Antique Christmas at the Taft Museum of Art
The Taft’s annual display of antique ornaments, decorations and toys preserves the holiday season in time. This year, the exhibit features a collection of early German nutcrackers, a miniature log cabin, a clockwork Santa and decorated feather trees, which were used as the first artificial Christmas trees. Through Jan. 8. $12 adults; $10 seniors and children 6-18. Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Downtown, taftmuseum.org.
CAC Makerspace: Holiday Party Kitchen Chemist
Learn how to turn a cocktail party into a science experiment at this chemistry- and holiday-themed class. Demonstrations include a menu of appetizers, drinks and sweets in addition to tastings and limited participation. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 7. $4; free for members. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org.
The Tree of Life at the Cincinnati Art Museum
Artist Matt Kotlarczyk has turned a crabapple tree into a sculpture onto which visitors are encouraged to hang wishes for the New Year. A holiday tradition at the museum since 2013. Through Jan. 8. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
A Whimsical Wonderland at Krohn Conservatory
Royal blue, vibrant orange and deep purple poinsettias dot the conservatory in addition to pompom junipers, powder puff plants, various tropical flowers and the Krohn’s traditional garden railway display. Through Jan. 8. $7 adults; $4 kids; free children 4 and under. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.com.
Christmas at EnterTRAINment Junction
EnterTRAINment Junction takes you on a journey to the North Pole to see the elves making their toys in the workshop and the reindeer frolicking in the snow. And don’t forget to visit Mrs. Claus baking cookies and Santa in his study. Interactive displays delight and full Christmas décor adorn the largest train display in the world. Through Jan. 3. $16.95. EnterTRAINment Junction, 7379 Squire Court, West Chester, entertrainmentjunction.com.
Christmas Town at the Creation Museum
The Creation Museum gives Christmas back to Christ with a free holiday display featuring an outdoor colored light display, a live nativity, hot chocolate, hot dogs and some stuff about Jesus. 5-8 p.m. Dec. 16-23 and Dec. 26-30. Free admission. The Creation Museum, 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, Ky., creationmuseum.org.
Holiday Hayride at Sandyland Acres
Halloween favorite Sandyland Acres goes from fearful to festive during the holiday season. Bring a blanket along for a wagon ride through light displays and winter scenes and stick around to take photos with Santa. Through Dec. 31. $10 adults; $5 kids. Sandyland Acres, 4172 Belleview Road, Petersburg, Ky., sandylandacres.com.
Holiday Toy Trains at Behringer-Crawford Museum
This event celebrates 25 years of holiday cheer this season. Polar Express readings and other special events aid in the jubilation of Christmas and the New Year. Through Jan. 15. $9 adults; $5 Kids. Behringer-Crawford Museum, 1600 Montague Road, Covington, Ky., bcmuseum.org.
Santa’s Workshop featuring The Shillito’s Elves
The Shillito’s Elves return to Santa’s Workshop in preparation for Christmas. Walk through 12 animated displays and stop by the elves’ giant mailbox to mail in your letter to Santa. Originating in the Shillito’s Department Store display in the 1970s, the animated elves were crafted by hand by company employees and were displayed by Shillito’s every season. Through Dec. 31. $4. 6940 Madisonville Road, Mariemont, thesantaworkshop.com.
Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa at Newport Aquarium
The man in red is back in the water at the Newport Aquarium for the popular holiday exhibit, Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa. Santa exchanges reindeer for sea creatures in Shark Ray Bay, where magic bubbles and lights dance to holiday tunes as a submerged Santa interacts with visitors and floats around from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Kids can also drop letters in his mailbox in Penguin Palooza, home to one of the most diverse cold-weather penguin collections in the country. Through Dec. 31. $23.99 adults; $15.99 children. Newport Aquarium, 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com/scubasanta.
Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island
Take a 2-mile car ride through this brand-new light display at Coney Island. More than 1 million LED lights comprise twinkling trees, falling snowflakes, dancing candy canes and colorful light tunnels synchronized to familiar holiday tunes. Proceeds benefit the Salvation Army and the Ruth Lyons children’s Fund. Through Jan. 1. $6 per person; free children 3 and under. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.
Festival of Lights
The Cincinnati Zoo’s 34th-annual Festival of Lights features a momentous 2.5 million LED lights. The “Wild Wonderland” will feature a Madcap black-light puppet show and you can catch a ride on the BB&T Toyland Express. Chase fairies in Fairyland, or watch the dazzling light display on Swan Lake. Through Jan. 1. $18 adults; $12 children and seniors. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods
Festive dinosaurs, mistletoe and towering nutcrackers have transformed Sharon Woods into a winter wonderland for more than 20 years. Stay cozy in the car, dial in to WARM98 and drive through more than a mile of light displays. Through Dec. 23, stop by Santaland afterward in the Sharon Centre for baked goods, pictures with Santa, a holiday train display and performances by The Dickens Carolers. Through Dec. 31. $13 per vehicle. Sharon Woods, 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, holidayinlights.com.
