Lights. Santa. Action!
The time has come. The snow is falling, the skating rinks are freezing, lights are being hung, Santa is growing his beard. Shall I continue?
The trains are chug-a-chugging, the sale prices are plunging, the elves are toy-building, the trees are ready for chopping, the hot chocolate is bubbling, the ... ahem. Something about geese a-laying?
Whether you like it or not (and you do), it's the holiday season in Cincinnati. Here's our big holiday roundup of how to get your jolly on with Christmas in the air. From lights and trains to Santa and "The Nutcracker," find a new tradition or keep your old ones goin'. Happy holidays. Don't forget to take pictures.
Holiday light shows in Cincinnati
Nov. 11-Jan. 2: Nights of Lights, Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., Anderson Township. Drive through the region's largest synchronized holiday light show. Over one million lights dance and twinkle to holiday music. See larger-than-life Christmas trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes, tunnels of lights and more. coneyislandpark.com.
Nov. 11-Dec. 31: Light Up the Fair, Boone County Fairgrounds, 5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington. Northern Kentucky's only drive-thru light show. Now over two miles long. lightupthefair.com.
Nov. 18-Dec. 30: Holiday in Lights, Armco Park, 1223 Ohio 741, Lebanon. New location. Outdoor, drive-thru holiday lights display with over 1 million lights and more than 250 light displays. No cash accepted. $20 per carload, $60 per busload. Special effects glasses $2 each or 3 for $5. Holidayinlights.com.
Nov. 18-Jan. 8: Festival of Lights, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale. Zoo transforms into a “wild wonderland” with more than four million LED lights. See Fiona fairies, enjoy a blacklight puppet show and more. Cincinnaizoo.org.
Nov. 18-Jan. 1: Journey Borealis, 6-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday, closed Mondays, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton. Drive through a festive tradition of over one million holiday lights and independent artist displays. Journeyborealis.com.
Nov. 18-Jan. 8: Winter Nights, River Lights, nightly, Purple People Bridge, Newport. Enjoy a lit holiday walk across the bridge with over one thousand lights, lighted projections and holiday music. Free. Nov. 18-Jan. 8.
Nov. 18-Dec. 23: The Christmas Ranch, 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow. Light displays, Christmas shops, Santa's bakery and cafe, pictures with Santa, train and wagon rides. Closed Thanksgiving Day. $22 per carload, $33 per oversized van (10 or more passengers). No buses or RVs. Free parking. thechristmasranch.com.
Nov. 23-Dec. 30: Drive Thru Christmas Glow, 6-10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, Land of Illusion, 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown. Enjoy lights, Christmas Village, petting zoo and Santa's workshop. $9 per person. landofillusion.com.
Nov. 24-Dec. 31: Light Up Middletown, 6-10 p.m. nightly, Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown. Admission is by cash donation; you set the price. lightupmiddletown.org.
Nov. 25-Dec. 31: WinterFest, Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason. Park transforms into 11 enchanting winter wonderlands. Enjoy ice skating, parade, entertainment, rides, and more than five million lights. Winter Wonderland Parade nightly at 8:30 p.m. $29.99-up. visitkingsisland.com.
Nov. 25-Dec. 30: ChristmasTown, 5 p.m., Creation Museum, 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg. Live nativity. Garden of lights, live animals, Encounter the Wonder 4D show inside the Special Effects Theater. Runs Wednesday-Sunday Nov. 25-Dec. 13, then daily through Dec. 30. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Free. Parking is $15. Creationmuseum.org.
Nov. 25-Dec. 30: ChristmasTime, 5 p.m., Ark Encounter, 1 Ark Encounter Drive, Williamstown. Runs Wednesday-Sunday Nov. 25-Dec. 13, then daily through Dec. 30. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Features bright, multi-color lights, music, short dramas, live animal encounters. Free. Parking is $15. Arkencounter.com.
