There are so many great holiday events in the Cincinnati area that I look forward to each year.
As your calendar fills up, you’ll want to make sure to save these dates so you don’t miss out on these favorite holiday classics located throughout the Queen City!
3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH
Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 9, 2022
In addition to seeing your favorite zoo animals (many of which are conveniently located inside several indoor heated buildings), you’ll experience the magic of Christmas with over 4 million LED lights at the Festival of Lights.
Highlights for visitors include a ride on the North Polar Express train ride, the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, and snacks at one of two S’mores-n-More stands.
Cincinnati Zoo hours during PNC Festival of Lights are 10:00am – 9:00pm.
- Festival of Lights activities begin at 4pm
- Admission to Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo is included with the Zoo’s general admission so you can visit the Zoo early, and then stay for the lights!
Festival of Lights was one of my favorite holiday traditions as a child and now I share the tradition with my kids. Dress in layers because it can be really COLD!
962 Mt Adams Cir, Cincinnati, OH
November 24 – Dec. 30, 2021
Find out why this classic holiday play is an annual tradition for both young and old alike.
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.
*The 2 hour-long performance includes one intermission.
*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.
Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark located across from Washington Park in downtown Cincinnati
December 16-26, 2021
Don’t miss Cincinnati’s favorite holiday tradition!
Bring the whole family to enjoy the magic and wonder of The Nutcracker, with sparkling choreography, awe-inspiring sets and costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score performed 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!
4. Downtown Dazzle at Fountain Square
520 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH
Saturdays, including November 27, December 4th, 11th and 18th, 2021
6:30p – Music and festivities
7:00p – Downtown Dazzle show begins
Downtown Dazzle is back to put a holiday twinkle in your eye! Gather in the heart of Cincy for one of the biggest highlights of the holiday season. See Santa Claus rappel from a Cincinnati skyrise and wait with anticipation for the sky to fill with a fabulous fireworks display!
Come early and stay late – Saturdays at the Square are full of festive fun! Enjoy a drink or hot coco at Fountain Square’s Bar or make a holiday memory at the UC Health Ice Rink, presented by Fifth Third Bank.
WEATHER POLICY: Events are rain or shine, however in the event of severe weather or heavy rain they may need to cancel an event. All event cancellations will be posted on Facebook, usually deciding approximately an hour before start time as the weather changes quickly. RSVP to their event pages for weather updates.
5. Scuba Santa‘s Water Wonderland at Newport Aquarium (Kentucky)
1 Levee Way, Newport, KY
November 26- December 24, 2021
It’s a Water Wonderland full of playful penguins, colorful holiday lights and a flurry of magical bubbles.
See Scuba Santa swim underwater with a tank full of sharks and tell him what you want for Christmas. Meet cheerful elves straight from the North Pole and join in the fun as Scuba Santa fills the Theater with bubbles.
6. Christmas With Over the Rhine
December 17-19, 2021
Memorial Hall 1225 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH
This has been one of my all-time favorite local bands for over 2 decades. Their Christmas show is a wonderful tradition with a mix of originals and their takes on holiday classics.
7. Trains & Traditions: A Cincinnati Holiday at Krohn Conservatory
1501 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH
November 6, 2021 – January 9th, 2022
Experience a tapestry of colorful poinsettias, charming garden railways and beautiful replicas of Cincinnati landmarks created out of “Botanical Architecture” by local artisans, Applied Imagination.
Krohn Conservatory is where holiday traditions take place in the warmth of the tropics.
8. Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Trains at the Cincinnati Museum Center
Now through Jan 2, 2022
Location: Union Terminal
*Additional ticket required
This year the Duke Energy Holiday Trains are celebrating their 75th season.
The Duke Energy Holiday Trains have been a Cincinnati holiday staple since 1946, delighting generations since they first debuted downtown in 1946. Track-level views reveal intricate details of the display, where over 300 rail cars and 60 locomotives steam past anxious passengers waiting to board while cars sit with snow to their hubcaps and the perfect trees strapped to their roofs.
Holiday Junction features bursts of winter whimsy that greet you as soon as you enter the door. The Northern Lights display serves as the perfect backdrop for family photos as wispy green lights dance behind you and snow-rimmed trees surround you. The history of the Duke Energy Holiday Trains is also told through an interactive storybook filled with photos of the iconic trains over the decades.
To ensure guest safety, Holiday Junction’s riding train will not be pulling into station this season, but they’ve given you even more to discover in its place. The Holiday Scavenger Hunt features hidden objects in the garden railway layout begging you to walk around, peel your eyes and scour every detail for pigs, polar bears, dinosaurs, steamboats and astronauts tucked away in the snowy hills.
Returning once again is Brickopolis, a blizzard of LEGO bricks crafted into fantastical scenes from the magical worlds of Disney, Marvel, DC Comics and Harry Potter. The whimsical display is another seek and find treat surrounding a stunning LEGO metropolis complete with running trains, active seashores and hijinks by the local residents.
Visit with Santa
Of course, no holiday is complete without a visit from Santa. Santa makes his grand arrival on Friday, November 26. Although you won’t be able to sit with Santa, you can visit the jolly elf by his fireplace in the Public Landing adjacent to Holiday Junction. Santa will be busy preparing for the big day but will happily pause to speak with you from a safe distance.
