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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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These are 10 Holiday and Christmas events we make sure not to miss every year! If you’re looking to start some family-friendly Christmas traditions around Columbus, start here!

Every year I feel slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events I really don’t want to miss. A few years ago, 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 10 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

Here are 10 of our favorite family-friendly Christmas Events in Columbus!

1. Village Lights

Village Lights, German Village, Columbus, Ohio

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 2, 2018, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout 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 16th.

When: November 16 , 2018 – January 6, 2019 (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

3. Conservatory Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)

Franklin Park Conservatory holiday decorations and lights

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 beautifully (that goes without saying)!

There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! 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! (A membership to Franklin Park Conservatory is one of my 5 Best Gift Memberships for Columbus Kids!)

When: November 17, 2018 – January 2, 2019: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, December: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203

Rotating railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory

4. Bicentennial Park

Christmas lights on the Scioto Mile

Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! What was previously The Grand Illumination will be replaced by WinterFest this year! Taking place on Saturday, December 1, 2018, it will include live performances and food trucks, as well as the opportunity to participate in the Empty Bowls initiative. The park will be full of lights beginning November 21st!

When: November 21, 2018 through Early January 2019
Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215

Christmas lights at Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile

5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

Christmas Lights at Columbus Commons

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

Holiday Train at Main Library, Columbus Ohio

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 library will begin set up of the train in mid November and is usually up through New Years!

When: Mid November, 2018 – Early January, 2019
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

Holiday Train at Main Library in Columbus, Ohio

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

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! We don’t miss it! (A membership to Ohio History Center is one of my

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211

Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

8. Think Outside the Brick

Think Outside the Brick LEGO display at Columbus Museum of Art

This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t even holiday themed, but it arrives in November and says goodbye in March, 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 10, 2018 – February 22, 2019
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

9. Easton

Christmas Tree at Easton Town Center

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 (an all-new, 50 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrived in 2017!)! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 16, 2018 beginning at 6:30 PM and includes a parade, a fireworks show, a visit from Santa and more!

Nativity at Easton Town Center

When: beginning November 16, 2018
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

Nativity Scene at State Auto Nativity

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story! The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM. There are choirs scheduled on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 23rd and free hot chocolate (donations accepted!) will be available on those evenings!  There are ample parking lots designated for viewing this display!

When: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger. (2018 dates TBD)
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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

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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: Top 10 Things to do with Your Kids in Columbus, Ohio


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Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus and Beyond

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Cutting down or picking out your family’s Christmas Tree is a fun family tradition! Looking for the best place to get yours? Check this list of Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus and Beyond!

This list contains a variety of options for picking out your Christmas tree around Central Ohio! If you want to drive out to the country, take a hay ride into the field and chop down your own tree, or you’d rather pull into a parking spot and pick out a precut tree (no sawing involved), you can take your pick!

Please double check times and availability by clicking each link or calling the specific farm you are interested in!

Christmas Tree Farms In Columbus Ohio and Beyond:

Christmas trees lined up at Christmas Tree farm near Columbus, Ohio

Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus (North):

Taylor Christmas Tree Farm

  • 3720 Wilson Rd., Sunbury, Ohio, (740) 965-3293

Cut your own, no credit cards accepted.

Joat-Mon Tree Farm

  • 1976 Klondike Rd., Delaware, Ohio 43015, 614-395-0083

Precut and pick your own trees, wood fire, hot chocolate.

Cackler Farms

Cackler Christmas Tree Farm near Columbus Ohio

  • 4971 Cackler Rd., Delaware, OH 43015, 740-524-5311

Cut your own tree. Also includes a live nativity with animals to visit, a play area for kids including a corn bin and straw bales.

Fly Away Farm

  • 1950 Lackey Old State Rd., Delaware, OH 43015, 740-548-7355

Cut your own tree, hayrides, free hot chocolate and cookies, campfire. No credit cards accepted. Only open the first weekend in December!

Country Cabin Tree Farm

  • 3600 Wilson Road​, Sunbury, OH, 614-832-9345

Precut trees available or cut your own, hot chocolate and cider available, holiday gift items for sale.

Dale Tree Farm

  • 9481 Kilbourne Rd., Sunbury, Ohio 43074, 740-524-7473

Cut your own trees, open the weekend after Thanksgiving only.

