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 Holiday Spirit, here are 7 holiday and Christmas events around Columbus that are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood!

All info is updated for the 2021 holiday season!

1. Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

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

Dates: November 20, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, Oh 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

Rotating Railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory, Conservatory Aglow

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 and rotating railroad!

Stockings hung at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

This year the show extends into the Children’s Garden and the Grand Mallway and there will be a special Candy Land exhibit with a life-sized gingerbread house!

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
family at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Dates: November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022
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

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! 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!

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. WonderLight’s Christmas

car driving through a lit tunnel at WonderLights Christmas in Ohio

Dates: November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM, Friday – Sunday: 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Where: 14028 Fairgrounds Rd, Hartford, OH 43013
More Info: WonderLight’s Christmas Glows with over 1 Million LED Lights!

“WonderLight’s Christmas”, a drive-through Christmas light show, is housed at Hartford Fairgrounds, a new location this holiday season!

kids in car at WonderLights Christmas in Ohio

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 $7 per person and children 3 years old and under are FREE! You can also purchase a “Carload Pass” for vehicles with up to seven passengers for just $30!

4. The Nutcracker

Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio
Ohio Theatre, The Nutcracker, Columbus, Ohio

Dates: December 10-26, 2021
Hours: Performance times vary throughout the month.
Where: Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215

I’m excited to share this discount code for 2021 with my readers! This discount is for $7 off each ticket! To purchase tickets, go to https://secure.balletmet.org/nutcracker2021, and enter the promo code SNOW in the box at the top right to see available tickets with your discount. Discount is good for all performances. Not valid on previously purchased tickets or in conjunction with other offers. Taxes and fees still apply.

Ohio Theatre, Columbus, Ohio, The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is back for 2021! 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.

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

5. State Auto Christmas Corner

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

Dates: December 1, 2021 – January 1, 2021
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.

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. This year we will see the return of special choir performances and ceremonies such as the lighting of Christmas Corner on December 1 at 5:30 PM.

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

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 24, 2021 – January 3, 2022
Hours: Dusk until dawn
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, 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

7. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Dates: November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022
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 140 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 /// Friday, Saturday and Sunday: $30
  • Limos, Motorhomes and Motor Coaches up to 30 people: $60
  • Buses and Large Motor Coaches: $100

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.


What are you favorite Columbus holiday traditions?

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