December in Columbus: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Columbus Ohio skyline in the winter

Holly Hildreth/Getty Images 

Holiday time in Columbus, Ohio, is a busy time indeed. The city is lit from within with goodwill, good food, and a few million Christmas lights. If you're planning to visit the Greater Columbus area this December, you won't want to miss some of the great celebrations, performances, and special events this Ohio city has to offer.

While the weather may be chilly this time of year, you're sure to find something that's fun for the whole family during your trip, from dazzling old-timey luminaries in some of Columbus' oldest neighborhoods to holiday tours and special one-night performances.

Columbus Weather in December

December in Columbus can be quite chilly, but the weather is known to vary significantly throughout the month.

  • Average high temperature: 40 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Average low temperature: 27 degrees Fahrenheit

Cloud coverage is pretty high throughout the month, with a majority of December experiencing mostly cloudy or overcast conditions. However, despite the cloud coverage, Columbus only sees seven days of precipitation throughout the month and rarely experiences snowfall that sticks around longer than a few days.

What to Pack

Since the temperatures in December can fluctuate between relatively warm and extremely cold, you'll need to bring a variety of clothing to help you prepare for the winter conditions in Columbus. Consider packing a variety of clothing that can be layered including long and short-sleeved shirts, pants, sweaters, and even thermal undergarments as well as outerwear like scarves, gloves, hats, and a warm winter coat. Comfortable yet waterproof shoes with a good grip (to avoid slipping on ice or snow) are also necessary to ensure your comfort during your stay, especially if you plan on walking a lot during your visit.

December Events in Columbus

From New Year's Eve and festive holiday lighting displays to special seasonal concerts and live entertainment events, there's plenty to do in Columbus this December. 

  • Village Lights at the German Village: Hundreds of luminaries light up the streets for a special extended shopping day on the first Saturday of the month featuring holiday treats, special discounts, and fantastic gifts in the Historic German Village. 
  • Christmas at Capitol Square: Kick off the holiday season with the Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting at the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus, on December 6, 2019. All ages will enjoy the live music entertainment, food stalls, and arts and crafts demonstrations. For the rest of the month, you can schedule tours of the Statehouse to see its halls decked out in Christmas cheer.
  • Franklin Park Conservatory Aglow: The Columbus conservatory and botanical garden hosts a special holiday event called, "Conservatory Aglow." Massive illuminated structures by renowned artists such as Jen Lewin and Dale Chihuly bring the park to life every evening from November 16, 2019, through January 4, 2020. Families can take part in daytime activities as well, like gingerbread houses, a holiday train ride, and special Christmas performances.
  • Breakfast with Santa: The Virtues Golf Club will host its annual "Breakfast With Santa" at the Overlook restaurant on December 14, 2019, at what's become known as one of Ohio's best golf courses. In addition to a meet and greet with Santa Claus, guests will also be able to enjoy the build your omelet bar and a Christmas cookie decorating station for kids. 
  • Columbus Gay Men's Chorus Holiday Concert: Each year, this performance group returns to the King Avenue UMC for a holiday performance featuring holiday classics, children's songs, and a few twists to old favorites. Catch them at one of four performance times this season from December 13–15, 2019.
  • Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Each December, the Zoo and Aquarium is decorated with holiday cheer and offers guests animated light shows, special holiday performances, and even camel rides. Wildlights premieres this year on November 15, 2019, and goes until January 5, 2020.
  • Winterfair at the Ohio Expo Center: A weekend-long marketplace of contemporary crafts including ceramics, woodwork, glass creations, paintings, metalwork, jewelry, photography, and sculptures. Get your holiday shopping done with these unique gifts, and support local artisans at the same time! This year's market is from December 6–8, 2019.
  • First Night Columbus: First Night is a family-friendly event to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome in the New Year. It's Columbus' largest New Year's Eve event, and ends with a massive fireworks display over the city. Tickets are required to attend First Night and alcohol is not permitted.

December Travel Tips

  • Although early December is part of the off-season for tourism to Columbus, traveling during the last half of the month will cost more due to the large influx of holiday visitors. 
  • Be sure to check the weather before you leave your hotel in the morning as temperatures are known to fluctuate between warmer weather and below-freezing form day-to-day.
  • Additionally, if you plan to stay out from day to night, you may need to carry extra layers of clothing with you, even if it's a warm day, since temperatures drop 10 to 20 degrees after dark. 
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