Top Holiday Events in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio
Yuanshuai Si/Getty Images

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

From dazzling old-timey luminaries in some of Columbus' oldest neighborhoods to holiday tours and special one-night performances, explore the following list and plan your winter vacation to Columbus—you're sure to find something that's fun for the whole family!

  • 01 of 14
    Village Lights German Village Columbus
    Courtesy of German Village Society

    On Sunday, December 3, throughout the Historic German Village in Columbus, hundreds of luminaries light up the streets for a special extended shopping day full of holiday treats, special discounts, and fantastic gifts you can purchase from local artists and businesses.

    From 5 to 10 p.m., the shops along German Village's main streets will keep their doors open late so that the over 10,000 guests who come to the annual event can spend a few extra hours browsing while enjoying Christmas carolers and live holiday music.

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    Columbus Capitol Square holiday
    Courtesy of Capitol Square

    The Ohio Statehouse at Capitol Square kicks off its annual holiday celebration with the Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. featuring the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus accompanied by live entertainment, light snacks, and arts and crafts.

    Throughout the rest of the month, you can schedule tours at the Ohio Statehouse to see the decked out halls, giant Christmas tree, and see where Ohio legislation starts out.

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    Historical Village At Weaver Park christmas
    A Hilliard Education Foundation Elf greets parents and kids with candy canes after visiting with Santa at the Historical Village At Weaver Park. Courtesy of Destination Hilliard

    At the Historical Village at Weaver Park in the Historic Olde Hilliard neighborhood of Columbus, visitors can find several chances to celebrate the holidays this Christmas season including performances of "A Christmas Carol" at the Hilliard Civic and Cultural Arts Center on both December 8 and 9. 

    Additionally, guests can tour the Historic Village, decorated with a dazzling display of Christmas lights, have Breakfast With Santa, or hop on an old caboose car for "Santa in the Caboose" on ​December 10 from ​3 to 6 p.m.

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    Franklin Park Conservatory Christmas lights
    Photo by Jay Truman / Franklin Park Conservatory

    Starting with the "Holiday Open House" on December 3, the Franklin Park Conservatory will be hosting a series of holiday-themed events throughout the month of December including special holiday performances, candlelight nights at the John F. Wolfe Palm House, Breakfast With Santa, and a family fun ornament crafting on December 9.

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  • 05 of 14
    Breakfast with Santa at the Longaberger Golf Club
    Courtesy of The Overlook Restaurant

    On Saturday, December 9, the Longaberger Golf Club will host its annual "Breakfast With Santa" at the Overlook restaurant on 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 own omelet bar and a Christmas cookie decorating station for kids. 

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    Columbus Gay Men's Chorus
    Courtesy of Columbus Gay Men's Chorus

    This year, the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus returns to the King Avenue UMC for their holiday performance of "Joy! Make the Yuletide Gay," featuring holiday classics, children's songs, and a few twists on old favorites. Performances run from December 8 through December 10 and tickets are likely to sell out, so get yours quickly if you want to experience the magic of the CGMC this Christmas.

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    Christmas Events at North Market

    North Market
    Courtesy of North Market

    There's no place like the North Market to get you into the holiday spirit if you're visiting Columbus this Christmas season, and all throughout the month of December this special array of merchants decks its halls and puts on a series of seasonal events. From the friendly salutations of the merchants to the array of delectable cuisine, the bustle of market commerce on a winter weekend is sure to warm your heart and have you humming holiday tunes! Complete with visits from Santa, performances of holiday classics by local bands and groups, and even a few gingerbread house making events, you won't want to miss the holiday season at North Market. 

  • 08 of 14
    Columbus Winterfair
    Courtesy of Columbus Winterfair

    From December 1 through 3, the Winterfair is coming back to the Ohio Expo Center for a weekend of contemporary crafts including ceramics, wood, glass, painting, metal, jewelry, photography, and sculpture in a marketplace that completely transforms the Expo Center into a winter wonderland, perfect for grabbing those last minute gifts.

    If you miss the Winterfair, the Ohio Craft Museum, which organizes the event, also hosts a "Gifts of the Craftsmen" exhibit and display throughout the month of December where you can pick up some of the items featured at Winterfair.

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  • 09 of 14
    Candlelighting Roscoe Ohio
    Courtesy of Roscoe Village

    This year on December 9, Coshocton Visitors’ Bureau, sponsored by the Roscoe Village Business Association, will host the 46th Christmas Candlelighting Ceremony, which invites guests to share in the evening's tradition of lighting the Christmas tree and their own candles as everyone sings "Silent Night" together.

    Daytime activities happen throughout the month of December including art with Santa, strolling carolers, horse-drawn buggy rides, and complimentary hot-mulled cider and cookies. Even if you miss the official Candlelighting Ceremony, there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy the old-timey ambiance of the flicker lights all season long.

  • 10 of 14
    New Albany Symphony
    Photo by Robert Sohovich / Courtesy of New Albany Symphony Orchestra

    Featuring the talents of Opera Columbus, Center Stage Singers, and conductor Luis Biava, the New Albany Symphony Orchestra brings back its annual holiday show on December 17 this year for "Holiday Spectacular," a musical revue of heartwarming songs and traditions unique to this small suburb of Columbus, which includes the gift basket fundraiser. 

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    first night columbus
    Courtesy of First Night Columbus

    First Night Columbus, Central Ohio's award-winning New Year's Eve celebration is a community-oriented, family-friendly, alcohol-free event. There is something for everyone with more than 40 live performances including jazz, funk, ragtime, storytelling and magic, hands-on activities and a children's festival.

    Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. on December 31 and continue through the ball drop at midnight. Be sure to check out the website for more information on performers and schedule of this fantastic event before you go!

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    ShadowBoxLive Holiday Hoopla
    Photo by Jeffrey Buzz Crisafulli / Courtesy of ShadowBoxLive

    Now in its 27th iteration, Holiday Hoopla has become a central Ohio Christmas tradition. Full of sketch comedy that pokes fun at our desire to make the holidays perfect, rockin' seasonal tunes from house band BillWho?, and the hilarious musical send-up The Santa Babies, Hoopla never disappoints. Shows run from November 16 through December 30, so there's plenty of chances for you to catch this show on your trip to Columbus this holiday season.

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  • 13 of 14
    Nutcracker Ballet
    Photo by C. McCullers / Courtesy of Ohio Theatre

    Some might argue that no Christmas season is complete without catching a performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 's "The Nutcracker." Featuring the talent of both Ballet Met and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, this annual tradition makes its return throughout the month of December. Dates for performances include December 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24.

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    Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Wildlights
    Courtesy of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

    One of the best places to see Christmas lights in Columbus is at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, with the lights running nightly from November 17 to January 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. (open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, when the Zoo is closed.

    Experience all the magic of a winter wonderland while visiting the variety of fish and animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a perfect destination to get the whole family in the holiday mood.