The 12 (or more) days of Christmas

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Question: What's better than home for the holidays? Answer: Nothing if you live in central Ohio. There are so many joyous events, you'll have trouble seeing them all. To help you choose some locations the whole family will enjoy, Columbus Parent Magazine offers some suggestions for you to relax, and to take the kids' minds off the upcoming visit of the fat guy in the red suit.

Fantasy of Lights, Alum Creek State Park Marina

Open now through December 30.

Drive-through light show and Santa's house at the Alum Creek State Park Marina. Free hot chocolate and special activities. Partial proceeds go to benefit Recreation Unlimited. For prices and more information, call (740) 369-2900.

Wildlights, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Now through January 1, 5 to 9 p.m.

Everybody's favorite light show has changed. This year, the Zoo goes green. Half of the 2 million lights are now LED, which consume far less power than regular lights. Wildlights is still one of the most spectacular celebrations of winter. Activities include ice skating, activities for children, Santa Claus and a variety of festive activities for the family, such as the Wildlights Model Train Railway, the Enchanted Ice Rink and Mrs. Claus's kitchen. Regular Zoo admission includes Wildlights. For more information, call (614) 645-3550.

Christmas Candlelightings, Historic Roscoe Village, 381 Hill St., Coshocton.

December 1, 8 and 15.

The first three Saturdays in December, Roscoe Village cheers on the holiday season with its Christmas Candlelighting ceremonies. Share in the tradition of lighting the Christmas tree and participate by lighting your own candle as Silent Night is sung throughout the crowd. Over the weekend, guests can enjoy a visit with Santa, strolling carolers, live reindeer, candlelight tours, complementary hot-mulled cider and cookies, and many other holiday festivities. For more information, call (800) 877-1830 .

Lighted Carriage Parade, Easton Town Center, 3900 Easton Station.

December 3.

The parade features an impressive display of more than two dozen horse-drawn carriages all decked out in holiday lights. After parading

through Easton's fashion-focused North District, judges will award first, second and third place based on decorations, lights, costumes and originality.

Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour of Granville

December 6. Starts just before dark.

The village is decorated and special events take place in the shops. Ross's Granville Market offers enough tidbits to make a meal. The museums are open with special music as are the churches. Be sure to walk on the side streets to see some of the beautifully decorated homes.

Dickens Victorian Village, Cambridge, Ohio

Open now through January 11.

How about a road trip to Cambridge? It's worth it, believe me. The town is transformed into a Victorian village right out of a Dickens story. You can stroll among 40 vignettes of classic scenes from Victorian society. The vignettes are comprised of life-sized and hand-made mannequins wearing real vintage clothing. The faces of each character are individually sculpted and painted by local artists. The displays include engaging depictions of classic Dickens-era scenes and figures such as Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, the town crier, groups of carolers (that actually "sing" classic carols), a bucket brigade, lamplighters, school children, street peddlers, and Father Christmas-all posed in active scenes that appear frozen in time. Call (800) 933-5480.

Cherry Valley Lodge Open House, Newark

Opens December 7.

Free cookies, hot chocolate and coffee. The Home for the Holidays Creative Artisans Show sponsored by Heritage Arts is a great place to pick up a gift or two. Santa will be in front of the beautiful fireplace in the lobby to pose for pictures with the kids. The lodge is exquisitely decorated. It's a perfect place for family Christmas card photos.

All aboard! Take the kids on one of these holiday train trips:

The Dennison Railroad Museum's Polar Express in Dennison

December 5 through 14.

This newly restored railroad station encourages parents to take the family on a journey of a lifetime. Just like The Polar Express book and movie, passengers are seen riding the rails in their pajamas sipping hot chocolate and snacking on cookies. As the storyline unfolds, so do the events aboard this train. Once at the North Pole, Santa hops aboard to meet the children and hand out presents. Call (740) 922-6776 for more information.

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway's Santa Trains in Nelsonville

December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21.

On this trip through the scenic Hocking Valley, Santa visits with each and every child on the train and passes out candy to all. Passengers are also treated to lovely music and Christmas poems. The trip takes two hours. Reservations are strongly recommended. Tickets may be purchased online. For availability, reservations and rates, call (800) 967-7834 or visit

Cincinnati Railway's Santa's North Pole Express in Lebanon

Open now through January 1.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are aboard this train too. Passengers are taken to the North Pole where they can listen to carols, drink hot cocoa and take in the lovely scenery. In addition to the Lebanon station, there's another in downtown Cincinnati. Fares, dates and times differ. For availability, reservations and rates, call (513) 933-8022.

We hope you can make time for at least one outing before the big day. In any case, we wish you Happy Holidays and a most peaceful New Year.

Mildred Moss has been in journalism for 19 years. A mother and grandmother, Mildred has been writing for Columbus Parent Magazine for several years and is the publication's travel writer.