7 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season

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We’re never at a loss for things to do around here and the Holiday events in Columbus do not disappoint!

If you’re looking for a few ideas to fill Winter Break or if you’re in need of a healthy dose of festivity to get into the Christmas spirit, here are 7 holiday events around Columbus that are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood!

Here are 7 of the Most Festive Holiday Events in Columbus Ohio:

1. Dragon Lights Chinese Lantern Festival

Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio

Dragon Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: November 23, 2018 – January 6, 2019 (Closed Mondays)
Hours: 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Where: Ohio Expo Center & State Fair Grounds – 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211
Phone: 888-484-2698

Dragon Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio

Bundle up and walk through some incredible light sculptures, enjoy cultural performances and eat Chinese and traditional fair food. The light displays are really something to see! There are traditional Chinese sculptures and also American Christmas sights like Santa and Mrs. Claus. I was invited to the VIP night and I attended with my 3 year old. I couldn’t talk him into sitting for the performances, but I have heard they are very good!

Cost: Adults $19, Children 5-16 $14, Kids under 5 are free. Discounts with Military ID and for those over 65. Family 4 pack is $55. Save $2-$5 by buying online. Purchase tickets before November 23rd for a $3 discount using the code “ZAONIAO” (early bird in Chinese Pinyin).

Dragon Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio


2. Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Lights at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: November 17, 2018 – January 2, 2019
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM in November, 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM in December, until 5:00 PM in January
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, Oh 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Rotating Railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow

Stockings hung at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

Franklin Park Conservatory does not disappoint when it comes to creating a festive atmosphere! Conservatory Aglow offers special holiday decorations, performances and evening hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated for the holidays. From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM.

There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season such as Cookies with Santa, live musical performances, a magic show, and more! Also, make sure not to miss the gingerbread competition and rotating railroad! This year the celebration even extends to the Children’s Garden!

Trees at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow


3. Wildlights at Columbus Zoo

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

family at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Dates: November 16, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM Sundays – Thursdays, 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays (Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-645-3400

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In my opinion, Wildlights gets better every year! This is one of our favorite holiday events in Columbus! This year there are more lights than ever and the season includes special visitors and performances. This year make sure to make it to the Polar Frontier for the LED tree and Santa! Do it for me! It changed locations and we didn’t make it to that end and I missed the tree last year! The tree is a definite highlight!

If there is any way you can do this on a weeknight, I highly recommend doing so, as traffic on the weekends can be a nightmare!

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, tree


4. The Nutcracker

Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio

Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: December 7-23, 2018
Hours: Performances happening Wednesday through Sunday
Where: Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., Columbus, Oh 43215
Tickets: See ticket info here.

Ohio Theatre, Columbus, Ohio, The Nutcracker

It’s hard to find a more beautiful spot than Ohio Theatre and when it’s decked out for the holidays? Amazing! Seeing The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre was incredible last year (disclaimer, I was given free tickets for helping promote the event – and our seats were AMAZING!) My boys were mesmerized through the whole thing and were still talking about it a week later! It is so full of the Christmas spirit, it’s hard not to leave happy! I dare you!

Orchestra Pit at Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker


5. State Auto Christmas Corner

Nativity scene, Bethlehem, State Auto, Columbus, Ohio  Nativity Scene, 3 wisemen, State Auto, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: December 4, 2018 – January 2, 2019
Hours: 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM, 5:30 AM – 11:30 PM and until 12:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays
Where: 518 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
More Info: Visit their Facebook Page for more info.

Nativity Scene, Mary and Joseph, at State Auto, Columbus, Ohio

Take a walk through this downtown nativity for a life-sized retelling of the story of Mary and Joseph’s trek to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. Official Lighting is Tuesday December 4 including a performance by the Columbus Children’s Choir. On Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 6:00 PM, choirs will perform and hot chocolate will be available!

My family does this each year as close to Christmas Eve as we can. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is placed in the manger at their Christmas Eve ceremony taking place at 3:00 PM.

Nativity Scene at State Auto, Columbus, Ohio


6. Holiday Lights in Downtown Columbus

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

Dates: November 21, 2018 through early January 2019
Hours: Dusk until 11:00 PM
Where: Columbus Commons, the Lazarus Building and the Scioto Mile
More Info: CDDC Website

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

A good plan to see the lights downtown is to park in the Columbus Commons parking garage, walk around Columbus Commons for holiday lights and decorations, then head over to the Lazarus building to see the decorations in the windows and the huge tree in the Galleria, then head to Bicentennial Park and the Scioto Mile to see the lights that deck the entire area from Bicentennial Park to Broad Street.

Winterfest takes place this year at Bicentennial Park on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons


7. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Dates: November 16, 2018 – January 1, 2019
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Where: Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds, 3311 South Old State Rd., Delaware, OH 43015

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights is an annual holiday 3 mile drive thru light show, with over 140 LED brilliant light displays you can see in the comfort of your own car.

The Fantasy of Lights benefits many local charities such as Recreation Unlimited, A Kid Again, Autism Speaks, among others, and honors current and former military through specialized evenings.


What are you favorite Columbus holiday traditions?

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