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!
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
- Every Night – for All – Butch Bando’s 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.
November 16 – January 1, 2019
Sunday-Thursday 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Friday and Saturday 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Monday to Thursday $20/car
Friday to Sunday $30/car
Limos, motor coaches, and extra large vans are $40
Every Night – for All – Holiday Lights Celebration at Creekside Park. Delightful lights and displays at Creekside Park and Plaza, 123 Mill Street, Gahanna OH. Opens Nov. 19th. Free!
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 through December 23. Tours are 1.5 hours long, including training. Through Scioto Mile & much of downtown. Contact SegAway tours through the website or at 614-222-3005.
Every Day – for All – Merry & Bright: Holidays at the Franklin Park Conservatory
Beautiful holiday lights and candlelight dinner in the warm and exotic John F. Wolfe Palm House. Perfect for everyone. For prices, events, and more visit their website, or go to 1777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 432031777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43203
Free with regular admission: $14 adult, $11 Senior, and $7 child. Free for Members.
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: 10am – 9pm, Breaks: 1– 1:45pm and 4:45 – 5:30pm, Sun: 11am – 7pm, Breaks: 3:00 – 4:00pm Note: Please double check times with the venue
Every Weekend – for 5 and Up – Holiday Hoopla at Shadowbox Live Theater
Select dates – Called the “granddaddy of all holiday shows” mixes sketch comedy with seasonal music. Check the website for current dates and show prices.
503 S. Front St, Suite 260, Columbus, 43215
Every Weekend Night – for All – Carriage Rides at Easton Town Center. From 6-10 Friday and Saturday, and 3-7 pm on Sundays. Admission is $10, and children under 15 ride free with paying adult!
160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH
- Sundays – An Old Time Christmas at the Orange Johnson House. Dec 8, 15, 22. Christmas music and the historic Orange Johnson House decorated for Christmas. In lieu of admission, please take nonperishable food for the local food bank. 956 High Street in Worthington 614-885-1247
Dec 1 – for All – City Tree Lighting Ceremony in Hilliard. 5-7:30 pm in Hilliard Station Park, at the corner of Center and Main Streets, in Hilliard.
December 6 – for All – Winter Festival and Tree Lighting in Upper Arlington. Free, 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 – for All – Westerville Christmas Tree Lighting: Civic Green of Westerville City Hall. 7:00 pm-9:00pm Free, holiday music, candle lighting, and Santa.
Dec 6-8 – for All – Holiday Pops Concert by the CSC. Visit the website for ticket prices and showtimes. Ohio Theater, 55 East State Street, Columbus OH
Dec 6-8 – for All – Columbus Winterfair Juried fair of fine art and fine craft by over 400 artists from across the country, featuring ceramics, glass, wearable art, jewelry, sculpture, painting, photography++. Multi-purpose Bldg., Ohio Expo Center, Columbus.
Dec 7 – for All – Holiday Festival in Powell: Santa, trolley rides, and more! FREE! 2:00 – 5:30 at the Village Green Park and Municipal Bldg, Downtown Powell. Tree lighting at 6pm with Santa & Mrs. Claus.
Dec 7 – for Adults – Jingle Bell Run/Walk: Raising money for Arthritis Foundation, click link to register. Genoa Park start, race day registration, 8am, run begins at 10am.
Dec 7 – for Adults – Holiday Gallery Hop: Take part in the Gallery Hop experience, holiday style in the Short North of Columbus
Dec 6 & 7-21 – for All – Ohio Statehouse
December 6 – from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm in the Atrium, Museum Gallery, Rotunda and South Hallway, enjoy the opening of the season with the annual Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting, with music and activities for kids, and gorgeous holiday lights!
December 7 – December 21, from Noon to 1:00 pm (week days only) at the Ohio Statehouse in the Museum Gallery, enjoy a FREE lunchtime Holiday choir performance.
Dec 7&8, 14&15 – for All – Dickens of a Christmas: Saturdays at 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Sundays Noon – 5:00 pm
A Victorian Dickens Christmas village with activities and events for all ages. Tickets required. This event is a HUGE Columbus favorite, book your tickets early before the events are sold out!
Dec 7 – for All – Century Village Open House and Trolley Tour. 1:00pm-5:00pm Free to all but requesting donations for the Grove City food pantry. An evening of old-fashioned Holiday fun!
Dec 13-28 – 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 and prices.
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.