The holiday season is here — and there is no shortage of good tidings or cheer in Cincinnati! As we perused our Online Calendar in search of free family fun for December, we were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of holiday activities! Quite simply, there was just too much to choose from.
So, consider this our holiday gift to you: 30 free things to do in Cincinnati this December:
Dec. 1, 3-4 p.m. at the Oakley Branch
Help us get in the holiday spirit by decorating our branch! Then join us for hot chocolate, while supplies last. All ages.
Nightly through Dec. 31
Visit the best and most family-friendly-priced holiday attraction in SW Ohio. Admission is by cash donation – you set the price!
Fridays and Saturdays, November 25-December 17, 12-8 p.m.; Sundays, November 27-December 18; 12-6 p.m.; Monday-Saturday, December 19-24, 12-5 p.m.
Bring your own camera for photos with downtown’s only Santa in a festive North Pole setting. Free!
Classes offered 7 days a week
Hubbard Family Swim School in Cincinnati – located inside the Kids First Sports Complex – offers FREE “baby splash” swim classes every day of the week for babies 8 weeks to 5 months of age. Read more here.
Daily through Jan. 8 at the Main Library
Once Upon A Time: The Mysterious World of Children’s Stories is on display in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room at the Main Library from Nov. 18 to Jan. 8, 2017. Covering four centuries and featuring traditional fables, chapbooks, nursery rhymes and fairy tales from the Public Library’s rich book collection, this exhibition is sure to delight the whole family.
Dec. 2 from 7-9 p.m. at the 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. Free.
Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m.
“Holidays on Ludlow” will take place in the Clifton Gaslight Business District on Ludlow Avenue. This annual, free, family fun event includes the UC Bearcat Band leading the DAAP Light -Up Parade, Santa arriving via a firetruck and the outstanding horse drawn carriage rides. Children’s activities include story hour by Eric (Clifton’s favorite librarian), crafts sponsored by CCAC, Ernie the balloon elf at Leona’s on Ludlow and free photos with Santa sponsored by Cincinnati EyeCare Team. Don’t forget to stop by Petey’s Pet Stop & the Howell Avenue Pet Clinic located on Howell Ave. to get a photo of your pet with Santa and further enjoy complimentary refreshments!
Houses open Dec. 2-3 and 8-9; lights on through Dec. 31
View enchanting victorian houses decorated in holiday scenes with thousands of lights … Includes complimentary cocoa, cookies, photos with St. Nick, mini train rides and more … Guests are asked to bring a nonperishable food item (no glass containers), which will be donated to Freestore Foodbank.
Dec. 3 from 5-7 at the Deerfield Towne Center
Deerfield Township and the Deerfield Towne Center have teamed up for this free community event! Features arts and crafts, holiday music, horse-drawn carriage rides, games, treats and Santa arriving on a fire truck!
Dec. 3-4 and 10-11
Enjoy free horse-drawn trolley carriage rides through the heart of the city. Boards at corner of Fifth and Race Streets in Downtown Cincinnati.
Dec. 3 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. in Downtown Lebanon
Festivities include gift and food vendors stationed along E. Mulberry Street; shopping at the store in historic downtown Lebanon with extended business hours for our 80-plus antique and specialty stores; Christmas carolers, carriage rides; visits with Santa and Mrs. Clause; musical entertainment, and train rides to the North Pole on the North Pole Express with LM&M Railroad. This is a free family event!
Dec. 3 from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Bethel Library
Bring the family to decorate a gingerbread house as part of the Bethel Library’s Down Home Christmas celebration. The decorating sessions run every half hour from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission to the Taft Museum is always free on Sundays!
Get into the holiday mood by visiting the Taft’s annual display of antique ornaments, decorations, and toys. Read all about this whimsical exhibit here.
Dec. 4 from 2-3 p.m. at Monfort Heights Elementary School
AVO Kinderballet will present a performance of The Nutcracker at Monfort Heights Elementary School (3711 West Fork Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45247). Admission is FREE. NO registration required.
Tuesdays at 1 p.m.
Kids can enjoy classic tales of adventure and craft time after the story. Parent must be present with child. Free! (Afterwards, buy a toy and IKEA will donate $1 to charity!)
