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4 Magical Places to See Santa in Columbus

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Where are the best places in Columbus to see Santa? Thanks to Tam Luu, now we know! In this guest post, she’s sharing 4 of her favorite places to take her kids to see Santa in Columbus – and they are magical!

Christmas has quickly become my favorite holiday now that I have kids. It’s such a magical time of year and it’s so fun to see the joy and excitement it brings to them. Growing up, we really didn’t celebrate Christmas, or any holiday for that matter, so I think I may be over compensating now that I have my own kids. Haha! 

Boy in front of Christmas tree in Columbus, Ohio

It has become an annual tradition for me and my family to take the kids to see as many Santas as possible! Well, at least for my son Zayn, who LOVES the big guy. Last year was Zoë’s first time meeting him and she was NOT a fan… picture lots of crying and flailing!

Here are my top 4 favorite Santa’s in Columbus:


1. Snowflake Castle

Everal Barn and Homestead
60 N. Cleveland Avenue
Westerville, Ohio 43082

Dates: Dec 2 – 8, 2019

Snowflake Castle sells out so quickly! Residents of Westerville get first dibs on tickets before they open up to non-residents the next day. It is the cutest event!

Tickets are only $10/child and include a toy, activity, and a printed photo with Santa & Mrs. Claus. You can also take your own pics with your phone or camera!

The event is held at the Everal Barn and Homestead in Westerville, Ohio. The walk up to the barn is always festive and decorated in holiday decor. Upon entering, there is a small shop with lots of craft/handmade goods and a train display for kids to watch while parents check in at the desk.

Tickets are sold for specific time slots, so it’s never too crowded and the lines are never too long! (Suggestion: do not bring a stroller unless you really need it… the areas are kind of small and there’s not a lot of extra room for strollers)

Kids at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

Once checked in, it’s a short two flights up stairs to Santa’s workshop (not sure if they call it that, but that’s what it reminds me of). There is a stage with a snow globe backdrop set up for taking your own photos, a place to hang your coats, and Christmas trees all around. They also blow fake snow every few minutes to make the room even more magical!

Once you’re done taking everything in, and snapping some of your own photos, you can get into the queue to pick your wooden toy to make with Santa’s helper. There’s a lot of options, but my kids have chosen different parts of a train each year!

woman helping a chid build her castle at Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

It is so cute to watch (and record) your kids helping to build their toy! After it’s built, you can opt to let them paint their creations or just move on to the next building where Santa awaits. They provide aprons for those worried about getting their clothes dirty and then have helpers to properly label and bag them up wet.

child building a toy at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

You then need to put your coats back on for a short stroll over to Santa. There is a Christmas decorated shed on the way with a big sleigh you can sit in to take pictures and a spot with bales of hay and reindeer wooden cutouts to grab some cute group photos (or attempt to lol)!

Kids outside the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

family in a sleigh at Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio

Santa is located in a cute little house. There usually is a small line inside while people visit with Santa. In the middle of the line is a table filled with puzzles, coloring pages and crayons to keep kids occupied.

kids doing crafts at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio
 
Once it’s your turn to meet Santa, you enter the room and he is sitting on a big throne bench with Mrs. Claus. Kids can spend a few minutes talking with them and photographers are there to capture the moment. You’re allowed to take your own pics as well. After exiting that room, there is a person who will present you with your printed photo.
 
kids with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Snowflake Castle in Westerville, Ohio
This event has become a tradition for us and we will be returning year after year. It is recommended for children 10 and under.

2. Lazarus Santa’s Workshop

Lazarus Building
50 W. Town Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Date: Dec 7, 2019 12-6pm

mom and chid visiting Santa in Columbus, Ohio

This is probably my favorite Santa set up in Columbus and it is FREE!!! Santa awaits in a covered outdoor area that is so beautifully decorated! There is no photographer but there are helpers who will take your photos with your phone.
 
