Cincinnati truly excels at celebrating the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, a plethora of family-friendly events awaits, guaranteed to immerse you in the joyous holiday atmosphere. What makes it even better? Most of these festive enjoyment comes at no cost! Explore our list of 50 Free Things to Experience in Cincinnati during the Holiday Season, and delight in budget-friendly, festive family activities that won’t dent your wallet!
50 Free Things to do in Cincinnati this Holiday Season
Winter Nights and River Lights Opening
Nov. 17 starting at 6pm at the Purple People Bridge
The annual holiday light show features Christmas lights and holiday decorations spread across the bridge so everyone can enjoy the magic of the season! Events runs from November 17th 2024 through January 7, 2024.
Christmas in Springboro Festival
Nov. 17-19 in Historic Springboro
Sleigh bells ringing from the horse-drawn carriage, a sip of hot cocoa, the sound of children’s laughter and a nip in the air. Welcome to the annual Christmas in Historic Springboro Festival, the largest three-day holiday festival in the tri-state area!
Light Up the Levee
Nov. 18 from 3pm-7pm at Newport on the Levee
You’re invited to celebrate the magic of the holiday season! Enjoy an evening of festive fun including live music, fireworks, and a visit from Santa Claus as we light our magnificent 50-ft tree!
The Holiday O.F.F. Market
Nov. 18 from 10am-4pm at Summit Park
Shop early for the holidays at The Holiday O.F.F. Market! This one-day holiday market, held at Summit Park in Cincinnati’s Blue Ash neighborhood, brings together small businesses, artisans, brewers, bakers, farmers and more to create a shopping experience that builds strong community bonds and supports the local economy.
Hamilton Welcomes the Holidays – Annual Tree Lighting Event
Nov. 18, 5-8 pm at Marcum Park
Please join us at Marcum Park for Hamilton’s Annual Tree Lighting Event with Holiday music, live reindeer, carriage & train rides, face painting, balloon artists, cookies, hot chocolate and much more–including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Fairfield Parade of Lights
Nov. 18, 5-7pm at Village Green Park
Celebrate the spirit of the winter season at Village Green Park in Fairfield. Shop the holiday market and listen to live performances before the parade kicks off at 6:00pm. Join Santa for the lighting of the tree after the parade.
Santa on the Levee
Nov. 18 – Dec. 23 at the Gallery
Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s making a stop at Newport on the Levee! Gather your loved ones and enjoy taking complimentary photos alongside Santa on the Levee.
Nov. 19 from 10am-3pm at Adath Israel Congregation
Annual Art Fair at Adath Israel Congregation, a synagogue in Amberley Village. It may be called the Chanukah Bazaar, but it’s art for all! No cost to attend. Browse the booths of local artists with handcrafted art. Enjoy delicious food and beverages from vendors. Visit the Coleman Family Judaica Shop, Cincinnati’s premier Judaica shop. Play the raffle to win artwork and other gifts.
Scuba Santa Member Preview
Nov. 21 from 5pm-7:30pm at Newport Aquarium
Join fellow Members and Annual Passholders to be among the first to meet Scuba Santa during this exclusive preview event! See Scuba Santa swim with all his fishy friends and a curious sea turtle while you tell him what you want for Christmas! Through some holiday magic, he can see, hear and speak with you while he’s under water! Meet cheerful elves straight from the North Pole and join in the fun as Scuba Santa fills the Theater with bubbles. His magical bubbles will float and fall all around you and every time a bubble pops, a wish will come true for someone throughout the world.
Light Up Middletown
Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 6-10 pm nightly
Enter through the tunnel of lights to enjoy a sparkling fantasyland in Ohio. Light up Middletown is a driving tour through a 100-acre park. Oogle the many creative and themed displays, which include a floating Sea Serpent in the reflecting lake, Santa’s Workshop, American Flag, Penguin Village, Deer Leaping Over the Roadway, Helicopter, Whales and more! Admission is by cash donation only – you set the price!
