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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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