The Winter Guide: 76 Things to Do in Cincinnati When it’s Cold Outside

If you’re looking to make merry this December, here’s a list of things to do, from ice skating and checking out light displays to drinking in igloos and catching a live reading of the 'Die Hard' script.

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click to enlarge Fountain Square's Christmas tree - Photo: Facebook.com/MyFountainSquare
Photo: Facebook.com/MyFountainSquare
Fountain Square's Christmas tree

Editor's note: This story is featured in the Nov. 30 print edition of CityBeat.

Winter is set to descend upon Cincinnati, and with it come a flurry of seasonal attractions. Many arrive with the trappings of the holidays — Santa suits, vague Christian imagery, dancing nutcrackers — while others offer an enticing alternative to sitting on your couch under a weighted blanket. So if you’re looking to make merry this December, here’s a list of things to do, from ice skating and checking out light displays to drinking in igloos and catching a live reading of the Die Hard script.

15 Light Displays

Christmas Glow at Land of Illusion — A haunted horror town during Halloween and a family-friendly splash zone during the summer, Land of Illusion transforms into a drive-through holiday light display each winter. Christmas Glow offers more than 3.8 million lights, singing penguins and reindeer, a petting zoo, carnival rides, boozy beverages in the Elf Lounge and a Christmas village with a 45-foot-tall tree. Through Dec. 30. $9 online. 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, landofillusion.com.

Coney Island’s Nights of Lights — Drive through this dazzling light display and see “more than 2 million lights synchronized to a mix of traditional and rocking holiday music,” per Coney Island. There will be a giant Christmas tree, illuminated snowflakes, light tunnels and other glowing thematic displays. Through Jan. 2. $25 Monday-Thursday and $30 Friday-Sunday for 1-8 person vehicles; $50 9-15 person vehicles; $50 16+ person vehicles. 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.

Deck the Y’alls Lightfest — The Florence Y’alls Thomas More Stadium will be overrun with holiday lights and interactive displays during Deck the Y’alls Lightfest. Guests are invited to walk directly onto the field and experience the magic of the season, complete with 2 million lights choreographed to music, multiple themed displays and several interactive elements. The centerpiece will be a whopping 50-foot animated tree. There will also be an ice rink, s’mores-friendly fire pits, holiday shopping and Friday fireworks displays. Through Jan. 1. $14-$22 adults; $10-$18 ages 4-12; $12-$18 seniors/military. Thomas More Stadium, 7950 Freedom Way, Florence, decktheyalls.com.

PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden — Voted the No. 1 zoo light display in America by readers of USA Today, the 40th-annual PNC Festival of Lights takes over the zoo with more than 4 million LED bulbs. Wander in the “Wild Wonderland” to take in twinkling displays, watch a synchronized musical light show on Swan Lake or walk under giant glowing jellyfish. There will be wintry treats available, plus hidden Fiona fairies and a 24-foot-tall Fiona nutcracker will greet visitors. Through Jan. 8. Included with zoo admission (prices vary by day). 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.

click to enlarge PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Holidays on the Farm at Winton Woods/Parky’s Farm — Great Parks of Hamilton County has replaced the Holiday in Lights drive-thru display at Sharon Woods with a new Holidays on the Farm event. Parky’s Farm will be decorated in festive lights, inviting guests to explore lit-up nature trails at Winton Woods. Activities include wagon rides, an illuminated beer garden, food trucks, caroling, holiday movie showings and a meet-and-greet with Santa. Through Dec. 23. $12 advance and $15 door adults; $10 ages 2-12; free 23 months and under. Winton Woods/Parky’s Farm, 10073 Daly Road, Greenhills, greatparks.org.

Journey Borealis at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum — The drive-through light show features over a million lights, as well as scenic holiday displays and artist installations, some of which are new this year. The park partnered with independent artists and the community to bring the show to life in new ways, including an expanded installation from the Yarn Bombers and two new displays by projection artist Doug Borntrager. Through Jan. 1. $25 carload non-members; $15 carload members; free for Hamilton residents on Tuesdays. 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, journeyborealis.com. 

