‘Tis the season to start your winter celebrations! We’ve compiled some family-friendly events that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit, beginning this month.
HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING AND VILLAGE LIGHTS
ADDRESS: Historic German Village
DATE: 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 30 for the Tree Lighting; 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2 for the Village Lights event; enjoy the seasonal decorations throughout the month
DISTANCE: 1 mile south from downtown Columbus
DESCRIPTION: Join residents of the village tucked next to downtown Columbus for the Tree Lighting on Nov. 30, where Santa will make an appearance and guests can enjoy treats, cider and hot chocolate. Then, the area will light up on Dec. 2 with the annual Village Lights. Stroll through the streets, grab a bite to eat and explore the shops.
FANTASY OF LIGHTS
ADDRESS: Alum Creek State Park, 2911 S. Old State Road, Delaware 43015
PRICE: Starts at $10 per car; varies by date and vehicle size
DATES: Nov.16-Jan. 1
TIMES: 5:30-9:30 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 5:30-10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday
DISTANCE: 20 miles north from downtown Columbus
DESCRIPTION: For the 13th year in a row, Alum Creek is presenting its Fantasy of Lights. Just hop in your car and enjoy the drive-thru lights experience, which includes fun displays throughout the route in the woods. Once you’re done, there’s free hot chocolate and cookies at Santa’s House (located down the road at Cross Creek Camping Resort), and families can have photos taken with Santa, too. And you can check some holiday shopping off the list — Santa’s house also has a selection of gift items to purchase.
MERRY & BRIGHT
ADDRESS: Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus 43203
PRICE: regular admission rates ($11 adults to age 59, $9 ages 60+ and college students with ID, $6 ages 3-17, free for ages 0-2)
DATE: Nov. 17-Jan. 6, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
TIME: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays
DISTANCE: 3 miles east from downtown Columbus
DESCRIPTION: Visit the Conservatory for lights, trains, gingerbread houses and more! Along with the decorations available for viewing daily, the Conservatory stays open late on Wednesday evenings for Merry & Bright Nights. And don’t forget to enter the gingerbread house competition! Entries for the different categories are due by Dec. 2, and the houses will be on display the remainder of December. Check the website for more information about special family programs throughout the season.
OHIO STATEHOUSE TREE LIGHTING AND HOLIDAY FESTIVAL
ADDRESS: The Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square (Downtown), Columbus 43215
DATE: Dec. 3
TIME: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
DESCRIPTION: For nearly 100 years, Columbus residents have been gathering at the Statehouse for the tree lighting. The holiday festival that night also has plenty of family-friendly activities including refreshments, historical characters and singing with carolers. This event begins a month-long holiday celebration at Capitol Square with holiday tours, choir performances and more.
ADDRESS: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 W. Powell Road, Powell 43065
PRICE: regular admission rates ($14.99 ages 10-59, $9.99 ages 2-9, $10.99 ages 60+, free for ages 0-2); parking is $57 per car; members receive free admission and parking.
DATES: Nov. 16-Jan. 1, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve
TIMES: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
DISTANCE: 17 miles northwest from downtown Columbus
DESCRIPTION:If you’ve never been to our nationally renowned zoo (it’s pretty much a Columbus crime if you haven’t!), then the Wildlights are the perfect time to go and make some family memories. Beginning mid-November and lasting until 2013, the millions of lights will dazzle you, and kids will love seeing the animals and visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS! AT CREEKSIDE PARK
ADDRESS: Creekside Park & Plaza, 123 Mill St., Gahanna 43230
PRICE: free and open to the public
DATES: Nov. 10-Jan. 2
TIME: Monday-Sunday, any time
DISTANCE: 10 miles east from downtown Columbus
DESCRIPTION: This season-long lights display begins with a holiday tree lighting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, including a ceremony with the mayor. Then, on the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, Nov. 23), take part in a Healthy Holiday 5K and catch the Holiday Lights! parade at 6 p.m. that evening. Registration for the 5K is available at visitgahanna.gov.
THE GRAND ILLUMINATION OF DOWNTOWN COLUMBUS
ADDRESS: Bicentennial Park, 233 Civic Center Dr. (Downtown), Columbus 43215
DATE: 5 p.m.,Nov. 30
DESCRIPTION: Bring the family and join Mayor Coleman as the Scioto Mile becomes illuminated for the season. Activities throughout the evening include musical performances and more. And tell kids to be on their best behavior, because Santa might be stopping by! The area will remain lit through the holiday months.