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Family-Friendly Ideas for Winter Break and New Year’s Eve in Columbus 2023

Whether you have kids off of school, extra vacation days, family in town or just want to squeeze in as much holiday festivity as possible, this list will keep you busy over Winter Break!

This list begins with holiday events and things you can do any time during Winter Break and then ends with one-time events and family-friendly New Year’s Eve parties in Columbus! There will not be a separate What Should We Do This Weekend? list until the first weekend of January.

Happy Holidays and thank YOU so much for reading and following my blog! I’m so grateful for my readers and the opportunity to share about the things that make Columbus great! I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Things to do in Columbus Any Time During Winter Break:

Drive Through Holiday Lights Displays Around Columbus

Click the link above for a list of 16 drive through holiday lights displays near Columbus! Pick one or ten and have a festive night out!

Butch Bandos Fantasy of Lights

Complete the Elf Trail in the Short North

Kids under 12 can look for elves on the shelves of participating businesses and turn their Elf Trail card in to receive a free hot drink at Northstar Cafe or Roaming Goat Coffee. Pick up a card at participating businesses or print one at home! This activity will be available from November 24 – December 31, 2023.

Related: 7 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do This Holiday Season in Columbus

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

This event at the Columbus Zoo includes millions of LED lights, musical light shows, Rudloph in 4D, meet and greet with characters, reindeer and more! Hours are Sunday – Thursday: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM and Friday and Saturday: 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM through January 7th, 2024.

Butch Bandos Fantasy of Lights

Butch Bandos Fantasy of Lights is open nightly through January 1, 2024. This drive-through light show is open every day including holidays. Sunday through Thursday hours are: 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM and Friday and Saturday hours are: 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM. Tickets are available online and at the gate.

Read More: 16 Drive Through Christmas Light Displays Near Columbus

WonderLight’s Christmas

Now through December 31st load up the car and head out for a majestic ride through WonderLight’s Christmas in Ohio! 1 million LED lights synchronized to Christmas music and open every night including holidays! See link for tickets and pricing! In order to reduce wait times, reservations are recommended.

Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory

Enjoy holiday light displays, outdoor games, dancing, festive igloos, a life-size gingerbread house, the Paul Busse Garden Railway and more! Conservatory Aglow runs through January 7, 2024. Hours are 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and until 10:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

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Holiday Train at Main Library

Huntington Holiday Train Display In Downtown Main Columbus Metropolitan Library

Through January 7th, visit the main library in downtown Columbus to see the Huntington Holiday Train Display. This is a must see for all train lovers during the holiday season! 

Related: 25 Things to do in December in Columbus, Ohio

12 Elves of Dublin

Hunt for the 12 elves hiding amongst local shops in Historic Dublin. Fill out your elf card and return it to win a grand prize! This event can be done anytime businesses are open through December 23, 2023.

Twinkling Lights at Inniswood Metro Garden

Twinkling Lights at Select Metro Parks

Enjoy the twinkling lights displays at Battelle Darby Creek, Blacklick Woods, Highbanks, Homestead and Inniswood Metro Gardens from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM each night in December. Check each location individually for exact times and special activities.

Season of Celebrations at COSI

COSI will be transformed into a winter wonderland from November 24, 2023 – January 7, 2024. There will 50 community-focused trees decorated by local organizations, special programming and food options and much more!

The Santa Experience at Easton Town Center

Make a reservation or walk up to visit Santa at Easton’s North District through December 24, 2023. Reservations are encouraged. Photos will be for sale or you can take your own photo with your own camera. Check the link for times and break times.

Holiday Carriage Rides at Easton Town Center

Holiday Carriage Rides will be available at Easton Town Center on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Rides are $10/person. Cash only. Children under 15 are free if they ride with a paying adult. Check the link for daily times.

Columbus Commons

Holiday Lights At Columbus Commons

November 17th through January 1st visit Columbus Commons from 5pm-11pm for Holiday Lights! This dazzling display of holiday lights is a must see for the season! See link for special events at Columbus Commons during the holiday season including Festive Fridays!

Riverside Crossing Park Ice Rink

This temporary ice rink is right near the Dublin Link pedestrian bridge and will be open for skating on Friday nights and on Saturday and Sunday! This rink will be up through mid-March.

State Auto’s Christmas Corner

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!

