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

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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 6 things to do around Columbus that are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood!

1. Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival

Dates: Now through January 7, 2018
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

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! How to save: Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more, seniors and those with a military ID. Thursdays are College ID night ($3 discount) and on Mondays, you can receive a $2 discount for bringing a canned good donation.

2. Gardens Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Dates: Now through January 3, 2018
Hours: 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

Franklin Park Conservatory does not disappoint when it comes to creating a festive atmosphere! Gardens 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 Central Ohio Youth Ballet’s performance of selections from The Nutcracker, a magician, the Muppet Mayhem Band and more! Also, make sure not to miss the rotating railroad!

3. Wildlights at Columbus Zoo

Dates: Now through January 1, 2018
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

In my opinion, Wildlights gets better every year! 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 this 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!

4. The Nutcracker

Dates: Now through December 24, 2017
Hours: Performances happening Wednesday through Sunday
Where: Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., Columbus, Oh 43215
Tickets: See ticket info here.

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 this 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!

5. State Auto Christmas Corner  

Dates: Now through January 2, 2018
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.

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. This Friday night 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.

6. Holiday Lights Downtown

Dates: Now through January 2, 2017
Hours: Dusk until 11:00 PM
Where: Columbus Commons, the Lazarus Building and the Scioto Mile
More Info: CDDC Website

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.

Don’t forget to check out 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions for more ideas!

What are you favorite Columbus holiday traditions?

6 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus Ohio this Holiday Season!


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What Should We Do This Weekend? December 8-11, 2016 Holiday Edition!

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Welcome to another MEGA Holiday weekend post! **Please also don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a family play pass to Recreations Outlet by telling me 3 Places You Love to take Your Kids in Columbus ➡️ click HERE to enter! ⬅️ I’m giving away 2 passes each week!**

Ongoing

12 Elves of Dublin Scavenger Hunt in Historic Dublin – pick up a 12 Elves Card at a participating location then find all 12 elves. Each time you find an elf you will get a special treat! Turn your card in to enter the Grand Prize drawing!

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – see the amazing light shows, special performances and holiday festivities!

Tribute to the Nutcracker at Grove City City Hall – see the animated window display Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival at Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds – a 5 week celebration of Chinese culture with amazing silk lanterns, traditional performances and food!

Uptown Scrooge – an interactive, walking performance through Uptown Westerville! Appropriate for ages 5 and up!

State Auto Christmas Corner – walk around inside a life-size telling of the Christmas Story and check out their schedule for each weekend’s choir performances!

Merry and Bright – the holiday celebration at Franklin Park Conservatory includes special music, beautiful lights, and a special holiday train!

Christmas Celebration in Grove City – check out the list of ongoing events in Grove City’s Town Center!

Dickens of a Christmas at Ohio Village – celebrate a Dickens-inspired Christmas at Ohio Village!

Downtown Columbus Holiday Lights Photo Contest – share your pictures on Instagram or post to their Facebook page with the hashtag #DowntownColumbus to enter the contest for a $20 gift card to a downtown restaurant!

Hockey Santa at The Chiller Ice Rinks – skate with Santa with free skating instruction and cookie decoration!

Live Music and Santa at the North Market – check the link for the special holiday activities throughout December!

Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds – take an in-car tour of this light show!

For more ongoing ideas like the Huntington Holiday Train, Think Outside the Brick Lego Exhibit, and more, click here for 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

6:00 PM – Elf PJ Party & Lucky’s Market Hot Cocoa Bar  at Drexel Theater – the movie will be shown all weekend, but Thursday is the only night for the hot chocolate bar!

Friday, December 9, 2016

11:00 AM – Family Fun Day in Uptown Westerville – lots of fun going on at the shops in Uptown including a scavenger hunt, making an ornament, writing letters to Santa, cookie decorating and more!

6:30 PM – Mama + Me Make Your Own Winter Hat with Mini Market at Grandview Grind – decorate pre-made hats with bows, ears, poms and more!