Holiday Lights on the Hill
Drive through 2 miles of twinkling light displays at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum. Through Jan. 1. $20 per carload Monday-Thursday; $25 per carload Friday-Sunday; $15 members. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, pyramidhill.org.
Light Up the Levee
Head to the other side of the river and become mesmerized by a glittering light display at Newport on the Levee, where more than 1 million LED lights will dance to holiday jingles every 20 minutes. Through Jan. 1. Free. Newport on the Levee, 1 Levee Way, Newport, Ky., newportonthelevee.com.
Luminaria: Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory
As the neighborhood lights up the streets, the Cincinnati Observatory will open its building and telescopes to the general public. Enjoy hot drinks, caroling and stargazing at this Mount Lookout tradition. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Free. Cincinnati Observatory, 3489 Observatory Place, Mount Lookout, cincinnatiobservatory.org.
A Franciscan Christmas
Saint Francis Seraph Church hosts its beautiful annual urban live nativity event, featuring a courtyard full of goats, sheep, donkeys and the Holy Family at the corner of Liberty and Vine streets. The festivities continue into the Christian Moerlein Event Center, where the “Christmas Creche” display features nativity scenes from around the world, a Dickens Christmas village, model trains, decorated trees, a large Santa Claus display and food and drink from the neighboring Moerlein Taproom. Through Jan. 1. Free admission. Saint Francis Seraph Church, 1615 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, stanthony.org.
Art on Vine
Head to Rhinegeist to buy holiday gifts, fine art and handmade goods from more than 60 local artists. Noon-7 p.m. Dec. 11. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, artonvinecincy.com.
The Beach Waterpark transforms into Beach Mountain, offering snow tubing for the whole family. Tubes provided. Through Feb. 26. $16.99; group tickets available. Beach Mountain, 2590 Waterpark Drive, Mason, thebeachmountain.com.
The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival
This medieval tradition returns to Christ Church Cathedral for the 77th year. The procession and pageant features costumed characters — lords, ladies, cooks, hunters, knights and more — caroling and ceremonial dishes like mince pie, plum pudding and a roasted boar’s head. 2 (dress rehearsal) and 5 p.m. Dec. 31; 2:30 and 5 p.m. Jan. 1. Free but tickets required. Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., Downtown, boarsheadfestival.com.
BRICKmas at Memorial Hall
LEGO bricks have been transformed into helicopters, train sets, mini movie theaters, medieval castles, the Batmobile and plenty of holiday-themed displays inside the newly renovated Memorial Hall. Kids can make their own masterpieces, write letters to Santa or catch a special screening of a favorite holiday film like The Santa Clause, Polar Express and Elf. Through Dec. 30. $10; free kids 3 and under. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, brickmas.com.
Christmas Eve Cruise
Take a family-friendly cruise down the Ohio River before Santa makes his way down your chimney. Event includes views and a buffet dinner. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 24. $50 adults; $30 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.
Christmas with Over the Rhine
Favorite Folk/Americana duo Over the Rhine puts a spin on holiday classics with help from the Cincinnati Pops. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20. Tickets start at $25. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.
The ninth-annual SantaCon invites anyone and everyone 21 and older to put on a Santa suit (or related Christmas character costume — Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, Buddy the Elf, etc.) and participate in a holly, jolly pub crawl through the city. The party kicks off at JACK Casino and heads to the North Pole (aka Mount Adams) via sleigh (aka shuttle).Noon-midnight Dec. 10. Free to participate; donations to The Cure Starts Now encouraged. Leaves from JACK Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, cincinnatisantacon.com.
The City Flea Holiday Market
The City Flea transforms into a magical night market for their annual Holiday Market at Washington Park. Find holiday gifts from local makers, plus hot chocolate, cheer and festival lights. 5-10 p.m. Dec. 17. Free admission. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, thecityflea.com.
The Comet Bluegrass All Stars Christmas Concert
The All Stars perform their annual Christmas concert. 7-9 p.m. Dec. 17. $20 advance; $25 day of. Baker Hunt, 620 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., bakerhunt.org.
Local German culture group Cincideutsch hosts its fifth-annual Christkindlmarkt Christmas market on Fountain Square. An homage to the traditional European holiday markets — charming outdoor craft fairs with wooden stands, old-world sweets and tons of handmade gifts — the Cincinnati version is as close as you can get to Bavaria without the air fare. Expect a range of vendors selling locally made goods, German food and, of course, traditional gluhwein (hot spiced wine). Weekends through Dec. 18. Free admission. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, cincideutsch.com.
