It’s the most wonderful time of the year (or at least it’s supposed to be).
If you’re having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, you’re not alone. Between all of the shopping, cooking, and get-togethers on your schedule, you may be feeling more like Scrooge than Santa’s helper. Fortunately, the Columbus area is full of places and events to help you take a time out and enjoy the season.
Whether you prefer lights, music, comedy or ballet, there’s something for everyone on our list of places to get you in the holiday spirit.
If you’re into seeing the lights:
See one of the most magical light displays in central Ohio from the convenience (and warmth!) of your car. The 2018 season runs until Jan. 1, and the display is even open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Ticket prices vary by day and size of vehicle. Tap or click here for more information.
Wildlights is definitely a can’t-miss holiday tradition. It started with just a few strands of lights and grew to millions of LED lights, animated musical light shows and other holiday festivities. This year, Wildlights runs through Jan. 6 and is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The lighting ceremony may be over, but there’s still tons of lights to see! More than 250,000 LED lights have been strung on 150 trees! (Don’t worry, the lighting is energy-efficient.) Plus there are holiday projections on the fountain, and the lights will be on every night until the beginning of January.
State Auto’s life-sized Nativity display is a favorite among Columbus residents. The official lighting is at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4, and the display will remain lighted until Jan. 2. Choirs perform every Friday and Saturday evening until Christmas.
Artfully placed light installations? Check. Beautiful horticulture displays? Check. Amazing hand-blown glass ornament trees and perfect Insta-worthy backdrops for your holiday selfies? Check! Conservatory Aglow is back for the biggest and best holiday display in Franklin Park Conservatory history. The display lasts until Jan. 2 and is included with conservatory admission.
Check out the beauty and wonder of the Columbus Commons illuminated with more than 400,000 LED lights. This impressive display will be up until Jan. 2. Enjoy extra festivities on Fridays in December with free hot chocolate, carousel rides and musicians performing the sounds of the season around the park. Make sure to share your photos on Instagram with #CCHolidayLights.
Just north of Columbus, you’ll find a neighborhood where more than 100 houses came together to create a spectacular light installment, all synchronized to holiday music. From now until Jan. 1, visit the Glenross subdivision from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every evening to see one of the best choreographed shows a residential area has ever put together.
You’re probably going to go out to finish your shopping anyway, so why not take in the sights and sounds of Easton at Christmastime while you’re at it? Enjoy the beautiful lights either by horse-drawn carriage ($10 per adult, kids ride free) or with the free trolley ride.
Enjoy Christmas in German Village with Village Lights 2018 on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Follow the luminaries from shop to shop and find holiday specials and festive surprises around every corner. Plus, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance and make sure to stay for the lighting of the Meeting Haus, presented by NBC4.
Need more holiday lights in your life? Check out the Ohio Holiday Lights Trail and make a road trip (or several) out of it! Featuring everything from Historic Roscoe Village in Coshocton to the legendary Clifton Mill to Marion’s Christmas by Candlelight, there are a ton of stops you won’t want to miss.
If you’d rather see a show:
The Columbus Symphony and Chorus continue their great annual tradition this year with shows on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2. Musical arrangements include some of the seasons most-loved holiday songs and carols and Santa will even stop by to help spread the holiday cheer! Tap or click here to purchase tickets.
If you’re looking for something a little less nice and a little more naughty this holiday season, stop by Shadowbox Live and see Holiday Hoopla! This live show mixes sketch comedy with seasonal music and features the famous Santa Babies. Your sides will be hurting from all the laughter by the time the show ends! Hurry and get your tickets now: The show runs through Dec. 29.
Witness a spellbinding production of a beloved holiday tradition at the Ohio Theatre. Columbus’s own BalletMet will take you inside the vivid dreams of young Clara as she journeys to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy. The production runs from Dec. 7 through Dec. 23.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts presents a re-imagining of The Nutcracker with a supercharged cast featuring a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ and an electric violinist. It’s a new spin on a holiday classic that you won’t want to miss.
Join the King Arts Complex and Nia Performing Arts Inc. and enjoy the timeless Langston Hughes classic about the birth of Jesus set in Africa. There are two show times on Dec. 15 and tickets range from $15 to $20.
Experience the Charles Dickens holiday classic like never before with an interactive walking tour performance of A Christmas Carol in Uptown Westerville. Performers will guide you through the streets and shops of Uptown and you’ll go on Scrooge’s journey as he meets the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Uptown Scrooge runs until Dec. 16. Tap or click here for tickets.
Watch the story of the crew of a Great Lakes schooner as they risk everything to bring the Christmas spirit to German immigrants in Chicago during the late 19th century. This family-friendly performance touches the hearts of all ages and reveals the true meaning of Christmas. Tap or click here for showtimes and ticket information.
It’s not Christmas without Charlie Brown, so gather the whole family on Sunday, Dec. 16 and head over to the Palace Theatre. CAPA brings the classic story to life featuring all your favorite characters and the beloved music.
Markets, shopping, decorations and more:
The Huntington Holiday Train has been a Columbus Christmas favorite since 1992. The set is on display in the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s main branch now through Jan. 2.
On Saturday, Dec. 1, the Short North Gallery Hop transforms into a winter wonderland. There will be street performers, decorated retail windows, lights, new art exhibitions and the district tree lighting in Poplar Park at 6 p.m.
Main Street Delaware is ringing in the holidays with three days full of shopping, cheer and community. The fun starts at 6 p.m. on Nov. 30, with the lighting of the Christmas Tree, horse-drawn carriage rides, reindeer and, of course, Santa himself. Saturday will feature a shopping extravaganza with a scavenger hunt and professional photographs with Santa. On Sunday, the annual Christmas Parade steps off from Mingo Park at 3 p.m.
The 9th annual HolidayVille returns to Clintonville on Dec. 2 with a neighborhood-wide shopping event featuring carolers, cookies and sales at nearly 30 neighborhood businesses. Enjoy free Jolly Trolley rides throughout the neighborhood.
On Dec. 8, the Discovery District Holiday Trolley Hop returns! This free event runs from noon until 4 p.m. and is free for the entire family. The hop starts at the Topiary Park gatehouse.
For those of us who enjoy a little darkness with our holiday spirit, check out the Merry Krampus Holiday Market at Strongwater Food and Spirits. There will be more than 40 vendors with vintage, spooky and handmade holiday items. You can take photos with both Santa and Krampus while you enjoy food, beverages and live performances.
Step back in time to a holiday market based on Germany’s old world Kristkindl Market and enjoy a festive holiday experience at Grove City’s historic town center this Saturday. There will tons of vendors and artisans on hand so you can find the perfect gift for just about everyone on your list.