10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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!

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 3, 2017, 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 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065


3. Gardens Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)


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 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!

When: November 11, 2017 – January 3, 2018: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, December: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203


4. Bicentenial Park


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 2, 2017, it will include live performers such as Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons, food trucks like Paddy Wagon and Pitabilities, as well as the opportunity to purchase soup from Milestone 229 in a handmade bowl as part of the Empty Bowls initiative. The park will be full of lights beginning November 17th!

When: November 17, 2017 through Early January 2018
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 library will begin set up of the train on November 17, 2017 and is usually up through New Years!

When: November 17, 2017 – 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! We don’t miss it!

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 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 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! See more pictures from our visit here!

When: November 10, 2017 – March 2, 2018
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 (an all-new, 50 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrives in 2017!)! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 17, 2017 beginning at 6:00 PM and includes a parade, a fireworks show, a visit from Santa and more!


When: beginning November 17, 2017
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 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! 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.
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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ICYMI: Columbus Tip Sheet: November 2017

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6 Ways to Enjoy Columbus Commons this Summer

My family has enjoyed many events at the Columbus Commons over the past few years! Many of the events have become traditions, especially the Downtown Live Concerts and Commons for Kids! My son still routinely asks when they are having the Harvest Festival because he remembers “making bread” there a few years ago!

Get out your calendars because this summer is packed full of free fun at Columbus Commons. In fact, the Commons has developed a 2017 Summer Checklist to make sure you don’t miss a thing! This year, I am a Columbus Commons Ambassador, so you will definitely see us checking off many of the items on this list!

Download the CHECKLIST here!

Here are 6 ways you can enjoy Columbus Commons with your kids this summer:

1. Food Truck Food Court

Now through October 26 (with the exception of September 14) from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, head down to the Commons for a fun lunch date! There will be 8 regular trucks and 2 rotating trucks each week!

2. Commons for Kids

Beginning June 2 through August 18 (with the exception of June 30) from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, the Commons hosts a fun Friday morning for kids! The carousel and bounce-houses are FREE during this time and there are other activities like arts and crafts, ball play, Imagination Playground, Art Box and a life-sized chess board! There are different visitors each week and we have seen Ronald McDonald, Columbus Zoo, Daniel Tiger from Visit Pittsburgh, and others!

Other visitors this year include The Great Randini Magic Show, Aha! Children’s Museum, Franklin Park Conservatory and more! If the temperature is 80 degrees or higher there will also be a water slide!

3. Downtown Live Concert Series

For the past few summers we have hit at least a few of these FREE concerts on Thursday nights! We like to pack a picnic dinner and then get ice cream at Jeni’s while we enjoy live music in the background! My kids love watching live bands and this is a relaxed and family-friendly way to do it!

Downtown Live Concerts happen on Thursdays in July from 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM. There are food trucks and an artisan market as well! The bands this year are as follows:

  • July 6: Mojo Flo / Nick D & the Believers
  • July13: Popgun / Forest & the Evergreens
  • July 20: Conspiracy / Reaganomics
  • July 27: Floorwalkers / Spikedrivers

There are other FREE concerts happening at Columbus Commons throughout the summer! See the list here.

4. Free Movie Nights

There are 2 more Free Movie Nights throughout the summer! You can bring your own picnic or purchase food at the park. Each Movie Night has a different time and set of events going on that day. You can see all the details here.

The dates and movies are as follows:

  • July 21: The LEGO Batman Moive
  • September 2: The Jungle Book

5. Family Fundays

Family Fundays are FREE events on select Saturdays with activities for families! There are two more this summer! There will be free carousel rides, arts and crafts, a planting station with Lowe’s and more! A $5 wristband will get your child unlimited access to activities like laster tag, inflatables, face painting and Putt-Putt.

If your child has a sensory sensitivity, you can come one hour early for a low-key atmosphere, thanks to Autism Speaks.

Upcoming Family Fundays this summer include:

  • September 2
  • September 30: Harvest Fair

In addition to the regular activities, the Harvest Fair also includes a pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting, and carving!

6. Open Play

You don’t have to wait for a special event to play at Columbus Commons! Activities like Art Box (a cabinet full of free art supplies), Bocce Ball, the NEOS electronic playground, and the carousel ($1/ride) are open throughout the week! Open Play hours begin May 31 and end on October 2 and are Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM, weather permitting.

The carousel is open through October 2 and the hours are as follows:

  • Monday – Friday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

In addition to Open Play, there are two permanent cafes at the Commons, Jeni’s and Tortilla.

For convenient parking, use the Main Garage at 55 E. Rich St. Parking is usually $5 for special events, but this may vary. That garage is directly across the street from Columbus Commons and takes the stress out of parking. Or you can be me and circle around the one way streets, trying to find a meter in the area. (I recommend arriving very early if you plan to do this!) 😉  There is also an underground parking garage. You can see all the parking info here.

Which Columbus Commons event is your family’s favorite?


