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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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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

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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

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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

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3. Gardens Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)

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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

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4. Bicentenial Park

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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

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5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

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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

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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

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8. Think Outside the Brick

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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

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9. Easton

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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!

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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? December 22-25, 2016 Holiday Edition!

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Christmas Weekend is upon us! If you have kids on winter break or toddlers that have a lot of extra energy to get out, there are a lot of things to do this week and weekend! Don’t forget to check out my 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt and print out the printable to take it a long with you as you’re out and about! It includes 25 things to find in Columbus before New Year’s Day! I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

10:00 AM – Winter Warm Up Week at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – the center is offering a couple days worth of activities for kids including movies, story times, crafts, scavenger hunts and more! Admission is free!

10:00 AM – Holiday Open Play at SuperGames – the first 150 children (first come, first served) will be allowed to play during these open hours!

10:00 AM – Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft at Blendon Woods Metro Park – stop by the nature center for crafts and a scavenger hunt!

10:00 AM – Merry and Bright at Franklin Park Conservatory –  the Conservatory stays open until 9:00 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

1:00 PM – Lego Class at Level One Bar + Arcade – sign up in advance to attend a class teaching the kids how to create a special Lego figure! There is also a class at 3:00 PM

5:00 PM – Visit with Santa at Partner’s Park – last chance to visit with Santa before he gets ready for Christmas Eve!

6:45 PM – Family Night Painting and Cocoa at John E. Bickley YMCA – paint a picture on canvas, watch a holiday movie and enjoy a hot cocoa bar! $5 per person.

7:30 PM – Movie Night at Coffee Underground – watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas for free, with popcorn!

7:30 PM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Friday, December 23, 2016

10:00 AM – Winter Warm Up Week at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – the center is offering a couple days worth of activities for kids including movies, story times, crafts, scavenger hunts and more! Admission is free!

10:00 AM – Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft at Blendon Woods Metro Park – stop by the nature center for crafts and a scavenger hunt!

10:00 AM – Merry and Bright at Franklin Park Conservatory –  the Conservatory stays open until 9:00 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

10:30 AM – Jingle and Mingle with Seniors with Seeds of Caring – join residents from Jaycee Arms Senior Apartments at their annual holiday party to play games, sing songs and give gifts to the residents! See the link for more info about registering.

11:00 AM – The Shazzbots at Franklin Park Conservatory – join this fun band for two sets (11:00 AM and 2:00 PM) of Shazzbots classics and holiday tunes!

1:00 PM – Open Swim at Worthington Pools – $5 per person during these open swim hours!

7:30 PM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

11:00 AM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend! Also at 2:00 PM!

6:00 PM – Christmas Eve Ceremony at State Auto Christmas Corner – this life-sized nativity display will be completed when baby Jesus is placed in the manger!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

5:00 PM – $1 Roller Skating at Skate Zone 71 – admission is only $1 from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM!

Ongoing

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art – check out the huge LEGO display and make your own LEGO creation!

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!

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! For every photo posted on Instagram with #StateAutoChristmas2016, State Auto will donate $1 to Manna Café (up to $500)!

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!

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

For more ongoing ideas click here for 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions!

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Make sure to follow What Should We Do Today? on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and never miss a post!

ICYMI: 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt


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What Should We Do This Weekend? December 15-18, 2016 Holiday Edition!

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Welcome to another big Holiday weekend post! Christmas is almost here and New Year’s is around the corner! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Ongoing

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art – check out the huge LEGO display and make your own LEGO creation!

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! For every photo posted on Instagram with #StateAutoChristmas2016, State Auto will donate $1 to Manna Café (up to $500)!

Merry and Bright – FPC is open until 9:00 PM December 14-23, 2016 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

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!

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

For more ongoing ideas click here for 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12:00 PM – Holiday Choir Performances at the Statehouse – lunchtime concerts happen on weekdays through December 18, 2016!

2:30 PM – Santa at Tremont Goodie Shop – come see Santa until 5:30 PM!

6:30 PM – PJ’s and Pages at Westland Area Library – this family story time will feature holiday stories, books and crafts!

Friday, December 16, 2016

12:00 PM – Holiday Choir Performances at the Statehouse – lunchtime concerts happen on weekdays through December 18, 2016!

5:00 PM – Ice Sculpture Tour in Uptown Westerville – illuminated ice sculptures will be on display all weekend, weather permitting!

6:30 PM – Free Family Movie Night at The Shops at Worthington Place – watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and Toy Story 3 with free popcorn!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

8:00 AM – Breakfast with Santa at Worthington Pools – three time slots are available and you must register online!

10:00 AM – PBJ & Jazz Songs of the Season at  Lincoln Theatre – there are two performances (second is at 11:30) of holiday selections and your entry fee includes lunch for the kids!

11:00 AM – Santa and Mrs. Claus at North Market – visit Santa AND his live reindeer! There will live music, too!

11:00 AM – Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen at Franklin Park Conservatory – make cookies with Mrs. Claus! Santa and 2 live reindeer will also make an appearance!

12:00 PM – Santa at Global Gifts Short North – take you own picture with Santa who will be around until 4:00 as part of Wrap it Up Saturday in the Short North!

12:00 PM – Horse-drawn Carriage Rides at Oakland Nursery, Columbus Garden Center – weekends also include live music, lights and the Santa Wonderland!

12:00 PM – Christmas Time Open House at Central Ohio Model Railroad Club – see the model railroads and enjoy some treats!

12:00 PM – Secret Elf Shoppe & Vendor Fair at Studio J and Cruz Candy – kids can shop for gifts while adults shop the vendor fair! There will be prizes, candy and a book signing!

12:00 PM – Sensory Friendly Visits with Santa at Coffee Connections of Hilliard – see the link to schedule a visit!

1:00 PM – ‘Tis the Season at Slate Run Farm – string popcorn and make an ornament to take home at this family friendly event! (this event is also happening on Sunday.)

1:30 PM – Hockey Santa at The Chiller Ice Rinks – skate with Santa with free skating instruction and cookie decoration!

4:00 PM – A Christmas Evening at Slate Run Farm – enjoy 1880’s holiday activities at the farm!

6:00 PM – Live Choir Performances at State Auto Christmas Corner – three choirs perform, beginning at 6:00 PM!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12:00 PM – Horse-drawn Carriage Rides at Oakland Nursery, Columbus Garden Center – weekends also include live music, lights and the Santa Wonderland!

1:30 PM – Hockey Santa at The Chiller Ice Rinks – skate with Santa with free skating instruction and cookie decoration!

2:00 PM – Live Music at North Market – the Worthington High School Chorale will perform!

2:00 PM – Holiday Kids Crafts at Blacklick Woods – make a holiday craft and drink hot cocoa!

2:00 PM – Elf Scavenger Hunt at Homestead Metro Park – this event for preschoolers involves a short hike searching for elves and drinking hot chocolate when it’s done!

3:00 PM – Urban Strings Columbus Holiday Concert at Main Library – this family friendly holiday concert takes place in the 2nd floor Reading Room!

**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!**

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Make sure to follow What Should We Do Today? on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and never miss a post!

ICYMI: Columbus Museum of Art: Think Outside the Brick

*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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