Ice Rink at Fountain Square
Spend the day in the heart of the city at Fountain Square’s ice rink. All levels of skaters, from novice to expert, can enjoy the outdoor rink with on site skate rental (or feel free to bring your own). Santa skates with the public on weekends. Through Feb. 18. $6; $4 skate rental. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.
A Krampus Carol
Join Cincinnati Museum Center at the Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom for an adults-only exploration of everyone’s favorite terrifying holiday creep, Krampus. Celebrate Cincinnati’s rich German heritage by learning about the folklore behind Bavarian Christmas kidnapper Krampus, the half-goat demon who punishes children on the naughty list. Event includes music, holiday crafts, a free screen-printing demo (bring a blank T-shirt) and tours of the brewery. 7 p.m. Dec. 8. $10 Museum Center members; $15 non-members. Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, cincymuseum.org/programs/curiocity.
Hosted by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, this party invites all Jewish YPs to mix, mingle and ditch the ho-ho-ho. Evening events include drink specials and door prizes. 8:30 p.m.-midnight Dec. 24. Free admission. Ivy Cincinnati, 645 Walnut St., Downtown, jewishcincinnati.org.
Let it Snow Laser Light Show at Drake Planetarium
Nothing says “happy holidays” like an immersive audiovisual experience. The Drake Planetarium’s “Let it Snow” features thematic animation, laser imagery and special effects set to a variety of festive classics, including tunes from Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry and a stunning finale from The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. 6-7 p.m. Dec 10, 30 and 31; 2-3 p.m. Dec. 11. $8. Drake Planetarium, Norwood High School, 2020 Sherman Ave., Norwood, drakeplanetarium.org.
The North Pole Express
LM&M Railroad presents a jolly good time with Santa aboard the North Pole Express. Guests can snack on cookies and hot chocolate while they wait for the train to take them to a winter wonderland. During the hour-long journey, Santa and his elves will make their way through the locomotive to spend time with each family, and every good boy and girl will receive a magic bell. Weekends through Dec. 24. $22 adults; $18 kids. LM&M Railroad, 127 S. Mechanic Road, Lebanon, lebanonrr.com.
The Nutcracker with the Cincinnati Ballet
The favorite Cincinnati holiday tradition returns as the ballet’s professional dancers perform sparkling choreography to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, played live by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Magic ensues as Clara and her Nutcracker prince explore the Land of Sweets with Sugar Plum Fairies, mischievous mice and brave toy soldiers. Dec. 9-18. $32-$100. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cballet.org.
Old National Victorian Holiday Village
Ohio National Financial Services presents its 15th-annual Victorian Holiday Village. On the ground of its corporate headquarters, this memorable outdoor event features thousands of twinkling lights, miniature-sized Victorian-style homes and buildings, free cocoa and cookies and a complimentary photo with Saint Nick himself. The event is free and open to the public, but guests are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item to be donated to the Freestore Foodbank. 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9. Free. Ohio National Financial Services, One Financial Way, Montgomery, ohionational.com.
The O.F.F. Winter Market
The Oakley Fancy Flea has everything you need to wrap up your holiday shopping. Oakley’s monthly neighborhood marketplace brings its holiday installment indoors to the 20th Century Theater, featuring unique items and decor from artists and small businesses across the region. Bonus: Brunch and booze will be available onsite. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 11. Free admission. The 20th Century Theater, 2890 Madison Road, Oakley, theoffmarket.org.
Scandinavian Society Lucia Festival and Procession
If you love IKEA, you’ll love this traditional Santa Lucia procession hosted by the Scandinavian Society, followed by a Scandinavian buffet of meats, cheeses, condiments and glogg. 5-8 p.m. Dec. 11. $20. Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church, 5125 Drake Road, Indian Hill, scandinaviansoc.org.
The Snowman with the Cincinnati Pops
The Cincinnati Pops perform Howard Blake’s heartwarming score to the animated classic The Snowman, live, while the film screens over the stage at the Taft Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23. $15-$20. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, cincinnatisymphony.org.
Straight No Chaser — I’ll Have Another… 20th Anniversary Tour
Male A Cappella group Straight No Chaser celebrates its 20th anniversary with a tour behind its new Christmas album. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20. $39.50-$69.50. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.
Tacky for a Cause at Braxton
Put on your best hideous holiday sweater and get ready to drink and dance for a cause. A portion of every Storm Golden Cream Ale purchased will go to benefit the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. 6 p.m. Dec. 10. Free admission. Braxton Brewing Company, 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, Ky., braxtonbrewing.com.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings its fan-favorite The Ghosts of Christmas Eve to the U.S. Bank Arena stage. The Rock opera follows the tale of a runaway teen who breaks into a Vaudeville theater to escape the cold, only to find the building’s spirits coming to life around her, offering advice through song (and elaborate laser light displays). 4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 21. $39.50-$75. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, usbankarena.com.