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What Should We Do This Weekend? April 21-23, 2017 Earth Day Edition!

1. Open Play at Easterseals of Central and Southeast Ohio

When: Friday, April 21, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Location: 3830 Truman Ct., Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-228-5523

The play area at Easterseals will be open from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM for a special Open Play time. Price is $5/child for ages 7 and under! Availability is subject to maximum capacity reached.

2. Earth Day Bird Feeders with FIT4MOM Columbus North

When: Friday, April 21, 2017
Time: 9:30 AM
Location: Polaris Fashion Place, 1500 Polaris Pkwy, Columbus, OH 43240

Join FIT4MOM for a workout (kids welcome!) and do a bird feeder craft afterwards! Your first class is free and the crafts are always free! See more about FIT4MOM here!

3. KidX: Earth Day Jubilee at Polaris Fashion Place

When: Friday, April 21, 2017
Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 1500 Polaris Pkwy, Columbus, OH 43240
Phone: 614-456-0180

Join the KidX Kid’s Club to celebrate Earth Day by decorating a pot and planting flowers! Delaware County Preservation Parks will be there to provide educational information and the first 100 families will get a free tree to plant!

4. Dream Catcher Class with Sew Many Stitches

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Sew to Speak, 752 High St., Worthington, OH 43085
Phone: 614-547-7380

Kids 8 and up (accompanied by a parent) can take this class to learn how to make a traditional dream catcher with a modern twist! Call to register!

5. Hilliard Earth Day at Hilliard Community Center

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 3800 Veterans Memorial Dr, Hilliard, OH 43026

This Earth Day Celebration is free and includes arts and crafts for the kids as well as lots of educational opportunities!

6. Saturday Morning Cartoons From Around the World at CCAD

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Location: CCAD Canzani Center Auditorium, 60 Cleveland Ave., Columbus, OH 43215

It’s free for kids 12 and under (General Admission $6) to watch these family-friendly cartoons from around the world as part of the Columbus International Film + Video Festival!

7. Tulips and Tutus at Franklin Park Conservatory

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Kids can make a tulip fan craft and at 2:00 PM, Columbus Youth Ballet will teach them ballet steps! Free with admission!

8. 3rd Birthday Celebration at Naturally Curious Kids

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: 13 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-568-8590

Help Naturally Curious Kids to celebrate their 3rd birthday with crafts, treats and games! Follow their Facebook page for more details!

9. Daniel Tiger Storytime at Grove City Library

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 3359 Park St., Grove City, OH 43123
Phone: 614-875-6716

This is a special story time at the new Grove City Library featuring stories about Daniel Tiger and friends! There will be songs, dancing and more! Appropriate for ages 2-7.


10. Earth Day: “Protect Our Pollinator” at HTH Farm Market

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: 2340 W. Dublin Granville Rd., Columbus, OH 43235

Those who attend this event will learn how to support pollinators in your community! Kid-friendly activities include learning about planting plants and the life cycles of insects! There will be caterpillars and butterflies will be released!

11. Raisin Healthy Kids at Raisin Rack Natural Food Market

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: 2545 W. Schrock Rd., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-882-5886

Celebrate Earth Day with recycled crafts, container garden demonstrations and featured eco-friendly products! If you ride your bike there you will receive a special reward!

12. OSU Drum Major Tryouts at Woody Hayes Athletic Center

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Harmon Family Football Park, 2491 Olentangy River Rd., Columbus, OH 43210

Drum major try outs for the OSU Marching Band are open to the public! Each candidate will perform, accompanied by the spring Athletic Band and the 2016 Marching Band and the 2017 drum major and assistant drum major will be named at the end of try outs!

13. Earth Day Celebration at Columbus Commons

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

Celebrate a week of service in Columbus with this Earth Day Celebration! There will be a petting zoo and chalk-board drawing for kids, food trucks and live music for the adults! All ages are welcome and this event is free!

14. Columbus Chicken Coop Tour hosted by 4th Street Farms

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: various locations around the city

This is a family-friendly, self-guided tour of local urban farms featuring chicken, quail, partridge and rabbit! This tour is meant to help families and kids learn about where our food comes from and to provide information for people who are considering keeping chickens in their own backyard! See the link for locations!

15. Monster Jam at The Schottenstein Center

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 555 Borror Dr., Columbus, OH 43210

This action-packed event includes monster truck racing and freestyle competitions!

16. Life at the Farm at the Orange Johnson House

When: Sunday, April 23, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: 956 High St., Worthington, OH 43085
Phone: 614-885-1247

Join the Worthington Historical Society for the opening of the Orange Johnson House for the season! “Bring the Farm to You” will have farm animals on site for visiting and touching! There will also be hands-on activities for kids including pioneer games, Lincoln Log building, pioneer outfits and more! See the link for pricing. Members are free.


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ICYMI: Spring Break: 7 Things to do This Week in Columbus

*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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