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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What Should We Do This Weekend? February 17-20, 2017 President’s Day Edition

1. Open Play at Thompson Recreation Center

When: Friday, February 17, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 1189 Dennison Ave, Columbus, OH 43201

The gym is open for this free play time for kids 6 and under! There are balls, basketball hoops, scooters, toys, jump ropes and more!

2. Story time at Tree of Life Play Cafe

When: Friday, February 17, 2017
Time: 10:15 AM and 11:00 AM
Location: 3708 Fishinger Blvd., Hilliard, OH 43026
Phone: 614-363-4041

Local author Christy Sturtz will share her book Just Try It, Georgie! about a giraffe who tries new food. There will also be a craft time! There are two story times available.

3. Superhero Breakfast at  COSI

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674

The Superhero Breakfast includes a breakfast buffet, meet and greet with Black Widow, Iron Man and Spiderman, a take home activity, entertainment and a photo! See the link for info on tickets.

4. STEMfest at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology

When: Saturday & Sunday, February 18 & 19, 2017
Time: 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 55 S 1st St., Newark, OH 43055
Phone: 740-349-9277

Admission is FREE to The Works this weekend during the 2-day STEMfest! Watch students compete in STEM-based challenges designed by local industries and businesses!

5. Chase from Paw Patrol Meet and Greet at Skate Zone 71

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 4900 Evanswood Dr., Columbus, OH 43229

Chase from Paw Patrol will be visiting Skate Zone 71! There will be a special Paw Patrol Meal Deal: $3.50 for 1 Slice of Cheese Pizza & Drink! See link for all details on pricing.

6. Maple Syrup Tours at Stratford Ecological Center

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548

Hour-long tours are available to discover how maple syrup is collected and processed while enjoying the beautiful forest at Stratford Ecological Center! You must register in advance.

7. Mighty Mighty Construction Site Story Time at Barnes and Noble

When: Saturday February 18, 2017
Time:  11:00 AM
Location: your local Barnes and Noble

Sherri Duskey Rinker, the author of Good Night, Good Night Construction Site has a new book with a focus on working together! Hear the book read and take part in coloring and other activities!

8. Black History Storytime at Bexley Public Library

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 2411 E. Main St., Bexley, OH 43209
Phone: 614-231-2878

Each Saturday in February, the library is offering a Black History Storytime featuring the opportunity to celebrate and learn about famous black Americans!

9. Lego Club at Westland Area Library

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 4740 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43228
Phone: 614-878-1301

Kids can work in teams or on their own to complete a LEGO challenge!

10. Sunday Story Time at Gramercy Books

When: Sunday, February 19, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: 2424 East Main St., Bexley , OH 43209
Phone: 614-867-5515

This story time for kids happens on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at this new local bookstore.

President’s Day Activities:

11. President’s Day Art Morning at Picassos

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 1974 North Mallway Dr., Upper Arlington, OH, 43221
Phone: 614-354-1930

Kids 6 and up can take part in a patriotic art project! Supplies and snack are included! Registration is available online.

12. President’s Day Free Day at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-645-3400

Admission is free all day at the Columbus Zoo! Parking is $10/car.

13. Special Hours at COSI

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 333 W. Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674

COSI (normally closed on Mondays) will be open from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM! Their new exhibit Mindbender Mansion and Amazing Mazes will be on display!

14. Jazz Adventures at Franklin Park Conservatory

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Location: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Jazz Arts Group will be onsite to explore the history of jazz. There will be live music and audience participation!

15. President’s Day at Ohio History Center

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus OH 43211
Phone: 614-297-2300

Ohio History Center will be open on Monday with special presidential crafts, activities and speakers!

16. $5/Hour Child Play Day at Brick of Dreams

When: Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 12:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Location: 6190 Shamrock Ct, Ste C., Dublin, OH 43016
Phone: 614-766-0000

Brick of Dreams will offer open play for $5/hour/kid! Regular price is $7/hour/kid.


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ICYMI: Indoor Fun Around Columbus: 6 Things to do Before Spring

*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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Indoor Fun Around Columbus: 6 Things to Do Before Spring!

Here are some indoor activities to do around Columbus before it gets warm! Though the winter has been pretty mild, I’m still counting down until park days, evening walks and no more winter coats! If you’re getting stir crazy in the house, pick one of these ideas for a fun outing with the kids!

1. Brick of Dreams

  • UPDATE: Brick of Dreams closed in the Fall of 2017
  • 6190 Shamrock Ct., Suite C, Dublin, OH 43016

Brick of Dreams is a fun way to spend an hour or two free-building with LEGO and DUPLO blocks! You pay per kid, per hour to have full access to the thousands of LEGO bricks available! Around the room are shelves full of containers filled with LEGOs, pick one out, sit at one of the many tables and go to town! There are also DUPLO blocks for the younger crowd and a race track for your creations with wheels! I took my 5 year old for an hour one morning and it flew by! Keep an eye out for the President’s Day special – $5/hour/kid. (Regular cost is $7/hour/kid).

2. Mindbender Mansion and Amazing Mazes at COSI

  • 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

COSI has a new exhibit going on until April 30, 2017. It’s on the second floor and it’s filled with illusions, mazes and mysteries! Kids can create their own mazes, solve mysteries, try to figure out optical illusions and wind their way through mazes themselves! (To be honest, it’s pretty fun for adults, too!) This exhibit is free with admission or membership. We were recently hosted by COSI and invited to try the new Bean Sprouts menu in the Atomic Café. The menu offers healthy options for kids (and adults!) The P-moji Pizza and Chicken Presto Chango sandwich were really good!

3. Milk and Cookie Happy Hour at Sassafras Bakery

I know, I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but cookies are always worth mentioning again, in my book! 😉 I often find the hardest hour of the day to pass is from 4:00 – 5:00 PM. So if you need a little cheer to get you through the last part of the afternoon, head to Sassafras Bakery for Milk and Cookie Happy Hour from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. You get a free glass of milk or cup of coffee with each cookie purchased. (Most cookies are $2).

4. Gramercy Books

  • 2424 E. Main St., Bexley, OH 43209

Gramercy Books is a new independent bookstore in Bexley. There is a great selection of children’s books! If your kids love books and reading, they will love it here! On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month, they will host Sunday Storytime for kids at 12:00 PM. Attached to the bookstore is Kittie’s, a wonderful little coffee shop and bakery! Put the two together and you have a perfect outing!

5. Coffee Connections of Hilliard

  • 4004 Main St, Hilliard, OH 43026

Coffee Connections is a coffee shop with a mission to build community. Located in Old Hilliard, the shop has two buildings. The front (on Main St.) is where the coffee is made and served and in the back building, on the second floor, there is a play area for kids! As long as you’ve got coffee in hand, this play area is free! It is geared toward the younger crowd, I’d say 5 and under, but there is a lot of space to sit and catch up with a friend while your kids play!

6. Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

  • 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

There are just a few more weeks to see Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art.The exhibit is on display until February 26, 2017 and is included in admission or membership. Also, remember that admission is free on Sundays! Along with the large LEGO display, there are bricks for free building, and a LEGO Pokemon scavenger hunt!

If you’re looking for more fun {INDOOR} ideas, check out 20 FREE Indoor Play Areas in Columbus or my post for Columbus Moms Blog: 5 FREE Kid-Friendly Columbus Outings!


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ICYMI: Save Money on LEGO Sets with BrickSmarts


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