Cleveland Christmas and Holiday Activities

Old Stone Church

Eli Pousson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lights, poinsettias, holiday trees, and "A Christmas Carol"—all are Cleveland Christmas and holiday traditions. Check out the top Northeast Ohio holiday events. What do you have planned for this year?

01 of 15

Explore Stan Hywet Hall in Akron

Stan Hywet Hall
Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens transforms itself each holiday season into a winter wonderland. There's a different theme each year with trees, lights, and floral decorations in the 21 decorated rooms. Outside, the gardens will be strung with thousands of glittering lights. The museum shop will be open for holiday shopping and the cafe will serve hot chocolate, cookies, and other holiday treats.

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02 of 15

Experience WinterFest at Public Square

Cleveland Winterfest
Erik Drost / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WinterFest is the annual holiday celebration in Cleveland's Public Square. Held the weekend after Thanksgiving each year, the evening of music, dance, and hot chocolate culminates in the lighting of the unique holiday light displays in each quadrant of the square and the Christmas tree in front of Tower City. More than 50,000 people attend the event each year. The light display is kept up until after New Year's Day. The event is free and is usually televised.

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03 of 15

Watch Great Lakes Theater Festival's Production of A Christmas Carol

"A Christmas Carol" performance
Courtesy of GLTF

Seeing The Christmas Carol at the Ohio Theater at Playhouse Square is a Cleveland Tradition. Tickets may be purchased online.

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04 of 15

Visit Glow at Cleveland Botanical Garden

Cleveland Botanical Garden Glow
Courtesy of Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden transforms itself into a winter fantasyland. Features include large gingerbread houses with window vignettes designed by the Garden's affiliate garden clubs and the Garden's exhibition area filled with gingerbread house contest entries, lights, trees, and other holiday accents. Of course, the wonderful Garden shop is loaded with special holiday gift items.

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05 of 15

Marvel at the Free Holiday Display at the Cleveland Greenhouse

Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
Courtesy of Rockefeller Park Greenhouse

Each holiday season the Cleveland Greenhouse, just north of University Circle, transforms itself into a holiday wonderland with hundreds of red, white, and pink Poinsettias and other Christmas flowering plants. The show runs from early December until New Year's Day.

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06 of 15

View the Lighting Display at Nela Park

Nela Park Holiday lights
Courtesy of GE Lighting

The lighting display at the GE Lighting Center in Nela Park in East Cleveland has been a holiday tradition since 1925. The elaborate display lines GE's property along Noble Road from early December through New Year's Day.

NELA Park
1975 Noble Rd.
East Cleveland

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07 of 15

Experience Christmas at Hale Farm

Christmas at Hale Farm
Courtesy of Ohio Travel and Tourism

The holiday season at Hale Farm in Bath harkens back to the 20th century with Lantern Tours of the historic site, all decked in traditional fashion for the holidays.

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08 of 15

See the Black Nativity at Karamu House

karamu house
Courtesy of Karamu House

An annual Cleveland tradition, the Black Nativity, written by hometown literary master Langston Hughes, is a retelling of the Gospel according to St. Luke, set to the music and dance of the Black church. For tickets and information, visit the Karamu House website.

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09 of 15

Attend a Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

The Cleveland Orchestra and Orchestra Chorus present a series of holiday concerts each year, featuring all of the old, favorite carols.

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10 of 15

Explore Country Lights at Lake Farmpark

Santa and his horse-drawn carriage in Paris, France in 2014.
Chesnot/Getty Images

For the holiday season, Lake Farmpark becomes a winter wonderland with horse-drawn wagon rides through the festive landscape, a Santa's workshop for kids, a grove of decorated trees in the visitors' center, and frequent visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Tickets go on sale November 1 to Lake County residents and November 12 to out-of-county residents. Visit their website for more information.

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Be a Part of University Circle's Circlefest

University Circle
Erik Drost / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This free University Circle event is held the first Sunday of December each year and features a lantern procession around Wade Oval as well as exhibits, music, food, and activities at many of the area's museum's and institutions. Free transportation is offered from place to place.

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12 of 15

Go Holiday Shopping at the Little Italy Holiday Art Walk

Little Italy Holiday Art Walk
Courtesy of Little Italy CLE

Combine holiday shopping with Cleveland culture the first weekend of December each year at the Little Italy Holiday Art Walk. More than 25 galleries open their doors the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of December and many offer cookies, hot chocolate, wine, or other treats. Some of the galleries are only open to the public during the Art Walks.

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13 of 15

Attend a Performance of The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker
Gabriel Saldana / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Though the Cleveland Ballet is no longer with us, guest companies traditionally perform this holiday favorite in Northeast Ohio.

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14 of 15

Visit Candyland Has Gone Wild at Penitentiary Glen

Candyland Has Gone Wild at Penitentiary Glen
Al Susinskas / Penitentiary Glen Reservation

Step into the life-size board game with this new holiday attraction. There'll be wildlife, holiday trees, music, food, and prizes. Admission is free.

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15 of 15

Celebrate the Season at Winter Waterland at the Cleveland Aquarium

Cleveland Aquarium
Erik Drost / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Cleveland Aquarium, located in the Powerhouse on the west bank of the Flats, transforms itself into a winter, water wonderland for the holidays, with lights and decorations, special animal displays, crafts, live music, and appearances by King Neptune himself.

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