10+ Cincinnati Holiday Events That You Don’t Want to Miss!


There are so many great holiday events around Cincinnati that I look forward to each year. As your calendar fills up, you will want to make sure that you save these dates so that you don’t miss out!


1. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

November 19 – January 1
One of my favorite annual traditions as a child and now I share the tradition with my kids.

The Cincinnati Zoo will once again be transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 34th annual PNC Festival of Lights! In addition to admiring the beauty of 2.5 million LED lights, visitors can watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, ride the BB&T Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands.

A Christmas Carol at Playhouse in the Park

Photo courtesy of Playhouse in the Park

 2. A Christmas Carol at Playhouse in the Park

Nov. 23 – Dec. 31

Find out why this play is annual tradition for young and old

Your favorite holiday tradition. Or your chance to make a new one.
The Playhouse’s version of A Christmas Carol combines faithful storytelling with spellbinding stage magic to bring to life its familiar story of a sinner given one last chance at redemption by four persuasive ghosts. Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a miraculous Christmas Eve transformation as he views with new eyes his past, present and the possibilities of the future. As he witnesses all those who have improved his life — his first love Belle, his kindhearted employer Fezziwig, his nephew Fred and his heartily abused clerk Bob Cratchit — he realizes that it’s never too late to change his miserly ways. A Christmas Carol’s heartwarming message, hundreds of costumes and thrilling special effects help to make the show one of the Playhouse’s most popular productions each year.

*A Christmas Carol is suitable for all general audiences, including children ages 5 and older. Due to the full-length nature of the show, children younger than 5 cannot be admitted.

Christmas Saengerfest

3. Christmas Saengerfest

December 2 & 3

Find out why you won’t want to miss Saengerfest!

See award winning choirs from the World Choir Games and visit six great venues in Over-The-Rhine. Tour the Churches, Brewery, and newly renovated Memorial Hall. Help support numerous organizations with one ticket. Get around Christmas Saengerfest by shuttle buses. Buses will be available to take patrons from venue to venue.

The Nutcracker by the Cincinnati Ballet

Photo Courtesy of the Cincinnati Ballet

 4. The Nutcracker by the Cincinnati Ballet

December 9-18

Don’t miss Cincinnati’s favorite holiday tradition! Following our Nutcracker tour to the world-renowned Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Cincinnati Ballet returns with twelve performances at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Join us for the magic and wonder of Frisch’s Big Boy Presents The Nutcracker, with sparkling choreography, awe-inspiring sets and costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score played live by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

When Clara receives a nutcracker on Christmas Eve, her dreams take her on a grand adventure. Follow Clara and her Nutcracker Prince to the wondrous Land of Sweets, where a fantastic cast of characters awaits. Meet the Snow Queen and her King, Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, mischievous mice, brave toy soldiers, chicks, bumblebees and even Clara’s friend Minnie the Poodle. Plus, dozens of local young performers join Cincinnati Ballet’s professional dancers onstage for these holiday performances. It’s a spectacular holiday treat for the entire family!

Macy's Downtown Dazzle 4

4. Macy’s Downtown Dazzle (FREE)

5:45 pm Sat, Nov 26, Sat, Dec 3 5:45 pm, Sat, Dec 10

A Crowd Favorite

Each Saturday Santa rappels down the Huntington Center at 525 Vine St., to the Macy’s rooftop to kick off a spectacular fireworks display. This 20-minute family-friendly program also features performances from local choirs. Then, come inside to Macy’s Fountain Place to warm-up with holiday fun.


5. Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa at Newport Aquarium (Kentucky)

November 25 – December 31

Daily from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.*

Discover the magic of Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa® as Newport Aquarium presents a holiday celebration under the sea. It’s an experience that’s overflowing with enchantment and fun experiences the whole family will love.

Join the fun as Scuba Santa fills his air tank with magic bubbles – and sends them throughout the Aquarium creating an enchanted Water Wonderland. Be amazed as you’re surrounded by lights and bubbles dancing to holiday music in Shark Ray Bay Theater, where you’ll also have the opportunity to meet Scuba Santa one-on-one.

The undersea celebration continues with holiday music and more magical bubbles as you journey through the Seahorses: Unbridled Fun Gallery, where the ceiling is filled with hundreds of twinkling sea creature lights. The white gators in Gator Alley are having fun with a truckload of seasonal cheer and special decorations. Now even Mighty Mike loves the holidays.

The all-new Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa is a truly wondrous experience where families connect and interact with the magic of an undersea holiday celebration.

Over the Rhine

photo credit: Kylie Wilkerson

6. Over the Rhine Christmas Show with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

December 20

This is one of my all time favorite bands that I’ve listened to for over 2 decades.

Folk/Americana duo Over The Rhine is no stranger to collaborations with the Cincinnati Pops, having performed as part of the Pops’ acclaimed American Originals concert and recording in January of 2015.

In this special performance, Over The Rhine will bring their unique voice and folk style to familiar holiday favorites as well as songs of their own—a perfect winter concert for the intimate warmth of the Taft Theatre.



