The Best Columbus Ohio Holiday Events This Year

There’s a reason that Ohio’s capitol sits almost perfectly in the center of the state: so all of its residents have easy access! If you’ve never visited Columbus, Ohio, you really need to start planning a trip. If you’ve never visited during the holidays? You’re really missing out on the merriment!  This year’s Columbus holiday events are not to be missed! Check out our nine favorite reasons to head into the city for the holiday fun this year for this year’s Columbus, Ohio Holiday Events. 

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: Franklin Park Conservatory
Red and white poinsettia trees at Franklin Park Conservatory. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

Man, I can’t get enough of Columbus, Ohio, lately. Not only is Ohio’s state capital filled with fun things to do on a normal day, come the winter holidays and the fun gets ramped up! Here are my favorite things to do when visiting Columbus during the holidays and why you need to check them out. 


1. Franklin Park Conservatory

This holiday season, Franklin Park Conservatory  will be even more beautiful with Conservatory Aglow each eveningThe annual holiday event showcases exquisitely themed rooms with a Christmas flair and outdoor lighted gardens. Gingerbread house making and visits with Santa will definitely get your family in the Christmas mood. 

During our daytime visit, live concerts from local children’s groups were sweet to watch. If you’re looking for cute holiday gifts with a botanical flair, you can definitely find them at FPC. 

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide:  Dragon Lights Columbus
Giant Chinese lanterns at Dragon Lights Columbus. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

2. Columbus, Ohio Holiday Events: Dragon Lights Columbus

You’re going to want to head to the Ohio Expo Center for this magical experience. From November 23 – January 6, larger than life nylon lanterns with twinkling lights illuminate the Natural Resources Park for Dragon Lights Columbus

What we love: An indoor area at the entrance with food and live performances. We also think the light-up swings and walkway at the playground area is a hoot. 

German Village Columbus Santa puppy
Santa at German Village in Columbus, Ohio. Photo Credit: Ed Gately

3. German Village

Visitors will delight in following over 10,000 luminaries that line the walkways in Columbus’ German Village . Spectacular Christmas decorations, shops filled with fun gift ideas and presents, and restaurants that are perfect for heading into for a snack or some hot chocolate.

German Village caters to families during the holidays, and you may just come upon carolers and live music so feel free to sing along with the Christmas songs. Horse-drawn carriage rides, beginning at 6pm on select nights, are also offered. Don’t forget to bundle up, as most of the fun is outside!

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: Easton Town Center
Easton Town Center, all lit up and beautiful for the holidays. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

4.Columbus, Ohio Holiday Events: Easton Town Center

Mark your calendars for November 16th- that’s the night Easton Town Center officially kicks off the holiday season with its Holiday Lighting Ceremony! Didn’t make the ceremony? There’s plenty more to see and do when you visit this year including Easton photographers hanging out around the giant Christmas tree to snap complimentary photos. 

What else is fun for 2019? Horse-drawn carriage for $10 per person (November 22nd and ending on December 23rd), photos with Santa, a miniature train display,  and a menorah lighting and Chanukah celebration.


2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: Columbus Zoo Wildlights
Three Million lights at Columbus Zoo Wildlights. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

5. Columbus Zoo Wildlights

Can you imagine what one million twinkling lights would look like? How about three million? Families can get wild in winter with Columbus Zoo and Aquarium‘s Wildlights beginning November 15 through January 5, 2019. A nighttime spectacular filled with three million Christmas lights, the zoo illuminates everything that stands still using energy-saving LED lights.

Reindeer, a diving Santa Claus at the Discovery Reef area of the aquarium, and two light shows will have your wee one’s eyes all aglow. Did I mention MILLIONS of Christmas lights? Yep, those, too. 

On a personal note, having visited for the first time last night was amazing! There are a few indoor respites and chances to see some animals, but, by far, the every 25-minute light show is the star. 

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: North Market
We love North Market in Columbus any time of year, but during the winter holidays it’s our fave spot for breakfast. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke

6. North Market

Since 1876, North Market in Columbus has been providing locals with fresh meat and produce. Come find amazing food for your holiday feast, while enjoying extras including special deals, children’s crafts and activities, and even live entertainment provides for a festive atmosphere.

If your kids want to let Santa in on their Christmas list, he’ll be strolling through the market with Mrs. Claus ready to listen. On special weekends during the holiday season, live reindeer visit the outdoor pavilion.

7. Ohio History Center

Ohio Village in Columbus turns into an eighteenth century town filled with shows, activities, and crafts geared toward folks from 1 to 101. Christmas Carol Puppets in the School House to a visit with St. Nicholas in the Church, Dickens of a Christmas has treated families to holiday traditions in a festive setting.

In the Farm House, parents and kids can stop in a grab a tasty treat and check out the daily holiday meal. Make sure to dress warmly, as many of the events including carolers and other actors, are outside.

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: Ohio Statehouse
Holiday fun at Ohio Statehouse. Photo Courtesy of the Ohio Statehouse.

8. The Ohio Statehouse

The Ohio Statehouse, built in 1861, has guided tours that allow families to step back in time and see what typical holiday decor may have been used in the decorating of the Ohio Statehouse.

Free holiday performances by local musical groups at noon give families a great reason to visit midday. Santa and Mrs. Claus have even been known to make an appearance, so keep your eyes peeled. December 1st is the first day you can check out its Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting fun.

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: COSI
Christmas tree cutout fun at COSI. Photo Credit: Steven Locke


Do your kids love watching The Polar Express on television during the holidays? How about watching it on a giant screen in their jammies? On select weekends in December, COSI plays The Polar Express on its National Geographic Giant Screen Theater.

Pre-show activities include games and surprises. When the kids find out that they can have hot cocoa and cookies during the movie, no doubt they will ask to watch the holiday movie on the big screen every year! Don’t worry about dressing the wee one up; pajamas are encouraged. 

2018 Columbus Holiday Guide: Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus OSU
Yep, there’s an OSU-themed tree in the lobby at Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus OSU! Photo Credit: Steven Locke and hotel staff.

Columbus, Ohio Holiday Events: Where We Stayed

Working with the folks at Dragon Lights Columbus, we were so pleased to stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus OSU on our recent visit. Our king bed was really comfortable, there was plenty of space in the separate seating area, and The Kid has her own area to hang out and relax. 

If that wasn’t enough, we had the trinity of free, that I really dig: free parking, free wifi, and free breakfast. I also found it’s location at Ohio State University pretty much centrally located to all of the places we visited during our stay – and only a few miles from Dragon Lights Columbus!

Disclosure: I was given a discounted hotel stay and free admission tickets to Columbus area attractions for the purpose of this 2018 Columbus Holiday Guide. All opinions are my own!

Ready to check out Columbus, Ohio holiday events? From 3 million Christmas lights in one place to indoor botanical beauty, here are the best Columbus holiday events this year! #expcols #Columbus #Ohio #ThingstodoinColumbus #HolidaysinOhio #MidwestTravel

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