Top Family Holiday Activities Around Columbus, Ohio

Ah, the holiday season. Is there a better time of the year? The lights, the atmosphere, and the chance to spend quality time with friends and your entire family make it an absolute joy. And that’s especially true if you live in Columbus Ohio. After all, this is a city that really knows how to celebrate the holidays.

While it can be fun to spend many cozy evenings at home with your loved ones, if you’re looking for fun holiday events in Columbus, you won’t be disappointed.

With the Christmas season slowly creeping up on us, we thought it’d be a good idea to run through some of our favorite holiday events and top family holiday ideas that both residents of Central Ohio and visitors to Columbus, OH can enjoy this Christmas season.

A Festival Classic at BalletMet

Even people who are ambivalent about ballet grow excited at the sheer mention of The Nutcracker, the all-out classic Christmas performance that continues to dazzle and delight audiences 130 years after its debut. It’s an enchanting story that’s perfect for kids and adults alike and features a score by Tchaikovsky that’s chock full of great Christmas music which is sure to put you in a festive mood from the first moment to the last.

Meet Clara, Fritz, Uncle Drosselmeyer, the Mouse King, the Toy Soldiers, the Sugarplum Fairy, and a host of other characters as they dance their way into your heart.

You can catch BalletMet’s The Nutcracker from early December through Christmas Eve. If you’re looking for a fun and cheerful Christmas outing for the whole family, then this is it.

A Festival Classic at BalletMet

Magic at the Columbus Zoo

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium provides family fun all year round, but it’s especially magical during the holiday season when it comes alive with plenty of Christmas events. The main event is, of course, the Wildlights attraction, which offers tons of twinkling lights on display throughout the zoo, plus a special light show.

Step inside the Zoo, and you’ll be greeted by plenty of holiday fun: millions of magical LED lights, reindeer, light shows, and even a special appearance from Old Saint Nick himself. It’s one of those holiday events that would turn the Grinch himself into a Christmas convert. Also, at the zoo, you’ll find a special sensory-friendly Santa show for people with sensory needs.

Magic at the Columbus Zoo

Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting at the Ohio Statehouse

Every December 1st, the Ohio Statehouse resembles Santa’s workshop as Santa, Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves host the official kickoff of the Christmas season with the Statehouse tree lighting ceremony and holiday festival.

Get your photo taken with Santa Claus in front of the Ohio Statehouse holiday tree, and enjoy complimentary cookies, live music, activity tables, dance performances, and giveaways. It’s fun for the whole family.

Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting at the Ohio Statehouse

Light up the Night at Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile

After you’ve celebrated the Ohio Statehouse tree lighting, stroll over to Columbus Commons where you can share the community experience of seeing the local giant Christmas trees spring to vivid life with nightly animated light shows.
Starting November 18, you can catch the 400,000 LED lights on display throughout Columbus Commons in a spectacular light display from dusk until 11 pm. This Christmas lights spectacle continues through January 1.

Also, if you visit the Commons on any Friday in December from 5:30 – 9 pm, you can enjoy hot chocolate, live music, carousel rides, costumed characters, and other fun, festive activities for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

Just a week after the Columbus Commons Christmas lights display begins, 250,000 more lights illuminate the night time sky along The Scioto Mile, just across the river from COSI. The stunning light display kicks off November 25 and stretches from Bicentennial Park in the south all the way up to Broad Street. This festive promenade is sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Light up the Night at Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile

A Christmas Wonderland at Franklin Park Conservatory

A trip to Franklin Park Conservatory offers another dazzling Christmas in Columbus experience. Take a trip between November and January, and you’ll be treated to the delightful spectacle that is Conservatory Aglow. The outer portion of the conservatory is festooned with twinkling holiday lights, while inside you’ll also find such favorites as ornament trees, the rainbow tunnel, gingerbread competitions, and more.

Always a treat when visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory, are the beautiful and fantastical glass sculptures by renowned artist, Dale Chihuly. The Franklin Park Conservatory has one of the largest collections of Chihuly glass in the country.

A Christmas Wonderland at Franklin Park Conservatory

Celebrating Columbus Businesses, Arts and Crafts

If you’ve spent any time in Columbus, you’ll know that there’s a rich artist and artisan scene. And if you didn’t know about that, then you certainly will once you’ve attended the Short North Holiday Hop event on December 3. Taking place in downtown Columbus, it provides families the chance to see the latest works of art from the region’s best artists, enjoy the holiday music of local musicians, and find the perfect Christmas presents for family members.

It’s a great atmosphere and there’s always plenty of holiday cheer doing the rounds during the Short North Holiday Hop. So, be sure to get down there and see it first-hand for yourself.

If you enjoy music during the holidays, take in a performance by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra during their run of annual Holiday Pops concerts at the historic Ohio Theatre. If classical’s not your thing and you’d rather swing, perhaps the Columbus Jazz Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays” concerts are more your style.

Celebrating Columbus Businesses, Arts and Crafts

Make Yours a Dickens of a Holiday Season

What’s Christmas without Charles Dickens? And how would you like to hear him discuss his speaking tour throughout America and the inspiration for his famous “A Christmas Carol?” You can, as the famous writer is portrayed by a skilled performer at historic Ohio Village, part of the Ohio History Connection. Enjoy holiday parlor games and music, a 12th Night Party, a winter holiday puppet show, and participate in other family activities at this 19th century-style holiday celebration.

Make Yours a Dickens of a Holiday Season

A Sleigh Full of Holiday Happenings

So, whether you’re catching an orchestra performance, shopping for gifts, participating in family events, or simply taking a stroll with your little elves in tow, you’ll find that there’s plenty of live entertainment, entrancing light displays, festivities, and even chances to meet Santa during the Christmas season in Columbus, Ohio. One thing is for sure — with so many Christmas events to enjoy, there’s no way you can be a Scrooge!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

A Sleigh Full of Holiday Happenings
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