Nov. 25-Jan.1: Deck the Y’alls Lightfest, 5:30-10 p.m., Thomas More Stadium, 7950 Freedom Way, Florence. Interactive sparkling wonderland features 10 immersive themed displays, outdoor ice rink and millions of twinkling lights. Ticketreturn.com/prod2new/Learn.asp.
Dec. 1-Jan. 1: Light in the Forest, 5:30-9 p.m., Rowe Woods, Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford. Enjoy lit forest, new installations by five regional light artists, children's activities, live music, bonfire, historic home with nature-inspired decorations, and holiday shopping. $12, $7 ages 3-17. cincynature.org.
Where to see Santa in Cincinnati
Nov. 5-Dec. 24: Santa's Wonderland, Bass Pro Shops, 300 Cincinnati Mills Drive, Forest Park and Cabela's, 7250 Cabela Drive, West Chester. Visit with Santa and get a free 4-by-6 photo. You can reserve a spot up to a week in advance. Enjoy holiday-themed games and giveaways. basspro.com/santa and cabelas.com/santa.
Nov. 18-Dec. 23: Holidays on the Farm and Santaland, 5-9 p.m., Parky's Farm, 10073 Daly Road, Springfield Township. Features Santa and his reindeer, lighted trails, festival garland and bow tree path, live entertainment, thousands of twinkling lights, food trucks, beer garden, pony rides, interactive train displays, hayrides, bonfires and more. Open Nov. 18-20 and Nov. 25-27. In December, open Thursday-Sunday Dec. 1-11, then daily Dec. 15-23. $15 ages 13-up, $10 ages 2-12. Food and drinks sold separately. Discounted admission by booking online. greatparks.org.
Nov. 25-Dec. 24: Santa Arrives at Holiday Junction, 11 a.m., Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate. Live music with Chris Comer Trio playing jazz in Rotunda, and merry elves roaming the museum, followed by Santa's arrival at noon by firetruck. He'll be on the Mezzanine level through Dec. 24. A visit with Santa is included with museum admission. Additional admission is required for Holiday Junction featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Cincymuseum.org.
Nov. 25-Dec. 24: Scuba Santa's Water Wonderland, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, Newport Aquarium, 1 Levee Way, Newport. See Scuba Santa swimming underwater with sharks, including three new sand tiger sharks. newportaquarium.com.
Dec. 17: Black Santa, noon-4 p.m., Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams. Free photos with Santa by the Christmas free.
Train displays for the whole family
Nov. 5-Jan. 8: A Celestial Holiday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams. Watch trains chug past Cincinnati landmarks, including a brand new building – Music Hall. Enjoy white poinsettias, a giant moon and more. $10, $7 ages 5-17, free ages 4-under. cincinnati-oh-gov.
Nov. 11-Jan. 2: Holiday Junction, Cincinnati Museum Center, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Monday, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate. Duke Energy Holiday Trains return. Electric toy train layouts from pre-World War II and the 1960s, as well as Lego bricks crafted into fantastical scenes from Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Harry Potter and more at Brickopolis. Santa arrives Nov 25. $10, or $5 with purchase of any other museum experience. Cincymuseum.org.
Nov. 12-Jan. 1: Christmas at the Junction, EnterTrainment Junction, 7379 Squire Court, West Chester. World’s largest indoor train display is decorated for the holidays. Take a journey to the North Pole and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Entertrainmentjunction.com.
Nov. 12-Jan. 8: Holly Jolly Days, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Behringer-Crawford Museum, 1600 Montague Road, Covington. See costumes and props from the film "White Christmas," courtesy of the Rosemary Clooney House, enjoy holiday toy trains and a winter wonderland in NaturePlay. bcmuseum.org.
Nov. 18-Dec. 23: North Pole Express, 6 and 8 p.m. weekdays, noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Lebanon Mason & Monroe Railroad, 16 E. South St., Lebanon. Experience the wonder of the season aboard a train. Santa visits with his elves during the 75-minute ride. Train cars are decorated for the holiday. lebanonrr.com.
