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

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 holiday things to do in Columbus over Winter Break or if you’re in need of a healthy dose of festivity to get into the Holiday Spirit, here are 7 holiday and Christmas events around Columbus that are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood!

All info is being updated for the 2022 holiday season! Please continue to check back!

1. Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Lights at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow, Columbus, Ohio
  • Dates: November 19, 2022 – January 8, 2023
  • Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, Oh 43203
  • Phone: 614-715-8000
Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory in 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. Also, make sure not to miss the gingerbread competition beginning December 1 and the Paul Busse Garden Railway!

Stockings hung at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

This year the show extends inside the Conservatory, and outside in the Children’s Garden and the Grand Mallway. Keep an eye out for a life-sized gingerbread house, ornament trees and a disco dance party inside the rainbow tunnel!

There is a special engagement rate for this event and members receive 50% off. Reserving tickets in advance is strongly recommended. Access Family Members and families participating in SNAP, EBT, WIC and Medicaid can qualify for $3 Special Engagement Rates.

Trees at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow

2. Wildlights at Columbus Zoo

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
  • Dates: November 18, 2022 – January 1, 2023
  • Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM Sundays – Thursdays, 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
  • Where: 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065
  • Phone: 614-645-3400
family 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! Each year there are more lights than ever and the season includes special visitors and performances. 

Walk through the zoo and enjoy millions of LED lights, animated light shows, Rudolph and Friends, Santa, a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 4-D theater short and much more!

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

This event is included in regular admission and free for members! 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

3. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

  • Dates: November 18, 2022 – January 1, 2023
  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM, Friday and Saturday: 5:30 PM – 10:00 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 300 LED brilliant light displays you can see in the comfort of your own car.

Pricing is as follows:

  • Cars/Minivans/SUVs: Monday-Thursday (weekday discount): $20 per vehicle /// Friday, Saturday and Sunday: $30 per vehicle
  • See link for pricing on larger vehicles.

You can also buy a season pass for $80 which is good for any time the show is open during the season.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online. Expect longer wait times or traffic shut downs on the weekends and plan to visit during the week if possible!

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

4. WonderLight’s Christmas

car driving through a lit tunnel at WonderLights Christmas in Ohio

“WonderLight’s Christmas”, a drive-through Christmas light show, is housed at Hartford Fairgrounds in Hartford, Ohio, about 33 miles from downtown Columbus.

This family-friendly event will feature a 2-mile car ride through more than a million LED lights, all synchronized to music! Giant Christmas trees, floating snowflakes, shooting stars, dancing candy canes, and (a favorite of children of all ages) three enchanting tunnels of light will illuminate the night!

cars in line at WonderLights Christmas in Ohio

Guests will be able to watch the lights dance around them to traditional and newer, rocking Christmas music from the warmth of their own vehicle.

snowflakes in a field at WonderLights Christmas in Ohio

This event happens rain or shine every evening, including holidays! Reservations are recommended. The cost of admission is $30 for a carload pass that covers up to 7 passengers. There is also pricing for vehicles carrying more than 7 passengers. Make sure to click the link above for all of the details!

5. The Nutcracker

Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio
  • Dates: December 8-24, 2022
  • Hours: Performance times vary throughout the month.
  • Where: Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215
Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio

We have enjoyed seeing The Nutcracker at The Ohio Theatre during many holiday seasons! It feels very festive to get dressed up and enjoy the elaborate decorations in the theatre.

Ohio Theatre, Columbus, Ohio, The Nutcracker

The ballet is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes which includes a 20 minute intermission. As you can see below, one year we got to sit in the very front row and could see the orchestra. My kids loved that!

Orchestra Pit at Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker

6. State Auto Christmas Corner

  • Dates: Information not yet available for 2022!
  • 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 the most up to date info.
State Auto Christmas Nativity in Downtown 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. This year we will see the return of special choir performances and ceremonies such as the lighting of Christmas Corner on December 1, 2022 at 5:30 PM.

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

My family does this each year as close to Christmas Eve as we can. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is placed in the manger!

Downtown Christmas nativity at State Auto in Columbus, Ohio.

7. Holiday Lights in Downtown Columbus

Holiday lights at Columbus Commons in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Dates: November 18, 2022 – January 1, 2023
  • Hours: Dusk until dawn; Festive Fridays will take place each Friday in December from 5:30 – 9:00 PM.
  • Where: Columbus Commons, the Lazarus Building and the Scioto Mile
  • More Info: CDDC Website
Christmas lights at Bicentennial Park in Columbus, Ohio.

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, head over to the Lazarus building to see the decorations in the windows and then head to Bicentennial Park and the Scioto Mile to see the lights that deck the entire area from Bicentennial Park to Broad Street.

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons

Every Friday in December, Columbus Commons will host Festive Fridays from 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM featuring free hot chocolate and carousel rides!

What are you favorite Columbus holiday traditions?

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