Christmas Trees Junction

  • 430 Willey Rd., Delaware, OH 43015, 740-363-9105

Cut your own tree, free candy canes.

Stonehaven Tree Farm

  • 6718 Perry Rd., Centerburg, Ohio, 43011, 614-668-6292

Pick your own tree, miniature horses, free hot cocoa and cookies and hay rides!

Heimbush Christmas Tree Farm

  • 21590 Northwest Pkwy., Marysville, Ohio 43040, 937-644-2455

Cut your own tree, no credit cards accepted, baked goods available.

Irwin Farm

  • 18961 Collins Rd., Marysville, Ohio 43040, 304-633-1728

Cut your own tree + hayride for $40. Open on the weekends.

Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus (South):

Albert Family Tree Farm

  • 7505 Bunkerhall Rd. & 8790 Gerhart Rd., Amanda, OH 43102

Precut, dug and balled trees, visits from Santa, petting zoo, refreshments at Gerhart location.

Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus (East):

Old Log House Plantation

  • 8656 State Route 13 Somerset, OH 43783, 888.869.7424

Free hayride to pick out your tree, hot cider, popcorn and gift shop.

Timbuk Farms

  • 2030 Timbuk Road, Granville, Ohio 43023, 740-587-2178

Pick your own tree, enjoy hot chocolate, gift items and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The Walsh Tree Farm

  • 9068 Eden Church Rd, St Louisville, OH 43071, (740) 745-5040

Precut trees and cut your own. Craft items for sale during business hours.

Hickory Ridge Tree Farm

  • 3600 Johnstown-Alexandria Rd, Alexandria, OH 43001, 740-924-5054

Precut and pick your own trees available.

Lynd Fruit Farm

9399 Morse Rd SW, Pataskala, Ohio 43062, 740-927-8559

Christmas trees for sale, a Christmas Shoppe, activities for families on the weekends.

Mr. Tree Farm

  • 1099 Reynoldsburg New Albany Rd N., Blacklick, OH 43004, 614-577-0081

Precut trees and cut your own. Weekends include: hayrides, Santa’s workshop, petting zoo, hot chocolate and cider.

Timberpeg Tree Farm

  • 4544 Tschopp Rd NE, Lancaster, OH 43130, 740-503-1045

Precut and cut your own trees, greenery, hot cider, goats.

Christmas Tree Farms in Columbus (West):

Carl & Dorothy Young’s Christmas Tree Farm

  • 4968 US Rte 68 North, Yellow Springs, OH 45387, 937-708-6828

Precut and cut your own trees, free hot chocolate and popcorn.

Christmas Tree Lots in Columbus

These locations for picking out your Christmas Tree in Columbus are less about the farm experience, but are still a great option for getting a real tree locally!

Dill’s Greenhouse

  • 5800 Rager Rd., Groveport, OH 43125, 614-836-3700

Precut trees, poinsettias, ornaments, other gifts.

HTH Farm Market

  • 2340 W. Dublin Granville Rd., Columbus, OH 43235, 614-396-6313

HTH Farm Market

Precut trees to choose from, farm market sells produce, decorative items and gives out free cider.

DeMonye’s Greenhouse

  • 2500 Airport Dr., Columbus, Ohio 43219, 614-252-6046

Precut trees available, other gift and greenhouse items available in the shop.

Hoffman’s Farm Market

  • 800 Rome Hilliard Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43228, 614-878-5161

Precut trees for sale, other greenery available.

Oakland Nursery Tree Lots

  • various locations around Columbus (check the link for addresses)

Oakland Nurseries sets up several tree lots around Columbus to pick up a freshly picked tree.

Other Ideas

I’ve asked for input from my readers as to where they get their Christmas trees and some other ideas that were given to me were COSTCO, Whole Foods, Lowe’s and Straders. If you have one of these locations near you, this might be another easy option!

Looking for Christmas and Holiday events around Columbus? You may want to read these posts:

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Christmas Tree Farms near Columbus Ohio

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Columbus Christmas Traditions

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The 5 Best Membership Gifts for Columbus Kids

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Memberships are the gifts that literally keep on giving – for at least one whole year! 😉 These family memberships to these amazing Columbus institutions have been life savers for my family!

