Holiday Lights & Displays

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Holidays at the Conservatory

Address: Franklin Park Conservatory,

1777 E. Broad St., East Side

Phone: 614-645-8733


Price: Regular admission rates ($11 adults, $9 seniors, $6 children, Free 2 and under)

Date: Nov. 24-Jan. 5, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 10-8 p.m. Wednesday

Distance: 3 miles east from Downtown

Description: Experience the color and spirit of the season while staying warm nestled within the beautiful botanical gardens of the Franklin Park Conservatory. See the 10-foot tall poinsettia tree or follow the fun model garden railway. Enjoy special programs throughout the season including the Fourth Annual Gingerbread House Competition with categories for Youth, Teen, Adult, and Family!

Tip: Candlelight Night each Wednesday. Tip toe along paths lit by hundreds of votive candles and enjoy a special menu and snacks at The Conservatory Garden Cafe or make reservations for an intimate candlelight dinner at the Palm House.

Dickens Victorian Village

Address: Historic downtown Cambridge, on Wheeling Avenue between Sixth and 11th streets.

Phone: 800-933-5480


Price: Free

Dates: Nov. 1-Jan. 8

Times: any time; a light show synchronized to holiday music takes place every night at the Guernsey County Courthouse from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1

Distance: 80 miles east of Columbus

Description: Take a trip back in time and experience old-world England as historic downtown Cambridge is charmingly transformed into a Dickens Victorian Village. Visitors are invited to stroll amidst 60 vignettes of 180 life-sized, lifelike figures representing classic scenes from Victorian society 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. A self-guided walking tour brochure of the Dickens Victorian Village display and downtown Cambridge is available at downtown retailers, area hotels and Ye Ole Curiosity Shoppe and Dickens Welcome Center at 643 Wheeling Ave.

State Auto Christmas Display

Address: 518 E. Broad St., Downtown

Phone: 614-464-5000


Price: Free

Dates/Times: The lights will be turned on and the display officially opens on Dec. 1. The display can be toured any time through Dec. 31. The lights are turned on every day from 6-8 a.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The display also will be lit from 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve until 8 a.m. on Christmas Day:

Description: This outdoor Nativity display - filled with nearly 80 life-sized plaster and polymer-coated figures, 7,000 LED lights, 1,200 feet of garland, five 12-foot lighted wreaths and six towering Nutcrackers - has been a downtown tradition for 79 years. Local choral groups will perform, for free, every Saturday and Sunday evening at 7 p.m. from Dec. 4 through Dec. 19. And a special ceremony to place the Baby Jesus figure in the manger takes place at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Tip: You can park in the State Auto parking lot at the southeast corner of Broad and Washington streets. Be sure to follow the instructions for a cell-phone tour of the Nativity display. Nativity guides (State Farm employees) also are on hand to answer questions during peak hours.

The Legendary Lights at Clifton Mill

Address: Clifton Mill, 75 Water St., Clifton

Phone: 937-767-5501


Price: $8 for ages 7+, Sunday-Thursday; $10 for ages 7+, Friday-Saturday; Children 6 and under are free

Date: Nov. 26-Jan. 3

Time: Gates are open from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; lights are on from 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; closes at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.

Distance: 40 miles southwest of Columbus

Description: Featured in Midwest Living and Ohio Magazine, the historic Clifton Mill provides a beautiful and unique backdrop for this holiday light display. Organizers drape the mill, trees, riverbank and bridges in more than 3.5 million lights. Visitors will enjoy the Santa Claus Museum and can even get a peek in his workshop!

Tip: Week days are much less crowded. Saturday is the Mill's busiest night.

Byesville Scenic Railway "Spirit of Christmas" Excursion

Address: 100 Tolliver Trail, Byesville

Phone: 740-685-0614


Price: $12 ages 13+, $9 ages 3-12, free for children 0-2

Dates/Times: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. departures on Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12

Distance: 84 miles east of downtown Columbus

Description: Learn how coal miners and their families celebrated the holiday season through a dramatic presentation performed while riding a vintage train in the Appalachian foothills for a one-hour, 10-mile ride. The train will be trimmed throughout with Christmas lights, decorations, and music. A traditional Christmas story will be read and everyone is invited to sing a Christmas carol or two. Through special arrangement, Santa Claus will be on board to hear what good boys and girls want for Christmas. Refreshments served for donation.

Tip: Byesville is located 7 miles south of Cambridge where you can see the Dickens Victorian Village display.

