From downtown Cleveland's Public Square to Nela Park and Shaker Square, Northeast Ohio offers a wide range of festive holiday light displays throughout the winter season. Typically starting around the Thanksgiving holiday and continuing through New Year's Day (or later), these special events light up Northeast Ohio and provide visitors opportunities to meet Santa, ice skate, or explore a winter wonderland full of lights and art displays.
Whether you're in Cleveland, Akron, or any of the surrounding cities, there's certainly something to check out to get into the Christmas spirit.
Note some events have been altered or canceled in 2020, so check below and event websites for details.
Cleveland Area Lights
Perhaps one of the biggest draws of the Cleveland area for holiday cheer is the downtown lighting display at Winterfest along with the public skating rink at the Cleveland Public Square. But these aren't the only holiday events happening around Cleveland.
- Winterfest will hold various virtual and socially distant activities from November 28, 2020, through January 11, 2021. The event usually offers visitors free carriage rides, a tree-lighting ceremony, and even a fireworks show to kick off the Christmas season. Guests can browse the wares of pop-up retailers inside Tower City that make up the seasonal Cleveland Bazaar, which features crafts, activities, and food in the Kids Village. It's also the grand opening of the Public Square skating rink for the season, which closes the following February.
- At Lake Metroparks' Farmpark in Cleveland, check out the annual Country Lights, which in 2020 will be a drive-thru version in the evenings through December 22. You can enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride through the park, trimmed with hundreds of thousands of lights, and visit Santa's workshop. Tickets must be purchased in advance and often sell out.
- Nela Park's "Merry and Bright" 2020 theme will be on display along several blocks of Noble Road through Jan. 4, 2021. This exhibit offers guests a chance to see a Cleveland holiday tradition since 1925, where the GE facility at Nela Park puts up hundreds of thousands of lights beginning in early December and lasting until New Years Day. Nela Park is known for manufacturing the lights for the National Christmas Tree in the nation's capital, so if you only see one light display this season, this is the one to visit.
- You can also check out the Cleveland Museum of Art's annual Winter Lights Lantern Festival in December, which features "Environment of Lights" exhibits around Wade Oval, plus lantern displays at the Museum itself.
Medina, Akron, and Surrounding Area Events
If you're not going to be in the city of Cleveland itself this holiday season, the smaller towns and cities of the region still offer a plethora of winter events and special activities—from lighting displays to festivities in Akron.
- Medina County Fair Holiday Lights is a weekend drive-through adventure with over 85 lighting displays on several days from November 27 through December 13, plus daily between December 18-30, 2020. Located at the Medina County Fairgrounds at 720 West Smith Road, this display is the largest in the area (even bigger than Cleveland's), so it's quite a spectacle.
- In Akron, visit the historic Stan Hywet Hall and its annual celebration. The estate has more than a million holiday lights, which are turned on when "Deck the Hall: A Very Merry Christmas" tours take place through December 30, 2020. This tour provides guests not only a brilliant lighting display but also a glimpse into what life was like in a Northeast Ohio manor house during the early 20th century.
- The City of Akron’s Tree Lighting Ceremony is canceled for 2020. Held at Lock 3 Park, in late November, the event features a lighting ceremony for the Christmas tree and park, complete with a choir performance and ice skating after the show. The park features a whole calendar of fun programming throughout the winter months.