Whether you have friends and family visiting for Thanksgiving Day Weekend, or you’re looking for something to do to get out of the house, we have the list for you! We’ve gathered LOTS of things to do Thanksgiving weekend in Columbus besides eating turkey and shopping (though we included a few unique shopping experiences that are good for just browsing).
Check out our featured events, plus a list of every free event we have on the calendar from Wednesday, November 24, through Sunday, November 28, 2021.
We also included a few experiences that aren’t free, but are great if you want to splurge and show out of town guests a special holiday experience, like Wildlights at the Zoo and more!
Thanksgiving is a popular day to dine out! We’ve gathered a big list of places to dine in Columbus on Thanksgiving. We also have some options of to-go and prepared heat and eat holiday meals on the list!
Fully Cooked Thanksgiving Meals
Don’t want to cook OR dine out for Thanksgiving? We have a huge list of places to get a fully cooked Thanksgiving meal that you can just reheat and eat.
Annual Lighting of the Licking County Courthouse on Friday, November 26 at 6pm. Enjoy a festive holiday evening of entertainment including a variety of musical guests, carols, and Santa Claus!
Come early for the Holiday Bazaar at the Canal Market District from 3 pm – 6:30 pm. Shop with over 40 vendors and pick up some Christmas gifts and amazing baked goods. Food trucks will be on site to dine from before the Courthouse lighting, or dine at one of the local restaurants.
Friday, November 26. Celebrate the season with holiday activities for the whole family and welcome the holidays to Historic Downtown Urbana, Ohio.
- 10am: Shop downtown, most shops open
- 11am–8pm: Food trucks and street vendors open
- 11am–7pm: DJ–K Stock will be playing holiday music all day long
- 4pm-8pm: Carriage and trolley rides. (These stop between 5:30pm-7pm to begin the parade and bring Santa to visit Oxner’s General Store.)
- 5:30pm: Tree Lighting in Legacy Park
- 6:30pm: Parade begins
- 7:30pm: Santa arrives at Oxner’s General Store
Sunday, November 28, 2021 Experience the sights and sounds of the holiday season, including, horse-drawn carriage rides, live music and a photo opportunity with Santa. Local retailers will be offering special promotions and sidewalk sales from noon – 5 pm.
After the Holiday Open House, head to Southeast Village Green for the annual tree lighting. The program begins at 5:30 with carols and an appearance by Santa Clause to light the tree.
Santa will be available for free contact-free photos from November 6 – December 24; hours vary based on day. A 4×6 studio quality photo with Santa is free (package options are available), and the set and Santa are authentic and festive! The store is fun to explore, and they are open on Thanksgiving and the day after for select hours. Reservations are required in advance.
All Oakland Nursery locations have special holiday fun on weekends from November 22-December 15, 2021, including live music, seasonal delights, Santa, holiday treats, and more!
All Season. Drive around Columbus and enjoy the display of lights in various neighborhoods – for free! Check out the Christmas Lights Finder website to search near your neighborhood – or use it to take a tour around Columbus! Read about some of our favorite options below!
Flying Horse Farms “flips the switch” on “Light Up Camp” on Thanksgiving, November 25, and is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening through December 26, including Christmas Eve and Christmas. The half-mile drive through the property will feature festively decorated camp buildings and showcase a 10-minute animated light show at the center of camp. All visitors must remain in their cars for the entire event.
The light display will include more than 8,000 individual bulbs and more than 3 miles of lights. The event is free, but donations are highly appreciated and suggested. Donations are used for camps and programming to allow children with severe medical conditions to enjoy a camp experience.
Columbus Commons Holiday Lights: November 19-January 2 from dusk until to 11 pm. Check out more than 400,000 LED lights dazzle Columbus Commons park, thanks to a generous contribution from American Electric Power.
Festive Fridays on December 3, 10, 17 will be a little extra festive from 5-9 pm, with free hot chocolate and free carousel rides. Plus, you’ll catch musicians roaming around the park so you can sing along to your favorite seasonal songs as you stroll.
Lights at the Scioto Mile: November 24 through January 3, 2021. Downtown Columbus with be lit with more than 200,000 lights for the Holiday Light Display. This spectacular display will span Columbus Commons, the Lazarus Building and along the Scioto Mile.
Easton Town Center Grand Illumination: Easton is beautiful during the holidays starting on November 19! From the giant tree to the train display, and the lights strung up everywhere! Walk around, or take a horse drawn carriage ride check out the holiday lights of Easton – it’s beautiful during the season. Santa is back too!
The season at Easton kicks off on November 19 with the Grand Illumination.
Lights of Glenross: November 25 – January 1. Glenross subdivision in Delaware and has around 250 houses with light displays choreographed to Christmas music played on 94.1FM. The displays will run from 5-9pm Sunday-Thursday and 5-11pm Friday & Saturday. Check out the website at www.lightsofglenross.com or like Lights of Glenross on facebook for more info.