Light Up the Square
Nov. 24 from 6pm-11pm at Fountain Square
Fountain Square is excited to announce an even bigger and better full-hour show this year full of dazzling performances, fireworks and, of course, the lighting of our Prolink Tree from 6:30-7:30 p.m. This beloved annual holiday celebration kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with special guests Sheree Paolello and Mike Dardis from Channel 5 and Natalie Jones from Q102. The evening will feature live music, dance performances, an appearance by Santa Claus and a dazzling fireworks display. Make sure you’re there so you can help Fountain Square Light Up this year’s Prolink Tree.2nd Wind Band will begin performing at 6 p.m. and will keep the music going till 9 p.m. Extra cost for Ice Rink
Dayton Holiday Festival Grand Illumination & Parade
Nov. 24 from 3-8pm in Downtown Dayton (worth the drive)
Watch the holidays light up during Dayton’s traditional tree lighting on Courthouse Square, followed immediately by a nighttime parade for children, sparkling with more than 100,000 lights! Enjoy decorative seasonal floats, horses, drill teams and bands, and some special holiday treats.
Nov. 24-26, Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 from 11am-2pm at Washington Park
This year, ditch your annual trip to the mall and venture down to Washington Park to see Santa Claus! Bring your family, your dog, your friends to meet Santa, but most all–be sure to bring your cameras!
Related Article: Holiday Markets and Craft Shows
ChristmasTown at Creation Museum
Nov. 24- Dec. 30 select days from 5 – 8:30 pm at the Creation Museum
Tour the dazzling garden of lights, reflect on the true meaning of the season at the live nativity, enjoy a special holiday dinner, do some unique gift shopping, and experience more during our free, annual ChristmasTown! Parking is not included
Nov. 25 at 4 pm in Downtown Middletown
A wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season and spirit. It’s not just a Santa Parade, it’s a performance parade! The parade route begins on South Broad Street to North Broad Street ending at Manchester Avenue.
Nov. 26, December 3, 10, 17 pm from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at Fountain Square
Downtown Dazzle is back to put a holiday twinkle in your eye! Join us in the heart of Cincy for one of the biggest highlights of the holiday season. See Santa rappel from a Cincinnati skyrise and wait with anticipation for the sky to fill with a fabulous fireworks display!
Holiday Family Fun
Dec. 1-2 from 9am-10:30am at The Civic Garden Center
There are lots of celebrations around the world that happen at the end of the year. No matter what you celebrate, you and the children in your life are invited to join us for some family-friendly fun! During this free, drop-in event at the Civic Garden Center, kids and their caregivers can make giftable nature-based crafts, take a walk in the garden or enjoy some books in our reading corner. All ages are welcome, and registration is not required.
ParkLights at Caesar Ford Park
Dec. 1-31 from 6-9pm at Caesar Ford Park (worth the drive)
Forget deck the halls! We’ve decked the park … with dazzling lights! We are lighting up Caesar Ford Park the entire month of December. You’ll wind your way through our Winter Wonderful, North Pole Car Show, Winter Farm and Festive Festival, then wave to Santa at the North Pole!
Waynesville’s Christmas in the Village
Dec. 1-3 on Main Street in Downtown Waynesville
Waynesville takes on the nostalgic feeling of Christmas past as the downtown is adorned in traditional holiday décor. Make plans to visit this holiday season as we have exciting entertainment, strolling throughout the downtown, and in store fronts.
Holiday Open House
Dec. 2 at Miami Township Branch
The library will be one of the businesses celebrating Cleves Christmas in the Village. Stop in any time during our open hours! Create a unique seasonal button – a tradition for our library at this time of year! Create a cute seasonal craft. Face Painting and Temporary Tattoos at 2 PM. You might even win a Door Prize!
4th Annual Holiday Beers and Cheers
Dec. 2 from 11am – 2pm at Sonder Brewing
Grab your friend and hit this Holiday Happening of Beers + Cheers on December 2nd from 11am-2pm! The entire family is welcome!
Lebanon Holiday Parade
Dec. 2 from 10 am-8 pm, located in Historic Downtown Lebanon
Located in Historic Downtown Lebanon, join us for the largest event to start the Holiday season. Our parades feature only horse drawn carriages. The Festival begins at 10 am, and runs until 8 pm with food and craft vendors along Mulberry and Mechanic Streets. Be sure to check out our entertainment lineup, and other Holiday activities throughout our Historic Downtown. Visit our amazing downtown businesses for those unique holiday gifts.