Light in the Forest at the Cincinnati Nature Center — Wander the woods in this themed light display set up along the Cincinnati Nature Center’s trails. This year’s expanded attraction includes more lights, displays by local artists, live music, a decorated historic home, a bonfire and shopping. Dec. 1-Jan. 1. $12 non-member and $10 member adult; $7 non-member and $5 member child. 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, cincynature.org.

Light Up the Fair — This Northern Kentucky drive-through light display spans two miles with over a half-million dazzling lights, synchronized to music through each visitor’s car radio. Through Dec. 31. $7 per person or $25 per carload (4-8 people); free for children under 4, active military and first responders. Boone County Fairgrounds, 5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington, lightupthefair.com.

Light Up Middletown — This "fantasy drive-thru light display” in Middletown’s 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. Through Dec. 31. Cash donation. Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown, lightupmiddletown.org.

Light Up Oakley — The entire neighborhood gets in on the action during Light Up Oakley, a holiday contest that aims to set the streets aglow. Businesses and residents can enter their light displays in categories such as Best Window, Best Themed and even the coveted Griswold Award. Winners announced Jan. 3. Free to wander. Oakley, oakleynow.com/lights.

Winter Nights & River Lights at the Purple People Bridge — The Purple People Bridge will be adorned with thousands of lights, glowing yarn art and themed holiday projections this winter, all set to seasonal tunes. A 25-foot Christmas Wish Tree will help “provide gifts for individuals in need such as troubled teens, disabled individuals, and disadvantaged seniors,” per an event description. Through Jan. 8. Free admission. 1 Levee Way, Newport, purplepeoplebridge.com.

Legendary Lights of Historic Clifton Mill — For the 35th year, Clifton Mill will be decked out in dazzling lights this winter — 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. Through Dec. 30. $10 Monday-Wednesday; $15 Thursday-Sunday; free for 3 and under. 75 Water St., Yellow Springs, cliftonmill.com.

The Christmas Ranch — This winter wonderland 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. Timed tickets required. Through Dec. 23. $22 per carload; $33 oversized vans; free parking. 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow, thechristmasranch.com.

Let it Glow at Rockwern Academy — This drive-through Hanukkah display celebrates the festival of lights with glowing inflatables, handmade decor and more. There will be a special community night on Dec. 18 with hot cocoa, donuts and food for purchase. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 18-22 and Dec. 24. Free admission. 8401 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, rockwernacademy.org.

ChristmasTown at the Creation Museum — Helmed by the Answers in Genesis Christian group, the Creation Museum puts the “Christ” in Christmas as it transforms its botanical gardens into a giant holiday light display, complete with a live nativity, petting zoo, ice skating rink, gift shop and zip line. Through Dec. 30. Outdoor exhibit is free; some attractions require a ticket. 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, Kentucky, creationmuseum.org.

3 Ice Skating Rinks

Fifty West Brewing Co. — The brewery transforms into a seasonal winter wonderland with the addition of an ice skating rink. Through Feb. 27. $10 (includes skate rental). 7605 Wooster Pike, Columbia Township, fiftywestbrew.com.

Fountain Square Ice Rink — This Downtown rink offers both bumper cars and ice skating. Opt for skating only or split your time. Stop by the heated tent on-site for concessions. Through Feb. 20. $10 skating; $15 bumper cars and skating. 520 Vine St., Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

click to enlarge Fountain Square's ice skating rink is open through Feb. 20. - Photo: Provided by 3CDC
Photo: Provided by 3CDC
Fountain Square's ice skating rink is open through Feb. 20.

Summit Park Ice Rink — Skate under the colored-glass canopy at Summit this winter and enjoy a hot chocolate or boozy beverage. Check the calendar for themed nights. Through Jan. 8. $7 (includes skate rental). 4335 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, summitparkblueash.com.

6 Igloo Bars

AC Upper Deck — Get a birds eye view of the Banks from the igloos at the AC Upper Deck. Each can seat eight people and includes a heater. There is a food and drink minimum. $32 reservation fee. 135 Joe Nuxhall Way, the Banks, acupperdeck.com.

