There are so many events to enjoy the Christmas and Holiday season in Columbus, including family activities, date ideas, community tree lightings, and more. Mark you calendars so you don’t miss out. More details can be found through the links, or on the individual event websites.
This list will be added to throughout the holiday season, so bookmark and check back regularly to see the many, many updates coming over the next few weeks. Please let me know what I’m missing in the comments or by emailing email@example.com.
Need to shop? Our gift guides are here to help!
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- Teacher Gift and Hostess Gift Ideas
Ongoing Holiday events through the Season
Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: November 18 – January 6. Don’t miss the Columbus Zoo Christmas lights for 2018! Admission $19.99 adult, $14 children 2-9 and adults over 60. Franklin County residents receive a $5 discount with valid driver’s license, state-issued ID or a current utility bill to receive the Franklin County pricing. Purchase tickets online to save $1 (plus save time at the gates – can show admission on your smartphone). Parking is $10/car. November 17 is Member Preview Night from 5 – 9 p.m. November 18 is Stuff a Truck Food Drive – bring 5 cans of food per guest for free admission and parking.
Columbus Christmas Lights: 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!
Easton Holiday Carriage Rides: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, November 16 through December 23 in the evenings at Easton Town Center. Admission is $10, children under 15 ride free with paying adult.
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.
Shadowbox Live: Holiday Hoopla and Holiday Lunchbox:
Holiday Hoopla: November 15- December 29: (Slightly) raunchy Christmas Fun and Rock and Roll. Tickets are $25 and up.
Holiday Lunchbox: December 4 – December 21 at 1 p.m. on select weekdays. A 45 minute holiday show featuring music and sketch comedy from the Shadowbox holiday archives featuring holiday fun and antics with The Snow Bunnies! Tickets start at $5.
Dragon Lights Columbus: November 23 – January 6 from 5:30-10 pm everyday, including holidays, at the Ohio Expo Center. Celebration of Chinese culture with exquisite 39 larger-than-life illuminated displays crafted by Chinese artisans, traditional performances, and amazing food! Tickets are $12-$17.
Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights: November 16 – January 1. Alum Creek light display and Santa’s House. $20-$30 per car; free cookies and cocoa at the Santa House.
Lights at the Scioto Mile: From November 21 through January 2, 2019, 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.
Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory: November 17 – January 2. Admission is $11 – $18. Holiday displays and activities at the Franklin Park Conservatory, including live entertainment, gingerbread contest, and family fun days. There are events every weekend and select weekdays.
Holiday Wine Tastings at Meza: are every Friday from 6:30 – 10 p.m.; $10 for 5 tastes & tapas. Additional Holiday Bubbles and other special event tastings are available through the season as varying price points.
Huntington Holiday Train at the Main Library: November 18 – 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. 18 through Jan. 2 during Main Library’s regular hours. Free one-hour parking in the library garage. Check hours and holiday closures here.
Annual Holiday LEGO® Exhibition at Columbus Museum of Art: November 18 – February 22, 2019. Columbus Museum of Art’s annual holiday celebration of the creative potential of LEGO® bricks returns. Bring your friends and family and celebrate the season by connecting with LEGO® and each other. Think Outside the Brick features an enormous collaboratively-built model of Columbus. Go on a LEGO® Scavenger Hunt! Hidden throughout CMA are a dozen gingerbread LEGO® cookies. Test your eye spy skills and find them all. (Parents – a map of where all the gingerbread cookies are located is available at the admissions desk, just in case.) Don’t forget – everyone can enjoy FREE ADMISSION at CMA every Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and $5 admission on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m.
Gahanna’s Annual Holiday Lights Gingerbread House Contest: Entries will be accepted anytime through December 19 at the Visit Gahanna offices (167 Mill St.) Entries will be judged on the Visit Gahanna Facebook page–and prizes will be awarded. Details: Entries do not have to be houses or made of gingerbread, but they must incorporate edible materials and have a base no larger than 20″x20″. This means that your structure can be baked, painted, made of wood … as long as you include edible items in your decorations. See details and entry form here. Entries will be displayed at Fresh Thyme, 1125 N. Hamilton Road, through Saturday, December 22, where they can receive votes. Winner will be announced on 12/23.
Gifts of the Craftsmen Sale at Ohio Craft Museum: Ohio-made gifts for sale through December 23, plus children’s gift making workshops.
