14 Drive-Thru and Walk-Thru Holiday Light Shows in Cincinnati for 2021

Fan-favorite light displays and new illuminated indoor attractions are ready to brighten Cincinnati this winter.

click to enlarge Coney Island's Christmas Nights of Lights Drive-Thru display features more than 1 million lights. - Photo: Provided by Coney Island
Photo: Provided by Coney Island
Coney Island's Christmas Nights of Lights Drive-Thru display features more than 1 million lights.

These light shows — new and classic — are open as either drive-thru or walk-thru experiences to illuminate your spirits and brighten your winter. 

Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island

Coney Island transforms into a drive-thru Christmas show during Christmas Nights of Lights. Enjoy the warmth of your car while lights manipulated to resemble dancing candy canes, glowing snowmen, colorful tunnels and giant holiday trees are synchronized to Christmas tunes both classic and new, available via your car radio. The two-and-a-half-mile long display features more than 1 million lights. Nov. 12-Jan. 2, 2022. $7 per person; free for 3 and under; available at the gate. 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.

Holiday in Lights at Sharon woods

The nostalgic mile-long holiday spectacle returns this year, featuring more than 1 million lights decorating over 250 vignettes along a woodland path depicting "everything from Santa Claus and his elves, to every animal on the ark," says the website. There's also an option to buy some special effects glasses ($2 for one pair and three pairs for $5) to enhance the drive. The park has walkable tours of the lights on Dec. 1 and Dec. 29. No cars will be allowed on those nights. Purchase your tickets in advance online or by card at the gate; no cash. Nov. 12-Dec. 30. $17 per car/truck/SUV; $55 bus; $7 walking ticket.11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, holidayinlights.com.

Light Up the Fair at Boone County Fairgrounds

Located at the Boone County Fairgrounds, this Northern Kentucky drive-through light display spans two miles long with over a half a million dazzling lights and is synchronized to music through each visitor’s car radio. Nov. 12-Jan. 1, 2022. $7 per person; free for children under 4 and first responders. 5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington, facebook.com/LightUpTheFair.

click to enlarge The infamous rainbow tunnel at the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The infamous rainbow tunnel at the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The PNC Festival of Lights — which has been named the No. 1 light display in the nation by USA Today — returns Nov. 19. This year's fest will feature 4 million LED lights, a North Polar Express train, the fan-favorite light show on Swan Lake, s'mores stands and more. Nov. 19-Jan. 9, 2022. Included with zoo admission. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.

The Christmas Ranch

Take a drive up to Morrow to visit the Christmas Ranch, a winter wonderland that features 1 million lights synchronized to music. Drive along an animated, illuminated route or park the car to visit the Christmas village with six shops, a bakery and café, and train and wagon rides. A portion of proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Little Miami Food Pantry, Neediest Kids of All and Shriners Hospital for children. Nov. 19-Dec. 23. $20 per carload; $30 oversized vans; free parking. 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow, thechristmasranch.com.

click to enlarge Journey BOREALIS at Pyramid Hill - Photo: Provided by Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum
Photo: Provided by Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum
Journey BOREALIS at Pyramid Hill

Journey BOREALIS at Pyramid Hill

Hamilton's Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum is upping the wow factor once again with its second-annual Journey BOREALIS drive-thru light display. The immersive illuminated experience includes "light art, installation art, and projection mapping," says a release. Displays include an ode to Hanukkah and a journey through a German-inspired candy cane forest (with yarn-wrapped trees), Grinch's Greenland, Bethlehem and the North Pole. This year's soundtrack will be provided by the Butler Philharmonic Orchestra with tracks sung by the Cincinnati Boychoir. Before visiting, download the Otocast app to your phone for a mapped musical experience. Nov. 19-Jan. 2, 2022. $20 per car Monday-Thursday; $25 per car Friday-Sunday; $15 per car for members; free for Hamilton residents on Tuesdays. 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, journeyborealis.com.

Christmas Glow at Land of Illusion

Land of Illusion — a haunted horror town during Halloween and a family-friendly splash zone during the summer — transforms into a drive-thru holiday light display this winter. Christmas Glow offers "over 3.8 million lights at the 2-mile long Christmas Around the World drive-thru experience," as well as a petting zoo, Christmas Village (with hot cocoa, fire pits and a 45-foot Christmas tree), Santa's workshop and a gift shop. Nov. 24-Dec. 30. $7 per person. 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, landofillusion.com.