Bridgeview Igloos — Head to Bridgeview Box Park at Newport on the Levee for some cozy igloo action. Each is decked in holiday decor, with food and drinks available from Rotolo. Igloos seat up to eight people and reservations are required 48 hours in advance. Through Jan. 8. $40 per hour with a two-hour minimum. Newport on the Levee, 1 Levee Way, Newport, newportonthelevee.com.

IGLOOBAR at Braxton Brewing Co. — Keep cozy in one of 10 heated rooftop igloos, featuring a ski-resort theme. Order a butter board or beer cheese, cocktails and Braxton brews. Seats up to eight people for 2.5-hour time slots and includes a Bluetooth speaker. $35 to reserve. 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, braxtonigloo.com.

Frosthaus — Enjoy frozen cocktails, ice cream, tater tots and flatbreads in a private igloo for up to eight people. The igloo can be reserved for two or three hours, and there is a food and drink minimum. $35 to reserve, $100 tab minimum for all evening reservations. 115 Park Place, Covington, frosthauscov.com.

The View at Shires’ Garden — The rooftop deck at Shires’ Garden has brought back its igloos and special garden greenhouses for the winter. Reservations are required in advance for parties of two, four and up to eight people to snag a spot for up to two hours. Each dome has a heater and individual speakers, plus a food and drink minimum. $50 deposit. 309 Vine St., 10th Floor, Downtown, theviewatshiresgarden.com.

Vista at Lytle Park Snow Globes — The rooftop at Vista at Lytle Park will be decked out with heated “snow globes,” a.k.a. igloos, all full of themed winter decor, fir trees, ornaments and woodsy ephemera like cute critters and pinecones. Get hot chocolate, food and cocktails delivered. 311 Pike St., Downtown, vistaatlytlepark.com.

3 Tiny Trains

Celestial Holiday at Krohn Conservatory — The conservatory will be transformed into “a glowing winter wonderland surrounded by sparkling lights and shining stars,” as well as thematic winter florals. The centerpiece model train display features locomotives zipping through botanical recreations of local landmarks, utilizing material like wood and moss to make mini versions of the spectacular originals. Through Jan. 7. $10 adults; $7 ages 5-17; free for 4 and under. 1501 Eden Park Drive, Mt. Adams, cincinnati-oh.gov/cincyparks.

Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center — Holiday Junction features the 75th appearance of the wildly popular and intricate Duke Energy Holiday Trains. The display includes more than 300 toy rail cars and 60 locomotives that run on 1,000 feet of track in a wintry diorama. Guests can get a unique birds-eye view from a variety of walkways, try their hand at a garden railway scavenger hunt or wander the Brickopolis LEGO display. Through Jan. 2. $10; free 2 and under; free for members. 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org.

Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center - Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Museum Center
Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Museum Center
Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center

Holly Jolly Holidays at the Behringer-Crawford Museum — The museum is offering an expanded winter display this year, with the return of Holiday Toy Trains and the addition of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Exhibit. The show will feature Edith Head-designed costumes from the 1954 holiday classic White Christmas, along with film memorabilia. Through Jan, 8. $9 adults; $8 seniors; $5 ages 3-17; free for members. 1600 Montague Road, Covington, bcmuseum.org.

10 Onstage Events

A Christmas Carol — Charles Dickens’ feel-good Christmas favorite graces the West Side with “the most famous haunters of all.” The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future visit Ebenezer Scrooge for a whimsical musical production of a truly wonderful holiday tale that everyone should see at least once. Dec. 1-23. $31 adults; $28 seniors/students. Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glenway Ave., Covedale, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker — Cincinnati Ballet presents a true holiday classic: The Nutcracker. The enchanted dreamland comes to life once again thanks to Tchaikovsky’s treasured score and the brilliant Cincinnati Ballet company. It’s a traditional way to get into the spirit with the whole family. Dec. 15-24. Tickets start at $59. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cballet.org.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze — Acrobat Santa doesn’t need a sleigh. Holiday spirit will soar through Cincinnati in this Broadway-style production featuring contemporary circus artistry, dazzling holiday costumes and festive feats of acrobatics. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3; 1 p.m. Dec. 4. Tickets start at $33.75. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) — Cincinnati Shakespeare Company presents another season of “high-octane jollity and frivolity.” NSFW or true Santa believers, it’s a light-hearted spoof of classic Christmas tales like It’s a Wonderful Life and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that promises an evening of Santa-style belly laughs. Dec. 8-31. Tickets start at $14. Otto M. Budig Theater, 1195 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincyshakes.com.

