Irwin Gardens hosting visit to Columbus

The Inn at Irwin Gardens is fully booked this weekend.

Santa and Mrs. Claus have checked in. So have Santa’s elves.

And for two days this week, thanks to the magic of Christmas, they’re converting the bed-and-breakfast inn into Santa’s Workshop — inviting the whole city to pay them a visit.

The former 13,000-square-foot boyhood home of industrialist J. Irwin Miller, a 1910 Edwardian mansion, is open to the general public Friday and Saturday during “Christmas at the North Pole.”

Besides Santa’s Workshop, where guests can visit the toy-making studio, they also will see elves at work at wrapping stations, plus the Shipping and Receiving and Mission Control departments. Mrs. Claus will be in the dining room preparing treats and offering advice on recipes.

Santa will invite kids to pay him a visit inside his private office. And as a bonus, parents who call ahead are invited to share with Santa their children’s names and wishlists before arrival.

So planning ahead and calling ahead ought to be on every parent’s to-do list.

Many visitors who waited to purchase tickets until the last minute last year had to stand outside for up to two hours before being able to start their half-hour tour, said Brittany Snowden, Inn at Irwin Gardens events coordinator.

About 140 people toured the Inn last year, with half of them making reservations early.

“A lot of people are anxious to see the inside of the building,” managing innkeeper Sarah Johnston said. “In fact, the first year we did this, so many people showed up that we had to turn people away at the door.”

Based on the high interest, this year’s tour has been expanded to two days, with the time doubled to an hour in length.

While the event is kid friendly, Johnston said, it is not specifically geared toward children. In fact, adults looking for the spirits of Christmas can visit a cash bar on the veranda overlooking the expansive Irwin Gardens.

Hot, non-alcoholic beverages also will be for sale. Guests are invited to bring their cameras, with non-flash photography permitted during the tour.

If you go

Christmas at the North Pole

When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Inn at Irwin Gardens, 608 Fifth St., Columbus.

Price: $10 per adult, $5 per child under 10 years old

Reservations: To reserve tickets, call 812-376-3663 or visit the inn in downtown Columbus near the Bartholomew County Public Library.