Take a day trip to some of these fantastically festive events in Northeast Ohio and beyond.
*designates free event
First Night Akron
6 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, December 31, at various indoor events in downtown Akron. Admission: $10. Visual artists and musical performers set up shop in downtown Akron venues such as the Akron Art Museum, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, the John S. Knight Center and more to ring in the new year.
Stan Hywet Deck the Hall
5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout December and Friday, January 2, and Saturday, January 3, at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (714 N. Portage Path in Akron). Admission: $18 for adults, $8 for children and students. Tour the historic Manor House while it’s decorated to the theme of “Christmas Around the World.” Stan Hywet’s new playgarden will be transformed into Gingerbread Land for the first time.
Lock 3 Holiday Market
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December from 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays at Lock 3 Park (200 S. Main St. in Akron). Free. Unique, homemade gifts, including German-made products, hand-blown glass, food items and more are set up in this charming market village. Lock 3 also will house an ice-skating rink, sledding hill, the Magical Train and a new winter-themed putt-putt golf attraction.
Breakfast with Santa and the Animals at the Akron Zoo
9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays, December 7, 14 and 21, and Sundays, December 13 and 20, at the Akron Zoo (500 Edgewood Ave. in Akron). Cost: $15 for adults, $22 for children. Take a wilder approach to the holidays with the Akron Zoo’s special holiday event that includes feeding the penguins, live music, sugar cookie decorating and—of course—a visit from everyone’s favorite North Pole resident.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express
7 p.m. weekdays and noon and 7 p.m. weekends, Monday, December 1 through Sunday, December 21, departing from the Akron Northside Station (27 Ridge St. in Akron). Admission: $44 to $85 per person, free for guests younger than 2. Dress code: Pajamas. All aboard Akron’s own Polar Express. Enthusiastic elves read “The Polar Express” on the way to the North Pole to pick up Santa. On the way back, Mr. Claus will visit each train car to join in with a chorus of Christmas carols.
Ballet Theater of Ohio’s “The Nutcracker”
2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, December 6, and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 7, at the Akron Civic Theatre (182 S. Main St. in Akron). Admission: $22 to $46. Akron Beacon Journal readers voted the Ballet Theater of Ohio’s take on the Christmas classic No. 1 holiday show in the area. Half the fun of this event is exploring the 1929 atmospheric theater, which is one of only five remaining in the country.
Akron Symphony Holiday Pops
7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 18 at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall (198 Hill St. in Akron). Admission: $30 to $60. Conductors Christopher Wilkins, Levi Hammer and Maria Sensi Sellner join forces to bring the entire Akron Symphony family together, including the Akron Symphony Chorus, the Akron Symphony Orchestra and the Gospel Meets Symphony Choir at this first-time holiday pops concert. Associate Conductor Levi Hammer will make a special appearance in the midst of his final season with the symphony.
Hale Farm Holiday Lantern Tours
6 p.m. Saturday, December 6; Friday, December 12, through Sunday, December 14, and Friday, December 19, through Tuesday, December 23, at Hale Farm and Village (2686 Oak Hill Rd. in Bath). Admission: $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers and $12 for children. Take a lantern-lit tour of the quaint 189-year-old Hale Farm and Village, which will be delightfully decorated for the season.
*Winterfest Tree-Lighting at Public Square
Saturday, November 29, at Public Square in downtown Cleveland. Free. Cleveland’s annual holiday celebration is back for another year of seasonal spectacles, including a fireworks display and more, surrounding the ceremonial lighting of Public Square’s Christmas tree.
Great Lakes Theater: “A Christmas Carol”
showtimes at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 5, through Tuesday, December 23, at the Ohio Theatre (1511 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland). Admission: $26 to $65. Get into a Dickensian state of mind with the Great Lakes Theater’s rendition of “A Christmas Carol.”
Cleveland Botanical Garden Glow
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays, Friday, November 28, through Sunday, January 4, at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (11030 East Blvd. in Cleveland). Admission: $16 for adults, $12 for children, free for members. Returning for its third year, Glow brings all things holiday whimsy, including a gingerbread decorating station, an ice-skating rink, a train ride, a two-story Christmas tree and holiday shopping for all ages.
*Lighting Display at Nela Park
Throughout the month of December at Nela Park in East Cleveland. Free. A spectacular light display complete with thousands of LED lights, a replica of the National Christmas Tree and more is set to holiday music each year at GE Lighting World Headquarters’ Nela Park.
Cleveland Orchestra Holiday Concerts
showtimes at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 12, through Sunday, December 14, and Thursday, December 18, through Sunday, December 21, at Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland). Admission: $40 to $99. Enjoy the festive splendor of Severance Hall with this orchestral and choral concert conducted by Robert Porco.