Hip Hop Nutcracker — Hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow — the first rapper ever signed by a major label — emcees the 10th season of this reimagined version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The 130-year-old ballet has been transformed into a dance spectacle and lively holiday celebration. Characters navigate modern-day New York City and find themselves in the land of sweets. Seasonable rhymes sprinkle holiday cheer as the show makes its way to 30 cities across the country. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1. Tickets start at $30. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org.

HolidazedThe Village Players of Fort Thomas present a series of nine new plays celebrating the season. With titles like Merry Whatever, A Christmas Uncarol and Santa’s Hard Road to Ho, these original stories are merrily unique and sure to be entertaining. A “fun and funny holiday pick-me-up” performed by local talent. Dec. 2-10. $20. The Village Players of Fort Thomas, 8 N. Ft Thomas Ave., Ft. Thomas, villageplayers.org.

Live Script Reading of Die Hard — Yippee ki-yay, motherfuckers. The six-annual script reading of Die Hard comes to Woodward Theater as local comedians transform themselves into John McClane, Hans Gruber, Karl and the gang for a one-night-only, action-packed holiday event. Formal attire recommended. 6:30 p.m. doors Dec. 19. Free admission, but reserve seating in advance. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, instagram.com/gorillacinemapresents.

Million Dollar Quartet Christmas — Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash come together to perform holiday hits and classic songs with a jingle bell twist in this “heartwarming holiday rock ‘n’ roll musical.” It’ll be a hunk of burning Christmas love in this jam-packed night of holiday medleys with a jolly rock n’ roll flare. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20. Tickets start at $39. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig’s Holiday Party — This season, while the Cincinnati Playhouse hits pause on its annual production of A Christmas Carol due to venue construction, the Ghost of Christmas Past visits to usher you back to the Victorian-era holiday party of Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. Held at the Phoenix, interactive festivities include mingling with carolers and actors, arts and crafts, Victorian-era dance lessons, games, puppet shows and more, all to get you in the holiday spirit. 7 p.m. Dec. 14-17; 2 p.m. Dec. 17-18. Tickets start at $60. The Phoenix, 812 Race St., Downtown, cincyplay.com.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Jr. — A spirited adaptation of classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Holly Jolly Christmas, this play glitters with stars like Santa Claus, Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius and one jolly giant who is possibly the most exciting of them all: the Abominable Snow Monster. A perfect expression of holiday magic for children. Public performances Dec. 10-18. Tickets start at $37.25. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, thechildrenstheatre.com.

– Katie Griffith

click to enlarge Cincinnati Ballet presents a true holiday classic: The Nutcracker. The enchanted dreamland comes to life once again thanks to Tchaikovsky’s treasured score and the brilliant Cincinnati Ballet company. - Photo: Cincinnati Ballet
Photo: Cincinnati Ballet
Cincinnati Ballet presents a true holiday classic: The Nutcracker. The enchanted dreamland comes to life once again thanks to Tchaikovsky’s treasured score and the brilliant Cincinnati Ballet company.

10 Holiday Concerts

Acoustic Christmas with Over the Rhine — Local folk rockers Over the Rhine bring their annual Christmas concert to Memorial Hall. 8 p.m. Dec. 16-17; 4 p.m. Dec. 18. $44-$74. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, memorialhallotr.com.

A Boy Band Christmas — It may be cold outside, but it’s about to be 98 degrees inside Hard Rock Casino for A Boy Band Christmas. This holiday concert features all your favorites from the 1990s: Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffree and Jeff Timmons of Cincinnati’s hometown harmonizers 98 Degrees; members of All-4-One and O-Town; and Ryan Cabrera. 8 p.m. Dec. 17. Tickets start at $74. Hard Rock Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Downtown, hardrockcasinocincinnati.com.

A Very Motherfolk Christmas — Local indie group Motherfolk presents their annual Christmas show. 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17. $20. Bogart’s, 2621 Vine St., Corryville, livenation.com.