A Walk in the Winter Garden
Dec. 2 from 10am-11:30am at the Civic Garden Center
Bring a hot beverage and join Sam, the Civic Garden Center’s Conservation Program Manager, on a winter walk around our Hauck Botanic Garden grounds. We’ll cover a brief history of the space, some tips on winter tree identification and what goes on in the garden during the winter months. This event will take place outdoors, so please dress accordingly!
Family Day: Holiday Fun
Dec. 2, 10:30am-2:30pm at the American Sign Museum
In-person Make the season extra merry and bright by kicking off the holidays under the glow of the signs. Check out this year’s holiday display made by a local sign painter and get a fun, family photo. Make your own holiday craft to take home, meet Santa, and snack on some treats while enjoying a hilarious holiday improv show by. Free with Museum Admission.
Dec. 2 from 1-6pm at 8662 Cincinnati Dayton Rd
Professional Christmas photos with and without Santa that you can cherish forever and lots of fun activities for kids and adults alike. Stop by for Christmas cookie decorating, ornament making, fun Christmas drinks, and desserts! It will be an afternoon to remember!
Findlay Holiday Market
Dec 2-3 at Findlay Market
Join them for the holiday season! They will have a bustling Outdoor Market filled with unique gifts, along with our 50+ full-time businesses stocked with food, drinks, décor and handmade goods.
The Ultimate Holiday Craft Expo
Dec. 3 from 10am-4pm at the Hilton Cincinnati Airport
Discover a wide array of unique and handmade crafts that will add that extra special touch to your holiday season. From beautiful ornaments and handcrafted wreaths to personalized gifts and stunning home decor, you’ll find everything you need to make this holiday season truly unforgettable.
Holiday Music Series
Dec. 3, 10 and 17 from 2:30-3:30pm at Taft Museum of Art
Celebrate the holiday season with live music performances on select Sundays in December at the Taft Museum of Art!
Holiday in the Village
Dec. 3, 5-7:30 pm in Downtown Montgomery
Head to Olde Montgomery for a healthy dose of holiday spirit. From a tree lighting ceremony to carolers to horse-drawn carriage rides, there’s plenty of free fun for families at this annual event.
Craft Night: Book Ornaments
Dec. 4, 6pm–8pm at the Green Township Branch
Make an ornament with all the books your read this year! Or, make an ornament with your favorite books of all time.
Adult Craft Night: Winter Luminarias
Dec. 4 from 6pm-7pm at the Madisonville Branch
Get creative and join us each month for a new hour-long craft! This month, we’ll be making some bright winter luminarias for you to take home and enjoy. All supplies will be provided. Comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting messy is recommended. Registration is required.
Winter Holiday Spectacular presented by May Festival MiNiS
Dec. 5, 11:00am–12:00pm
Discover holiday traditions through MUSIC, connecting with diverse cultures, and celebrating the spirit of unity. This program engages, entertains, and educates children of ALL abilities in music education. Immerse yourself in the magic of the season as we come together to learn, sing songs and share words from around the world. Presented by the May Festival MiNiS.
Sip, Shop and Sleigh
Dec. 6, 4-7pm at Fueled Collective
Kick off your holiday at Fueled Collective! Featuring a curated shopping experience, seasonal cocktails, a wine market, entertainment, and door prizes! This event is free and open to the public, so mark your calendars, grab your friends, and plan to Sleigh the day away!
Building Your Family Holiday Toolkit
Dec. 6 from 5-7pm at CHNK Behavioral Health
CHNK Behavioral Health is excited to invite families to our Holiday celebration! We understand that this season can be a challenging time for many, which is why we want to provide a space where families can come together and support each other. Our celebration will include a variety of activities, including sharing ways to connect with loved ones during the holidays, enjoying holiday treats, and even getting a free picture with Santa!
Light Up College Hill
Dec. 7 from 6pm-9pm at Patrick’s Park
Light Up College Hill is coming December 7th, from 6-8:30 pm! This will be an avenue-wide event with the 2nd annual tree lighting in Patrick’s Park, a train ride for kids, Santa, live reindeer, and more! Stay tuned for more event info and be sure to check out our website where we will continue to share details in the coming weeks.
