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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions (Updated for 2023)

These are 10 Holiday and Christmas events we make sure not to miss every year! If you’re looking to start some family-friendly Christmas traditions around Columbus, start here!

Every year I feel slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events in Columbus that 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 Columbus, today I am sharing 10 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

This post has been updated for 2023!

Here are 10 of our favorite family-friendly Christmas Events in Columbus!

1. Village Lights

  • When: December 3, 2023, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Where: throughout German Village
Village Lights, German Village, Columbus, Ohio

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 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.

Look for shopping at StrietzelMarkt on the Platz. Keep your eye out for Santa! This year there will be a trolley taking you around to the stops so it will be easier than ever to get around!

2. Wildlights

  • Dates: November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024
  • 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
wild lights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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 held in mid November.

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

3. Conservatory Aglow

  • Dates: November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024
  • Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM nightly, 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, Oh 43203
  • Phone: 614-715-8000
conservatory aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

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 beautifully (that goes without saying)!

There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! During this season, Franklin Park Conservatory is open until 9:00 PM, and now 10:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays! There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season!

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

Decorations now expand into the Grand Mallway. There is a Special Engagement Admission Rate for this event and members will receive half off these rates. See the link for details.

Rotating railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory

4. Bicentennial Park and Scioto Mile

  • Dates: November 23, 2023-January 3, 2024
  • Hours: Dusk until dawn
  • Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215
christmas lights on the scioto mile, bicentennial park, columbus, Ohio

Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is!

Due to construction at Bicentennial Park, in 2023, the lights will be lit along the Promenade from Rich Street to Broad Street until January 3, 2024.

Christmas lights at Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile

5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

  • Dates: November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2024
  • Hours: Dusk until dawn; Festive Fridays will take place each Friday in December from 5:00 – 9:00 PM.
  • Where: Columbus Commons: 160 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215
Christmas Lights at Columbus Commons

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 are filled with holiday scenes!

Festive Fridays will take place each Friday in December from 5:00 – 9:00 PM featuring free hot chocolate, live music carousel rides and more!

6. Huntington Holiday Train

  • When: November 22, 2023 – January 7, 2024
  • Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215
Huntington Train at Main Library, Columbus, Ohio

Main Library is home to the Huntington Holiday Train and every year this amazing display is set up during the holiday season! The library typically begins set up of the train in November and it is usually up through New Years!

Every year they also host a Holiday Open House with special activities! This year’s event will be on Wednesday, November 29, 2024.

Holiday Train at Main Library in Columbus, Ohio

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

  • When: mid-November – Early January
  • Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211
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!

For four weekends in November and December, Ohio Village hosts Dickens of a Christmas where you can celebrate Christmas in the 19th century with Victorian crafts, snacks, caroling and more!

Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

8. Think Outside the Brick

  • When: Opens November 18, 2023
  • Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio

This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art is definitely a holiday tradition in Columbus! If you have kids on Christmas break, this would be a great reason to take them to the Art Museum! This annual exhibit is included with your membership or admission.

Think Outside The Brick exhibit at Columbus Museum of Art.

The LEGO replica of Columbus is awesome and we love to visit at this time! There are blocks for free building in the Big Idea Gallery and a LEGO-themed scavenger hunt throughout the museum.

Admission is free on Sundays and on Thursday nights are $5 from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM!

Think Outside the Brick LEGO exhibit at Columbus Museum of Art

9. Easton Holiday Events and Decorations

  • When: beginning November 17, 2023
  • Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219
Christmas Tree at Easton Town Center

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, 56 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrived in 2017!)!

There are carriage rides, live music performances and the Grand Illumination lighting ceremony takes place on November 17, 2023 with festivities beginning at 6:00 PM.

Nativity at Easton Town Center

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

  • When: Now through January 6, 2024
  • Hours: Lit nightly.
  • Where: 212 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
State Auto Nativity now at Cathedral Square in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story!

In 2023, this larger than life nativity was donated to The Museum of Catholic Art and History and is now located at St. Joseph’s Cathedral at 212 E. Broad St. in downtown Columbus, OH. The nativity will be lit nightly through January 6, 2023. There is parking lot behind the St. Joseph Cathedral. The link above will take you to their Facebook page so you can stay in the know about upcoming events!

wiseman at State Auto Christmas Corner in Downtown Columbus

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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

I hope that whatever you chose to do, you have a special season with your family!


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Sandy Wallace

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

Hi - I was thinking of visiting the German Village on December 15, 2018 and my question is, do stores stay open late on the weekends for shoppers during the month of December or is it only for the Village Lights evening? Thanks


Tuesday 28th of March 2017

The Christmas lights in Columbus is so awesome. Parents from neighboring areas should try and bring their kids for this experience. :D

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