10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

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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 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!

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

1. Village Lights – cancelled for 2020

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.

When: December 8, 2019, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout German Village

2. Wildlights

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.

When: November 10, 2020 – January 3, 2021 (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) (Wildlights hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM Sundays – Thursdays, 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

3. Conservatory Aglow

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. 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. This year there will be a Special Engagement Admission Rate for this event and members will receive half off these rates. See the link for details.

When: November 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203

Rotating railroad at Franklin Park Conservatory

4. Bicentennial Park

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! The park will be full of lights towards the end of November!

When: November 2020 through Early January 2021
Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215

Christmas lights at Bicentennial Park on the Scioto Mile

5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

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 scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas! 

When: November 20, 2020 through January 3, 2021 from 5:00 PM until to 10:00 PM
Where: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

6. Huntington Holiday Train – cancelled for 2020

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 mid November and it is usually up through New Years!

When: Mid November, 2019 – Early January, 2020 (Unconfirmed for 2020.)
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

Holiday Train at Main Library in Columbus, Ohio

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center – cancelled for 2020

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 two weekends in December, Ohio Village will host Dickens of a Christmas where you can celebrate Christmas in the 19th century with Victorian crafts, snacks, caroling and more!

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211

Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

8. Think Outside the Brick– delayed until spring of 2021

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio

This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t necessarily holiday themed, but it 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!

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!

When: November 23, 2019 – January 17, 2020 (Unconfirmed for 2020.)
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

Think Outside the Brick LEGO exhibit at Columbus Museum of Art

9. Easton

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 lighting ceremony takes place on November 20, 2020.

Nativity at Easton Town Center

When: beginning November 16, 2018
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

State Auto Christmas Corner Nativity Display, 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! There will be no tree lighting ceremony in 2020.

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!

wiseman at State Auto Christmas Corner in Downtown Columbus

When: After Thanksgiving until Jan. 4: Daily from 6:00 AM – 8 AM and 5:00 PM – 11:30 PM, until 12:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays (these times are subject to change in 2020.) Christmas Eve: 3:00 PM until 8:00 AM Christmas Day
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

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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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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: Top 10 Things to do with Your Kids in Columbus, Ohio

Need even more ideas? Try 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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Pizzuti Collection + Le Chocoholique

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I have to tell you, looking at the pictures for this post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy . . . not just because this was a great time with my son, but specifically because I was having a really rough parenting week (season?) and this outing was a little bit of healing.  My son is 4 and since the arrival of his little brother on the scene, almost 2 years ago, every day is a competition for mom’s attention. But when he has my undivided attention, he is like a different child. We had such a sweet and special time doing this together. The other thing about little brother arriving on the scene is, though they are competitive with each other, they are also attached at the hip. I literally had to drag Jaden out of the house, crying, to do this.  I almost gave up, but my husband encouraged me to keep going. Sometimes for parents, our gratification is REALLY delayed, but shortly after getting to the museum, Jaden said to me, “This is a lot funner than crying!” THANK YOU. (Now remember that the next time I have to drag you out of the house to do something fun, for pete’s sake!)

I especially wanted to share this post this week in particular because this weekend is Family Day at the Pizzuti Collection and I wanted to encourage you to give it a try! Family Days happen the first Sunday of each month through December, 2016. [Updated June 22, 2016: Family Days now happens on the first Saturday of the month during Gallery Hop!] Admission is free, there are guided children’s tours, an art-themed scavenger hunt and your child gets a free sketchbook. AND the meters are free in Columbus on Sundays, so that makes this outing extra easy on the wallet!


The hours on these special Sundays are 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM. We didn’t get to the museum until 4:00 PM, but for a 4 year old, that was plenty of time. We didn’t make it for a guided tour, but that was probably okay for a 4 year old’s attention span as well! We picked up the booklet for the scavenger hunt, but didn’t do that either. (Boy, I’m really selling it here, aren’t I?) 😉 What WAS a hit was the sketchbook. I saw my little boy come alive as he pretended to be an artist and draw the things he saw in the museum. Don’t get me wrong, I think the tours and the scavenger hunt are a great idea for engaging older kids and you should definitely do them! For my son, this was an introduction to the art world, a chance for him to dip his toe in the water. And, in my book, it was a rousing success!

We walked around the 3 floors of the museum, looking at paintings, pictures and sculptures and then spent a good amount of time outside in the sculpture garden. Here’s a little taste of our time:


Drawing in his sketchbook.






Jaden really loved finding the surprising things built into the stone benches. A toilet flusher? Awesome! A light switch? Cool!




And don’t forget to check out the statue of a man peeing . . . it might help with the last nudge over the potty training hill.