*German Village Village Lights
6 to 10 p.m. Sunday, December 7 in German Village (S. Third St. in Columbus). Free. Delight in the old-style spirit of this charming Columbus neighborhood as it is decked out with luminarias and holiday excitement such as horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers and live holiday music for the whole family.
Winterfair at Ohio Expo Center
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, December 5, and Saturday, December 6, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, December 7, at the Ohio Expo Center’s Bricker Building (717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus). Admission: $7 for adults, free for children younger than 12. Explore an expansive selection of handcrafted items, including ceramics, wood, glass, paintings, photography, jewelry, sculpture and more at this holiday fair put on by the Ohio Designer Craftsmen.
Dickens of a Christmas
6 to 9 p.m. Friday, December 12; Saturday, December 13; Friday, December 19, and Saturday, December 20, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 21 at Ohio Village (800 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus). Admission: $12 for adults, $9 for children. Experience an authentic Victorian Christmas complete with period crafts, decorations, music, cooking exhibitions and more at this 19th-century-style holiday event.
Christmas Candlelightings at Roscoe Village
noon to 5:30 p.m. with guided lantern tours at 7 p.m. Saturdays, December 6, 13 and 20 at Historic Roscoe Village (600 N. Whitewoman St. in Coshocton). History buffs will delight in this 1880s Christmas celebration along the Ohio and Erie Canal. A special Civil War candlelighting will take place Saturday, December 6, on the Main Stage to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the last Christmas of the Civil War.
A Vintage Christmas Experience
7 p.m. Saturday, December 13, at Stage AE (400 North Shore Dr. in Pittsburgh). Admission: $75. This throwback holiday event features live entertainment from the Nitebridge Band plus relics of yesteryear (Gumby and Cabbage Patch Dolls abound at this event) for a well-rounded holiday affair inspired by the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
First Night Pittsburgh
6 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, December 31, in the Pittsburgh Cultural District. Admission: $8 in advance, $10 the night of. With 150 events at nearly 50 venues throughout Pittsburgh’s 14-block cultural district, First Night offers a host of family-friendly New Year’s Eve attractions, including Pittsburgh’s own ball drop plus a parade, live music, comedy shows, theater and dance performances and more.
*Medina Candlelight Walk
Friday, November 21, through Sunday, November 23, in Medina’s historic district. Free. Meander through 1,500 candlelit luminarias and more than two miles of architectural lights at Medina’s annual holiday celebration. The town’s Holiday Parade of Lights, a fireworks display, live music and a visit from Mr. Claus make for a jam-packed Christmas-themed weekend.
Medina County Fair Holiday Fantasy
6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays throughout December and 6 to 9 p.m. weeknights December 14 through 28 at the Medina County Fairgrounds (710 W. Smith Rd. in Medina). Admission: $7 per car, $15 per van, $50 per bus. Drive through the Medina County Fairgrounds to see a spectacular light display complete with some of your favorite characters.
Peninsula Candlelight Walk 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, December 4, throughout the village of Peninsula. Find out why “This Old House” named Peninsula one of America’s best old-house neighborhoods at this special village event. Enjoy live music, unique shopping opportunities and holiday treats amid the charm and whimsy of this quaint Northeast Ohio town.
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA:
Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights
Daily until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday until January 4, at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center (465 Lodge Dr. in Wheeling, West Virginia). Admission: A per-car donation is requested. Oglebay’s one-of-a-kind holiday lights display features more than 300 acres of LED Christmas light displays. Noteworthy attractions such as a drive-through Snowflake Tunnel and 2,000-light Polyhedron Star make this one of the world’s best holiday light shows.
Malabar Farm State Park Candlelight Holiday Tours
5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, Friday, December 5, through Sunday, December 7, and Friday, December 12, through Sunday, December 14, at Malabar Farm State Park (4050 Bromfield Rd. in Lucas). Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for children. Tour the seasonally decorated home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield and enjoy fresh-baked cookies and hot cider.
*Christmas in Ash Cave (Hocking Hills)
5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, December 13, at Hocking Hills State Park (19852 State Rt. 664 S. in Logan). Free. Take a lighted hike to the expansive Ash Cave and meet Santa, an open fire, refreshments and carolers. This is a nature-lover’s must-attend holiday event.
The Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
3 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday daily until January 4, at the Toledo Zoo (2 Hippo Way in Toledo). Admission: $11 for adults, $8 for children and senior citizens. Dancing lights, carolers and a three-lane ice slide give visitors the chance to celebrate the season with the zoo’s animals (plus live reindeer).