10 Under-the-Radar Holiday Happenings in Cincinnati

We’re kicking off the holiday season with one of our very favorite guides: 10 Under-the-Radar Holiday Happenings in Cincinnati. If you’re looking for a new holiday tradition this year, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our top insider picks for the 2019 holiday season, which include an array of events, shows and festivals!

Check out our Top 10 Under-the-Radar Holiday Happenings in Cincinnati:


Bah Humbug! A One-Man Christmas Carol

It’s Charles Dickens’ famous holiday classic with an amazing twist… one actor plays all the roles! In this story, adapted by Damian Gillan, you’ll experience all your favorite characters from A Christmas Carol in The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s imaginative and magical re-telling of the powerful holiday tale of hope and compassion. This show plays Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s Showtime Stage, so you’ll want to get your tickets ASAP.

Dates: Nov. 30 at 2 and 5 pm and Dec. 1 at 2 pm at the Showtime Stage, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, 4015 Red Bank Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45227

Light Up the Fair

Light Up the Fair is a new holiday event that got people talking – and it’s easy to see why. Light Up the Fair is s spectacular drive-thru light display in Burlington that every family in the Tristate will enjoy. You’ll love the local nods within the display (look for the Florence Y’all Tower), all of the tunnels, and the patriotic themes. It really stands up to all of the other drive-thru attractions in Cincinnati. Of course it’s extremely convenient for those of us in Northern Kentucky, but it’s really worth the drive from anywhere in the Tristate. Admission is $6/person and kids 3 and under are free!

Dates: Nightly from Nov. 8-Jan. 4, 2020 at Boone County KY Fairgrounds

Santa’s Workshop at Washington Park

This year, ditch your annual trip to the mall and venture down to Washington Park to see Santa Claus! Every Saturday in December, Santa and his merry band of Elves will be spending time in Washington Park making gifts, ornaments and other fun creations from 1-3 pm. Stop by the wish-list station where elves will help you write a list to give to Santa when you meet him. We love this event because it’s a free and fun reason to venture down to the very festive Washington Park. {Please note: While this event is FREE, you must bring your own camera for photos.}
Dates: Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14 and 21
Cost: Free!

Holiday Kick-Off at the Taft

The Holiday Kick Off at the Taft is a day of free holiday fun for the whole family. The house will be decorated inside and out with lights, garlands and Antique Christmas displays. Take a photo with Santa, make an ornament and holiday card, meet a penguin from the Newport Aquarium and enjoy holiday stories in the Music Room. {By the way, Antique Christmas runs Nov. 8-Jan. 5 and admission is free every Sunday!}
Dates: Dec. 1 from 11:30 am to 4 pm at the Taft Museum
Cost: FREE!

Tower A

As a special holiday treat, CMC is opening this attraction for a limited time only. Located at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tower A is the building’s original control tower and overlooks the Queensgate train yard, one of the busiest yards in the country. There are sweeping, panoramic views of the train yard from Tower A — and kids can see real intermodal containers, cranes, box cars, shunters and passenger trains in actionTower A is for serious, train-loving kids. While you’re there, be sure to stop by Holiday Junction!
Dates: Tower A is open o12-4 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 8 through January 5, 2020. 
Cost: FREE! But if you’re not a CMC member, you will need to pay for parking.

Victorian Holiday Village at Ohio National

This holiday village truly is “under-the-radar,” as its tiny houses and details are kid (or elf) sized. This is a memorable outdoor event for the entire family because it features thousands of twinkling lights; miniature-sized, yet exciting fully decorated Victorian-style homes and buildings; entertainment; free cocoa and cookies; and a complimentary 5 x 7 photo with St. Nick. Bring a nonperishable good to be donated to the Freestore Foodbank!
Dates: Activities on Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 6 and Dec. 7; lights open through December

Holiday in Lights Events

Holiday in Lights is one of the coolest holiday displays in the area, and definitely not “under the radar.” However. There are several fun events at Holiday in Lights that provide opportunities to experience this epic lights display in a brand new light! Case in point: Holiday in Lights Walk & Wine (for adults only!) Nov. 15; Holiday in Lights 5K Nov. 16; Holiday in Lights Santa Paws (for your four-legged family members!) Nov. 27; and Walk the Lights – two opportunities (dates TBA) to experience this display on foot with your fam!

Dates: Holiday in Lights Walk in Wine (Nov. 15); Holiday in Lights 5K (Nov. 16); Holiday in Lights Santa Paws (Nov. 27); Walk the Lights (2019 dates TBA).

Holly Days

Holly Days takes visitors back in time to feel the warmth, the beauty, the sights, sounds and smells of the 19th-century holiday season. Each historical house will be decked out with traditional decorations from the 1800s, complete with holiday treats, holiday music and opportunities to make traditional holiday crafts. Each day there will be a reenactment of the first Christmas Dinner in Cincinnati, where Native Americans, settlers and soldiers all came together for a peaceful holiday celebration. Admission is $10. Museum members, veterans and active duty military members (with a military I.D.), and children 4 and under are free.

Dates: Dec. 14 & 15 from 12-4 pm

Mrs. Claus Saves the Day

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is bringing its A game this holiday season, with another can’t-miss holiday show on its Redbank Road Stage. In this feminist feature, the Woman-in-Red is making a list and checking it twice! When the holiday is threatened by a severe outbreak of the North Pole Pox two days before Christmas, and Santa himself is quarantined, it’s Mrs. Claus to the rescue! She has less than 24 hours to figure out how to pull off the best Christmas ever. Good thing she has a team of elves and Christmas creatures to work out the details. With traditional carols and a world-premiere script (commissioned by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati), this holiday musical is about leadership, goodwill and teamwork.

Dates: Dec. 21 at 2 and 5 pm and Dec. 22 at 2 pm at the Showtime Stage, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, 4015 Red Bank Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45227

Macy’s Downtown Dazzle

Even though the Downtown Macy’s store closed last year, the eponymous Downtown
Dazzle lives on! We LOVE this event for so many reasons. For starters, it’s four weekends of FREE festive family fun downtown with live entertainment. And Downtown Dazzle features the coolest Santa sighting in town: on Saturdays at 6:30 pm, the Man in the Red Suit rappels down the side of the 525 building! All Downtown Dazzle events are free.
Dates: Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Dec. 14, Dec. 21

Make it a holly jolly holiday season – and start a new family tradition at one of these under-the-radar holiday happenings!

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