Guide to Winter Holidays in Akron: Christmas and New Year's Events

The winter holiday season in Akron is full of lights, snow, and special events, including a holiday festival at Lock 3 Park, special performances of Christmas classics, and the annual First Night Akron celebration.

If you're planning your November or December vacation with a visit to this thriving art community in mind, be sure to check out the full list of events on the Downtown Akron Calendar. With so much to do this holiday season, you won't want to miss a great opportunity to get in the Christmas spirit or celebrate the arrival of 2019 this year.

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First Night Akron

First Night Akron Ohio
Courtesy of the Akron CVB

Celebrating the end of 2018, First Night Akron is a family-friendly, non-alcoholic New Year's Eve Party held in a variety of venues throughout downtown Akron. This celebration features more than 70 artists of all genres—musicians, performance artists, dancers, and more— for a low price of admission. Parking is free and a complimentary shuttle is available to take revelers from one fun spot to another.

Explore the Children's Museum, catch a New Years' firework show, or explore one of Akron's many art galleries on this exciting end-of-year celebration, which starts December 31 at 6 p.m. and lasts until a few hours after midnight on New Years' Day.

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Deck the Halls at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall at Christmas
Courtesy of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland for its "Deck The Halls" event each holiday season, complete with over one million dazzling lights throughout the estate and floral decorations in all 21 rooms of the hall itself. 

Deck the Halls will take place on select nights from November 23 to December 30, 2018. Special tours also include access to the museum shop and cafe as well as the outdoor display "Dazzle," a spectacle of glittering lights choreographed to three unique suites of music.

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Celebrate at the Lock 3 Holiday Fest

Christkindl Market in Akron
Tim Fitzwater/

This month-long celebration begins in November and features an ice-skating rink, a traditional German outdoor Christkindl Market, a holiday lighting festival, and lots of holiday activities throughout December at Akron's Lock 3 Park.

The park is also one of the concert venues of First Night Akron, so no matter what month of the holiday season you plan to visit Akron, chances are you'll find a great show or event at this city park. Check out the park's website for an up-to-date list of events.

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See a Holiday Show at the Akron Civic Center

The Nutcracker Ballet
C. McCullers

When it comes to theater, ballet, and musical performances, the Civic Center in Akron hosts some of the best entertainment events around, especially during the holiday season.

First up this year, the Ballet Theatre of Ohio will present "The Nutcracker" on November 24 and 25 and December 1 and 2, 2018. Matinee performances are presented each day at 2:00 p.m. with evening performances on the Saturdays at 7 p.m.

On December 9, 2018, you can catch a special performance by VenuWork's of the new musical "Noel," which was created by the author of the "Artemis Fowl" series, Eoin Colfer, and premiered in Ireland in 2016.

To close out the holiday season, the 10th Annual Ryan Humbert Holiday Extravaganza returns to the Akron Civic Theatre for three days of singing, dancing, and big band music from Tuesday, December 11 to Thursday, December 13, 2018.

Remember to reserve your tickets in advance as tickets are likely to sell out or get far more expensive the longer you wait to purchase yours.

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Snack with Santa at the Akron Zoo

Santa at the Akron Zoo
Google Images

The Akron Zoo gets festive every December, decking out the park with lights and holiday cheer for "Wild Lights" as well as asking old Saint Nicholas to make an appearance on specific days from 3 to 5 p.m. for "Snack With Santa." 

The annual "Snack With Santa" event lets kids feed the penguins, decorate cookies, sit with Santa, and create a holiday craft but is not included in your price of admission to the zoo. However, if you purchase your pass to Snack With Santa, you also get access to the nightly "Wild Lights" display of Christmas decor after sunset in the zoo.

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Christmas at Hale Farm

Christmas at Hale Farm
(Ohio Travel and Tourism)

The holiday season at Hale Farm, in Bath, Ohio, harkens back to the 19th century with special lantern tours of the historic site, all decked in traditional fashion for the holidays. The lantern tours take about an hour and a half to complete, and temperatures on the farm can get quite chilly later in the evening, so be sure to dress appropriately for stomping through the snow. 

In 2018, the Holiday Lantern Tours will be offered on December 1, 7, and 8 as well as from December 14 through 17 and December 19 through 23. You will need to book your reservation in advance as there are no "door sales" for this special tour.

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Have an Adventure on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

If you're a resident or nearby visitor of the Akron area, you can take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) to Heritage Farms in Peninsula, Ohio, to pick out the next Christmas tree for your home—the railroad will even load it onto the train for you!

While in Peninsula, you can enjoy browsing the many art galleries or have lunch at one of the area's fun restaurants. The train leaves the last weekend in November, and you can visit the CVSR website to make reservations and find out more information about ticketing prices, trip duration, and tree specifications.

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Welcome St. Nicholas to Akron at the Santa Parade

Akron Holidiay Parade
(Timothy Finucane/

On November 23, 2018, ​you can help the residents of Akron welcome Santa and his helpers at the annual Santa parade. Watch the floats, bands, and the "Jolly Old Elf" himself marching down Main Street in downtown Akron starting at 11 a.m.

Admission is free and there are a ton of great shops, food vendors, and artist markets available around the parade, so you and your family can make a full day of celebrating the holiday cheer with the rest of Akron's residents as they welcome Santa and the Christmas season into their town.

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