Columbus Commons Holiday Lights: November 21 – January 2 from dusk to 11 pm. Check out more than 320,000 LED lights dazzle Columbus Commons park, thanks to a generous contribution from American Electric Power. Take a photo and share it on Instagram using #CCHolidayLights for a chance to win a Condado gift card. Festive Fridays on December 7, 14, and 21 will be a little extra festive from 5-9 pm, with free hot chocolate at Tortilla Street Food 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. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will be open with a limited menu offering their five seasonal flavors
Holiday Open Farm at Harrison Farms: Saturdays, November 17 – December 22, 2018 from 1 pm – 5 pm. Come visit The Hangar to shop the farm products, take a farm tour to meet our newest baby animals, and enjoy a delicious chocolate chip cookie (from Grandmother Harrison’s famous recipe). Feel welcome to stop by anytime between 1pm and 5pm on Saturdays from 11/17 to 12/22.
Lights of Glenross: November 22 – January 1. Glenross subdivision in Delaware and has around 160 houses with light displays choreographed to Christmas music played on 94.1FM. The displays will run from 5-10pm daily. 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 22 – December 31. Display features 90,000 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, starting on Thanksgiving night. Turn your car radio to 87.9fm 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 through New Year’s Day. 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!
Stuff the Stocking Wine Trail: Nov 23-24, 30, Dec 1, & 7-8, Noon to 6 pm. A self-driving tour along the Capital City Wine Trail in Central Ohio. At each stop you’ll sample wine and enjoy a complimentary appetizer where available. At a designated winery you will receive a Christmas stocking stuffed with a wine related gift. Tickets are limited and $50 per couple. Pick a location to start at, and stop at the wineries on the trail anytime during the designated weekends.
Elf on the Shelf with Prairie Township Community Center: November 26-December 17 Find Elf on the Shelf dolls at local business and receive a signature for finding them. Once completed, turn in sheets to the Community Center for a chance to win a new bicycle
Segaway Holiday Lights Tour: November 29 – December 23, beginning at 6 p.m. or 8:15 p.m., take a festive ride on a segway through downtown Columbus and the Scioto Greenway to enjoy seasonal decorations, lights, and holiday music. Training + tour is about 1.5 hours and costs $49 per rider. Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio.
$5 Holiday Classics Film Series at Marcus Theatres: $5 Holiday classics from November 30 – December 13
The Christmas Journey at Shepherd Church of the Nazarene Gahanna: November 30, December 1, 7, & 8 from 6-8 pm, with journeys every 15 minutes. At this outdoor Christmas interactive Experience, you and your family will take a guided 20 minute hike through the Christmas story. Before and after your journey you can enjoy fireside activities, kids crafts and games, and pictures with Santa. Dress for the weather and wear walking shoes.
12 Elves of Dublin Scavenger Hunt: December 1 – December 29, 2018. Pick up your 12 elves card at one of the downtown locations, and then search through the shops of Historic Dublin to find the 12 Elves. When your kiddo finds the elf at each stop, they will get a little prize. Collect them all and return your completed card before December 29th to be entered to win one of three grand prize drawings.
Echoes in Time Theatre: Nifty Fifty Christmas at Ohio History Center: December 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 at 1 and 3 pm. Writing letters to Santa, visiting him at a department store and tracking him on Christmas Eve are traditions many of us know well. Listen to stories about how many American Christmas traditions began in the 1950s after World War II. This performance lasts about 30–45 minutes. Regular admission applies.
BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley: December 2 – 30 at 5:30 p.m. Tour of Columbus to see seasonal attractions, lighting displays and holiday landmarks on a Holiday Trolley. Tickets are remaining for select dates, so book now!
Old Time Christmas at the Orange Johnson House: December 2, 9, and 16 from 2-5 pm. Enjoy federal-style tradition, light refreshments, and musical performances in the sitting room. Free admission with food donation to the Worthington Resource Pantry
State Auto Christmas Display and Life-Sized Nativity: Opens on December 4 through January 2. Will be lit nightly at State Auto Downtown through the season, with choir performances on Fridays and Saturdays.
Ohio Statehouse Holiday Choir Performances are FREE lunchtime holiday choir performances from December 7-21 at the Ohio Statehouse weekdays.