7. Awaited – A Christmas Experience (FREE)

December 2-23

Krohn Conservatory

8.”A Whimsical Wonderland” at Krohn Conservatory

Saturday, November 12 through Sunday, January 8, 2017

The 2016 Holiday Show at the Krohn Conservatory has a whimsical new twist on holiday tradition!  A Whimsical Wonderland at Krohn invites you to unwrap your wildest imagination and explore poinsettias of a different color!  This show will feature poinsettias of royal blue, lively orange, and deep purple that will join the more traditional hues.

The train display and botanical architecture are intensified with fanciful pompom junipers, vibrant globe amaranths, and cheerful powder puff plants.  Sprigs of painted twigs and patterned branches are intertwined with twisted, curly grasses and various tropical flowers to create this captivating landscape.

Visitors can also experience live musical performances on select dates, the Schmalz Family holiday display, extended “candlelight” nights and great photo opportunities.


9. Antique Christmas at the Taft Museum of Art (FREE on Sundays)

November 4, 2016—January 8, 2017

Escape to a winter wonderland of Christmas past at the Taft’s annual display of antique ornaments, decorations, and toys. Learn more about the festive display here. Kathy and Stewart “Greg” Gregory, lenders to the exhibition, will discuss their collection in upcoming gallery talks.


10. Christmastown at the Creation Museum (Kentucky) FREE

December 16-30 Closed on the 25th

Catch a glimpse of the amazing events that surrounded the wonder of our Savior’s birth when you visit the Creation Museum during our free annual Christmas Town event. Enjoy the dazzling lights, see the live nativity, and have fun as you learn about this special time of the year.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park 22

 11. Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum

November 18 2016 – January 1, 2017

Open Daily Including Holidays

Monday – Thursday 6 – 9 PM | $20 Per Carload

Friday – Sunday 6 – 10 PM | $25 Per Carload

Coney Island

Photo Credit: Dave Schmidt

12. CHRISTMAS NIGHTS OF LIGHTS at Coney Island Amusement Park (New)

November 11th through January 1, 2017

This family event features a 2-mile car ride through more than a million LED lights, powered by 10,000+ computer channels. Visitors of all ages will be awed by the larger-than-life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and enchanting tunnels of lights. In the warmth of your own car, you can sing along to the sounds of the seasons synchronized to reflect each holiday display.

The show will begin nightly at dusk and run through 10 p.m. Christmas Nights of Lights will be open every night including holidays.

The Salvation Army and the Ruth Lyons Children’s Fund all will benefit from the new family holiday event, Schutter added.

Admission for the new Christmas Nights of Lights experience is just $6 per person, with children three and under free. All tickets sales are day of, upon arrival.

Ohio National's Victorian Holiday Village

13. Ohio National’s Victorian Holiday Village (FREE) (Non perishables food donations requested for the Free Store Food Bank)

One of Greater Cincinnati’s best holiday traditions returns this year with Ohio National Financial Services’ annual Victorian Holiday Village. Back for its 15th year, the Village features a variety of fun holiday activities that will delight parents and children alike – and it’s all free.

Since 2002, more than 42,000 guests have visited the annual free holiday event and enjoyed its complimentary cocoa, cookies, free photos (one per family, please) with St. Nick and more. The Village is open:
•        Friday, December 2, 6-8:30 p.m.
•        Saturday, December 3, 5-8:30 p.m.
•        Thursday, December 8, 6-8:30 p.m.
•        Friday, December 9, 6-8:30 p.m.

This year will feature enchanting houses decorated with holiday scenes, thousands of lights and free, family fun on the grounds of Ohio National at the intersection of I-71 and Pfeiffer Rd. Staffed by Ohio National associates who volunteer their time, the Victorian Holiday Village continues the company’s more than 100-year commitment to community outreach and service.

Back by popular demand, the ONtime Express, a whimsical miniature train that takes guests from the parking garage to the Village. Village visitors will also enjoy the balloon artist elves. The Village will remain lit throughout December, but the refreshments, photos and entertainment is only provided during the four nights above.

While the event is free, all guests are asked to bring a nonperishable food item (no glass containers, please), which will be donated to the Freestore Foodbank. Since 2002, Ohio National associates and Village guests have donated more than 26,000 pounds of food to the Freestore Foodbank. In addition, Ohio National will make its 15th consecutive monetary donation to the Freestore Foodbank to mark the opening of the Victorian Holiday Village.

Ohio National’s Victorian Holiday Village will be open rain or shine. Due to the outdoor terrain and gravel path, the Village is not wheelchair accessible. For the safety of all guests, please, no pets. On-site covered parking for 1,000 vehicles is available. Ohio National is located at the southeast corner of the Pfeiffer Rd. (Exit 15) and I-71 interchange. Pfeiffer Rd. is the first exit south of the intersection of I-71 and I-275.

All events were accurate at the time of this posting but make sure that you double check with the event source before the event in case there are any changes or cancellations. Click the link for the event’s website. 

10+ Cincinnati Holiday Events That You Don't Want to Miss!

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