Costumed characters at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio
 
Santa even gives the kids a free toy. Behind the Santa is a beautiful tree, and there are stations for face painting, balloon animals, and crafts. Costumed characters also roam up and down the line to entertain the children.

Child crying on Santa's Lap at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio

Child on Santa's lap at the Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio

Once you head inside, there are festively decorated spots to take photos and then a room full of craft stations! Last year there was even a stand giving away free cookies and orange juice!

Family at The Lazarus Building in Columbus, Ohio
 
Participants can also head over to Columbus Commons afterwards to see their 400,000+ LED light display starting at 5pm and enjoy free carousel rides, hot chocolate and holiday music!

3. Cabela’s Santa’s Wonderland

Takes place at your local Cabela’s

Dates: Nov 16 – Dec 24, 2019

child visiting santa at Cabela's in Columbus, Ohio

Check the online schedule for daily times and activities! Free 4×6 photo with Bass Pass. The Santa set up is always great and my kids love seeing the aquarium and animals on “The Mountain.”
 
Check the website to see specific activities for your location but I noticed they added a ton of new things this year! Kids can also write a letter and mail it to Santa! We usually go on a weekday so it’s not too busy.
 
Child coloring a picture at Cabela's in Columbus, Ohio

4. Easton Town Center Santa

160 New Bond Street
Columbus, Ohio 43219
Level 2, Easton Station Building

Dates: Nov 22 – Dec 24, 2019

Kids on Santa's lap at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

Easton does a great job with their Santa set up! I always try to take my kids early, on a weekday to avoid lines… and also to get a little extra face time with Santa! Don’t hesitate! Get your visit in early!

child on Santa's lap at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

Easton makes it easy with online reservations (not required). The first 5×7 photo is only $5 and you are allowed to take photos with your own phone or camera!

man and child standing by a Nutcracker at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio
 
mother and child standing in Christmas scene at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio

I would love to hear where YOUR favorite Columbus Santas are!

family Christmas photo in Columbus, Ohio

Hi! I’m Tam. I’m a mama of two toddlers, my son Zayn (3yrs old) and my daughter Zoë (1.5yrs old). I’m engaged to, and work with, Carl Z., toy entrepreneur and owner of Nowstalgic Toys, Inc., who’s also famous for being the first non-celebrity to be drawn into an episode of The Simpsons. Ever heard of Squirmles aka “Worm on a string?” That’s one of our products! Now that we have kids, I’m always on the search for fun things to do and you can catch our adventures on my Instagram page @Tamstargram. Additional profiles are @ZaynZealer @Zoe_Zealer and @CarlZealer,

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drive through light display in Hebron, Ohio

WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio Glows with Over One Million LED Lights!

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WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio’s drive through holiday light display is fueled by over one million synchronized LED lights and is sure to inspire awe and wonder this Christmas season!

Thank you to WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio for sponsoring this post.

tall christmas tree at WonderLight's Christmas in Ohio

WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio is a Drive Through Holiday Light Show that will Put Your Family in the Holiday Spirit!

Christmas has officially arrived in Ohio! WonderLight’s brand new drive through holiday light display has landed at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, 30 miles east of downtown Columbus. This show is unlike any other light display in the Central Ohio area, featuring over 1 million LED lights that are synchronized to the music that plays through your car stereo.

LED tunnel at Christmas in Ohio drive through holiday light display

My family got to experience a sneak peek of this drive through light show the day before it opened and we were glued to our seats, trying to take it all in! The path for vehicles winds through exciting and beautiful displays of light and sound! The synchronized lights were quite impressive!

toy soldiers at WonderLight's Christmas in Ohio

Synchronized to modern and classic holiday songs, the lights dance and shine to the beat. There are even singing snowmen! My kids were singing along to Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! It was fun to guess what song was going to play next and my kids were always excited when they recognized it!