Dec. 8. from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Blue Manatee
Join us as we read Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas with our special guest–the Grinch himself! After the story, time for pictures taken with the Grinch will be available. Gather with us for some holiday fun! Free. The first 20 line numbers will be reserved for those who would like to purchase a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and line numbers following will be to meet the Grinch and will be given day of, on a first come, first served basis.
Dec. 8-11 at First Church in Burlington
Come visit Christmas Pioneer Village where you can visit the candle maker’s shop, the woodworker’s bench, Grandma’s cookies, and much more. Bring the whole family to experience the nostalgia of Christmas from the 1800’s. There will be outdoor shops to visit, where children can play pioneer games, decorate their own cookies, hand-dip a candle, and make an ornament in the woodworker’s shop. You will also be able to enjoy a petting zoo and a horse-drawn carriage ride. Indoors, there will be music by a local dulcimer group, the opportunity to get a free family portrait, and an inspirational Candlelight Service.
Dec. 9, 7-8 p.m. 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. Free!
Dec. 9-Jan. 1, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily
Enjoy a live nativity at Krohn Conservatory sponsored by the Western & Southern Fund.
Dec. 10, 2-5 p.m.
Voted the “Best Family Event” in Cincinnati, this unique parade is sponsored by The Mt. Adams Business Guild. The procession through the streets of Mt. Adams will be led by Santa himself, flanked by our Grand Marshall (to be announced). Costume categories have historically been Small Dogs (under 25 lbs), Large Dogs (25 lbs and over), Dog/Owner Look-A-Like, and Multiple Dogs (2 or more dogs). Food and vendors will be available before the parade, so come on down and join the party ahead of time!
Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-noon
Join us as we welcome Loren Long back at blue manatee this morning! He will be sharing his new book, Otis and the Kittens. Loren will be joined by a very special guest, as well! Visit us this morning for this absolutely wonderful event! Call 731.2665 to reserve a line number so that you can have him sign your copy! Free.
Dec. 10, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Mission Baptist Church
Children of all ages are invited to visit for an opportunity to have free professional photos taken with Santa! KC Photography (www.kcphotographystudio.com) will be donating a 4×6 print and a digital image per family. After photos, enjoy a free pancake breakfast!
Dec. 11, 1-4 p.m. at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve/Ellenwood Nature Barn
Drop in anytime and enjoy cider and cookies while relaxing in front of the fire on a chilly day. Learn about the early pioneers, their way of life and the natural wonders of their Ohio surroundings. Free.
Dec. 12, 6:30-7:15 p.m. at the Covedale Branch Library
Join us for an evening of Holiday Family Fun–Sing a song, eat a treat, and meet Santa!
Dec. 14, 10-10:30 a.m. at Blue Manatee
The Blue Manatee tradition of great books, easy laughs, and sweet songs continues every Wednesday on the LePage Stage! Free.
Dec. 18, 3-5 p.m. at Receptions Banquet Center in Loveland
Hanukkah fun and a laser light show! Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, get ready for the greatest “glow” on Earth! Featuring a laser light show and DJ dance party, plus enjoy Hanukkah crafts, a glow-in-the-dark room, and so much more! Free with advance RSVP; first 100 families to RSVP receive a FREE Glow-in-the-Dark Menorah!
Dec. 20, 7-8 p.m. at St. Gertrude Church
This traditional pageant, written by Sr. Mary David O.P. in 1961 is presented each Advent by members of the 8th grade class, supported by choirs of 2nd and 5th-7th grade students. This is a special very presentation that many look forward to each year.
Dec. 20, 10-11 a.m. at Blue Manatee
Join us as we welcome local author Jinny Berten this holiday season! She will be at blue manatee for a very special story time featuring her book, Henri: A Christmas Donkey Story. This is going to be a fantastic event and we can’t wait to share it with you! Call 731.2665 for more information.
Dec. 27, 5-7 p.m.
The Deerfield Towne Center invites you to celebrate the Festival of Lights with the lighting of a giant Menorah. Celebrate the Festival of Lights with the lighting of a giant Menorah, Chanukah treats, live music, petting zoo and more! Free.
Dec. 27-29 from 4-5 p.m. at the JCC
We’ll celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the menorah (hanukkiah) each evening at 4:30pm. Meet Dreidel Man, make your own dreidel, step up to the latke bar, and create your own sugary sufganiot (Israeli jelly donuts). Join us in the lobby for all of the fun! Free; all ages welcome.