This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure.

Giving the gift of “experience” has become popular over the past decade or so. Kids pile up toys until you can’t see a clean spot on the bedroom floor! (Or is that just my house?) Giving your family or a family you love the gift of one of these Columbus Memberships is one of the best ways to give a gift of experience because they can be used up to 365 times throughout the entire year – and they don’t take up any space on the floor!

I’ll be honest though, in the moment, my kids wouldn’t be too thrilled to receive a plastic card with a bow on top! Over time, they would understand the gift of membership, for sure, but I’ve also included a small gift idea that would go with the theme of each membership in case you want a little something for the kid in your life to open on the spot!

5 Columbus Membership Gifts that give the gift of experience all year round:


1. Ohio History Connection

Ohio History Center MastodonA membership to Ohio History Connection is one of the most affordable memberships in Ohio! If you live in Columbus or Central Ohio, you’ll have year round access to Ohio History Center and Ohio Village and their many events, but you also get access to over 50 historical sites all around the state of Ohio!

There are lots of activities for kids inside the museum including a play area, mounted animals, a 1950’s house to explore, 2 cabin areas where kids can play with historical tools and household items. (Read about our visit to Ohio History Center!) During the summer, Ohio Village is a fun place to explore with your family. The village is based in the late 1800’s and you can visit shops and businesses to meet the residents and learn about their way of life.

Cost for membership: Household memberships are just $65 and apply to 2 adults and all children 18 and under. For an additional $20 you can upgrade to the Plus membership and you can bring 2 additional guests any time you visit!

If your kids are 5 and under, consider getting an Individual membership for $45. Kids 5 and under are free and with the Individual membership, you can bring an additional guest at any time.

Discounts available: Discounts are available for adults over 60, active educators, active duty military or local history organization, Ohio Farm Bureau members, and to households who relieve WIC or have an Ohio Direction Card.

Perks: Throughout the year, several fun events are held at Ohio Village (an outdoor historical village included with your admission to Ohio History Center) such as Storybook Village, All Hallow’s Eve, vintage base ball games and more! Discounts are also available to members in the gift shop!

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Columbus and the State of Ohio: Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know – learn all the cool facts about Ohio, including about Ohio Village Muffins base ball!


2. Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory's Children's Garden

A year or so ago, I would have recommended this membership with a little bit of reservation. Franklin Park Conservatory is amazing, no doubt, but when it comes to kids, there was just a small part of the museum where they could really be hands on. My kids loved all parts of the museum, especially the butterflies, so we’ve always had a membership. HOWEVER, with the opening of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, a membership to Franklin Park Conservatory is a MUST HAVE for Central Ohio families!

The Conservatory offers activities for families on most weekends, special holiday events, special exhibits and the ever popular annual Blooms and Butterflies exhibit where you can walk amongst hundreds of butterflies! The Children’s Garden, opened in 2018, is an amazing outdoor garden with several different themed areas for kids to explore. The garden is open year round and there are special story times and events throughout the year. It’s an entire exhibit in itself!

Cost for membership: The Family membership is $125 and includes two adults and all children 18 and under. Add an additional $50 to be able to bring 2 additional guests each visit.

Discounts available: a 10% discount off of memberships is given to full time educators and active or retired military personnel. An Access Family Membership is available at a significant discount ($30) for families in eligible programs such as CareSource, Ohio Directions Card, Medicaid, WIC or Molina.

Perks: Members get a 10% discount in the cafe and gift shop! Your membership card will get you free admission to over 300 gardens throughout North America and the Cayman Islands!

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Butterfly Garden – kids can watch their own caterpillars become butterflies just like at Franklin Park Conservatory!


3. Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

little kidspace at COSI

COSI is a must have membership for Columbus families! COSI has something for every age and even adults are sure to have fun! Even if you have littler kids (5 and under), a membership to COSI just to play in little kidspace once a week beats the cost of any other indoor play area in town!

Toddlers and babies will start out in little kidspace, a huge play area that includes an art studio, water tables, ride on vehicles, slides and climbing and so many opportunities for imaginative play! As they grow, they will progress to the other areas of the museum including tinkering with robots, exploring the ocean, learning about their bodies and visiting the permanent dinosaur exhibit!

