When it’s holiday time in Cincinnati and Dayton, we know how to bring the joy! From dazzling drive-thru light shows and enchanting Nutcracker performances to ice skating rinks and festive train rides, there’s a sleigh-load of family fun waiting for you this season.
Get ready for a jolly journey as we dive into the sparkling world of holiday magic in Southwest Ohio! Here’s a sneak peek of the festive adventures and activities coming your way this season!
The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun around Cincinnati and Dayton:
- Find your favorite Cincinnati or Dayton Christmas light display.
- Lace-up those ice skates and hit the ice rink.
- Visit Scuba Santa at the Newport Aquarium.
- Pick out the perfect Christmas tree as a family. Bonus points if you visit a local Christmas tree farm to chop it down yourself!
- All Aboard! Head to the train station for a holiday train ride.
- Mail a letter to Santa.
- Attend a local tree lighting event.
- Stay warm in you car at one of these drive-thru holiday light displays!
- Get an early start to your Christmas shopping with local vendors at a holiday market or craft show.
- Enjoy a holiday breakfast with Santa Claus.
- Walk through the Woodland Lights.
- Beat the Winter Blues at the MetroParks Ice Rink!
- Catch a performance of The Nutcracker, a holiday classic.
- Host a holiday tea party.
- Get festive with Holiday Pops at Music Hall.
- Need to burn some energy? These indoor playgrounds are perfect for a chilly weekend or during winter break.
- Snow? Check out a local sledding spot!
- Check out a local toy store for the perfect holiday gift!
- Volunteer together as a family.
- Take a holiday road trip to Gaylord Opryland’s 40th annual A Country Christmas!
- Make sure to visit Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas before he heads back to the North Pole!
- Get nostalgic at one of these holiday train displays.
- Shop local with this holiday shopping guide!
- Cozy up and watch one of these favorite holiday movies.
- Christmas AND a cave? Yes please!
Can’t-Miss Holiday Celebrations, Displays and Events
Where: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
When:November 17 – December 31, 2023
The journey includes over 1 million LED lights — including an LED light tunnel, a Candy Cane Forest, projections by Brave Berlin (the creators of Blink and Luminosity) and Sam Durgan, Santa Search Lights, and several more surprises.
Where: Cincinnati Zoo
When: November 17 – January 7, 2024
The Cincinnati Zoo will still be shining bright as we’re once again transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 41st annual PNC Festival of Lights! Come early for more animals and stay for the lights! In addition to admiring the beauty of 4 million LED lights, visitors can find the 5 Fiona fairies in Fairyland, take in a blacklight puppet show, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands.
Where: EnterTRAINment Junction
When: November 18 – January 2, 2024
Create a holiday tradition for your family! See the magic of Christmas at the home of the World’s Largest Indoor Train Display. Take a “Journey to the North Pole”, where you can meet Mrs. Claus and Santa himself.
Where: Coney Island
When:November 10 – December 31, 2023
Christmas Nights of Lights consists of a two-and-a-half-mile light show synchronized to both traditional and rocking holiday music that is broadcast via car radios. Cincinnati’s largest synchronized holiday light show will awe guests of all ages with more than one million lights, larger-than-life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes, and fantastic tunnels of lights.
Where: Cincinnati Museum Center
When: November 10 – January 8, 2024
From the child with their eyes peeled for visitors from the North Pole to the teen counting every LEGO brick to the grandparent watching model trains zip through a mini metropolis, our signature holiday experience brings families together in ageless joy. And the beloved Duke Energy Holiday Trains are back for their 77th season.
Where: Krohn Conservatory
When: November 11 – January 7, 2024
This holiday season, Krohn Conservatory will be filled with a warm glow as illuminated stars shine over colorful poinsettias, lush tropical foliage and holiday trees. Threading through the horticultural exhibit are the traditional garden railways and miniature Cincinnati landmarks made of locally sourced plant material by Applied Imagination. Joining the iconic collection this year is our newest addition, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Carry on the special holiday tradition at the Krohn Conservatory. You will leave feeling refreshed by our natural environment and magical holiday glow.
Where: Kings Island
When:November 24 – December 31, 2023
The spirit of everyone’s favorite season is captured in an atmosphere of warmth and nostalgia at Cincinnati’s premier holiday event–a place where memories of holidays past are present; a place where memories of holiday activities are waiting to be made. Step into WinterFest at Kings Island, Open select nights in November and December.
Where: Clifton Mill
When: November 24 – December 30, 2023
A Cincy favorite, the Lights at Clifton Mill are indeed legendary. A sea of red lights cascade down the riverbanks, and the historic covered bridge comes to life in a synchronized light show. Cross the bridge and travel back in time to the 1800’s. There’s also a miniature village with tiny replicas of Clifton Mill’s historic buildings.
Where: Carillon Historical Park
When: November 21 – December 30, 2023
Join them for A Carillon Christmas to see Carillon Historical Park’s 65-acre campus transformed into a winter wonderland of sparkle, magic, and holiday cheer!