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

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!


1. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH

When is the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo?

When: November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024

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, 5 Fiona fairies in Fairyland, and snacks at one of two S’mores-n-More stands.

Save on discounted tickets for the Cincinnati Zoo here

New Features at Festival of Lights for 2023

  • An interactive light experience that syncs your phone’s flashlight to the Zoo’s Wild Lights show on Swan Lake.
  • New lanterns in Under the Sea Display
  • Light up Cotton Candy
  • New 5ft star for the Vine Street Village tree
Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo hours during the PNC Festival of Lights are 10:00am – 9:00pm.

  • Festival of Lights activities begin at 4pm
  • Admission to the 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!

The 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!

Tips For Visiting the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

Nutcracker Ballet
Image provided by The Cincinnati Ballet

 2. The Nutcracker by the Cincinnati Ballet

Springer Auditorium – 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark located across from Washington Park in downtown Cincinnati

When is The Nutcracker by the Cincinnati Ballet?

When: December 14-24, 2023

This is one of the classic holiday traditions in Cincinnati.

The Nutcracker follows a girl named Clara who receives a Nutcracker on Christmas Eve and takes you on an adventure with her dream filled with characters including the Snow Queen and King, Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, mischievous mice, brave toy soldiers, chicks and Minnie the Poodle.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s melodic score and the choreography is by Victoria Morgan.

There will also be dozens of local young performers joining Cincinnati Ballet onstage for these performances.

ice skating at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio

3. Downtown Dazzle at Fountain Square

520 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH

Downtown Dazzle is a great excuse to experience the magic of downtown Cincinnati around the holidays.

When is Downtown Dazzle at Fountain Square?

When: Saturdays, including November 25, December 2nd, 9th and 16th, 2023

*Events are rain or shine unless there is severe weather.

Highlights include fireworks, outdoor ice skating, watching Santa Rappel from a building, and drinks at Fountain Square’s Bar.

Downtown Dazzle Schedule of Events:

  • (Winter Wonderlights occurs at the top of every hour, starting at 5p)
  • 6p: DJ set starts with MC Nat Jones
  • 7p: Santa program begins
  • 7:20p: Santa program ends
  • 10:00p: DJ set ends

Ice skating admission is walk-up only, no reservations are required.

Scuba Santa at Newport Aquarium

4.  Scuba Santa‘s Water Wonderland at Newport Aquarium (Kentucky)

1 Levee Way, Newport, KY 

If you’re looking for a unique way to visit Santa Claus, you’ll definitely want to see Scuba Santa underwater in a tank full of sharks.

Guests can visit with Scuba Santa on select days in the Theater and even talk to him while he is underwater.

When is Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland?

When: November 24 – December 24, 2023

Buy Discounted Tickets to Newport Aquarium

Over the Rhine
photo credit: Kylie Wilkerson

5. An Acoustic Christmas With Over the Rhine 

Memorial Hall – 1225 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH

When: December 15,16, 2023 at 8PM – December 17, 2023 at 4PM

This has been one of my all-time favorite local bands for over 2 decades. Over the Rhine’s music is a fusion of folk, indie, and blues.

YouTube video

Their Christmas show is a wonderful tradition with a mix of originals and their takes on holiday classics.

Memorial Hall in Cincinnati

Memorial Hall in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati is a great intimate venue for a concert too. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house!

miniature of Cincinnati Music Hall at Krohn Conservatory

6. Golden Days of Yule at Krohn Conservatory

1501 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH

Each year guests look forward to the beautiful holiday trees, colorful poinsettias, and tropical foliage.

The traditional garden railways and miniature Cincinnati landmarks made of locally sourced plant material by Applied Imagination throughout the exhibit are always a highlight of the show.

Be on the lookout for the newest addition to the collection, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

This year’s theme is the “Golden Days of Yule” at the Krohn Conservatory.

When: November 11, 2023 – January 7, 2024

  • Holiday Trees– On display in the lobby daily from December 1 – to January 7, 2024
  • Live Nativity -Free | December 8 -January 7 | 9am-9pm
Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Trains at the Cincinnati Museum Center

7. Holiday Junction Featuring the Duke Energy Trains at the Cincinnati Museum Center

Location: Union Terminal – 1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH

Holiday Junction is a must-see holiday tradition for train lovers young and old!

The Duke Energy Holiday Trains are celebrating 77 years since they first debuted downtown in 1946. The train display features over 300 rail cars and 60 locomotives.

When is Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center?

When: Select Days – November 10 through January 8, 2024

*Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

*An additional ticket required

Holiday Junction is free for Members and $10 for non-members or just $5 with any other Museum admission.

Additional Holiday Junction Highlights include:

  • Holiday Scavenger Hunt
  • Brickopolis – magical scenes created with LEGO bricks
  • Family photo areas
  • The history of the Duke Energy Holiday Trains told through an interactive storybook
  • Santa’s grand arrival by helicopter on Friday, November 24

You can continue your train-themed adventure by watching the OMNIMAX® film Rocky Mountain Express, featuring the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies aboard a historic steam locomotive.

christmas lights at the Creation Museum

8. Christmastown at the Creation Museum (Kentucky) FREE

2800 Bullittsburg Church Rd, Petersburg, KY

Visitors can 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!