6:30 PM – Snow “Ball” at Worthington Community Center – this family dance includes arts and crafts, a photo booth, pictures with Santa, ice carving and more!

7:00 PM – Progressive Christmas Concert at Uptown Westerville Churches – follow guides to 3 Westerville churches to enjoy concerts at each location!

7:00 – Polar Express Weekend at COSI – watch the movie on the big screen this weekend – multiple showing available including some sensory-friendly times!

7:00 PM – Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball at Barnes and Noble – inspired by the Yule Ball, this event will be filled with crafts, wizarding games, music and more!

7:30 PM – A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol at Worthington Community Center – the famous story of A Christmas Carol is getting redone with your favorite Fairy Tale characters!

7:30 PM – ProMusica’s Messiah Sing Along at Southern Theatre – sing along with ProMusica musicians!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

8:00 AM – Meijer Holiday Character Breakfast at CenterPoint Church Gahanna – this special event includes breakfast with holiday characters, a performance by Columbus Children’s Theatre, crafts, face painting and more!  (Pre-event ticket pricing through Friday.)

9:00 AM – Breakfast with Santa at Grove City YMCA – have breakfast, do crafts and take your own picture with Santa!

10:00 AM – Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – bring an enrichment toy for the animals and you can get in free to Wildlights this night only!

10:00 AM – Clay Pot Elf Craft at Michaels Stores – kids 3 and up can drop in to make a holiday craft for $2!

11:00 AM – Family Fun Day  continues in Uptown Westerville – lots of fun going on at the shops in Uptown including a scavenger hunt, making an ornament, writing letters to Santa, cookie decorating and more!

11:00 AM – Holiday Open House in downtown Delaware – local businesses are offering specials and special events and there will be a visit from Santa!

11:00 AM – Top Hat Treat Holder Craft at Lakeshore Learning – make a treat holder at this drop in event!

12:00 PM – Short North Pole Shop Night in the Short North Arts District – many business are staying open late to offer extra hours to shop, special deals and fun activities!

12:00 PM – Santa Claus at Rocket Fizz – Santa will be on hand for pictures and to hand out treats!

12:00 PM – Letters to Santa at Ohio Railway Museum – at this event you can write a letter to Santa, make Christmas crafts, ride on a train, and visit with Mrs. Claus!

1:00 PM – Christmas Open House at the Hanby House – tour this 1850’s home to listen to live music, partake in refreshments and enjoy holiday decorations!

1:00 PM – Holiday Trolley Hop in the Discovery District – hop on a trolley to visit downtown sites like the State Auto Nativity, Main Library, Topiary Park, Thurber House, local churches and more! There will be fun activities for the entire family!

2:00 PM & 7:30 PM – A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol at Worthington Community Center – the famous story of A Christmas Carol is getting redone with your favorite Fairy Tale characters!

7:00 PM – Family Night with Columbus Blue Jackets – this special night features interactive stations, a family photo station, balloon artist, face painters and more!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

8:00 AM – Paws with Claus at Polaris Fashion Place – get your pet’s picture with Santa before the mall opens!

11;30 AM – PJ Library Hanukkah Rock and Hop – a family-friendly concert by musician Sheldon Low!

1:00 PM – Christmas Open House continues at the Hanby House – tour this 1850’s home to listen to live music, partake in refreshments and enjoy holiday decorations!

2:00 PM – A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol at Worthington Community Center – the famous story of A Christmas Carol is getting redone with your favorite Fairy Tale characters!

2:00 PM – Family Holiday Show at Big Bang Columbus – kids crafts, dueling pianos, a sing-a-long and a visit from Santa are at this event benefitting Nationwide Children’s Hospital!

4:00 PM – Golden Spike Open House Christmas Celebration at The Depot – watch a holiday movie, eat refreshments, do crafts, ride the Scioto Valley Railway and more!

5:00 PM – Westerville Symphony: Sounds of the Season at Fritche Theatre at Cowan Hall – lots of holiday favorites including sing-a-longs at this festive concert!

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ICYMI: 2 Columbus Christmas Tree Farms + Family Photos

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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