Dazzling Christmas Lights in Westerville’s Annehurst neighborhood: November 26 – December 31, 2021. Display features 100,000 Christmas Lights that dance to music. The show is every night (weather permitting) from 6:00pm – 10:00pm Sunday thru Thursday and 6:00pm – 11:00pm Friday and Saturday. 649 Old Coach Rd. Westerville Ohio 43081. They’re collecting canned food items to be donated to the Westerville Area Resource Ministry.
The Lucy Depp Park Light Show: Runs every night from November 26 through first week of January. 4pm to 10pm Sunday thru Thursday, 4pm to 11pm Friday and Saturday. Frabell Dr. Powell, OH 43065 features 45,000+lights over 5.5 acres. Make sure you read about the history of Lucy Depp Park – it’s fascinating! There is a donation box located at the entrance to the show for Peace for Paws Ohio, an amazing non-profit dog rescue organization.
Flying Horse Farms “Light Up Camp” drive-through: Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead will “flip the switch” on “Light Up Camp” on Thanksgiving, November 25, and will be open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening through Sunday, December 26, including Christmas Eve and Christmas. The half-mile drive through the property will feature festively decorated camp buildings and showcase a 12-minute animated light show at the center of camp. All visitors must remain in their cars for the entire event.
November 22 through January 8, 2022 during regular library hours. This fixture of the downtown holiday scene has delighted people of all ages since 1992 with its trains, tracks, tunnels, bridges and replicas of historic German homes and castles. Free one-hour parking in the library garage.
Write Santa Letters!
Drop off letters to Santa at the Santa Mailboxes all over the city!
Obviously it’s a HUGE shopping weekend, but you can always just browse! Support local business for Small Business Saturday! Most shopping districts (think Uptown Westerville, Short North, etc) are having special events for Small Business Saturday. There are a few Holiday Craft shows listed below that are perfect for browsing or holiday shopping too.
WHEN: November 27, 2021 from 9 am – 4 pm
WHERE: Franklin County Fairgrounds, 4100 Columbia Street, Hilliard, OH 43026
WHAT: The Round Barn Vintage & Made Market is hitting the road for a Holiday Gathering pop-up market featuring a curated collection of our favorite vendors of vintage + handmade + curated new + boutique clothing + food trucks + live music. Come shop with 75+ hand picked small businesses on Small Business Saturday inside. Buildings are heated, and there will be music and food trucks.
ADMISSION: 3 options
VIP – 9:00am entry (just 100 are pre-sold and you get to skip the line and get in first PLUS receive a Holiday Gathering swag bag too!) $10
EARLY BIRD entry at 9:00 am. limited ticket release for a less crowded shopping experience ONE HOUR before General Admission gets in – must be pre-purchased online only – these tickets are not available at the door!) $10
GENERAL ADMISSION is $5 at the door 10:00 am – 4:00pm. or pre-purchase online
WHEN: November 27-28, 2021
WHERE: Ohio Expo Center Bricker Building, 717 East 17th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43211
WHAT: This large show will feature aisles upon aisles with hundreds booths with one-of-a-kind antiques and collectible items available for sale.
ADMISSION: Free, $5 parking
Free Museum Visits
Columbus Museum of Art, Downtown Columbus
Columbus Museum of Art features a fantastic collection of exhibits and art, as well as interactive and exploratory creativity for all ages. Get FREE Sunday admission for all thanks to a PNC Arts Alive grant. Hours are 10 am – 5 pm. There are fun activities for all ages!
Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus near Grandview
The Ohio Craft Museum is a program of Ohio Designer Craftsmen, presenting five major exhibitions each year, plus exhibits and a rotating display of the permanent collection. The museum houses the Craft Research Library and offers educational workshops and events for all ages and levels of experience. Admission to the Ohio Craft Museum is free; programming requires registration fees. They also have the Gifts of the Craftsman Sale going on, in case you want to do a little shopping.
Cultural Arts Center, Downtown Columbus
The Cultural Arts Center is Central Ohio’s premier visual arts center featuring contemporary art and emphasizing emerging artists. They offer hands-on instruction, a learning hub and creative space. Free tours, workshops, and other programming is available, while some require registration fees. HOURS: Mon, 1pm-4pm & 7pm-10pm, Tue-Thu 9am-4pm & 7pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun Closed. Closed on Thanksgiving.
Ohio Statehouse, Downtown Columbus
Capitol Square includes the Ohio Statehouse, Senate Building and Atrium. The buildings are not only working government offices but magnificent monuments to the people and the period during which Ohio’s democracy was founded and formed.