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.

*This is a free event but there is a fee for parking.

When is Christmastown at the Creation Museum?

When: 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM on November 24–December 30, 2023 Tuesday through Saturday

*Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park 22

 9.  Pyramid Hill Lights

1763 Hamilton Cleves Road Hamilton, OH

The Pyramid Hill Lights features artist installations, a curated soundtrack, and light projections, set in their 2-mile unique landscape filled with art and nature.

When is Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum?

When: November 17 – December 31, 2023

  • Tuesdays to Thursdays: 6PM – 9PM
  • Fridays to Sundays: 6PM – 10PM
  • Closed on Mondays

Admission Fee for Pyramid Hill Lights

  • $25 per carload for non-members
  • $15 per carload for members
  • City of Hamilton residents get in FREE on Tuesdays (45011, 45013, and 45015 zip codes, please bring your license, current utility bill, or government-issued ID to show at the entrance)
Coney Island
Photo Credit: Dave Schmidt

10. Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island Amusement Park 

6201 Kellogg Avenue Cincinnati, OH

You can experience over a million beautiful Christmas lights synchronized to both traditional and rocking holiday music through your car radio during the 2.5-mile drive-thru display.

Holiday sounds of the season synchronized to each holiday display. Christmas Nights of Lights welcomes carloads of families and friends to enjoy this winter wonderland.

Highlights include larger-than-life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes, and fantastic tunnels of lights!

When is the Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island Amusement Park?

When: EVERY NIGHT from dusk through 10pm, starting November 10th and ending December 31st, 2023

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

Nights of Lights at Coney Island Amusement Park operates rain or shine. 

Winterfest at Kings Island

11. Winterfest at Kings Island Amusement Park

6300 Kings Island Drive Mason, OH

Kings Island Amusement Park is transformed into ten enchanting winter wonderlands for guests to enjoy around the holidays.

(Get tips for visiting Winterfest at Kings Island 2023 )

Kings Island Winterfest Activities Highlight include:

  • Ice skating on the Royal Fountain
  • The Eiffel Tower transformed into a magical 314-foot-tall Christmas tree
  • Live shows
  • Visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus
  • Rides including Mystic Timbers and the bumper cars
  • Snow tubing in the Action Ice Zone
  • Delicious holiday treats
  • Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town
  • Millions of lights and holiday characters spread merriment around the park
Purchase Discounted Tickets to Kings Island Winterfest Here
Kids Guide to Kings Island WinterFest

When is Winterfest at Kings Island?

Winterfest will take place on select nights from Nov 25 to Dec 31, 2023.

Light in the Forest at the Cincinnati Nature Center 1

12. Light in the Forest at the Cincinnati Nature Center

Enjoy a peaceful walk through the illuminated woods featuring light displays and interactive activities.

There will also be music, food trucks, drinks, and holiday shopping.

When is Light in the Forest at the Cincinnati Nature Center?

Select dates December 1–December 30, 2023, from 5:30-9 pm
* Closed December 24 & 25

Member adult $12; member child $8; nonmember adult $15; nonmember child $10

Free parking.

Horse Drawn Carriage Parade & Christmas Festival in Lebanon Ohio

13. The 34th Annual Horse Drawn Carriage Parade & Christmas Festival

You have one day but two chances to watch the beautiful horse drawn carriage parade in downtown Lebanon.

There will be vendors and entertainment throughout the day too.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

  • Christmas Festival & Entertainment begins at 10am
  • Carriage Parades: Daylight Parade at 1pm & Candlelight Parade at 7pm
Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt

14. Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt at Moerlein Lager House

The market is located in downtown Cincinnati adjacent to the Moerlein Lager House on the Schmidlapp Event Lawn and Stage in Smale Riverfront Park.

Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt is a holiday themed Christmas festival with food, beverage, merchandise, holiday lights, choral and musical entertainment, with a European/Cincinnati fusion Holiday theme.

Highlights Include:

  • Tubing on the 4-lane ice slide for guests 42 inches and up – *requires a ticket
  • 90-minute Igloo Rentals for up to 14 guests
  • Gift Vendors
  • Food and Drink Vendors
  • Fire pits

When is Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt at Moerlein Lager House?

Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt at Moerlein Lager House is Novembrer 22 – December 31 and there is no admission fee to access the general area.

Holiday Fun at Land of Illusion Christmas Glow in Middletown, Ohio

15. Land of Illusion Christmas Glow

8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, OH

This holiday event features a 2 mile long drive thru Christmas light display with over 3.8 million lights AND a Christmas Village to walk around.

When is Land of Illusion Christmas Glow?

Open November 22nd – December 30 from 6pm to 10pm
Closed for Thanksgiving November 27th-29th, and Christmas Day.
Drive Thru Only December 26th-30th.

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

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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3 thoughts on “10+ Cincinnati Holiday Events That You Don’t Want to Miss!”

  1. It looks like there are some great Christmas events in Cincinnati. I’d love to see the Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. The lights look beautiful, too!

  2. You forgot about the awesome Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Holiday concerts on Dec 8,9 & 10!!! Family tradition for many.

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