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9 Exciting Holiday Events Around Columbus

Columbus is bursting with quirky ways to dive into the holiday cheer! Fancy spending the evening surrounded by twinkling lights and adorable animals? You got it. Or perhaps a dazzling night out at the ballet is more your speed? Absolutely! When it comes to festive fun, Columbus is the place to be. Whip out that ever-expanding holiday calendar, folks – it’s time to sprinkle some joy and make those plans!

Columbus Commons Holiday Lights

There are a lot of Christmas Trees with full of christmas lights
Photo Credit: Axios

Columbus Commons festive holiday lights display from November 17 to January 1, featuring over 400,000 LED lights. The park’s partnership with the American Electric Power Foundation allows parking at 55 E Rich Street, which supports free events and programming. The park is also partnering with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to “Light Up the Lawn, Light Up a Life” with 10-foot butterflies.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden’s Holiday Blooms

Each year, The Franklin Park Conservatory transforms into a holiday wonderland with hundreds of unique poinsettias and trees. The Dorothy M. Davis Showhouse features special plantings and decorations, and the gardens include containers for winter, hardy plants, and evergreens. Don’t miss the 17th annual Gingerbread Competition Display! The Holiday Blooms event is part of General Admission as well as Conservatory Aglow.

Conservatory Aglow

An open area with an ark formation full of Christmas Lights with the color of Yellow, Green and Blue
Photo Credit: Fox 28 Columbus

Conservatory Aglow at the Franklin Park Conservatory is a magical wonderland of lights and indoor and outdoor experiences. Enjoy holiday melodies, immersive light installations, outdoor games, dancing, and festive igloos. Returning favorites include ornament trees, Whirly Tree, gingerbread house, and Paul Busse Garden Railway train display.


They will also have a public ice skating rink for early December Aglow nights. The synthetic ice rink operates regardless of temperature and can accommodate up to 60 guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can bring their own skates or borrow from on-site inventory. See you there!

BalletMet’s The Nutcracker

BalletMet’s enchanting production, “The Nutcracker,” is now open at the Ohio Theatre until December 24. This grand holiday ballet follows Clara Stahlbaum’s journey as her nutcracker doll comes to life and leads her to the magical Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The show boasts hundreds of dancers, stunning sets, beautiful costumes, and captivating theatrical effects.

You can catch the full-length version 18 times until December 24 and a special sensory-friendly abbreviated version, “My First Nutcracker,” on December 22. It’s one of our favorite holiday events! Find more information and tickets here.

Winter Wonder Walks

The Dawes Arboretum in Newark is launching its sixth annual Winter Wonders Walk. Walks will be on the first three weekends in December (the last day is December 16) from 6-9pm. The event will feature music, coffee, food trucks, and a special appearance from Santa Claus each night. The walk is approximately one mile long. Tickets are required.

Walks may be canceled at short notice due to inclement weather, so check the Dawes Arboretum’s social media channels and website for updates.

Holiday Trolley Hop

Starting November 24, 2023, the Columbus Science Institute (COSI) is launching Season of Celebrations. This unique exhibit blends science, education, and festive cheer! The exhibit showcases 50 community-themed trees adorned by local organizations, schools, and nonprofits, reflecting the diverse fabric of the Columbus community. Visitors can explore these trees, delve into their missions, and soak in the holiday spirit. The exhibit also includes special programming with science demos and hands-on activities for both kids and adults!

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium Wildlights

An open space area that full of Christmas Trees with Christmas Lights and full of decoration
Photo Credit: 10TV

Get ready to illuminate your holidays with the cherished family tradition of Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. This festive event transforms the zoo into a magical wonderland, adorned with millions of LED lights, animated musical shows, Santa, reindeer, and more.

As you stroll through the zoo’s pathways, you’ll be captivated giant animated light displays featuring your favorite zoo animals. These impressive light sculptures come to life, weaving a visual tale of holiday cheer that delights visitors of all ages.

Wildlights welcomes families and friends to create cherished holiday memories from late November through early January. Plan your visit by checking the Columbus Zoo’s official website for specific dates, ticket information, and any additional details.

So, grab your loved ones, savor some hot cocoa, and immerse yourself in the festive glow that has become a beloved tradition for both Columbus residents and visitors alike. Don’t miss the chance to make your holidays shine bright at Wildlights! 🌟

Dickens of a Christmas

Sponsored by the Ohio History Connection, the Dickens of a Christmas event starts December 2 and will continue through December 17. Take a journey back in time as you step into a charming Dickensian village. With cobblestone streets, gas lamps, and the nostalgic atmosphere of 19th-century England, the Ohio Village undergoes a festive makeover. It becomes a yuletide spectacle, enveloping visitors in the sights, sounds, and spirit of Christmas. Meet Santa Claus, explore vendors, and listen to music and stories.

Children can partake in festive crafts, interact with period-appropriate toys, and even share their holiday wishes with Father Christmas himself. Meanwhile, adults can indulge in the timeless tradition of Wassail, a warm, spiced beverage that adds an extra dash of cheer to the festivities.

Step into a world where time slows down, carolers serenade, and the spirit of Christmas past comes to life—don’t miss the chance to be a part of the “Dickens of a Christmas” magic this holiday season!

Trolley Pub Columbus Holiday Lights Tour

Explore The Short North & Downtown Districts with Trolley Pub Tours on custom-designed trolleys for groups of up to 30 people. Dive into the festive spirit starting now until January 1 with their nightly Holiday Light Trolley Tours at 6 PM! Enjoy the cozy warmth of their heated, enclosed trolleys as they take you on a 3-hour adventure through The Short North Pole, Arena District, and Downtown, with merry stops at Bicentennial Park & Columbus Commons. It’s also one of our top picks for holiday fun!

Cherish the Moments and Happy Holidays!

As we close the chapter on 2023, may the warmth of these memories linger in your hearts and minds. Which Columbus holiday event is your favorite? We wish you a joyous festive season and a New Year brimming with hope and happiness. Cheers to the adventures that await in the coming year!

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