Winter Crafting by the Fire
Dec. 7, 5:30pm–6:30pm at the Madeira Branch
Join a cozy evening of ornament making! Try your hand at different ornament designs with paints, nature, and your creativity. Enjoy relaxing music, our virtual fireplace, and refreshments while you work. All supplies provided. For adults!
Snowman Wreath Craft
Dec. 9 from 10:30am-12pm
Get in the holiday spirit and join the library in making a sparkling snowman wreath! All supplies will be provided.
KWA West Chester Cookies With Santa
Dec. 9 from 10am-12pm
Come join us for a jolly good time at KWA West Chester Cookies With Santa! Get ready to meet the man himself, Santa Claus, and enjoy some delicious cookies. This event is perfect for families and children of all ages. We look forward to seeing you on December 9th!
Mt. Adams Reindog Parade
Dec. 9 starting a 2 pm in Downtown Mt. Adams
Why do reindeer get to have all the fun? Easily the most adorable (and furry!) holiday parade in Cincy, the Mt. Adams Reindog Parade has been a tradition for over 20 years! This parade is free to watch and lots of doggone fun!
Holiday Family Funday
Dec. 10 and 17 from 10am-4pm at Taft Museum of Art
Explore the Taft’s decked out halls and celebrate the holidays with the whole family throughout December. Enjoy free music, art-making, and gallery experiences that will be sure to bring holiday cheer to all. Join us for one Sunday or all three!
Holiday Social at CHNK Behavioral Health
Dec. 13 from 4-6pm at CHNK Behavioral Health
We will be spreading holiday cheer and celebrating the spirit of togetherness. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with our compassionate team and learn more about the valuable services we provide. Join for an evening filled with delicious refreshments, beverages and networking at our newly renovated Outpatient Office. Don’t miss out on this wonderful event! Mark your calendars and get ready to celebrate the holiday season with CHNK Behavioral Health.
Concert: Holiday Favorites from Around the World – Cincinnati Civic Orchestra
Dec. 14, 7 pm at the Kenton County Public Library – Erlanger Branch
Join in for a magical concert, “Holiday Favorites from Around the World”, presented by the Cincinnati Civic Orchestra! The ensemble is one of the nation’s oldest all-volunteer symphony orchestras, performing free concerts for appreciative audiences throughout the Greater Cincinnati area. The Music Director is Larry Bonhaus. Registration is not required. Seating is limited to first come, first served. Doors to auditorium open at 6:30 p.m.
Polar Express Pajama Party
Dec. 15 from 7-8:30pm at Barnes & Noble
Join Barnes & Noble for their annual Polar Express Pajama Party!
Related Article: Best Holiday Train Rides
Meowy Christmas Market
Dec. 16 from 9am-7pm at The Roost Latonia
Come join us at The Roost Latonia for a purrfectly festive event – the Meowy Christmas Market! Get ready for a day filled with holiday cheer, local vendors, and adorable kitties. Whether you’re looking for unique gifts or simply want to enjoy the merry atmosphere, this in-person event is the place to be.
Christmas in Loveland
Dec. 16 in Historic West Loveland
Be swept back in time while visiting Old Historic Loveland on this special day. Everything from Jolly Ole’ St. Nick and Mrs. Claus at the North Pole, to a live Nativity scene, to a Winter Wonderland!
Brunch With Frosty And Friends Holiday Event
Dec. 16 from 11am-3pm at Liberty Home Association
Brunch with Frosty and Friends on December 16th at Liberty Home Association located in Hamilton Ohio. The event begins at 11am to 3pm
Holiday Market at Washington Park
Dec. 16-17 at Washington Park
Shop local this holiday season! The Holiday Market at Washington Park is a festive event featuring loads of cheer and one-of-a-kind gifts. Browsing is free, but you might want to set aside a shopping allowance!
Santa and Mrs. Claus at Beedle Cabin
Dec. 17 from 10am-2pm at Beedle Cabin
Visit with Santa on December 11 at the Beedle Cabin! Santa will be available for pictures next to a cozy fire in the cabin from 10 am to 2 pm.
Annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival
December 30 and 31 at Christ Church Cathedral
The annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is a beloved Cincinnati tradition. Medieval costumes, a large orchestra and choir, spectacular lighting effects, and contagious holiday cheer make this an unforgettable experience!
Have a free holiday event to add? Email [email protected]!