Parades and Tours
Mount Adams Reindog Parade
If you have some pent up creativity and a canine BFF, register your furry friend for the Reindog Parade, a procession through the streets of Mount Adams led by Santa himself. Costume categories include small dogs, large dogs, dog and owner look alike and multiple dogs. Judges are looking for creativity and hilarity. Spectators are welcome. Registration begins at noon. Donations go to support the SPCA. Parade begins at 2 p.m. Dec. 10. Free admission. The Monastery, 1055 Saint Paul Place, Mount Adams, spcacincinnati.org.
OTR Rail Dog Parade
The OTR Kennel Club hosts the fourth-annual Rail Dog Parade, from Washington Park to Queen City Radio. Dress your furry friends in all their holiday finery and walk the streetcar line from the park to the bar. 4:30-7 p.m. Dec. 10. Free. Begins at Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, searchable on Facebook.
OTR Holiday Home Tour
Enjoy peering inside other people’s homes without being arrested? Especially when they’re decorated for the holidays? Well, weirdo, this is your event. The 90-minute self-guided OTR Holiday Home Tour takes guests through restored urban homes, charmingly decorated for Christmas. Benefits the Future Leaders of OTR. Hourly 3-8 p.m. Dec. 10. $25. Leaves from Future Leaders of OTR, 1212 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, americanlegacytours.com.
The Pedal Wagon Polar Bear Express
A holiday-themed pub crawl. The Pedal Wagon gets cold-weather equipped with wind flaps and holiday décor for a two-hour ride featuring drink specials at two to three captain-curated stops like Queen City Radio, Igby’s, Taft’s Ale House and Arnold’s (or you can pick your own). Runs through Dec. 30. $25 per person; $295 full wagon. Leaves from HalfCut, 1126 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, pedalwagon.com.
Weekend Carriage Rides at Macy’s Celebration Station
Downtown Cincinnati dazzles on the weekends with festive decorations and celebrations, including weekend horse-drawn trolley carriage rides through the city. Noon-5 p.m. Dec. 10-11. Free. Boards at the corner of Fifth and Race streets, Downtown, downtowncincinnati.com.
New Year’s Eve
Happy Zoo Year
Ring in 2017 a few hours early at the Cincinnati Zoo. Perfect for younger party animals, a countdown to the New Year begins promptly at 8:55 p.m., topped off by a Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks display. Spend the last few hours of 2016 exploring the PNC Festival of Lights, meeting costumed characters like Baby Zoo Year and participating in a scavenger hunt. 5 p.m. Dec. 31. $18 adults; $12 children and seniors. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
Know Theatre and CityBeat’s New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Party
Break out the fedoras and feathers and get to flapping at this 1920s-themed party. Attendees can look forward to tasty appetizers, games and tons of bootlegged alcohol at this underground extravaganza. The bartenders will be serving up Manhattans, martinis and sidecars all night. And ring in 2017 with an on-the-house champagne toast. 8 p.m. Dec 31. $40 presale; $50 at the door. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, knowtheatre.com.
New Year’s Eve Blast at Fountain Square
Start 2017 off with a bang by celebrating the end of the year on the square. Dance the night away to music from DJ Tweet, grab some grub from rink-side vendors and participate in goofy games on the Fountain Square stage every half hour. Rozzi’s famous fireworks explode over downtown at midnight. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31. Free admission; $6 skate admission; $4 skate rental. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.
New Year’s Eve at Perfect North Slopes
Welcome 2017 with skiing, snowboarding and tubing until 1 a.m. Event includes party favors, a DJ, a torchlight parade and fireworks at midnight. 9:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31. $29-$52. Perfect North Slopes, 19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, Ind., perfectnorth.com.
New Year’s Eve Speakeasy at the Taft Theatre
Celebrate in style at the 1920s Taft Theatre. The Cincinnati Pops will take you back in time with swinging tunes from the ’20s and ’30s, conducted by John Morris Russell and accompanied by the Jazz band Hot Sardines. Beads, boas and Roaring Twenties regalia encouraged. 8 p.m. Dec. 31. $25-$115. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, cincinnatisymphony.org.
Rhinegeist NYE 2017
Rhinegeist is drinking in the New Year with eats from Gomez Salsa, dancing and brews. DJs Matt Joy and Will Ross will be banging party tunes all night, while Jess Lamb performs live Jazz/Soul in the Speakeasy (event room). You’re encouraged to come dressed to the nines. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 31. $20. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com.