Christmas with No Promises — Local a cappella ensemble No Promises hosts multiple holiday shows featuring tunes from the likes of Pentatonix, Gordon Lightfoot and Andy Williams. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 ($25) at the Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, thecarnegie.com. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 (free) at Community of the Good Shepherd, 8815 E. Kemper Road, Montgomery, nopromisesvocalband.com. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 (free) at St. Columban Parish, 894 Oakland Road, Loveland, nopromisesvocalband.com. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 ($25) at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre, 801 Matson Place, Price Hill, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer — Music Hall’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ comes to life with holiday classics and vocal performances from the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus. Dancers from the Cincinnati Ballet’s academy will also perform pieces from The Nutcracker. 7 p.m. Dec. 9. $32; $27 students/seniors. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatiarts.org.

Holiday Pops — John Morris Russell conducts the Cincinnati Pops, with additional appearances by the Annie Moses Band and local high school ensembles, in a program of winter and holiday hits. 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11. Tickets start at $26.  Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas — Listen to the sound of Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas classics, plus songs by founder and leader Chip Davis. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26. Tickets start at $31.50. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Santamania 2022 — The self-described “annual wild-ass holly jolly Jingle Ball” is back at the Mockbee with all of Cincinnati’s best underground bands on three different stages. Acts include Tweens, Leggy, Vacation, Fruit LoOops, Blood Chill and more, including a handful of acts from Lexington, Philadelphia and Columbus. 6 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17. $10, The Mockbee, 2260 Central Parkway, Brighton, facebook.com/themockbee.

The Christmas Schmidtacular with Mandy Gaines — The jazzy Steve Schmidt Trio plays seasonal songs with Mandy Gaines. 7-8:15 p.m. and 9-10:15 p.m. Dec. 15. $10-$40. Caffe Vivace, 975 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, caffevivace.com.

Maurice Mattei & The Tempers Christmas Show — Local musical storyteller and singer/songwriter Mattei presents his Christmas show with his band the Tempers. 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Free admission. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, southgatehouse.com.

7 Shopping Pop-Ups

Art on Vine — Art on Vine offers two pre-holiday shopping ops at Rhinegeist. Browse goods from more than 80 local artisans and crafters. Noon-7 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, artonvinecincy.com.

The City Flea — The flea’s holiday market takes place over the course of two days, with one night session and one during daylight hours to double the charm and double the chance to snag some gifts. 4-9 p.m. with an 11 a.m.-4 p.m. early-bird market Dec. 17; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 18. Free admission. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, thecityflea.com.

Fern Holiday Market — More than a dozen local makers will be taking over the Fern College Hill location, including Baqette, Four Eyes Ceramics, Prospect Jam Co. and Una Floral. Local artists will create custom portraits, and Kiki, Mom ‘n ‘em and Goosefoot Cook & Grow will offer concessions. Noon-5 p.m. Dec. 4. Free admission. 6040 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, fern-shop.com.

Holiday Market at Findlay Market — Farmers, makers and crafters head to the market for a two-day seasonal celebration. There will be gifts, seasonal cocktails and tree sales, which include a commemorative ornament from Lucca. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 3; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 4. Free admission. 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, findlaymarket.org.

Market Bleu — Shop local artist-made goods while taking in the marvel that is the Contemporary Arts Center. There will be live printmaking demonstrations, as well as live painting and live textile dyeing. 6-10 p.m. Dec. 3. Free admission. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, marketbleu.com.

Wave Pool Holiday Bazaar — This holiday bazaar is an art show and sale featuring goods from makers throughout the community. Noon-5 p.m. Dec. 10. Free admission. 2940 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, wavepoolgallery.org.

Winter Market at Washington Park — Little artisan huts are returning to the park to be filled each weekend with local vendors. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18, except during the City Flea holiday market hours (see above). Free admission. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.

22 Winter Events

A Christmas Nightmare at Dent Schoolhouse — The Halloween ghouls at Dent have been replaced by Krampus, Mrs. Claws and an evil crew of elves, bent on terrifying instead of bringing cheer. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. $30; $50 fast-pass; $60 front of line. 5963 Harrison Ave., Dent, dentschoolhouse.com.

