One of the things I am most looking forward to this holiday season is taking our young daughter to see some of Ohio’s wonderful holiday lights displays. We have such a great selection to choose from across the state, and there’s no better way to get excited about the season. How many of these have you seen?
Clifton Mill. More than 3 million lights illuminate the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges at the historic Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio. Even the 100-foot waterfall sparkles with Christmas lights. The Mill was built in 1802 on the banks of the Little Miami River, and it is the largest water-powered gristmill in the country. People come from all over the United States to see the Mill during the holiday season. Located about halfway between Columbus and Dayton, the lights are turned on daily from 5 to 9:30 p.m., beginning on Thanksgiving and continuing until New Year’s Day.
Picktown Lights. One of my favorite local holiday lights displays began organically as a group of neighbors wanting a more festive neighborhood. In the Southeast Columbus suburb of Pickerington, homeowners banded together to not only light up their homes with dazzling holiday lights, but also animate and synchronize the timing of the lights to a medley of Christmas music. At last count, 23 homes were involved and visitors driving through can tune to 93.9 FM to listen to the musical accompaniment for the light show on their car stereos. The show is free, but visitors driving through are asked to bring donations of non-perishable food items for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. It runs seven days a week until New Year's from 5 p.m. - midnight.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in northern Ohio transforms itself each holiday season into a winter wonderland. For 2011, the theme is "Joys of Christmas Past." Beginning November 25, there'll be music, trees, lights, and floral decorations. Outside, the gardens will be strung with thousands of glittering lights as well as animated figures from the former O'Neil's Department Store. The museum shop will be open for holiday shopping and the cafe will serve hot chocolate, cookies, and other holiday treats. House and grounds tours are $17 for adults and free for kids five and under.
Dickens Victorian Village. From November 1 to January 8, historic downtown Cambridge, Ohio takes visitors back in time to experience a charming old-world English village. Visitors are invited to stroll amidst 60 vignettes of 180 life-sized, lifelike figures representing classic scenes from Victorian society, including Tiny Tim and groups of carolers (that actually “sing” classic carols). A light show synchronized to holiday music takes place every night at the Guernsey County Courthouse from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek. Another drive-through holiday lights display, this two-mile scenic light extravaganza just north of Columbus features over a million lights and more than 130 holiday themed light displays. For adults it may seem a bit cheesy, but for kids this is pure magic. Starting at Thanksgiving, the cost to drive through is $10 per car on weekdays or $15 per car on weekends and after December 18 – a good value if you fill your car up with kids and their friends! At the end of the drive is Santa’s Workshop, where kids can get free hot cocoa and cookies or take pictures with St. Nick for $5. All money raised goes to charity.
Lebanon Antique Horse-Drawn Carriage Parade. On December 3, experience a family holiday event that is as charming as it is unique. Each year, hundreds of horses and thousands of local residents and visitors prepare for the coming of Christmas with both afternoon and evening parades featuring enchanting holiday decorations, historic buildings, carolers, live entertainment and pictures with Santa.
Tree Lightings. Tree lightings abound during the holiday season, especially at retail centers like Easton Town Center in Columbus. The annual tree lighting celebration there is truly spectacular and takes place on November 18 this year. It’s well worth arriving early to find a place to park, a bite to eat and a good spot to stand. I don’t want to give away the big finale, but be prepared for pyrotechnics galore. Kids of all ages will ooh and ahh at the show, which includes a parade and some very special VIP guests.
I haven’t even mentioned the zoos and their awesome light displays, like Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo or the Cincinnati Zoo’s PNC Festival of Lights.
What are your family’s favorite holiday lights displays, or other great things to do and see in Ohio during the festive season?