synchronized Christmas Tree at WonderLight's Christmas in Ohio

Some of our favorite parts were the tunnels that you drive through along the path. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many lights! My kids were leaning out the window and singing along!

tunnel to drive through at WonderLight's Christmas in Ohio

As you approach the Raceway, you will be able to see the show lighting up the area from a distance! The first thing you will probably notice is the 80-foot Christmas Tree! As we approached there were lots of oohs and ahhs – from the kids AND the adults!

synchronized drive through light display near columbus, Ohio

The show takes place every night beginning November 15, 2019 and running through January 5 2020. The show will go on, rain or shine! The drive-through path is about 2 miles long and the musical show lasts for 30 minutes before repeating itself. At the show you will be able to donate to the Salvation Army and other organizations that will be announced as the show goes on!

lights on the grounds at Christmas In Ohio

Tips for Visiting WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio:

1. Visit on a Weeknight!

If at all possible, it is suggested that you visit on a weeknight! Crowds (and a longer wait time) is expected on weekends!

2. Tune In and Turn Off!

Be ready to turn ON your radio to 88.3 FM so you can hear the music. You need to have your radio station properly tuned in order to fully experience the synchronized show! You will also be asked to turn OFF your head lights to get the full effect of the show! 

drive through holiday light display in Hebron, Ohio

3. Pack a Snack!

We’ve learned this lesson the hard way a few times on longer drives! A few ideas include bringing a thermos of hot chocolate (but not dolling it out until you arrive!) or packing some cookies or popcorn to enjoy while watching the show! I packed a bag of home-popped popcorn for each person in our family and no one was allowed to eat it until they got to the show!

4. Get Cozy!

One of the great parts about this experience is that you don’t have to leave your car to enjoy it! So, even if it’s freezing, you can be warm and comfy in your car. However, I would recommend dressing warm because it is fun to roll down the windows to take pictures or video or just get closer to the experience! So pack some gloves or a warm blanket if you think you might want to roll the windows down!

lights at WonderLight's Christmas in Ohio

5. Save Money!

Want to save money? Do the math! The show costs $7/person, but kids 3 and under are free. Compare that to the price of a carload which is $30. Larger families can save money depending on the ages of their kids! Or plan to take a mini-van with your friends and pay just $30 for up to 7 people and save up to $19!

Know Before You Go:

Location: National Trail Raceway, 2650 National Road SW, Hebron, OH 43025

Dates: Nightly, November 15, 2019 through January 5 2020

Times: 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM  – Any cars still in line at time of closing will be permitted to enter and enjoy the show.

Price: $7.00 per person, children ages 3 & under are free! Carload Special: $30.00 for up to 7 passengers.

Tickets: Purchase tickets in advance at  www.christmasinohio.com/tickets or at the gate.

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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 Holiday Spirit, here are 7 holiday and Christmas 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. Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

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

Dates: November 16, 2019 – January 5, 2020
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 is the biggest show yet and it extends into the Children’s Garden and the Grand Mallway! Visit The Pool in the Grand Mallway for an interactive art display! There is a special engagement rate for this event and members receive 50% off.

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 15, 2019 – January 5, 2020
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. 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!

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 in Ohio

car driving through a lit tunnel at WonderLights Christmas in Ohio

Dates: November 15, 2019 to January 5, 2020
Hours: 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Where: 2650 National Road SW, Hebron, OH 43025
More Info: WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio Opens This Weekend!

“WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio”, a drive-through Christmas light show, is housed at National Trail Raceway in Hebron 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! 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 13 – 28, 2019
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 3, 2019 – January 1, 2020
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 3 including a performance by the Columbus Children’s Choir. On Friday and Saturday nights 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, 2019 through early January 2020
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 7, 2019 and you can visit the Lazarus Santa’s Workshop from 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM on that same day for photos with Santa, crafts, face painting and more!

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons


7. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Dates: November 15, 2019 – January 1, 2020
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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