Cincinnati SantaCon — It’s about to get sloppy. Hundreds of humans dressed in Santa outfits will be taking over Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Newport and Covington in a holiday pub crawl. There will be singing and drinking; proceeds benefit the Cure Starts Now, a nonprofit focused on cancer research. Noon-midnight Dec. 10. $10 registration fee. Check in at Hard Rock Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, ​​cincinnatisantacon.com.

Downtown Dazzle at Fountain Square — The ice rink and giant tree on Fountain Square will be complemented by Downtown Dazzle, which features Santa rappelling from a nearby skyscraper and a fireworks show to close out the night. 6-8:30 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17. Free admission. 520 Vine St., Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

Hanukkah on Fountain Square — The Mayerson JCC, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and Chabad of Southern Ohio are hosting this event on Fountain Square featuring an outdoor menorah lighting, a light show and access to the ice rink. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 21. Free admission. 520 Vine St., Downtown, mayersonjcc.org.

Holiday Display at the Taft Museum of Art — The Taft offers two holiday displays this year. The Duncanson Foyer will feature a tree, produced in collaboration with Wave Pool’s Welcome Project, featuring the work of artists Gabriela Falconi-Piedra (Ecuador), Pedro Moreno (Bolivia) and Fabiola Rodríguez Ornelas (Mexico). The 6-foot installation, titled “Vuelo Sin Fronteras/Flight Without Borders,” will be covered in paper and fabric birds, butterflies and flowers to “explore the concepts of migration, belonging, and diversity,” per the museum. The Taft will also display silver tea and coffee services and holiday decor in the dining room, authentic to the home’s 19th-century heyday. Through Jan. 8. $12 adults; $10 seniors; free children and members. 316 Pike St., Downtown, taftmuseum.org.

Holly Days at Heritage Village Museum — Heritage Village is a recreated 19th-century village and living museum. During Holly Days, go back in time and meet Charles Dickens, listen to a reading of A Christmas Carol, see homes decorated in traditional Victorian holiday decor, listen to Christmas songs, make some crafts and visit Mother Christmas. Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11. $10 adult; $5 ages 5-11; free for members and those under 4. Heritage Village Museum, Sharon Woods, 11500 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, heritagevillagecincinnati.org.

Independence Christmas Walk — The 26th-annual City of Independence Christmas Walk features a 5K, strolling Santa, craft vendors, a tree-lighting ceremony and a lighted Christmas parade. 1-9 p.m. Dec. 3. Free admission. Independence, Kentucky, facebook.com/cityofindependenceKY.

Lebanon Horse-Drawn Carriage Parade & Festival — The 33rd-annual parade and festival features two (!) processions of horse-drawn carriages, plus a whimsical festival featuring live entertainment, craft vendors, holiday activities and plenty of food in Lebanon’s quaint downtown. It’s like the setting of a Hallmark movie. Parades at 1 and 7 p.m.; festival 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 3. Free admission. Lebanon, Ohio, lebanonchamber.org.

Light Up College Hill — Downtown College Hill gets a holiday makeover with a tree lighting, train rides, live reindeer, a visit from Santa and tons of family-friendly winter activities. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8. Free admission. College Hill Business District, College Hill, chcurc.com/lightupcollegehill.

Light Up St. Bernard — St. Bernard is hosting a friendly competition. The seventh-annual event pits home against home to see which has the best holiday light display. Houses will be judged on Dec. 3 and visitors can vote by dropping canned goods in containers outside their favorite. The event genefits the St. Clement Food Pantry. 5-8 p.m. Dec. 3. Free admission. St. Bernard, searchable on Facebook.

Light Up Wyoming — Wyoming will be aglow with luminaria during this community celebration. Santa will be at the Village Green gazebo with a live reindeer display and some holiday vendors. Check out ice carvers, listen to holiday tunes or grab a snack. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 10. Free admission. Downtown Wyoming, Wyoming, jwc-wyoming.org.

