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 28, through Sunday, December 1, 2019.
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!
Annual Lighting of the Licking County Courthouse on Friday, November 29 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 29 from 3 – 8 pm. Celebrate the season with holiday activities for the whole family and welcome Santa to Historic Downtown Urbana, Ohio in a lighted horse parade.
- 3:00pm – Street vendors and Children’s Activities Begin
- 5:00pm – Street Carolers and Carriage Rides Begin
- 5:30pm – Tree Lighting Ceremony at Legacy Park
- 6:30pm – Lighted Horse Parade begins
- 7:30pm – Santa Land at Oxner’s General Store Opens
December 1. Enjoy carriage rides, iceless ice rink, live music, and Santa in Downtown Worthington. Head to the Village Green for carolers and the annual tree lighting at dusk.
Santa will be available for free photos from November 17 – December 24; hours vary based on day. There are free crafts everyday, giveaway for the first 100 kids on Mon-Thurs from 5-7 pm, and you can write a letter to Santa and receive an email from Santa. 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.
All Oakland Nursery locations have special holiday fun on weekends, including live music, carriage rides, Santa, holiday treats, and more!
November 29 – December 1 and December 7-8. The Christmas Shoppe will be open and we will be selling Christmas trees while available. Enjoy various holiday activities, including Santa, wagon rides, smores, music, and more. See Facebook for event schedule.
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!
Lights at the Scioto Mile: November 21 through January 2, 2020, 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.
Columbus Commons Holiday Lights: November 22 – January 2, 2020 from dusk 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 6, 13, 20 will be a little extra festive from 5-9 pm, with free hot chocolate and free carousel rides. Plus, you’ll catch carolers roaming around the park so you can sing along to your favorite seasonal songs as you stroll.
Lights of Glenross: November 22 – January 1. Glenross subdivision in Delaware and has around 200 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. Santa will be handing out candy canes from 6-7pm on the corner of Ballater and Silverwood Drive on opening night (November 22!).
Dazzling Christmas Lights in Westerville’s Annehurst neighborhood: November 29 – December 31, 2019. 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. Turn your car radio to 90.1 fm to listen to the lights. 649 Old Coach Rd. Westerville Ohio 43081. There collecting canned food items to be donated to the Westerville Area Resource Ministry.
The Lucy Depp Park Light Show: Runs every night from November 29 through January 5, 2020. 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!
Easton Trolley: Ride around and check out the holiday lights of Easton (it’s beautiful during the season). Hop on at Brio Tuscan Grille, Bon Vie, or at Easton Gateway across from Zoup! The trolley is free to all customers. All tips help fund Easton’s Change for Charity program.
Huntington Holiday Train at the Main Library
November 20 – January 2. 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. See the Huntington Holiday Train display Nov. 20 through Jan. 2 during Main Library’s regular hours. Free one-hour parking in the library garage. Check hours and holiday closures here.
Saturday, November 30 from 9 am – noon Stocking Ornament. Have fun making your own stocking ornament this holiday season. Using the pieces in this kit, you’ll learn to nail a frame to the inside of your ornament. The frame can hold any favorite small photo. Paint the piece to bring it to life, and then build the base to help your bird stand tall.
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: Saturday, November 30, 9am – 6pm and Sunday, December 1, 10am – 4pm
WHERE: Ohio Expo Center Bricker Building, 717 East 17th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43211 United States
WHAT: This large show will feature aisles upon aisles of over 800 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. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sundays 1 – 4 p.m. 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! The weather for the weekend looks decent, with temps near 50 degrees. 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! There are several organized hikes with Columbus Metro Parks, or you can explore on your own. They also have lots of family activities, so you can bring the kids to do a craft and then burn off some energy on a walk. Preservation Parks have a Fall Bird Hike and a old fashioned Board Game event this weekend.
- Turkeys, Traditions and Thanksgiving: November 23-24 from 1-3 pm.
Learn about some holiday customs including the use of corn, pumpkins and other foods, and the butchering of the turkey at the Farmhouse. All Ages.
- Indoor Amusements: November 29-30 from 1-3 pm.
It’ll be a long, cold winter, so having new ways to entertain your family indoors is always a good thing. Try some indoor games and toys, and challenge your mind with 19th century puzzles. Registration not required. All Ages.
Walk with a Doc at Highbanks: Held every Saturday at 8:30 a.m. this walking program for everyone interested in taking steps for a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Sabgir of Mount Carmel Clinical Cardiovascular Specialists will lead the walk featuring blood pressure checks, pedometers, healthy snacks, recipes and information to make better lifestyle changes, and opportunities to talk with the docs. Walks will be indoor at the Polaris Mall in the cooler months. See the list of other Walk with a Doc events.
Free Sunday Funday Yoga at lululemon: Take a free yoga or fitness class at lululemon Easton and Polaris on Sunday mornings.
Free Fitness Classes at Athleta Easton: Athleta offers free fitness classes and events throughout the month; check calendar for details.
Check out the calendar below for more free options, and scroll down for options with admission fees.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Friday, November 29, 2019
Saturday, November 30, 2019
Sunday, December 1, 2019
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.
Thanksgiving Family Friday: Sports at Ohio History Center. Friday, November 29 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Celebrate how Ohioans have left their mark on the world of sports! Enjoy hands-on crafts, hear the stories behind objects on display, learn about sports connections in exhibits other than Ohio – Champion of Sports and more. Admission $7-$13; free for members.
Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: November 15 – January 5. Don’t miss the Columbus Zoo Christmas lights for 2019! 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.
Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights: November 15 – January 1. 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 16 – January 5. Admission is $12 – $19. 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 22 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.
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!