Nov. 25-Jan. 8: Bill Schott's Great Circle Line Railroad, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Glenwood Gardens, 10397 Springfield Pike, Woodlawn. Enjoy the whimsical world of Snug Harbor and Chillyvilly where tiny steam locomotives travel the snow-covered landscape, past sledding penguins, a Christmas tree lot, tiny villages with their lights aglow, and more. Closed Dec. 24-25 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1. $3.
Dec. 15-17 and Dec. 21-23: Train Days, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Heritage Village Museum, 11500 Lebanon Road, Sharonville. Watch model trains chug through villages, around mountains and through tunnels in this display inside Chester Park Train Station, Myers Schoolhouse and Hayner House. At least 10 trains will be operating. $3. heritagevillagecincinnati.org.
Outdoor fun and ice skating
Nov. 5-Feb. 20: UC Health Ice Rink, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fountain Square, 520 Vine St., Downtown. Myfountainsquare.com.
Nov. 5-Feb. 27: Ice Skating at Fifty West, Fifty West Brewing, 7605 Wooster Pike, Columbia Township. Includes skate rental and one hour of skating time. $10. fiftywestbrew.com.
Nov. 12-Jan. 9: Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, Todd Creech Park, 305 W. Tate St., Lawrenceburg. Protective roof over the rink, fire pit, indoor restrooms. Skating sessions are 90-minutes and admission includes skate rental. $8 ages 13-up, $6 ages 5-12. Downtownlawrenceburg.com.
Nov. 12-Jan. 8: Ice Rink at Summit Park, Summit Park, 4335 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash. No reservations needed, first come, first served. $7 fee includes skate rental. Rink status line: 513-745-6259; summitparkblueash.com.
Nov. 18-Dec. 23: Holidays on the Farm, Parky’s Farm at Winton Woods, 10073 Daly Road, Springfield Township. New winter celebration features lighted nature trails in the woods, hayrides, caroling, meet and greets with farm animals, Santa visits and more.
Nov. 25-Dec. 17: Yuletide Village, 5-10 p.m. Friday, 3-10 p.m. Saturday, Renaissance Park, Harveysburg. yuletidevillage.com.
Nov. 25-Dec. 31: Christkindlmarkt, 4-10 p.m. Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, Schmidlapp Lawn adjacent to Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown. Open Christmas Eve 11 a.m.-6 p.m., then 4-10 p.m. daily Dec. 26-31. New Years Eve celebration. Features food, drinks and seasonal items from open-air stalls. Traditional choral music, lighted decorations and more. $5, free ages 12-under. Free entry with proof of purchase receipt from Servatii. cincinnatichristkindlmarkt.com.
Nov. 25-Jan.3: The Shillito Elves, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., The Foundry, Fifth St., Downtown. The elves made their debut in the 1950s in the windows of Shillito's department store. See the mechanized figures that depict various Christmas scenes, including Santa's workshop. The Mail Sorter, Little Woodshop, Pete the Painter, Lazzie Bear, Gift Wrap and more will be on view through the windows of the Foundry. Free.
Nov. 26-Jan. 3: Middletown Holiday Whopla, 39 N. Broad St., Middletown. Ice skating, holiday lights, food, vendors, musical performances and more throughout Middletown’s Dora. Holidaywhopla.com.
Nov. 26-Dec. 17: Downtown Dazzle, 6-8:30 p.m., Fountain Square, 520 Vine St., Downtown. Saturdays only. Myfountainsquare.com.
Dec. 17: OTR Raildog Parade, 3 p.m., Queen City Radio, Twelfth St., Over-the-Rhine. Dress up your furry friends in holiday attire and parade through the streets of OTR. Prizes. Free. Information: Casey Coston 513-546-1214.
Dec. 17: Christmas in Loveland, 4-8 p.m., Downtown Historic Loveland. Enjoy carriage rides, entertainment, live nativity scene, train rides, caroling, Santa’s Wonderland and more. Rain or shine. Free. Lmrchamberalliance.org.
