The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun

When it comes to celebrating the holidays, Cincinnati and Dayton know how to do it right. From drive-thru light displays and performances of The Nutcracker, to ice skating and train rides, there are SO many fun things for families to experience this holiday season.

Here’s a look at some of the activities and events available this holiday season in and around Southwest Ohio!

The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun around Cincinnati and Dayton:

  1. Find your favorite Cincinnati or Dayton Christmas light display.
  2. Lace-up those ice skates and hit the ice rink.
  3. Visit Scuba Santa at the Newport Aquarium.
  4. Pick out the perfect Christmas tree as a family. Bonus points if you visit a local Christmas tree farm to chop it down yourself!
  5. All Aboard! Head to the train station for a holiday train ride.
  6. Mail a letter to Santa.
  7. Attend a local tree lighting event
  8. Stay warm in you car at one of these drive-thru holiday light displays!

    Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island
  9. Get an early start to your Christmas shopping with local vendors at a holiday market or craft show.
  10. Enjoy a holiday breakfast with Santa Claus.
  11. Walk through the Woodland Lights.
  12. Enjoy the bumper cars at the Fountain Square UC Health Ice Rink!
  13. Catch a performance of The Nutcracker, a holiday classic.
  14. Host a holiday tea party.
  15. Get festive with Holiday Pops at Music Hall.
  16. Need to burn some energy? These indoor playgrounds are perfect for a chilly weekend or during winter break.
  17. Get in the holiday spirit at Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Jr. presented by the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.
  18. Support local at a local toy store for the perfect holiday gift!
  19. Volunteer together as a family.
  20. Take a holiday road trip to Indianapolis!
  21. Make sure to visit Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas before he heads back to the North Pole!

Can’t-Miss Holiday Celebrations, Displays and Events

Journey Borealis

Where: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
When: November 18 – January 1

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.

PNC Festival of Lights

Where: Cincinnati Zoo
When: November 18 – January 8

The Cincinnati Zoo will still be shining bright as we’re once again transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 39th annual PNC Festival of Lights! In addition to admiring the beauty of 4 million LED lights, visitors can ride the North Polar Express train ride, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands.

Christmas at the Junction

Where: EnterTRAINment Junction
When: November 12 – January 1

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.

Christmas Nights of Lights

Where: Coney Island
When: November 11 – January 2

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.

Holiday Junction feat Duke Energy Trains

Where: Cincinnati Museum Center
When: November 11 – January 1

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 75th season.

Celestial Holiday Trains

Where: Krohn Conservatory
When: November 5 – January 8

Experience a tapestry of colorful poinsettias,charming garden railways and beautiful replicas of Cincinnati landmarks createdout of “Botanical Architecture” by local artisans; Applied Imagination. Krohn Conservatory is where holiday traditions take place in the warmth of thetropics.

Winterfest at Kings Island

Where: Kings Island
When: November 25 – December 31

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.

Clifton Mill Christmas Lights

Where: Clifton Mill
When: November 25 – December 30

For over 30 years, Clifton Mill has celebrated the Christmas season in a very special way. Our light display is one of the country’s finest with over 3.5 million lights illuminating the mill, the gorge, the riverbanks, trees, and bridges. There is even a 100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights. The flip of one switch turns all the lights on at once transforming night into a fantastical winter wonderland.

A Carillon Christmas

Where: Carillon Historical Park
When: November 22 – December 30

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!

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