Cost for membership: Family memberships at COSI range from $119 – $329/year depending on how much you would like to add on! The Basic Family membership is $149 and is a great starter membership! If you’d like to regularly attend Planetarium shows or bring an add on guest, consider upgrading to the Premium Family membership! Purchase a Gift Membership here!

Discounts available: A $10 discount on memberships is given for active, reserve and retired military. There is also a discounted membership for Teacher Families and Single Adult Families. The Family Access membership is available for $49 for families participating in WIC, Ohio Directions Card or Ohio Medicaid.

Perks: Members get access to special events, early entrance to new exhibits and discounts in the gift shop and cafe! Members also get discounted parking and free or discounted admission to over 350 participating science centers.

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: My First Mind Blowing Science Kit – get kids interested in science through hands on experiments! A perfect way to continue the learning at home!


4. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus

LEGO lovers will be in heaven at the newest Columbus attraction! Housed in Easton Station at Easton Town Center, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus offers 10+ LEGO building areas, 2 rides, a 4D movie theater and a cafe! If your kids love playing with LEGO bricks, you will get tons of use out of this membership!

An Annual Pass to LEGOLAND Columbus is one of the pricier memberships listed here, but if you live in town and think you will visit more than 3 times, it’s well worth it! An Annual Pass also gets you a discount in the huge LEGO store connected to the attraction, which will also be worth it if you’re buying any LEGO sets for your kids as gifts throughout the year!

Cost for membership: The cost of an Annual Pass is $60.00 per person when you buy 3 or more passes. Keep in mind kids 2 and under are free and you must be accompanied by a child to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus.

Discounts available: no additional discounts are available at this time on Annual Passes.

Perks: LEGOLAND is open 365 days a year! Members get express entry, 20% off food and drinks in the Coffee Shop & Cafe and 10% off select items in the LEGO Store attached to the attraction.

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership:  Pick out a LEGO set to accompany these passes, maybe something holiday themed like LEGO Duple Town Santa’s Winter Holiday


5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Polar Bear and Baby at Columbus Zoo

A membership to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is another must-have for Columbus kids! For one thing, having a membership to the Columbus Zoo takes away the pressure to see it all in one trip! The Zoo is so big, seeing it in one day can be literally exhausting. But if you have a membership, you can visit areas at your leisure, truly enjoying them with no pressure to “get your money’s worth”.

Another major bonus is that members get to park for free! Parking is $10 a pop, so this is no small savings as you visit throughout the year! The Zoo has some great programs for kids like Zoo Camps and Little Explorers Base Camp and great seasonal events like Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights that are included in your membership.

Cost for membership: Family Memberships begin at $114 (if you’re buying online) and continue up to $144.99/person if you’d like to include membership to Zoombezi Bay! The Family Plus membership is available for $144.00 (online) which allows you to bring two guests when you visit. Prices increase if you are not a Franklin County resident.

Discounts available: Discounts are given to Franklin County residents on admission and memberships!

Perks: Membership includes FREE parking (a $10 value each time you visit), Members Only events, a discount at the Zoo Gift Shop, priority registration for programs and free or reduced admission to more than 100 AZA accredited zoos.

Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: 54 Piece Jungle Animals Set – get psyched about visiting the Heart of Africa at Columbus Zoo by playing with giraffes and lions ahead of time!


A Note About The Columbus Member Advantage:

If you buy one of these memberships listed above (except LEGOLAND), you will be eligible for the Columbus Member Advantage program!
Buy One, Get One Free admission is available through the Columbus Member Advantage program at the following participating locations. Show your membership card from any one of these participating museums and institutions to receive BOGO free tickets:
•Columbus Museum of Art
•Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
•COSI
•Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
•Wexner Center for the Arts
•Franklin Park Conservatory
The fine print: “Receive up to two free general admissions of equal or lesser value per visit when purchasing two regular-priced general admission tickets. Tickets must be purchased from the admissions area of the facility you are visiting. Cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. Not valid on prior purchases. No rain checks or refunds. Some restrictions may apply. Offer expires December 31, 2018 unless otherwise noted.” (This is usually repeated each calendar year.)

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