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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!

All info has been updated as available for the 2020 holiday season!

1. Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

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

Dates: November 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021
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. You must have a pre-purchased ticket for this event.

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 10, 2020 – January 3, 2021
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! 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!

Reservations are required for this event. No walk up options are available. Members will need reservations beginning at 3:00 PM. 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 13, 2020 – January 3, 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: Cancelled for 2020
Hours: 
Where: Online activities available!
Tickets: 

Ohio Theatre, Columbus, Ohio, The Nutcracker

Sadly, for the first time since 1974, The Nutcracker will not be performed live this year. But that doesn’t mean you have to totally miss out on this festive tradition.

“A Nutcracker Holiday,” a free online microsite will be available from December 5-27, 2020 and will include all things Nutcracker:

  • Special videos created specifically for “A Nutcracker Holiday” including “Clara’s Nutcracker Prince” and “Dancing With the Nutcracker” geared to younger children.
  • The re-release of “Finding Clara” – a behind the scenes movie following the young dancers cast as Clara.
  • A scavenger hunt with raffle prizes
  • Coloring sheets
  • Holiday recipes
  • Holiday music

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: Early December, 2020 – 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 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. This year there will not be any special performances or ceremonies but guests are welcome to visit with face coverings to view this special display.

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: Mid November 2020 through early January 2021
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.

Christmas lights at Columbus Commons


7. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights

Dates: November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
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.

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 $60 which is good for any time the show is open during the season.

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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Mark Your Calendar: The Nutcracker

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The Nutcracker is synonymous with the holidays! Maybe you already see it every year or you’re looking to start a special tradition with your family. Seeing The Nutcracker in the beautiful Ohio Theater is a memorable experience! It’s a Christmas memory of mine and I am looking forward to seeing it again this year! To celebrate, I’m giving away a 4 pack of tickets to The Nutcracker on my Facebook page!

This post is written in partnership with BalletMet and the following information and photos have been provided by BalletMet.

Central Ohio’s most beloved holiday tradition since 1974 — BalletMet’s The Nutcracker — will once again be presented from Dec. 8 to 24 at the historic Ohio Theatre. Set to Tchaikovsky’s original score performed by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the ballet is choreographed by former BalletMet Artistic Director Gerard Charles.

“This is our 40th anniversary season at BalletMet and the one constant production we’ve brought every year to our fans has been ‘The Nutcracker.’ We love the opportunity to perform in front of tens of thousands of Central Ohioans each year with this beloved production,” said BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang. “It’s wonderful to have our professional company and our academy students working together to create this show for Central Ohio.”

The tale of the imaginative Clara, the nutcracker who turns into a prince, the Mouse King and the Sugarplum Fairy, will feature a large cast including BalletMet’s professional dancers from both its companies – BalletMet and BalletMet 2, along with 152 students from the BalletMet Academy.  Each performance will have more than 122 characters onstage – including academy students in the roles of pages, party children, mice, and soldiers performing alongside BalletMet’s renowned professionals.

“Approximately 27,000 people came to our performances last year, and we look forward to delighting even more patrons with our 40th anniversary Nutcracker performance this year,” said BalletMet Executive Director Sue Porter. “Attending ‘The Nutcracker’ is a family holiday tradition here in Central Ohio, and the cast and staff make the choreography, the costumes and the sets come alive to make it a truly magical experience.”

Dec. 8 to 24, 2016 | Ohio Theatre

Friday, 12/8 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/9 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/10 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Friday, 12/15 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/16 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 12/17 12 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 12/20 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, 12/21 7:30 p.m.
Friday, 12/22 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 12/23 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m
Sunday, 12/24 2 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $29 to $93 and can be purchased at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.) and online at ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

ABOUT BALLETMET 

Renowned for its versatility and innovative repertory, BalletMet ranks among the nation’s 20 largest ballet companies.

Since its inception in 1978, BalletMet has made the commission and performance of new works a core organizational priority, with more than 150 World Premieres and hundreds of Company Premieres performed throughout its history. BalletMet stages 60 to 70 performances each year at home and on tour. In the past, the company toured 28 U.S. states and internationally to Russia, Poland, Egypt, Spain and Canada.

BalletMet’s Academy has also been recognized as an institution of local and national stature. It offers hundreds of classes to roughly 1,700 students, ages 3 to 95, each year. Students in our Intensive, Boys and Trainee Programs gain invaluable training and experience, including the opportunity to dance on stage alongside the company’s professional dancers.