Dec. 18: Rabbit Hash Christmas Parade, 5 p.m., Downtown Rabbit Hash. Annual Christmas parade followed by live music in the Rabbit Hash General Store by Jake Speed and the Freddies. Free. rabbithash.com.
Holly-jolly theater, music and dance
Nov. 30-Dec. 30: The Dancing Princesses, Ensemble Theatre, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. This whimsical adaptation of the classic fairy tale is about a kingdom where an enchanting mystery is afoot. This family-friendly musical is suitable for all ages. Special relaxed (sensory-friendly) performances at 7 p.m. Nov. 18-19 and 2 p.m. Nov. 26. ensemblecincinnati.org.
Dec. 1-23: A Christmas Carol, Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glenway Ave., West Price Hill. 513-241-6550. cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.
Dec. 2-18: Sanders Family Christmas, The Drama Workshop, 3716 Glenmore Ave., Cheviot. 513-598-8303; thedramaworkshop.org.
Dec. 8-31: Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some), Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 1195 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. cincyshakes.com.
Dec. 9-17: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Lyric Theater, 1530 Central Ave., Middletown. This original cabaret features music from That Time of the Year musical revue of all-original Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's songs. 513-425-7140; middletownlyric.org.
Dec. 10-19: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Jr., Taft Theatre. The holiday classic soars off the screen in this 60-minute adaptation of the beloved television special. thechildrenstheatre.com.
Dec. 14-18: Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig's Holiday Party, The Phoenix, 812 Race St., Downtown. Victorian-era party featuring beverages, a buffet and festive activities like parlor games, Victorian dances, a puppet show and more. Part of Playhouse in the Park off-the-grid performances. cincyplay.com.
Dec. 15-18: Miracle on 34th Street, Sorg Opera House, S. Main St., Middletown. cincyticket.com.
Dec. 16-24: Cincinnati Ballet: The Nutcracker, Music Hall, Over-the-Rhine. cballet.org.
Dec. 16: Peter Noone: An Olde English Christmas, Ludlow Garage, Clifton.
Dec. 16-18: An Acoustic Christmas with Over the Rhine, Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine.
Dec. 17: A Boy Band Christmas, Hard Rock Casino Ballroom, 1000 Broadway, Downtown.
Dec. 17: Pam Tillis Christmas, Ludlow Garage, Clifton.
Dec. 17: A Very Motherfolk Xmas, Bogart's, 2621 Vine St., Corryville.
Dec. 17: Afroman's Merry Spliff-mas, Riverfront Live.
Dec. 20: Million Dollar Quartet Christmas, Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown.
Dec. 22: Blue Christmas '22, Sorg Opera House. Featuring Rick House & Friends, The Gillespie Express, I Dig Pig and more.
Dec. 23: Jonathan Butler's "O Holy Night" with Grace Kelly, Ludlow Garage.
Dec. 26: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Aronoff Center for the Arts.
Dec. 4-18: An Elegant Victorian Family Christmas, 3-7 p.m. Sundays in December, Promont House, 906 Main St., Milford. Victorian natural motifs paired with period decor and ornamentation. Docent-led tours. Holiday teas take place Dec. 3, 7, 11 and 13 and cost $45.50 per person. milfordhistory.net.
Nov. 21-Jan. 2: The Christmas Casino, Rising Star Casino Resort, 777 Rising Star Drive, Rising Sun. Enjoy lighted trees, eight live reindeer, meet and greets with Santa, Cindy Lou Who, Buddy the Elf, the Grinch, Olaf and more. Runs through Jan.2. thechristmascasino.com.
Nov 21-Dec. 31: Miracle Holiday Pop-Up, Overlook Lodge, Pleasant Ridge. Award-winning holiday concept returns to Overlook Lodge, featuring merry cocktails and holiday magic. Miraclepopup.com.
Nov 21-Dec. 31: Sippin’ Santa Holiday Pop-Up, Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, Walnut Hills. Award-winning holiday pop-up features holiday cocktails, shots and over-the-top decor. Sippinsantapopup.com.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Holiday events in Cincinnati: Christmas light shows, trains, Santa