Whether we like it or not, it’s not to early to start thinking about the things you want to do with your family this Holiday season! Last year, I felt slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events I really didn’t want to miss so I sat down and wrote them out on a calendar. And THAT is pretty much where the idea for this blog began! Now we’ve come full circle and, though there are probably hundreds of holiday events going on around town, today I am sharing 9 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

1. Village Lights


Hands down, this is my favorite Columbus tradition of the entire year. Wow, did I really just say that? I did. I look forward to this probably more than anything else. I honestly don’t know how much my kids like it, but there are teddy bears and free cookies and hot chocolate, so I haven’t heard any complaints! The streets of German Village are lit with luminaries and restaurants, shops, and even a few private homes along the route are open late with special deals, free goodies and live music! Designated parking areas and shuttles are available.

When: December 4, 2016, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: German Village

2. Wildlights


You have to see Wildlights! The light shows are spectacular and the zoo becomes an (even more) magical place for about 6 weeks leading up to New Year’s Day! The first time we ever attempted to go to Wildlights, there was so much traffic that by the time we got there it was too late for my 1 yr old and we just drove right on by the entrance and back on home! Weekends are very busy, so if you can, I suggest trying a week day evening and arriving before 5:00 PM! If you’re a member, you can also avoid the crowds by catching the Member Preview on November 17th.

When: November 18, 2016 – January 1, 2017 (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065


3. Merry and Bright


Last year was our first year attending the special holiday hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated beautifully (that goes without saying)! There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! Certain evenings, they are open until 9:00 PM. Take note: the Shazzbots play on Friday, December 23, 2016!

When: November 19, 2016 – January 1, 2017: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Open Until 9:00 PM on November 23, 25, 26, 30 and December 7, 14-23, 26-31
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203


4. Grand Illumination


Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! The Grand Illumination kicks off the season on Friday, December 2, 2016 with an appearance from Santa at Bicentennial Park and the official flipping of the switch to light the park! If you can’t make it to the Grand Illumination, don’t worry, the lights will be on display until January 8, 2017.

When: December 2, 2016 through January 8, 2017
Where: 233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215


5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows


When you’re at Bicentennial Park, make plans to walk a few blocks to Columbus Commons where the park will be filled with holiday displays and lights! Just across the street (at the corner of High and Town) in the old Lazarus building, the windows will be filled with scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas!

When: Late November through early January from dusk until to 11:00 PM
Where: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

6. Huntington Holiday Train


Main Library is home to the Huntington Holiday Train and every year this amazing display is set up during the holiday season! This year, the train will be set up on November 17, 2016 and is usually up through New Years!

When: November 17, 2016 – Early January, 2017
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215


7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center


If you happen to have kids that like trains, there is a also holiday train set up at the Ohio History Center. Granted, it’s not quite as elaborate as the Huntington Train, but since we’re members at Ohio History Center, this one is still a no-brainer for me and two boys who love trains! In fact, when we were at OHC last week, my son asked when the Polar Express was going to be there and had to go check out the area where it was set up last year to see if it had arrived! So we won’t miss it! (The History Center also puts on Dickens of a Christmas at Ohio Village on December 12, 13, 19 and 20. We’ve never been, but it looks fun!)

When: November 28, 2016 – January 4, 2017
Where: 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus Ohio, 43211


8. Think Outside the Brick


This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t even holiday themed, but it arrives in November and says goodbye in February, so in my mind it’s associated with Christmas! If you have kids on Christmas break, this would be a great reason to take them to the Art Museum! The LEGO replica of Columbus is awesome and we love to visit at this time! There are usually blocks for free building in the Big Idea Gallery, too! Admission is free on Sundays and on Thursday nights you “pay what you want” from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM!

When: November 11, 2016 – February 26, 2017
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215


9. Easton


We always enjoy going to Easton at Christmastime – and not just to do our Christmas shopping! There is a life-sized nativity and a humongous Christmas tree! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on November 18, 2016 at 6:30 PM and includes a visit from Santa!


When: November 18, 2016 – December 24, 2016
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story! There are choirs scheduled throughout the season and donations are accepted for hot chocolate! There are ample parking lots designated for viewing this display!

When: The lighting is usually the first week of December and it runs through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger. Check the link here for each week’s choir schedule!
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

I hope that whatever you chose to do, you have a special season with your family!


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Written by Julie Miller