Guided tours are offered Monday through Friday every hour on the hour with the first tour beginning at 10 a.m. and the last tour beginning at 3 p.m. (Closed on Thanksgiving) Guided tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 12, 1, 2 , and 3 p.m.
Please note that while the Ohio Statehouse is open to the public on the weekends, the House and Senate Chambers are kept locked, and are only available to be viewed during guided tours.
Riffe Gallery, Vern Riffe Center in Downtown Columbus
The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio’s artists and the collections of the state’s museums and galleries. Admission is always free and exhibitions feature a quarterly rotating feature. Programming is free and open to all, including opening receptions for exhibits, artist talks, and more.
Free Fitness on Thanksgiving weekend
Check out our big list of free and cheap fitness options in Columbus during the winter. Check dates to ensure they are open on holiday weekends.
Columbus Metro Parks and Preservation Parks Hikes
Take a hike! It’s the perfect chance to walk off some Thanksgiving food and enjoy nature before the weather gets too cold. Columbus and Delaware (and surrounding counties) are home to some amazing Metro Parks and hiking trails, so enjoy a favorite or pick a new one!
Check out the calendar below for more free options, and scroll down for options with admission fees.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Friday, November 26, 2021
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Events with admission or fees
If you have out of town guests and are willing to spend a little more money, here are some experiences they may enjoy.
Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: November 19 – January 2. Don’t miss the Columbus Zoo Christmas lights for 2021! Wildlights is included with Zoo admission or membership. Parking is $10/car for non-members. The Zoo can be a little pricey for a group, so try to go early (before dark) and visit some of the animals. Check out the free admission days!
Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights: November 19 – January 2. Alum Creek light display and Santa’s House. $20-$30 per car; free cookies and cocoa at the Santa House.
Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory: November 20 – January 9. Admission is $11 – $22 for adults. Holiday displays and activities at the Franklin Park Conservatory, including live entertainment, gingerbread contest, and family fun days. Also new for 2019, the holiday light experience expands into the Grand Mallway adding festive flare to the area. The Pool, an interactive environment by artist Jen Lewin, welcomes guests to interact with its giant rings of circular pads that change colors with movement and pressure. There are events every weekend and select weekdays.
Christmas Ranch in Morrow, Ohio: Friday, November 19 through December 23, open every day at 5 pm except Thanksgiving. Located about an hour and fifteen minutes SW of Columbus, the Christmas Ranch features a Christmas Village with walk through with approximately 1 Million LED lights which dance with the music. Shop in 6 Christmas shops, visit Santa’s Bakery, take photos with Santa (additional charge for photo), and enjoy Train and Wagon rides. Admission is $20 per personal vehicle; event is a walk-through attraction. You can have a letter sent to your child from Santa – see details here! Monday night is family night!
Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill (near Yellow Springs, 40 miles SW of Columbus): November 23 – December 31 from 5 – 9 p.m. (lights turn on at 6 p.m.) On Christmas Eve, Christmas they close at 8 pm; closed NYE. Cost is $10 ages 7 and older; under 3 are free. Food and drink for sale. Enjoy 3.5 million lights, outdoor miniature village, Santa Claus Museum, and nostalgic Toy Collection. No Santa to visit, but peek into Santa’s Workshop to see Santa at work and then, every 15 minutes or so, watch him check his list and go up the chimney to load his sleigh.
WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio at Hartford Fairgrounds: November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2021 from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm (11:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays). Open rain, shine, or snow. Hartford Fairgrounds, 14028 Fairgrounds Road, Hartford, OH 43013
Come see over 1 million LED lights synchronized to traditional and newer Christmas music played through your own car stereo. Pack your vehicle full of friends and family to enjoy the show. Admission is $7.00 per person. Children age 3 & under are FREE! Get a Carload Special for up to 7 passengers for only $30. Weekend pricing, $30 per car (up to 7 passengers).
Magical Lights of Winter at National Trail Raceway: November 15, 2021 to January 9, 2022 Let the Magical Lights of Winter take you on a dazzling drive-thru Christmas Lights show. The new show will feature over 2 miles of synchronized Christmas lights dancing to music for everyone to enjoy.
Purchase tickets online in advance. $20 per car Monday – Thursdays and non peak nights. $30 per car Friday – Sunday and peak nights.
Easton Holiday Carriage Rides: Check out the beauty of Easton during the holidays on a Easton Holiday Carriage Ride! Available weekends from November 20 – December 21, 2020; Saturdays from 6-10 p.m., and Sundays from 3-7 p.m. Additional carriage rides are Friday, November 20, 6-10 pm & Monday, December 21, 6-10 pm.
Admission is $10, children under 15 ride free with paying adult.
Turkey Trots and Holiday Races
Run off some turkey! There are tons of turkey trots and holiday races with great swag, as well as other fun races after Thanksgiving!