BalletMet’s Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre: December 7 – 23. Purchase tickets at the box office or online with Ticketmaster starting at $29 (plus any fees)
Firefighters for Kids Toy Drive at Worthington Fire Department: December 8 and 15 from 8 am – 3 pm. Drive through and drop off new and unwrapped toys and/or canned goods. Donations can be dropped off 24/7 before Christmas Eve. 6500 N. High Street. Donated toys need to be new and unwrapped. They can be for children of all ages, however there is a particular need for toys for teenage boys and girls. Cash or check donations are also welcomed. The toys will be distributed to central Ohio area children who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
Columbus Recreation and Parks Department’s Community Center Holiday Parties: December 13 – 21. Many community centers and programs will host holiday parties in the month of December
Skate America in Grove City: Great pricing and plenty of discounts, plus Thanksgiving break, holiday, and Christmas break parties
Skate Zone 71 near Morse Rd: Open every single day through Thanksgiving break, the holidays, and Christmas break. Tons of skate parties with character visits, Little kids skate is on Saturday mornings. There are also discounted days, young teen nights, and adult nights. There’s an New Years Eve party with mock countdown, as well as a family New Years Eve night with midnight countdown.
United Skates of America on Refugee Rd: Lots of family skate and discount days over Thanksgiving break, Christmas season, and Christmas break. Open every day except Christmas Eve, including a Christmas evening session. Character skates feature Minions, Turtles, Superheroes, and Trolls. Also offering several New Years Eve parties and New Years Day skate.
Take a drive for these out-of-town Christmas Experiences!
Fairfield County Festival of Lights: November 22 – December 25, 2018. Drive Through Holiday Light Display at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds. Admission: $5 per Car/Mini Van $10 per Shuttle Bus/Passenger Van. Every Friday and Saturday night see Santa & Mrs. Claus. Treats available at Lisa’s Bake Shop & Country Roads Kettle Corn. Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 9pm and Friday & Saturday 5:30pm to 10pm. Fairfield County Fairgrounds, 157 E. Fair Avenue, Lancaster, Ohio. See updates on Facebook.
Kings Island Winterfest: November 23 – December 31 Kings Island Winterfest features all of the sounds, traditions, and activities of the Christmas season, plus the fun of Kinds Island.
Marmon Valley Farm Country Christmas: November 30, December 1, 7, 8, 9. The covered wagon tour is a 45 minute production that includes five mini dramas depicting events recorded in the Bible about the birth of Christ. Warm up afterwards with cookies and hot chocolate as you enjoy live music and activities. Children will also enjoy petting animals and pony rides. Christmas tree farm is also open for tree purchases. Tours begin at 6:30pm on Fridays and 5:00pm on Saturdays and they leave every 15 minutes. Walk-ins will be accommodated if there are openings on scheduled tours. To guarantee your spot, please call ahead to reserve tickets. $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Christmas Ranch in Morrow, Ohio: Friday, November 16 and runs 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! On this night, we offer 50% off admission for families of 3 or more. Call 513-444-9362 for more information.
Lights at the Brickyard: Lights at the Brickyard, returns Nov. 16 through Dec. 30 and will feature dozens of colorful displays totaling more than three million bright lights on a 2-mile course through the IMS infield and historic oval, including the front stretch and world-famous “Yard of Bricks” start-finish line. The standard lane entrance is Gate 2, off of 16th St. $25 Mon.-Wed., $30 Thurs.-Sun., or purchase a Speedy Pass for quickest access to the course to skip the longer lines and arrive through a special entry near the IMS golf course. Speedy Pass for 1-15 passengers are $50 online or $50-$60 at the gate.
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 and New Year’s Eve they close at 8 pm. Cost is $10 ages 7 and older; under 6 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.
Santa Train at Nelsonville Depot: Saturdays and Sunday November 24 – December 16. Each train departs Nelsonville round trip for about 20 miles and lasts approximately two hours. Reservations are strongly suggested as trains often sell out. Santa visits each child as the train rolls along the valley. Each child also gets to enjoy a candy cane treat after Santa’s visit. Each coach is decorated, heated, and plays Christmas music. Adult: $18, Child: $14, Senior: $16. Check out other Christmas Train Rides and Polar Express Rides!
Christmas at Kingwood Center: November 24 through December 30, every Thursday through Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Kingwood Center in Mansfield offers a variety of activities such as live music, dozens of uniquely trimmed themed Christmas trees in rooms throughout the hall, a beautifully decorated Greenhouse, and outdoor light displays. Admission is $5, ages 12 and under free.
Day by Day Christmas events in Columbus Ohio!
Holiday Tours at the John and Annie Glenn Museum: Monday, November 26, 2018 from 5-8:30 p.m. Visit John Glenn’s boyhood home during the holiday season. Come and see what Christmas would have been like for a typical American family in 1962, the year John Glenn orbited Earth. John Glenn’s Lionel train will be running around the tree for all to enjoy and museum volunteers will be serving hot chocolate and cookies on the porch.