2020 Holiday Lights and Events Around Columbus

Many of Central Ohio's most beloved displays are still taking place this year, with some new virtual events added to the mix.

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Holiday lights at John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons

Many of Central Ohio’s most beloved holiday displays are still taking place this year—good news for families who enjoy heading outdoors to take in the sights of the season. You’ll also find a few online arts events and socially distanced visits with Santa on the list. Check with venues about special COVID-19 protocols, social distancing and face-covering requirements.


Through Dec. 23

Gifts of the Craftsmen, The Ohio Craft Museum’s annual exhibition and holiday sale features more than 100 artists from across the country. Items include jewelry, pottery, wood cutting boards, puppets and animals, ornaments, handmade greeting cards and more. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Ohio Craft Museum, 1665 W. Fifth Ave., Columbus. 614-486-4402. ohiocraft.org

Through Jan. 3

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights, This popular annual event, formerly the Alum Creek Fantasy of Lights, has been operating since 1999. The drive-thru display offers numerous holiday scenes. $20 to $30 per car; $60 season pass. Ticket sales stop 30 minutes prior to closing. Online ticketing is available. 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5:30-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. An adjacent Santa House at Cross Creek Campgrounds offers free Santa visits and photos for a fee. Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds, 3311 S. Old State Road, Delaware. 614-368-9961. butchbandosfantasyoflights.com

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Through Jan. 3

FREE! Columbus Commons Holiday Lights, John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons will be illuminated with more than 400,000 lights from 5-10 p.m. daily. John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons, 160 S. High St. (Downtown), Columbus. columbuscommons.org

Through Jan. 3

FREE! Easton Holiday Lights, Shoppers and Town Square passersby can view oversized trees and displays decked with more than 2 million holiday lights, including the 50-foot holiday tree’s light show, synced to a soundtrack every 15 minutes. Santa will not visit in person, but personalized video messages can be ordered online. Easton, 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus. eastontowncenter.com

Through Jan. 3

FREE! Holiday Lights on the Scioto Mile, Thousands of lights will illuminate the Scioto Mile from Bicentennial Park to Broad Street. The display is presented by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. Dusk to dawn nightly. Bicentennial Park, 233 Civic Center Drive (Downtown), Columbus. sciotomile.com

Through Jan. 3

Wildlights, The 32nd edition of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s family tradition includes 3 million LED lights, socially distanced visits with Santa Claus (advanced reservations recommended), camel rides, holiday train and carousel rides, animated light shows and more. 5-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Timed tickets are required for all visitors, including members; they will not be sold at the gate. Display and some activities are included with standard admission, which is $11.99 to $21.99, free for children younger than 3. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 Powell Road, Powell. columbuszoo.org

Through Jan. 4

FREE! State Auto’s Christmas Corner, The Columbus-based insurance company features a life-size, lighted nativity at its headquarters. There will not be a lighting ceremony, weekend musical performances or Christmas Eve ceremony this year. Hours are 6-8 a.m. and 5-11:30 p.m. daily, until 12:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Christmas Eve until 8 a.m. Christmas Day. State Auto Insurance Companies, 518 E. Broad St. (Downtown), Columbus. stateauto.com/christmas

Through Jan. 10

Conservatory Aglow, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens boasts thousands of lights and stunning displays, plus live entertainment and Santa and his reindeer on select evenings. New this year: a Candyland scene with a life-size gingerbread house and the Paul Busse Garden Railway exhibition. Timed ticket reservations are required. $12 to $22 for nonmembers, $6 to $11 for members; children under 3 are free but require a ticket. 5-9 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus. 614-715-8000. fpconservatory.org

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Nov. 27 to Dec. 27

CAPA Presents “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical,” This virtual production tells the story of a rag doll named Eleanor, who lives in the North Pole. When she writes a letter to Santa asking for a best friend and a home to call her own, it starts a journey on which her wish and others come true. Recommended for all ages. $20, or $60 to $80 with “fun box” packages; use code CAPACOL20. capa.com

Nov. 28 to Dec. 13

FREE! Socially Distanced Santa at Oakland Nursery, Santa is stopping by all Oakland Nursery locations on Saturdays and Sundays. He will be parked outside in his sleigh and joined (in some locations) by ice-sculpting elves. A reindeer will visit the Columbus location from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 12. Noon to 3:30 p.m. oaklandnursery.com

Dec. 1-11

Video Message from Santa, The Ohio Herb Center has teamed up with Santa Claus to send children a personalized video message from St. Nick himself. Each ticket includes a recorded video that will be sent to your email address. An optional package includes hot chocolate and a cookie decorating kit from Fate Cakes. $15 to $20. A portion of each ticket benefits GRIN. gahannaconventionvisitorsburea.thundertix.com

Dec. 4-6

FREE! Main Street Delaware’s Home for the Holidays Weekend, Bring the family to meet Santa Claus at the Delaware Welcome Center, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, try a scavenger hunt and enjoy the lights and sights of Main Street. Check website for activity times. Downtown Delaware. mainstreetdelaware.com

Dec. 5-27

FREE! BalletMet’s A Nutcracker Holiday, Though the theater will be dark, it’s still Nutcracker time at BalletMet. A Nutcracker Holiday is a special virtual celebration, available to all on the BalletMet website. The centerpiece is a new video, “Clara’s Nutcracker Prince,” featuring favorite scenes, characters and dances from BalletMet stage performances. Other videos include “Dancing With the Nutcracker” and “Finding Clara,” a film about the casting of the lead role. Interactive activities will have the whole family dancing, making crafts and learning about ballet. balletmet.org

Dec. 19

“The Hip-Hop Nutcracker,” CAPA presents a streaming performance of “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker,” which blends a contemporary dance performance with Tchaikovsky’s musical masterpiece. The cast includes a dozen dancers, a DJ, a violinist and hip-hop legend MC Kurtis Blow, who performs a short set. The reimagined version of the classic ballet celebrates love, community and holiday magic. $25 and $55. Performance takes place at 7 p.m. capa.com

This story is from the Winter 2020 issue of Columbus Parent. The original list included Dickens of a Drive-Thru at Ohio Village, which was canceled due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Butch Bando's Fantasy of Lights