Cincinnati may be a long way from the North Pole, but come December, you’ll find the Jolly Old Elf all over the Queen City! And sure, you can find Santa at the expected spots (i.e., most local malls and shopping centers), but you’ll also find him in the most unexpected places.
Here’s Where to Find Santa in Cincinnati:
Beloved Area Attractions
Starting on November 26
Of course, no holiday is complete without a visit to Santa. Santa makes his grand arrival on Friday, November 25. Although you won’t be able to sit with Santa, you can visit the jolly elf by his fireplace in the Public Landing adjacent to Holiday Junction. Santa will be busy preparing for the big day but will happily pause to speak with you from a safe distance.
November 25 – December 24
Who would’ve thought Santa could scuba dive? All December long, you’ll find Mr. C donning an air tank and scuba mask to swim with the fish at Newport Aquarium – and this unique encounter with Santa is something your kids won’t soon forget!
November 18 – January 8
The PNC Festival of Lights at the Zoo is one of the most anticipated holiday events in Cincinnati; this year, Santa will be on site to meet with kids a full hour (4 pm) before the lights blink on. Last year, thousands of Cincinnati kids met with Santa at the Festival of Lights – which, by the way, features 3 million twinkling LED lights!
Select Nights from November 25 – December 31
It’s time to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice! A picture with Santa is a holiday tradition, and the man in the red suit will be taking toy requests throughout WinterFest. Santa is surrounded by holiday merriment as families gather around his golden throne to ask for that special someone and create a family portrait that will rekindle memories that last a lifetime.
Santa will arrive around 9:30 and will be available to meet and greet until 11:00AM. Fun activities, cookies and hot drinks will be available!
Riding the Rails
November 12 – January 1
Sometimes Santa needs to go back to the North Pole to deal with toy emergencies. So, this year we are scheduling him in-person when he can be in town and via video chat when he goes back home. Pick the date that offers you the experience you are most comfortable with.
Select Days from November 18 – December 23
The LM&M railroad’s North Pole Express has become a Christmas tradition for many families. LM&M Railroad invites families to experience the magic of a train ride with Santa Claus himself during the Christmas season. Every child in attendance will receive a bell from Santa’s sleigh, and families are encouraged to bring cameras as pictures with Santa are allowed and encouraged!
Select dates November 11 – December 17
The Polar Express comes to life when the train departs Connersville’s Grand Central Station for a journey through the quiet countryside for a special stop at the “North Pole” to allow Santa Claus to board the Polar Express. Guests on board will enjoy hot chocolate and a cookie while listening and reading along with the magical story.
December 3 in Downtown Lebanon
Check out Santa as he arrives at the festival upon horse-drawn carriage! This festival is free and lots of fun for families.
November 26, December 3, 10 & 17
Put this down as the “most adventurous” Santa experience in Cincy – during Downtown Dazzle’s 20-minute show, you’ll watch the big guy rappel from the Huntington Center building down to the top of Macy’s, right next to the jumbotron on Fountain Square! There’s also a firework show, carolers, carriage rides and a family-friendly story time with Mrs. Claus. (Oh, and Downtown Dazzle also features the best Santa in Cincinnati at Macy’s Fountain Place – pictures are free; simply bring your own camera!)
Related Article: Where to Have Breakfast with Santa in Cincinnati
On the Rink
Saturdays & Sundays from November 27 – December 20
Despite his jolly stature, Santa can sure glide across the ice like an Olympic pro! See for yourself on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-1 pm during Santa Skates at Fountain Square’s Ice Rink. See if you can keep up!
Sitting Pretty at Local Parks
November 30, December 7, 14, 21
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 1-3p.
November 18- December 23
Parky’s Farm comes to life with memorable experiences during Holidays on the Farm! Discover wide-open winter wonder with musical performances, pony rides, a train display, animal programs, meeting Santa Claus, and more. Guests can also enjoy a variety of local beers and ciders and local food trucks.
Mugging at the Malls
Book a time slot for pics and one-on-one time with Santa at these local malls! Tip: go during the week to avoid big crowds – and reserve your spot online!
Kenwood Towne Center
November 17 through December 24.
November 20 – December 23.