Also returning this year is the OMNIMAX film Rocky Mountain Express, where you can immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies aboard a historic steam locomotive.
Tickets are limited and timed entry is required so purchase yours in advance. Holiday Junction is free for Members but timed entry is required. Guests of Members will also require a paid, timed ticket.
9. Christmastown at the Creation Museum (Kentucky) FREE
2800 Bullittsburg Church Rd, Petersburg, KY
November 26-28, December 1-5, December 8-12, December 15-23 and December 26-30, 2021
*Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Tour the dazzling garden of lights, reflect on the true meaning of the season at the live nativity, and experience more during the free, annual ChristmasTown!
*This is a free event but there is a fee for parking.
The Christmastown at the Creation Museum includes the Garden of Lights, Live Nativity, Eden Animal Experience, Children’s Playground and Encounter the Wonder 4D SFX Show.
1763 Hamilton Cleves Road Hamilton, OH
November 19th, 2021 – January 2nd, 2022
*Park is closed to the public on Monday, November 29th (Monday after Thanksgiving).
This charming light show, Holiday Lights on the Hill, is a 2-mile round trip drive-through annual light display.
The 2021 “Journey” starts with glimmering trees and arches before winding through the blue-and-white glow of Jerusalem’s Hanukkah celebration and arriving to the park’s famed Swan Lake.
Visitors will then travel through Germany’s Candy Cane Forest with more than 50 yarn-wrapped trees. Next, see if you can find two sneaky characters in Grinch’s Greenland.
Then, celebrate Bethlehem’s birth of Jesus before finally arriving at the North Pole. Before exiting, there is one last surprise provided by Brave Berlin (the creators of Blink): a spectacular transformation of the park’s Pavilion into a beautiful Winterland with video projection surprises behind every door!
To enjoy the new, festive soundtrack by Butler Philharmonic Orchestra and vocals by Cincinnati Boychoir, please download the OTOCAST APP (see link below) before arriving to the show.
Open Daily Including Holidays
Monday- Thursday 6-9 PM
$20 per carload $50 per 12- passenger van
Friday- Sunday 6-10 PM
$25 per carload, $50 per 12 passenger van
Monday – Thursday 6 – 9 PM | $20 Per Carload
Friday – Sunday 6 – 10 PM | $25 Per Carload
Members Always $15
6201 Kellogg Avenue Cincinnati, OH
November 8th through January 5, 2020
Experience this amazing light show synchronized to both traditional and rocking holiday music through your car radio. Visitors of all ages will be awed by the larger-than-life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and fantastic tunnels of lights!
In the comfort of your car, you can sing along to the sounds of the season synchronized to each holiday display. Christmas Nights of Lights welcomes carloads of families and friends to enjoy this winter wonderland.
With two and a half miles to drive through, your family can see displays and light shows made of over a million lights driven by more than forty thousand computer channels.
The show will begin nightly at dusk and run through 10 p.m. Christmas Nights of Lights will be open every night including holidays.
6300 Kings Island Drive Mason, OH
Select Night November 26-Dec 31
Winterfest will take place select nights November 26th – December 31st and builds on fond memories of previous guests who attended Winterfest in the ’80s.
Imagine an old-fashioned winter…rosy-cheeked skaters gliding under twinkling lights, the magic of dazzling holiday events and carolers in traditional costumes, shops filled with ornaments, trinkets and toys, the aroma of freshly-baked treats and the spirit of everyone’s favorite season captured in an atmosphere of warmth and nostalgia – a place where memories of holidays past are present; a place where memories of Christmas activities are waiting to be made.
Step into WinterFest at Kings Island on select nights in November and December. It’s an unforgettable experience with the park transformed into ten enchanting winter wonderlands.
There’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy at this Christmas event, like ice skating on the Royal Fountain, seeing the Eiffel Tower transformed into a magical 314-foot tall Christmas tree, live shows, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, rides (like Mystic Timbers and the bumper cars as well as snow tubing in the Action Ice Zone), delicious holiday treats, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town, millions of lights and holiday characters spreading merriment, like Jack Frost, Candy Cane and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
13. Light in the Forest at the Cincinnati Nature Center
December 1- January 2
Wednesday – Sunday 5-9 pm
* Closed December 24 & 25
Enjoy a peaceful walk in the winter woods at their annual holiday lights event.
Featuring new artistic light displays curated by partner Brave Berlin, live music, shopping, a decorated historic home, and more!
14. Lumaze at Duke Energy Center
November 26th, 2021 to December 30th, 2021
Lumaze Discount code
Adventure Mom readers save 30% off admission when you use the discount code “ADVENTUREMOM30“
Lumaze is a family-friendly indoor winter festival where guests can enjoy towering light gardens, delicious treats, and entertainment all under the twinkling of a million lights.
This is the perfect place for families who want to enjoy lights without standing in the cold.
There are plenty of photo opps along the way.
Make sure sure that you get your passport stamped at all of the stations for a special gift at the end.
Which Can’t Miss Holiday Events in Cincinnati Are You Looking Forward To?
*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.
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