Holiday Displays Light Up Ohio

November 29, 2013

Holiday Displays Light Up Ohio

As the last leaves fall and Ohio transforms into a winter wonderland, it’s the perfect time to gather family and friends and head out to experience some dazzling holiday lights. From seasonal celebrations at the zoos to light displays illuminating Ohio’s natural beauty, travelers will find plenty of ways to enjoy the sparkle of the season.

Following is a sampling of Ohio’s holiday light displays. For more ideas on places to experience this glittering time of year, visit, follow @DiscoverOhio on Twitter or like DiscoverOhio on Facebook. For a list of seasonal events, please visit the Fall/Winter Calendar of Events.

Lights at the Zoo

November 15-December 31: Lights Before Christmas, Toledo Zoo (NW)

The Toledo Zoo’s Lights Before Christmas is a treat for all ages. Head to the zoo and take in the magical ambiance of more than a million lights, animation displays, ice carving, model trains, a new ice rink and carolers scheduled throughout November and December. Open Sunday through Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

November 22-January 5, 2014: Wildlights 25, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium (C)

The 25th anniversary of Wildlights features more than 3 million LED lights, animated musical light shows, a giant snow globe, reindeer and a new Holiday Light Show at Conservation Lake. For an extra special experience, visitors can purchase a private, after-hours lights tour by golf cart with animal visits (check website for pricing, times and reservations). Stop by Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

November 23-January 4, 2014: PNC Festival of Lights, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (SW)

The 31st annual PNC Festival of Lights will once again transform The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden into a “Wild Wonderland” with more than 2 million LED lights. Visitors can watch a puppet show, visit with Santa, ride the North Polar Express Train, search for fairies in Fairyland or take in the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake. The event is open nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Natural Beauty

November 16-January 5, 2014: Winter Wonderland at Creekside Park, Gahanna (C)

Just 10 minutes from downtown Columbus, visitors will find Gahanna’s 5-acre Creekside Park transformed into a wonderland filled with lights, decorations and holiday houses. This year, an estimated 150,000 lights will be used to illuminate the Creekside area and create light displays. Best known for its waterfall, park visitors can stroll along Big Walnut Creek before heading to one of the many restaurants and shops along the waterway and plaza.

November 22-January 5, 2014: Fantasy of Lights, Delaware (C)

At the 14th annual Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State Park visitors can enjoy a spectacular display of lights from the comfort of their vehicle. After cruising through the lights, visitors may stop by Santa’s House at Cross Creek Camping Resort for free hot chocolate and cookies. The light display is open Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Admission is $15 per vehicle.

November 22-December 31: Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods, Sharonville (SW)

A Cincinnati holiday tradition for more than 20 years, the outdoor light display at Sharon Woods is built on more than a mile of wooded terrain. Sit back, relax and take in the holiday themed light displays by tuning your radio to WRRM-FM 98.5 and driving past scenes depicting everything from Santa Claus and his elves to toy soldiers and more. Holiday in Lights is open nightly starting at 6 p.m. and admission is $13 per vehicle ($45 for buses and 15 passenger vans).

November 29-January 1, 2014: Legendary Lights at Clifton Mill, Clifton (SW)

For 20 years plus, Clifton Mill has celebrated the holiday season with an enchanting light display of more than 3.5 million lights that illuminate the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges. Highlights include a 100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights, outdoor miniature village, Santa Claus Museum and a musical light show featuring the old covered bridge. Admission is $10 and free for children age 6 and under.

December 1-30: Upper’s Winter Fantasy of Lights, Upper Sandusky (NW)

For the month of December, Harrison Smith Park, just east of downtown Upper Sandusky, puts on a light show for charity. Take in the park’s 33-acres adorned in millions of lights in your own vehicle or ride along in a horse-drawn carriage (available on select nights). A donation of $5 per vehicle is requested.

December 1-31: Holiday Trail of Lights, Lake Hope State Park, McArthur (SE)

Lake Hope State Park will once again be offering the Holiday Trail of Lights with more than 100,000 lights and several animated displays that light up as you walk along a quarter-mile trail near the park’s nature center. Horse-drawn wagon rides and visits with Santa are also available on select nights. The trail is open nightly and admission is free.

December 6-30: Woodland Lights, Dayton (SW)

In its 21st season, Woodland Lights will incorporate more lights than ever in its half-mile wonderland of holiday lights and seasonal displays at Countryside Park. Highlights include nine holiday window displays, interactive lights, the 13th annual collection of home-made gingerbread houses, and a lookout point that offers a panoramic view of lights reflecting off of the pond. The display is open nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. and tickets are $3 for Nostalgia Nights (December 9, 10, 16 and 17) and $7 for Festival Nights (all other nights). Admission is free for children 2 and under.

Small-Town Traditions

November 29-December 30: Holiday Lights in Carlisle, LaGrange (NE)

Head to the Carlisle Visitor Center to enjoy seasonal light displays and partake in a selection of organized children’s activities. Returning by popular demand are the program’s trail stations decorated to represent classic holiday movies, as well as drop-in craft nights. Holiday Lights hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is free and a donation of one non-perishable food item is requested.

November 29-30, December 1, 3-8, 10-15, 17-23 and 26-30: Deck the Hall, Akron (NE)

New to this year’s Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens’ memorable Deck the Hall event is Dazzle, a 10-minute light show spectacular that plays three times each hour and includes 750,000 lights in the estate’s Great Garden. The centerpiece of the light display is a 25-foot Christmas tree that is adorned with a full spectrum of color. The event is open from 5 to 8 p.m. and tickets are $17 for adults, $7 for children and free for children 5 and under. Guests with a Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens membership can purchase tickets at a discounted rate.

November 30, December 6, 7, 13 and 14: Holiday Lantern Tours at Sauder Village, Archbold (NW)

Each year hundreds of guests look forward to the opportunity to take a step back in time during the holiday season and experience a Holiday Lantern Tour at Sauder Village. With lantern in hand, a tour guide wearing clothes resembling those worn in the 1900s shares stories about Christmases past and the history of Northwest Ohio. Tours are approximately 90 minutes and repeat every half hour from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required; tours are $12 for adults and $7 for children age 3 and up.

December 1: Village Lights, Historic German Village (C)

From sparkling lights in the trees to luminaries lining the walkways, Village Lights in Historic German Village provides a magical backdrop for a night out with friends and family. Stop by area shops and restaurants for holiday treats and special discounts, or spend the evening strolling along the streets listening to carolers and live holiday music.

December 5, 7, 12, 14 and 19: Uptown for the Holidays, Uptown Athens (SE)

This December Uptown Athens will be decking the streets with new decorations that are sure to make the season brighter. Festivities include carolers on Court Street, a holiday film series at Athena Cinema, and horse-drawn wagon rides. Don’t miss the tree lighting celebration taking place on December 5 and the gingerbread houses decorated by Uptown shops participating in the 1st Annual Uptown Athens Gingerbread Competition.