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Holiday Experiences in Columbus: Lights, Live Shows, and More

The holidays are coming, and Columbus is ready! Bundle up, grab your loved ones, and experience all the magic the city has to offer.


The holiday season in Columbus is magical and experiencing the city under the twinkling lights of the holidays makes for the perfect activity. The city’s most popular light display, Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, has repeatedly earned accolades for being among the best in the country by MSN, PopSugar and more.  Instead of just marking your calendars for their official opening Nov.19, you instead may just want to clear your entire weekend since the following day, Nov. 20, Franklin Park Conservatory opens its outdoor Conservatory Aglow. Not only does the experience check the box for light displays but you’ll want to check out added experiences like Breakfast with Santa, Create a Gingerbread House events and the Fantastical Hedgehog Magic Show.


While both of those experiences are ticketed, the Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile will once again be strung with thousands of lights to illuminate the night for a free, on-your own experience. However, maybe you prefer a tour, and that’s fine too! Check out Columbus City Adventures or SegAway Tours of Columbus. It will truly be a ride like you’ve never experienced.

Speaking of experiences, there is absolutely nothing like sitting in an audience while taking in a performance on stage. After being behind screens so often in the last 18 months, the performing arts community is once again giving us that cherished opportunity for live shows. The ultimate holiday performance, BalletMet’s The Nutcracker, takes the stage Dec. 10-26, while shows like A Magical Cirque Christmas and A Christmas Story: The Musical offer fun new holiday alternatives. Mark your calendars for those shows Dec. 10 at the Palace Theater and Dec. 9-23 at the Lincoln Theater, respectively.

Not to be left out, even Columbus’ attractions that don’t have holiday light displays have major exhibitions taking place this holiday season. “Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources” at the Columbus Museum of Art opens Nov. 12 and features the works most loved by the artist himself. At COSI, “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes” takes center stage starting Nov. 26, displaying more than 300 original artifacts from the films, including costumes worn by Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and the late Chadwick Boseman.

If you’re excited to see your family, but don’t want to crowd your house, book a hotel at where you’re guaranteed the lowest price. When booking a two-night stay, you get added benefits like Lyft credit or attraction passes.

Experience Columbus has you covered with everything you need this holiday season, including an online Gift Guide for all your holiday shopping needs, as well as a hosting guide with more recommendations on where to eat, play, stay and shop. Find everything there is to do at