Miracle at the Overlook Lodge The Shining-themed Overlook gets a holiday makeover and transforms into Miracle, a kitschy winter wonderland. There will be themed cocktails, such as the tequila-infused Grandma Got Run Over by a T-Rex (in a dinosaur mug), plus tons of over-the-top decor, including tinsel, fake trees, strands of lights and ornaments stuck in every nook and cranny. Advance tickets are required for a one-hour experience that includes a welcome shot and two drinks. Through Dec. 25. Tickets start at $35 for a seat at the bar and go up to $280 for eight people. 6083 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, thatshiningbar.com.

Mt. Adams Reindog Parade — For more than two decades, decorated pups have taken to the streets of Mt. Adams for an annual costumed Reindog Parade. This year, Santa leads the procession. 2 p.m. Dec. 10. Free to register (12:30-1:45 p.m.). The Monastery, 1055 St. Paul Place, Mt. Adams, mtadamscincy.org.

click to enlarge Mt. Adams Reindog Parade - Adam Doty
Adam Doty
Mt. Adams Reindog Parade

North Pole Express — Take a ride on the Lebanon Mason & Monroe Railroad’s North Pole Express. Hop on the vintage-style train for a journey that includes a visit with Santa and his elves, holiday lights and hot chocolate. Kids can ring a special bell and get a cookie. Through Dec. 23. $22-$50; $5 infants. 16 E. South St., Lebanon, lebanonrr.com.

OTR Raildog Parade — The 10th-annual costumed puppy parade will take dogs and their owners from Queen City Radio to Washington Park and back for some holiday cheer. Time TBD Dec. 17. Free admission. Queen City Radio, 222 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, search OTR Kennel Club on Facebook.

Pennifold’s Pub Holiday Magic — The Pennifold’s Pub pop-up brings Christmas to the Wizarding World with a themed drinking experience. Cocktails include a warm butterscotch ale, like Harry Potter’s Butterbeer, and a Pumpkin Delight with whiskey. Kids are welcome until 9 p.m. Through Dec. 31. $5 bar seat; $10 table for two; $20 table for four. Cosmic Gorilla, 1834 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, pennifoldspub.com.

Scuba Santa at Newport Aquarium — The man in red goes underwater in this annual holiday display at the aquarium. Back for the 20th year, Santa will greet fans and listen to wishes while elves and sand tiger sharks keep him company. Through Dec. 24. Tickets start at $29.99 adult and $14.99 child. 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, newportaquarium.com.

Servatii Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt — The Servatii Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt aims to bring some European flair and holiday traditions to the Banks, with warm glühwein (spiced wine), food, and items like authentic cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers, ornaments, candy and more for sale. Visitors can also create personalized Christmas stockings and ornaments. There will also be entertainment throughout the season, plus rentable igloos. Through Dec. 31. Schmidlapp Event Lawn, Smale Riverfront Park, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, cincinnatichristkindlmarkt.com.

Shillito’s Elves at the Foundry — The famous Shillito’s Elves will be on display at the Foundry near Fountain Square. The decades-old elves first got their start in the storefront window of Cincinnati’s first department store, Shillito’s, in the 1950s. The mechanized figures depict various Christmas scenes, like the elves building toys in Santa’s workshop and sorting mail to Santa. Through Jan. 3. Free to see. The Foundry, 505 Vine St., Downtown, downtowncincinnati.com/elves.

Sippin’ Santa at Tiki Tiki Bang Bang —Old Saint Nick is feeling the mele kalikimaka spirit at Tiki Tiki Bang Bang. The Sippin’ Santa pop-up goes tropical for the holidays with island decor and rum cocktails. Free admission, no tickets required. 965 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, discoveryrumclub.com/sippin-santa.

WinterFest at Kings Island — Nostalgia descends on Kings Island for WinterFest, a nighttime holiday experience featuring ice skating under the theme park’s version of the Eiffel Tower, millions of lights, live carolers, a Wonderland Parade, shopping, crafts and plenty of food. Through Dec. 31. Tickets start at $29.99. 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, visitkingsisland.com.

Winter Solstice Celebration at Fibonacci Brewing Co. — This nanobrewery is celebrating the return of the sun and marks the end of the longest night of the year. Noon-11 p.m. Dec. 17. Fibonacci Brewing Company, 1445 Compton Road, Mt. Healthy, fibbrew.com.


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