Obviously, the age of your child is going to determine what they get out of this experience. One thing I wanted to mention was that there is an exhibit referencing the shootings at Columbine High School and a few of the pieces have images of guns in them. My son did not notice this at all, so it never came up, but you may want to be prepared for that conversation, depending on the age of your kids.

After the museum, we walked over to Le Chocoholique for a little treat. We each picked out a chocolate that turned out to be pretty kid friendly: a chocolate covered Oreo and a chocolate covered Nutter Butter! Le Chocoholique serves all kinds of amazing chocolates (most of them a little more high brow than Oreos and Nutter Butters!), coffee and alcoholic drinks and other fancy desserts. On beautiful days like the day we went, the windows open to the street and it’s a great space for people watching!




After eating our chocolates, on a last minute whim, we headed across the street to Blick Art Materials. I thought it would be a great opportunity to connect the dots between the art work and the supplies that artists use to make it. Unfortunately we arrived at literally the last minute and they were closing, but we walked through one aisle full of paint and paint brushes and I was still glad we did it. (Learn from my mistakes, though, and go a bit earlier!).



Sunday would be a great afternoon for exploring the Short North! You could combine your trip to the museum with lunch or dinner. Some kid-friendly options for eating out in the area would be Melt Bar and Grilled, Fabian’s Chicago Style Pizza Place, or Stack City Burger Bar. You could also have dessert at Jeni’s or Whit’s. The museum is across the street from Goodale Park so you could take a walk around the park or head to the playground! For some more ideas, you can check out my post, Saturday Morning in the Short North!

Another option for continuing the art theme of this outing would be to print this map of the Short North Mural Series: Blank Spaces, and use it as a scavenger hunt for the murals that are on buildings all around the neighborhood.


Let me know if you give this outing a try! I’d love to hear what your kids thought!

Know Before You Go:

Pizzuti Collection
632 North Park St., Columbus, OH 43215

Le Chocoholique
601 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215
Sunday – Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Blick Art Materials
612 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Parking: as I mentioned, the meters are free on Sunday! You can try to find a spot in front of the museum on N. Park St. along Goodale Park, or on W. Goodale St., on the south end of Goodale Park. There is also The Joseph Garage right behind the museum at 33 W. Russell St. Check out this link for more parking options.


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ICYMI: Playdate in Uptown Westerville

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Columbus Museum of Art + LEGOS

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There is only one week remaining to visit the Think Outside the Brick exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art!  I wanted to share a few pictures from our visit in December.  The exhibit runs through February 21, 2016.

Taking two kids under 5 to the art museum by myself was a little bit intimidating, but the museum actually has a lot to offer kids (and as a side note, if you’re a nursing mother, one of the nicest Mother’s Rooms in the city!)  Right now is a great time to visit with kids because of the LEGO exhibit.

IMG_7751 IMG_7750

The first thing you will see is this amazing replica of Ohio Stadium.  Upon seeing this, my 4 year old said, “I didn’t know they made such cool LEGO sidewalks!”  Okay?  The things they notice are never what you expect!


Then there is a great model of the city of Columbus built from LEGOS.


The Museum of Art with its new addition.


The Statehouse.





Lots of fun!

IMG_7765 IMG_7766

There is also an area for free building with all white LEGO bricks.


Though the LEGO’s may be on their way out, don’t let that stop you from taking your kids to the museum.  On the first level there is the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity with space for kids to play, build and experience art hands-on.  There are also Open Studio times for all ages.

Think Outside the Brick is part of a collaboration with COSI and the Ohio History Center.  Together they have sponsored the 2015 LEGO Design Challenge.  The Ohio History Center has the finalists on display through April 10, 2016.  Here are a few pictures of this display:

IMG_8503 IMG_8502

COSI has the LEGO creations of artist Arthur Gugick on display in their LEGO Travel Adventure Exhibit through May 8, 2016.  There is also areas for kids to build and race their own cars and a free building area ideal for children over age 3.

IMG_8357 IMG_8355 IMG_8352 IMG_8351

If you have LEGO lovers in your family, like I do, don’t miss these exhibits!

Know Before You Go:

LEGO Travel Adventure at COSI

September 26 – May 8, 2016
333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Mondays & Tuesdays, Closed
Wednesday-Sunday, 10AM – 5PM

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art

November 21 – February 21, 2016
480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
Monday, Closed
Tuesday-Wednesday, 10AM – 5PM
Thursday, 10AM – 9PM
Friday-Sunday, 10AM – 5PM

There’s No Place Like Home at Ohio History Center

January 13 – April 10, 2016
800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211
800.686.6124 , 614.297.2300
Wednesday–Saturday, 10AM –5PM
Sunday, Noon – 5PM

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