Fantasy of Lights

Address: Alum Creek State Park, 4000 Hollenback Rd., Lewis Center

Phone: 740-369-2900


Price: Starts at $10 per car, depending on night of the week and size of the vehicle

Dates: Nov.19-Jan. 2

Times: 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Distance: 20 miles north of Columbus

Description: Considered one of Ohio's premiere drive-thru light shows, the 11th Annual Fantasy of Lights stretches for nearly two miles and includes more than a million lights and more than 130 lighted holiday displays. There's also a Santa House (which is not a drive-thru feature!). Enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate.

Tip: While the kids are getting their picture taken with Santa, you can knock a couple of things off their list at the gift shop. Some of the proceeds benefit Recreation Unlimited.

A Christmas Story House and Museum

Address: 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland

Phone: 216-298-4919


Price: $8 adults, $7 seniors, $6 kids 7-12, free for kids 6 and under; on-street parking is free.

Dates/Times: open all year but in December, dates and times vary. It's open most days from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Check the website for times on specific dates.

Distance: 141 miles northeast of Columbus

Description: This is the house where the now-classic 1983 film "A Christmas Story" was filmed. Not familiar with the movie? Then the phrase "You'll shoot your eye out, kid" probably holds no special meaning for you, and you can move onto the next listing in the Go-To Guide. For die-hard fans, though, this Cleveland building is probably worth a pilgrimage trip at least once in your lifetime. A museum and gift shop (where the leg lamp will set you back $200 and the bunny suit a mere $60) are located across the street from the house.

Tip: The Lolly Trolley runs between the Christmas Story House and downtown Cleveland on most weekend evenings in December. Fares range from $5.50 for kids 6 and under, $14.25 for ages 7-12, and $22 for ages 13+. For more info, go to

Holiday Trail of Lights

Address: Lake Hope State Park, 27331 State Rte. 278, McArthur

Phone: 740-596-3030


Price: Free

Date: every night from Dec. 1-31, with extra events planned for Friday and Saturday nights.

Time: 6-10 p.m.

Distance: 56 miles southeast of Columbus

Description: Now in its sixth year, you can hike through the forest to view the 100,000+ light display including animated scenes, decorated trees, and landscape lighting. Start at the Nature Center where the 0.8-mile trail begins. The staff there says the best dates to visit are Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18 when Santa visits from 6-9 p.m., the Nature Center is open with their regular animal displays plus a Lionel train display, hot chocolate, and a bonfire with the makings for s'mores. And on Dec. 18, there are horse-drawn wagon rides from 6-9 p.m.

Tip: The light display uses motion-sensor lights, so kids love to run backwards through the short trail and reactivate the display.

Village Lights

Address: Historic German Village

Phone: 614-221-8888

Web site:

Price: Free

Date: 6-10 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5 for the Village Lights event; enjoy the lights throughout the month

Distance: 1 mile south of Downtown

Description: From twinkling white lights in the trees to more than 11,000 luminaries lining the walkways, Village Lights in Historic German Village promises to be a magical evening. Shops and restaurants will stay open to welcome you in. Also enjoy live music and carolers if you simply want to stroll the streets.

Tip: German Village restaurants will offer special treats and discounts on Village Lights night, and throughout the month.


Address: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, 4850 W. Powell Rd., Powell

Phone: 1-800-MONKEYS


Price: Regular admission rates ($13 ages 10+, $8 ages 2-10, $8 Seniors, 2 and under Free); Parking is $5 per car; Members receive free admission and parking.

Dates: Nov. 19-Jan. 1, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve

Times: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Distance: 17 miles northwest of Columbus

Description: Billed as the best Wildlights yet, you will find millions of lights on everything but the animals! This long-standing family tradition is in its 23rd year. Enjoy special displays from the Polar Bears to the Koala Bears and each exhibit in between. Listen to music, visit with Santa and his reindeer, and even decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus!

Tip: This year's display features all new eco-friendly LED lights and a chorus of animatronic trees.

Christmas at Historic Roscoe Village

Address: 600 N. Whitewoman St., Coshocton

Phone: 740-622-2218.


Price: Free for admission and parking at the

village, which is a living historic community, designed to recreate an 1830s canal town.