BalletMet developed DanceReach, a series of educational and outreach programs serving nearly 30,000 people annually. The DanceReach program offers up to 60 scholarships each year to talented youth, many from minority and underserved groups, who could not otherwise participate in dance training.

For more information, visit www.BalletMet.org.

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ICYMI: 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions


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What Should We Do This Weekend? December 22-25, 2016 Holiday Edition!

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Christmas Weekend is upon us! If you have kids on winter break or toddlers that have a lot of extra energy to get out, there are a lot of things to do this week and weekend! Don’t forget to check out my 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt and print out the printable to take it a long with you as you’re out and about! It includes 25 things to find in Columbus before New Year’s Day! I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

10:00 AM – Winter Warm Up Week at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – the center is offering a couple days worth of activities for kids including movies, story times, crafts, scavenger hunts and more! Admission is free!

10:00 AM – Holiday Open Play at SuperGames – the first 150 children (first come, first served) will be allowed to play during these open hours!

10:00 AM – Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft at Blendon Woods Metro Park – stop by the nature center for crafts and a scavenger hunt!

10:00 AM – Merry and Bright at Franklin Park Conservatory –  the Conservatory stays open until 9:00 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

1:00 PM – Lego Class at Level One Bar + Arcade – sign up in advance to attend a class teaching the kids how to create a special Lego figure! There is also a class at 3:00 PM

5:00 PM – Visit with Santa at Partner’s Park – last chance to visit with Santa before he gets ready for Christmas Eve!

6:45 PM – Family Night Painting and Cocoa at John E. Bickley YMCA – paint a picture on canvas, watch a holiday movie and enjoy a hot cocoa bar! $5 per person.

7:30 PM – Movie Night at Coffee Underground – watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas for free, with popcorn!

7:30 PM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Friday, December 23, 2016

10:00 AM – Winter Warm Up Week at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – the center is offering a couple days worth of activities for kids including movies, story times, crafts, scavenger hunts and more! Admission is free!

10:00 AM – Winter Break Scavenger Hunt and Craft at Blendon Woods Metro Park – stop by the nature center for crafts and a scavenger hunt!

10:00 AM – Merry and Bright at Franklin Park Conservatory –  the Conservatory stays open until 9:00 with special musical performances, a gingerbread house display, a holiday train, holiday lights and seasonal plantings!

10:30 AM – Jingle and Mingle with Seniors with Seeds of Caring – join residents from Jaycee Arms Senior Apartments at their annual holiday party to play games, sing songs and give gifts to the residents! See the link for more info about registering.

11:00 AM – The Shazzbots at Franklin Park Conservatory – join this fun band for two sets (11:00 AM and 2:00 PM) of Shazzbots classics and holiday tunes!

1:00 PM – Open Swim at Worthington Pools – $5 per person during these open swim hours!

7:30 PM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

11:00 AM – Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Palace Theatre – Cirque’s holiday performance is in Columbus this weekend! Also at 2:00 PM!

6:00 PM – Christmas Eve Ceremony at State Auto Christmas Corner – this life-sized nativity display will be completed when baby Jesus is placed in the manger!

7:30 PM – Holiday Wishes at the Disney Store at Polaris Fashion Place – make a holiday wish every night at 7:30!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

5:00 PM – $1 Roller Skating at Skate Zone 71 – admission is only $1 from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM!

Ongoing

Think Outside the Brick at Columbus Museum of Art – check out the huge LEGO display and make your own LEGO creation!

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – see the amazing light shows, special performances and holiday festivities!

Tribute to the Nutcracker at Grove City City Hall – see the animated window display Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival at Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds – a 5 week celebration of Chinese culture with amazing silk lanterns, traditional performances and food!

State Auto Christmas Corner – walk around inside a life-size telling of the Christmas Story and check out their schedule for each weekend’s choir performances! For every photo posted on Instagram with #StateAutoChristmas2016, State Auto will donate $1 to Manna Café (up to $500)!

Downtown Columbus Holiday Lights Photo Contest – share your pictures on Instagram or post to their Facebook page with the hashtag #DowntownColumbus to enter the contest for a $20 gift card to a downtown restaurant!

Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds – take an in-car tour of this light show!

For more ongoing ideas click here for 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions!

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ICYMI: 2016 Columbus Holiday Scavenger Hunt


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