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7 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season

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We’re never at a loss for things to do around here and the Holiday events in Columbus do not disappoint!

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 7 holiday events around Columbus that are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood!

Here are 7 of the Most Festive Holiday Events in Columbus Ohio:

1. Dragon Lights Chinese Lantern Festival

Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio

Dragon Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: November 23, 2018 – January 6, 2019 (Closed Mondays)
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

Dragon Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio

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!

Cost: Adults $19, Children 5-16 $14, Kids under 5 are free. Discounts with Military ID and for those over 65. Family 4 pack is $55. Save $2-$5 by buying online. Purchase tickets before November 23rd for a $3 discount using the code “ZAONIAO” (early bird in Chinese Pinyin).

Dragon Chinese Lantern Festival, Columbus, Ohio


2. Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Lights at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: November 17, 2018 – January 2, 2019
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM in November, 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

Rotating Railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow

Stockings hung at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

Franklin Park Conservatory does not disappoint when it comes to creating a festive atmosphere! 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 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 Cookies with Santa, live musical performances, a magic show, and more! Also, make sure not to miss the gingerbread competition and rotating railroad! This year the celebration even extends to the Children’s Garden!

Trees at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow


3. Wildlights at Columbus Zoo

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

family at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Dates: November 16, 2018 – January 6, 2019
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

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In my opinion, Wildlights gets better every year! This is one of our favorite holiday events in Columbus! 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 last 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!

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, tree


4. The Nutcracker

Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio

Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: December 7-23, 2018
Hours: Performances happening Wednesday through Sunday
Where: Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., Columbus, Oh 43215
Tickets: See ticket info here.

Ohio Theatre, Columbus, Ohio, The Nutcracker

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 last 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!

Orchestra Pit at Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker


5. State Auto Christmas Corner

Nativity scene, Bethlehem, State Auto, Columbus, Ohio  Nativity Scene, 3 wisemen, State Auto, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: December 4, 2018 – January 2, 2019
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.

Nativity Scene, Mary and Joseph, at State Auto, Columbus, Ohio

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. Official Lighting is Tuesday December 4 including a performance by the Columbus Children’s Choir. On Friday and Saturday nights 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.

Nativity Scene at State Auto, Columbus, Ohio


6. Holiday Lights in Downtown Columbus

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

Dates: November 21, 2018 through early January 2019
Hours: Dusk until 11:00 PM
Where: Columbus Commons, the Lazarus Building and the Scioto Mile
More Info: CDDC Website

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

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.

Winterfest takes place this year at Bicentennial Park on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons


7. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Christmas Lights at Butch Bando's Fantasy of Lights

Image by: Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Dates: November 16, 2018 – January 1, 2019
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Where: Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds, 3311 South Old State Rd., Delaware, OH 43015

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights is an annual holiday 3 mile drive thru light show, with over 140 LED brilliant light displays you can see in the comfort of your own car.

The Fantasy of Lights benefits many local charities such as Recreation Unlimited, A Kid Again, Autism Speaks, among others, and honors current and former military through specialized evenings.


What are you favorite Columbus holiday traditions?

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7 Festive Things to Do in Columbus Ohio


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Columbus Christmas Traditions

ICYMI: 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions


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Mark Your Calendar: The Nutcracker

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The Nutcracker is synonymous with the holidays! Maybe you already see it every year or you’re looking to start a special tradition with your family. Seeing The Nutcracker in the beautiful Ohio Theater is a memorable experience! It’s a Christmas memory of mine and I am looking forward to seeing it again this year! To celebrate, I’m giving away a 4 pack of tickets to The Nutcracker on my Facebook page!

This post is written in partnership with BalletMet and the following information and photos have been provided by BalletMet.

Central Ohio’s most beloved holiday tradition since 1974 — BalletMet’s The Nutcracker — will once again be presented from Dec. 8 to 24 at the historic Ohio Theatre. Set to Tchaikovsky’s original score performed by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the ballet is choreographed by former BalletMet Artistic Director Gerard Charles.

“This is our 40th anniversary season at BalletMet and the one constant production we’ve brought every year to our fans has been ‘The Nutcracker.’ We love the opportunity to perform in front of tens of thousands of Central Ohioans each year with this beloved production,” said BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang. “It’s wonderful to have our professional company and our academy students working together to create this show for Central Ohio.”

The tale of the imaginative Clara, the nutcracker who turns into a prince, the Mouse King and the Sugarplum Fairy, will feature a large cast including BalletMet’s professional dancers from both its companies – BalletMet and BalletMet 2, along with 152 students from the BalletMet Academy.  Each performance will have more than 122 characters onstage – including academy students in the roles of pages, party children, mice, and soldiers performing alongside BalletMet’s renowned professionals.

“Approximately 27,000 people came to our performances last year, and we look forward to delighting even more patrons with our 40th anniversary Nutcracker performance this year,” said BalletMet Executive Director Sue Porter. “Attending ‘The Nutcracker’ is a family holiday tradition here in Central Ohio, and the cast and staff make the choreography, the costumes and the sets come alive to make it a truly magical experience.”

Dec. 8 to 24, 2016 | Ohio Theatre

Friday, 12/8 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/9 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/10 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Friday, 12/15 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/16 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/17 12 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 12/20 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, 12/21 7:30 p.m.
Friday, 12/22 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/23 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m
Sunday, 12/24 2 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $29 to $93 and can be purchased at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.) and online at ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

ABOUT BALLETMET 

Renowned for its versatility and innovative repertory, BalletMet ranks among the nation’s 20 largest ballet companies.

Since its inception in 1978, BalletMet has made the commission and performance of new works a core organizational priority, with more than 150 World Premieres and hundreds of Company Premieres performed throughout its history. BalletMet stages 60 to 70 performances each year at home and on tour. In the past, the company toured 28 U.S. states and internationally to Russia, Poland, Egypt, Spain and Canada.

BalletMet’s Academy has also been recognized as an institution of local and national stature. It offers hundreds of classes to roughly 1,700 students, ages 3 to 95, each year. Students in our Intensive, Boys and Trainee Programs gain invaluable training and experience, including the opportunity to dance on stage alongside the company’s professional dancers.

BalletMet developed DanceReach, a series of educational and outreach programs serving nearly 30,000 people annually. The DanceReach program offers up to 60 scholarships each year to talented youth, many from minority and underserved groups, who could not otherwise participate in dance training.

For more information, visit www.BalletMet.org.

Want us to mark our calendar for YOUR event? Click here.

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ICYMI: 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions


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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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ICYMI: 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt


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