Related: 10 of our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

Merry on Main – Ice Skating at Partners Park

Head to Marysville for iceless ice skating December 9, 2023, to January 2, 2024. Skating and skates are free! Check the link for specific times.

Holidays at Ohio History Center

Holiday train at Ohio History Center, on display in December in Columbus, Ohio.

Visit this holiday train display at Ohio History Center that features a Polar Express Train and various holiday scenes. You can see this train display during regular business hours. The rest of the building is decorated for the holidays, too, including the Lustron House!

Winter Art Breaks at Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art will offer Winter Art Breaks on December 27–28 & January 4–5 from 10:00 AM–3:00 PM. This is a drop-in event where there will be creative activities for families and teens. These are included with admission!

Kwanzaa 614 Celebration

This is a 7-day celebration of family, community and culture hosted by Ohio History Connection and Tawi Family Village. Celebrations occur between December 26th and December 30th at various locations around Columbus!

Winter Wonderland at Blendon Woods Metro Park

Winter Wonderland Forest at Blendon Woods Metro Park

Take a walk through the magical forest of lighted trees inside Blendon Woods Metro Park Nature Center through January 2, 2024!

Winter Break Roller Skating at Skate Zone 71

The are skating options for every day of Winter Break including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Click the link for the daily schedule.

Winter Break Roller Skating at United Skates of America

There are skating options nearly every day of December. United Skates is closed on Christmas Eve. But check the link for skating with Olaf and Frosty and more!

Share Love with a Child Entering Foster Care with Seeds of Caring

Kids 4-12 can practice empathy and kindness by giving back this holiday season with Seeds of Caring and Alicia’s Closet: Help ease the transition for teens entering foster care with a first night care bag packed with pajamas, a blanket, book, and other essentials — plus a handwritten cheer card to show you care. Families and groups can participate any time through Jan. 21. 

Family-Friendly New Year’s Celebrations that are NOT on December 31st:

Noon Year’s Eve at Delaware County District Library

Enjoy a countdown to noon on Friday, December 29th from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM! There will be crafts, activities and more!

Noon Year’s Eve Party at Hilliard Library

Celebrate the New Year on Saturday, December 30th from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM with activities and a countdown at noon!

New Year’s at Noon at The Works

This family-friendly celebration takes place on Saturday, December 30th from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM and includes a pajama party, confetti cannons, and more! Included in general admission.

Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Columbus (December 31, 2023):

Noon Year’s Eve Celebration At COSI

On Sunday from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM at COSI there will be a dance party, special activities, science demonstrations and a celebratory countdown at noon. Included in general admission.

Powell’s Best Noon Year’s Eve 2023 At KSM Sports

This NOON Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday from 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM includes a bounce house, songs, dance, and visits with Mario and Princess Peach! Each guest gets their own party bag with all you need to ring in the new year. Tickets available online.

Noon Year’s Eve At Franklin Park Conservatory

On Sunday from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM make a party hat, play games and do a final countdown to 2024 at 12:00 Noon and then again at 1:00 PM! Included in admission.

Zoo Year’s Eve Celebration At Columbus Zoo And Aquarium 

Sunday, December 31st starting at 11:00 AM for Zoo Year’s Eve Celebration! This event will feature character ambassadors, music, activities and a countdown to New Year’s at noon! This event is included in general admission.

Noon Year’s Eve Skate at Skate Zone 71

On Sunday from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM kids can enjoy a countdown to the new year. $17 Admission includes Skate Rental Slice of Pizza Small Drink and 10 Game Credits, Noise Makers, Noon Countdown to 2024

Noon Years Eve Celebration at Ohio History Center

On Sunday the 31st from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM there will be crafts, games and a countdown to Noon! There will also be a special guest, Champ! This is ideal for ages 7 and under.

Noon Year’s Eve at Grandview Public Library

Ring in the New Year on Sunday from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM with family photos in the Meeting Room.

New Year’s Eve Family Skate Party At United Skates of America

Sunday, December 31st from 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM visit United Skates of America for a family skate to ring in the new year! This event will feature games, prizes and party favors! $20.00 Admission includes skate rental, one slice cheese pizza, a small drink, a 10 credit game card, and noisemakers for a mock

things to do this weekend in columbus ohio

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*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities. Inclusion of an event on this list is not considered an endorsement. Please use your best judgement when attending public events and consult your doctor if you have questions regarding the safety level of a public event. Read my disclaimer here. Enjoy what you do today!*