Dates/Times: Guided Tours: 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11, 18, and at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 5, 12, 19;

Christmas Candlelightings: 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11, 18

Distance: 77 miles northeast of Columbus

Description: "A Roscoe Christmas" guided tour offers a glimpse into the 1800s holiday season, or enjoy the same tour after the ceremony by guided candlelight. At the Saturday evening Christmas Candlelighting Ceremony, everyone carries a candle and sings "Silent Night" while the big tree also is lit. During the day, guests can enjoy art with Santa, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, complimentary hot-mulled cider and cookies, and many other holiday festivities.

Ohio Statehouse Tree

Address: The Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Downtown

Phone: 888-OHIO-123


Price: Free

Date: December 1 for the tree lighting; the tree remains up and lit each day inside the Statehouse Atrium through Dec. 31.

Time: The Statehouse is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday, 11 a.m-5 p.m. on weekends and closed on Christmas Day. The Statehouse Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, and 12-4 p.m. weekends.

Description: You'll find one of the most storied holiday traditions in the heart of downtown Columbus. In its 93rd year, the Statehouse Holiday Tree Lighting and Festival starts with the Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 1. The holiday spirit continues all month. You can take a free tour (no reservations needed) at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday and at 12 noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. The tours begin in the Map Room (accessible from the Third St. entrance) and you'll see the Victorian-era holiday decorations throughout the Statehouse. And at 12 noon each weekday from Dec. 1-17, there will be a different musical concert in the Statehouse Crypt.

Tip: Visit the Museum Shop between Dec. 6-11 and you can draw a candy cane that will tell you if you receive 10, 20 or 30 percent off any purchase. Statehouse Museum is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends from noon to 4 p.m.; closed holidays. Admission is free.

Winter Wonderland at Creekside Park

Address: Creekside Park & Plaza, 123 Mill St., Gahanna

Phone: 614-418-9114


Price: Free and open to the public

Dates: Nov. 26-Jan. 3

Time: Monday-Sunday, any time

Distance: 10 miles east of Columbus

Description: The five-acre Creekside Park along Gahanna's Big Walnut Creek is the setting for this dazzling holiday light display. Enjoy a walk along the beautiful creek and then warm up in one of the many restaurants along the waterway and plaza.

Tip: Dress warmly and bring skates because Creekside Plaza features an ice rink as well!

Hocking Hills Scenic Railway Holiday Trains

Address: Nelsonville Depot, 33 E. Canal St., Nelsonville

Phone: 1-800-967-7834

Web site:

Price: Santa Train: $16 Ages 13-59; $14 Seniors 60+; $12 Kids 3-12; Free for Kids 0-2; North Pole Express: $25 Ages 13-59; $20 Seniors 60+; $17 Kids 312; Free for Kids 0-2; New Year's Eve Celebration Train: $35 Ages 21-59 and $30 Seniors 60+ for wine and cheese; $25 Ages 13-59, $20 Seniors 60+, $15 Kids 3-12 and under 2 free for Pepsi and pizza.

Dates/Times: Santa Train: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 ride lasts about 2 hours; North Pole Express: 7 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11, 17, 18 ride lasts about 90 minutes; New Year's Eve Celebration Train: 10:30 p.m., Dec. 31 (reservations must be made by Dec. 29).

Distance: Approximately 60 miles south of Columbus

Description: If you're looking to take the fast track to Santa and his elves this Christmas, this is your ticket. The Hocking Hills Scenic Railway is offering special opportunities to experience the magic of the season from comfort of a heated and decorated railway car. Enjoy the ride with the jolly old elf himself when you board the daytime Santa Train. Or feel free to wear your pj's and robes as you hop on the evening North Pole Express: Santa will be waiting for you when you arrive Enjoy hot chocolate and treats on both tours. And on Dec. 31, you can welcome the new year with a train ride and fireworks.

Tip: Reservations are highly recommended. Bring skates or rent a pair and enjoy outdoor ice skating at North Pole Nelsonville.

Olde Hilliard Christmas

Address: Historical Village at Weaver Park, 4100 Columbia St., Hilliard

Phone: 614-664-3290


Price: Free

Dates/Times: The Christmas season opens on Dec. 2 with a tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. The village will be open weekends in December from 6-8 p.m.

Distance: 14 miles west of Columbus

Description: The Historical Village in Olde Hilliard's Weaver Park will be adorned in holiday decorations and lights all month. Each weekend, events like kids' activities, trolley rides, visits from Santa, music and plays will take place.

Tip: Save some gift shopping for a visit to Olde Hilliard because downtown businesses also will be offering special discounts to visitors.