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Ohio’s capital sits practically in the center of the state, making travel easy for its residents to visit during the holidays. Both weekend and weekday activities give parents and kids an excuse to get out of the house and feel the joy that the holiday season brings. Looking for fun spots to take the kids this holiday season? We have a list of tried and true, kid-approved places that are guaranteed to get both you and yours in the holiday spirit! Come check out the top Christmas events in Columbus that are worth sharing with the entire family.
Grand Illumination Ceremony
Each year, Bicentennial Park and Scioto Mile kick off the holiday season in Columbus with a spectacular light show, family-friendly activities including face painting, carolers singing popular Christmas tunes, and even a meet and greet with the main man from the North Pole. Holiday Elf Jugglers will provide loads of laughs, and an hour before the ceremony begins, kids will be entertained with fun crafts and tents filled with giveaways.
Follow over 10,000 luminaries that line the walkways in Columbus’ German Village to view spectacular Christmas decorations, shops filled with fun gift ideas and presents, and restaurants that are perfect for heading into for a snack and some hot chocolate. German Village caters to families during the holidays, and you may just come upon carolers and live music so feel free to sing along with the Christmas songs you hear. Horse-drawn carriage rides are also offered. Don’t forget to bundle up, as most of the fun is outside!
Franklin Park Conservatory
From December through the beginning of January, Franklin Park Conservatory hosts 50 Merry Days, an annual holiday event showcasing exquisitely themed rooms with a Christmas flair. Gingerbread house making and visits with Santa will definitely get your family in the Christmas mood, and on special Saturdays & Sundays in December kids can even make their own Christmas presents for a small charge. During 25 Bright Nights, the conservatory stays open after hours to showcase the festive decorations in a night setting and offers hot beverages around a bonfire and live entertainment.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Can you imagine what one million twinkling lights would look like? How about three million? Families can get wild in winter with Columbus Zoo and Aquarium‘s Wildlights! A nighttime spectacular filled with three million Christmas lights, the zoo illuminates everything that stands still using energy-saving LED lights. Reindeer, a diving Santa Claus at the Discovery Reef area of the aquarium, and two light shows will have your wee one’s eyes all aglow. Ice skating will be available for visitors, and skate rentals are available for $5.00.
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Jingle Bell Run/Walk
Dress up in as much Christmas garb as you can, tie on a few jingle bells, and help support a great cause while feeling healthier about yourself and your family. Every year, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk begins at Hyatt Regency Columbus and helps support a great cause, The Arthritis Foundation. Kids and adults can choose whether to walk or run, and children 10 and under can participate in the Snowflake Run including superheroes, Artie the Elf, and Santa Claus.
Since 1876, North Market in Columbus has been providing locals with fresh meat and produce. Come find amazing food for your holiday feast, while enjoying extras including special deals, children’s crafts and activities, and even live entertainment provides for a festive atmosphere. If your kids want to let Santa in on their Christmas list, he’ll be strolling through the market with Mrs. Claus ready to listen. On special weekends during the holiday season, live reindeer visit the outdoor pavilion.
Ohio History Center
Ohio Village in Columbus turns into an eighteenth century town filled with shows, activities, and crafts geared toward families and kids of all ages. From Christmas Carol Puppets in the School House to a visit with St. Nicholas in the Church, Dickens of a Christmas has treated families to holiday traditions in a festive setting. In the Farm House, parents and kids can stop in a grab a tasty treat and check out the daily holiday meal. Make sure to dress warmly, as many of the events including carolers and other actors, are outside.
The Ohio Statehouse, built in 1861, has guided tours that allow families to step back in time and see what typical holiday decor may have been used in the decorating of the Ohio Statehouse. Free holiday performances by local musical groups at noon give families a great reason to visit midday. Santa and Mrs. Claus have even been known to make an appearance, so keep your eyes peeled for the jolly old elf.
Do your kids love watching The Polar Express on television during the holidays? How about watching it on a giant screen at COSI! On a select weekend in December, COSI plays The Polar Express on its National Geographic Giant Screen Theater. Pre-show activities include games and surprises. When the kids find out that they can have hot cocoa and cookies during the movie, no doubt they will ask to watch the holiday movie on the big screen every year. Don’t worry about dressing the wee one up; pajamas are encouraged.
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