Light Up Middletown

This "fantasy drive-thru light display in Middletown, Ohio's downtown 100 acre Smith Park" not only decks the halls with tons of glowing holiday displays, it also serves as a fundraiser for Middletown City Parks. Nov. 25-Dec. 31. Admission is by cash donation. 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown, lightupmiddletown.org.

Lumaze will transform the convention center into an indoor holiday light show. - Photo: facebook.com/lumazecincinnati
Photo: facebook.com/lumazecincinnati
Lumaze will transform the convention center into an indoor holiday light show.

Lumaze at the Duke Energy Convention Center

Holiday light viewing doesn’t have to be cold or seen through your car window. Instead, enjoy the seasonal spectacle at downtown's Duke Energy Convention Center this year. Lumaze, an “all-indoor Christmas light festival and market,” kicks off Nov. 26 and lasts through Jan. 1, 2022. Organizers say the theme for Cincinnati's inaugural Lumaze is “Glow Around the World,” where visitors will find “magnificent world landmarks” rendered in light throughout the indoor winter wonderland. Look for LED hopscotch, a fully stocked bar and 100,000 square feet of lights. Nov. 26-Jan. 1, 2022. Weekday tickets start at $22.99 for adults and $16.99 for seniors, veterans and kids ages 4-12. Prices go up on weekends. Family bundles available. 525 Elm St., Downtown, lumazelights.com.

Legendary Lights of Historic Clifton Mill

Prepare to be amazed by the dazzling lights of Clifton Mill — 4 million of them. The historic Yellow Springs mill, plus the surrounding trees, riverbank and covered bridge, will all be illuminated from bottom-to-top in colorful lights. Nov. 26-Dec. 30. $10 per person; free for 3 and under. 75 Water St., Yellow Springs, cliftonmill.com/christmas.

ChristmasTown at the Creation Museum

The Creation Museum transforms its botanical gardens into a special ChristmasTown each year. Discover thousands of lights and displays along the garden trails, as well as a live nativity, a petting zoo, an ice skating rink, a gift shop and holiday food. Nov. 26-Dec. 30. ChristmasTown is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The outdoor exhibit is free; some attractions require a ticket. 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, Kentucky, creationmuseum.org.

A glowing bird in a tree from last year's Light in the Forest - Photo: Provided by the Cincinnati Nature Center
Photo: Provided by the Cincinnati Nature Center
A glowing bird in a tree from last year's Light in the Forest

Light in the Forest at Cincinnati Nature Center

The Cincinnati Nature Center is once again doing a holiday glow-up this winter with their Light in the Forest woods walk. Now in its second year, this event takes over the grounds of the center and Rowe Woods with unique light displays and new installations "certain to capture the imaginations of all ages" from Brave Berlin (the team behind BLINK and Lumenocity), according to a release. Brave Berlin co-owners Steve McGowan and Dan Reynolds said they worked in harmony with the forest while designing their original light art. Dec. 1-Jan. 2, 2022. Light in the Forest will be closed Dec. 24 and 25. $12 adults; $7 children; $2 discount for members. 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, cincynature.org.

Light Up Oakley

This holiday display challenge transforms Oakley businesses and residences into their own mini light shows. Hosted by the Oakley Community Council, this competition awards those businesses with the best outdoor display or best window display; residences with the best traditional, best themed and the "Griswold" award; and also gives a nod to the best block/street. The public can vote for their favorites, Photos of finished displays must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 4 and winners will be announced Jan. 4, 2022. More info and registration at oakleynow.com.

Bonus: The Christmas Cave

Minford, Ohio's White Gravel Mines transform into the very unique Christmas Cave. This self-guided light display weaves through the passageways of the underground mine and tells the story of Christmas. Nov. 19-Dec. 18. $1 per person suggested donation. 4007 White Gravel McDaniel Road, Minford, Ohio, whitegravelmines.com/christmas-caves. 

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Scroll to read more Culture articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.