Merry & Bright! Awesome Holiday Events in Columbus!


Retro Santa in sleighUpdated for the 2016 season

Make your holiday season merry and bright! There are dozens of things to do around Central Ohio in December, and many of them are easy on the budget, or even free. Take a look at some ideas below, and see if any of these events fits your family’s interests and budget. Happy Holidays!


    1. Every Night – for All – Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. They’ve decked the halls, trees, and everything but the animals with gorgeous lights!
      Price of Admission, or free to members: Best enjoyed at dusk or later. Closed Dec 24 & 25

    2. Every Night – for All – Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State Park: 1.5 mile drive featuring over 1 million lights and 100 displays. A portion of the proceeds go to a charity called Recreation Unlimited, to support recreation activities for disabled youth and adults.
      Sun-Thurs 5:30-9:30 $20/car, Fri-Sat $20/car. Limos, motor coaches, and extra large vans are $25-60. 3615 S. Old State Rd, Delaware 43015
    3. Every Night – for All – Winter Wonderland at Creekside Park. Delightful lights and displays
      6-11pm Creekside Park and Plaza, 123 Mill Street, Gahanna OH. Opens Nov. 20. Free!

    4. Every Night – for Teens and Adults – Holiday Segway Tours: Tour the holiday lights and decorations of our beautiful city, and listen to holiday music. At 6pm and 8:15pm daily. Tours are 1.5 hours long, including training. Through Scioto Mile & much of downtown. $47.50 per rider.

    5. Every Day – for All – Merry & Bright: Holidays at the Franklin Park Conservatory
      Celebrate the holidays, enjoy the scenes and lights, and the gingerbread competition. Candlelight nights featuring live music and special programs on Weds evenings. Holiday cooking and fine art classes are also available this month.
      1777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43203
      Free with regular admission: $14 adult, $11 Senior, and $7 child. Free for Members.

    6. Every Day – for All – Photos with Santa: Easton Town Center, Columbus OH
      This is the best Santa photo op ANYWHERE! There is NO physical line with anxious, tired kids and frazzled parents. Sign in with Santa’s helpers and you’ll be on a virtual line. 10 minutes before your time with Santa, you’ll receive a text to meet with the Jolly Old Elf himself! A genius idea for parents and children, you’ll love enjoying the lights, shopping, or even a carriage ride at Easton while you “wait” for your turn with Santa.
      Mon–Sat: 10:00am – 9pm, Breaks: 1– 1:45pm and 4:45 – 5:30pmSun: 11am – 7pm, Breaks: 3:00 – 4:00pm
      5×7 package is $5, other packages also available

    7. Every Week – for All (suggested R) – Holiday Hoopla at Shadowbox Live Theater
      Select Mondays-Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays 7:30 & 10 pm. Tickets start at $30 but vary by date & time.
      503 S. Front St, Suite 260, Columbus, 43215

    8. Every Weekend Night – for All – Carriage Rides at Easton Town Center. From 6-10 Friday and Saturday, and 3-7pm on Sundays. Admission is $10, and children under 15 ride free with paying adult!
      160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH

    9. Sundays – Christmas at the Orange Johnson House. Christmas music and the historic Orange Johnson House decorated for Christmas. Call for reservations. 956 High Street in Worthington 614-885-1247

Specific December Dates:

  • Dec 1 – for All – Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Historic Dublin. Includes photos with Santa, live Reindeer, music and dance performances, hot cocoa and more. Free!

  • Dec 1 – for All – City Tree Lighting Ceremony in Hilliard. 5-7:30 pm in Historical Village at Weaver Park, 4100 Columbia, in Hilliard, with caroling, pop up art, reindeer, etc.

  • Dec 1 – for All – Grand Illumination in Downtown Columbus. From 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Events at City Hall, Columbus Commons, Scioto Mile Promenade, Bicentennial Park, etc. Walking Tour. Free. Parking in the Front street and Rich street parking garages, or surface lot & meter
  • Dec 2 – for All – Winter Festival and Tree Lighting in Upper ArlingtonFree, some activities have small fee. Holiday music, caroling, ice sculpture, reindeer, carriage rides, bonfire, and cocoa. 6:00-8:30pm Mallway Park, Arlington Avenue, UA

  • Dec 1-4 – for All – Holiday Pops Concert by the CSC. Tickets not yet on sale at time of publishing. Ohio Theater, 55 East State Street, Columbus OH call theater for tickets.

  • Dec 1-23 – for All – Gifts of the Craftsman: beautiful hand-crafted items from 100 artists across Ohio. Enjoy the exhibition and purchase lovely handcrafted gifts. 1665 W. 5th Ave, Columbus, 43212.

  • Dec 2 – for All – Westerville Christmas Tree Lighting: Westerville City Hall. 7:00-9:00pm Free, holiday music, candle lighting, and more.

  • Dec 3 – for All – Holiday Festival in Powell: Tree lighting, Santa, trolley rides, and more! FREE! 2 – 5:30 at the Village Green Park and Municipal Bdg, Downtown Powell, OH

  • Dec 3 – for Adults – Jingle Bell Run/Walk 2016: Raising money for Arthritis Foundation, click link to register. Genoa Park start, race day registration, 8am, run begins at 10am.

  • Dec 3 – for Adults – Holiday Gallery Hop: Take part in the Gallery Hop experience, holiday style! From 4-10pm, in the Short North of Columbus

  • Dec 9&10, 16&17 – for All – Dickens of a Dinner: American House Hotel features a Victorian dinner, and entertainment. 6pm-7:30pm. Reservations required. Tickets $65/adult and $55/OHS member call 800-686-1541 Tickets go FAST!

  • Dec 9&10, 11, 16&17, 18 – for All – Dickens of a Christmas: Ohio Village features a Victorian Christmas, crafts, and entertainment. 5-9pm Fri-Sat, Noon-5pm Sun. Tickets required. Tickets $12/adult and $10/OHS member, $9/youth and $7/OHS youth member and FREE for the 5 and under tots call 800-686-1541 These tickets go FAST!

  • Dec 10 – for All – Century Village Open House and Trolley Tour. 4:00pm-8:00pm Free to all but requesting donations for the Grove City food pantry. An evening of old fashioned Holiday fun!

  • Dec 11-27 – for All – The Nutcracker by Ballet Met. This Tchaikovsky ballet is a holiday tradition for many families. Tickets go fast, buy early to get your seating section of choice. Group pricing available. Behind the scenes and Ballet School Youth performances also available. Check link for dates and times. Tickets range from $21-99, depending on the seat.

  • Weekdays Dec 12-22 – for All – Holiday choir performances at the Ohio Statehouse from 12-1pm in the Museum Gallery of the ground floor of the Ohio Statehouse. FREE. The Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, 43215

Please note: All dates and times were correct at time of publishing, but weather and local issues can cause changes. Please click the link or check with the venue directly before making your plans.

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  1. Tessy Buckalew says:

    Hi, I don’t believe Shadowbox is putting on Scrooge this year. We had asked them over a month ago and they told me they weren’t having it this year. Also, it isn’t listed on their website.

  2. Thanks for the head’s up! We collate this info sometimes before the info is available from the venue. We switched it to the Holiday Hoopla show for 2016.

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