22 Free and Festive Things to do this December in Cincinnati

It’s December, which means the holidays, time with family, days off school — and a healthy dose of free cheer all month long! Between gingerbread house-building and cookie baking, Winterfests and Reindeer Games, ‘Santa-brations’ and celebrations, December is a great time to live in Cincinnati!

Here are 22 Free and Festive Things to do this December in Cincinnati:

Holiday Music Performance
Dec. 1 from 7-8:30 pm at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve/Ellenwood Nature Barn
Enjoy live performances of festive holiday music by local groups. Tonight the Cincinnati Dulcimer Society will be followed by the Colerain High School Chamber Orchestra.

Weekend Carriage Rides at Macy’s Celebration Station
Dec. 2-3 and 9-10 from 12-5 pm
Enjoy free horse-drawn trolley carriage rides through the heart of the city. Noon–5 p.m. (Final boarding at 4:45 p.m. — please arrive early!) Boards at corner of Fifth and Race Streets, Downtown Cincinnati.

Story Time with Mrs. Claus
Dec. 2 and 9 at 7:15 pm
Enjoy balloon-twisters and face painters while you cozy up for story time with Mrs. Claus inside Macy’s Fountain Place (505 Vine Street, Downtown Cincinnati).

Santa’s Workshop
Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23 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- or bring yours from home!

Springfield Township Winterfest
Dec. 2 from 12-7 pm
WinterFest has been a family tradition of Springfield Township dating back to 1998. The event has evolved over the years, and when residents were asked to reimagine WinterFest, they thought to add a parade, winter village, around the clock entertainment, a Charley Harper gift shop, petting zoo… and so much s’more! The 2017 WinterFest event will mark ArtsConnect’s 5 year anniversary and the list of activities packed into this single day event will mark one big celebration!

Winterfest Celebration with Team USA Olympics
Dec. 2 from 12-5 pm
On Dec. 2, the Team USA WinterFest tour presented by HERSHEY’S will make its stop in Cincinnati, OH at Washington Park. Olympian Jeremy Abbott (figure skating) and other Team USA athletes will host a meet and greet with fans. The tour stop will feature a number of interactive elements, including a HERSHEY’S S’moresmobile, Bobsled Boomerang and Stage, along with OREO’s Team USA Curling Challenge and the Social Media Truck. Join us on Dec. 2 from 12 PM – 5 PM for a free and open to the public event in spirit of the upcoming Olympic Games!

2017 Lebanon Horse Drawn Carriage Parade
Dec. 2 from 10 am-8 pm in Downtown Lebanon
The 29th Annual Lebanon Horse Drawn Carriage Parade and Festival will be held on Saturday, December 2 in the heart of downtown Lebanon, Ohio. The horse-drawn carriage parades will be at 1 and 7 pm. The festival with food and craft vendors, Santa and much more will be from 10-8 pm.

Antique Christmas at the Taft
Dec. 3 (admission at the Taft is FREE every Sunday!)
Escape to a winter wonderland of Christmas past at the Taft’s annual display of antique ornaments, decorations and toys. Admission and parking at the Taft is always free on Sundays!

National Cookie Day
Dec. 4 from 4-5 pm at the Northside Branch Library
Decorate cookies for National Cookie Day. While supplies last. No registration required.

Build a Gingerbread House
Dec. 5 from 7-8 pm at the Blue Ash Branch Library
Join local entrepreneur Beverly Mussari for a holiday event that has become a beloved tradition! All food items are provided; just bring your imagination! Please limit one sign-up per family.

Reindeer Games
Dec. 7 from 4-5 pm at the Mt. Washington Branch Library
Get ready for a heap of holiday fun! Make your own reindeer ornament, play “Rudolph says”, and help decorate the library gingerbread house. Grades K-5. Registration required. FREE.

Holiday Music Performance
Dec. 8 from 7-8:30 pm at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve/Ellenwood Nature Barn
Enjoy a delightful live performance of festive holiday music by the returning local group SUAVE, the St. Ursula Academy Vocal Ensemble.

Cincinnati Kinderballet Presents “The Nutcracker”
Dec. 9 from 3-4 pm at the Groesbeck Branch Library
The Cincinnati Kinderballet will be performing their fall production of “The Nutcracker.”

Candy House Creations
Dec. 11 from 4-5 pm at the Wyoming Branch Library
Build and decorate a graham cracker candy house to take home! All materials will be provided, just bring your imagination. For families and children of all ages. Children under 6 years of age must bring an adult to assist them during the program. Registration required.

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater
Dec. 14 from 6-7:30 pm at the Covedale Branch Library
Bring your creativity to make the ugliest, tackiest Christmas sweater! All materials will be provided, but teens may bring their own sweaters and decorations if they wish. For teens in grades 6-12, registration required.

The Great Holiday Cupcake Decorating Competition!
Dec. 14 from 4-5 pm at the Mt. Washington Branch
Teens! Join us, Thursday, December 14th at 4 pm for a special holiday edition of Cupcake Wars!Compete with other teens to see who can decorate the best holiday inspired cupcakes! All materials will be provided. Registration is required.

Teen Movie Day: Elf
Dec. 21 from 5:30-7 pm at the Monfort Heights Branch Library
Watch New Line Cinema’s Elf starring Will Ferrell. Rated PG. Popcorn and drinks provided. For teens in grades 6-12; registration required.

‘Santa-bration’ at Carol Ann’s Carousel
Dec. 22-24
Santa’s coming, Santa’s coming, to Carol Ann’s Carousel for holiday fun at ‘Santa-bration’ December 22nd-24th from 11am-5pm! Enjoy holiday and winter crafts all weekend. Want a pic with Santa? Just bring your cell phones and snap a selfie with Santa (no cameras)! Enter for your chance to win a Parks goodie bag! The animals are always ‘jolly’ to see you, so come celebrate with us soon!

Light Up Middletown
Nightly through Dec. 23
Since 1999, Light Up Middletown has grown to be a family holiday tradition and has attracted over 800,000 visitors. All arches accommodate full size tour buses. Santa and Mrs. Claus are on hand every Friday and Saturday night 7-9 pm until December 23rd. Admission is by cash donation only – you set the price!

Santaland at the Sharon Center
Nightly through Dec. 23
After your tour of Holiday in Lights, head inside Sharon Centre for some more holiday magic. Enjoy live family-friendly entertainment, share your wish list with Santa, check out the train display, do some holiday shopping at Nature’s Niche and pick up a sweet treat at Mrs. Claus’ Confectioneries. Please note some activities do require a small fee.

New Year’s Craft
Dec. 28 from 4-5 pm at the Northside Branch Library
Make a New year’s craft. No registration required. FREE.

Animal Meet & Greet
Dec. 28 and 29 at 11 am and 1 pm at the Sharon Center
Stop by for a short meeting with a local animal and learn about how they survive the winter.

PS: If you’re looking for even MORE FREE holiday fun this month, be sure to click over to our epic list of 50 Free Things to do in Cincinnati this Holiday Season!

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