks the illumination of the Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument, transforming it into the world's tallest Christmas tree. White River State Park is decked out for Christmas at the Zoo , with some 700,000 twinkling lights and more than 180 animated characters and scenes.
See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.
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Indiana's statewide sales tax is 7 percent. Counties may impose a 1 to 2 percent food and beverage tax. Restaurant tax is 9 percent, lodgings tax is 3 to 10 percent and rental car tax is 6 percent.
Time and Temperature
Indiana University Hospital, (800) 248-1199; St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, (317) 338-2345; and Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital, (317) 880-0000.
200 S. Capitol Ave., Suite 300 Indianapolis, IN 46225. Phone:(317)262-3000 or (800)323-4639
The city is served by
Hertz, (317) 243-9321 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
Passenger train service is available through Amtrak, which departs from Union Station, 350 S. Illinois St. For details phone (800) 872-7245.
Greyhound Lines Inc. bus connections can be made at 350 S. Illinois St.; phone (317) 267-3074 or (800) 231-2222.
The major cab company is Yellow Cab, (317) 487-7777. The average fare is $3 per pickup and $2 per mile.
IndyGo operates 29 city bus routes serving downtown and most of Marion County. The fare is $1.75; 85c (ages 0-18 and 65+). A day pass is $4; $2 (ages 0-18 and 65+). Multiday and multi-trip passes also are available.