2019 Guide To Holiday Light Displays + Light Up Events In Ohio

Light Up Your Life With These Whimsical Events All Over Ohio

a person holding holiday twinkle lights


Sarah Stager


Jan 21, 2021

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As the days shorten and the weather worsens, it can sometimes be difficult to remain upbeat, even with a good dose of holiday cheer. What better way to scare away the winter blues than with lights, and lots of them? The great state of Ohio, although it may not have the merriest weather, has many light shows for its residents to enjoy, no matter where they might live. We’ll give you an overview of when and where you can find these light up events to fight off that seasonal sadness.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Wildlights

Fun With Lights, Animals, and Santa

Lights aren’t the only thing on display at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — plenty of animals will be visible as well! Image courtesy of Coldwell Banker.

4850 Powell Rd

Powell, OH 43065

Nov. 15-Jan. 5 (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day)

Sun-Thu: 5pm-9pm

Fri-Sat: 5pm-10pm

With around 400,000 visitors annually, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Wildlights is one of Ohio’s most popular light displays, and for good reason. 3 million lights are animated to move in time to various music to create a dazzling display. Plus, this display also features animals inside heated shelters (including reindeer!), a holiday skating event, and a chance to meet Santa!

Hometown Holiday and Grand Illumination

Family-Friendly Event With Plenty of Festive Features

Though Santa is first introduced with a ride on a firetruck, he’ll eventually come down to greet all the kids. Image courtesy of Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau.

405 Public Sq

Troy, OH

Nov. 29


Attracting people from all around Miami County, the Hometown Holiday and Grand Illumination takes place in beautiful downtown Troy, featuring a visit from Santa, carriage rides, shopping, and a special holiday reading from the Mayor. Hot chocolate will be served to warm little fingers, along with other festive refreshments. Make sure that you stay for the main event: the tree lighting ceremony, which will take place at 6:45.

The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill

The Historic Landmark, But Now With Lights!

It’s even more magnificent in person, with lights spilling onto every available surface. Image courtesy of WCPO.com.

75 Water St

Clifton, OH 45316

Nov. 28-Dec. 31


On Dec. 23, 24, and 31: 6pm-8pm

Ordinarily, Clifton Mill is a picturesque sight — a historic grist mill built in 1802 that overlooks a scenic river — but during the holiday season, this site is transformed breathtaking display bursting with joyous light. Named one of the top 10 light displays in the entire country, Clifton Mill uses a whopping 4 million lights to pull off this stunning scene. The display features a synchronized musical light show, a Santa museum, a miniature village, and a live Santa who’s hard at work packing up toys.You won’t want to miss this legendary display!

PNC Festival Of Lights

The Cincinnati Zoo’s Annual Light Show

This rainbow light tunnel makes for the perfect photo op. Image courtesy of Cincinnati Refined.

3400 Vine St

Cincinnati, OH 45220

Nov. 16-Jan. 4

Sun-Thu: 5pm-9pm

Fri-Sat: 5-10pm

Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day

The PNC Festival of Lights is here to give the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Wildlights a run for their money. Both have their own perks, with the PNC Festival of Lights featuring light-up animal sculptures, the Winter Wonders Show, a ride on the Toyland Express Train, storytime with Mrs. Clause, and a chance to write Santa a letter. Plus, lots and lots of lights — around 3 million, all told.

Holiday Lights On The Hill

A Marvelous Drive-Through Display

This clever display uses the reflections of the lake to double the beauty. Image courtesy of Pyramid Sculpture Park & Museum.

1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd.

Hamilton, OH 45013

Nov. 22-Jan. 5

Mon-Thu: 6pm-9pm

Fri-Sun: 6pm-10pm

Taking place in a beautiful, expansive sculpture park, Holiday Lights on the Hill is a 2-mile drive through experience, featuring impeccably decorated trees, fascinating light sculptures, and entire scenes illustrated with lights. The park is open even on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, making it the perfect festive family destination. Even if you can’t make it during the holiday season, Pyramid Hill is worth a visit during any time of year to view the sculptures, which are sprawled throughout the park’s 300+ acres.

The Scioto Mile

Celebrate The Holidays In Downtown Columbus

Columbus uses a variety of lights, whether they be small fairy lights or more far-reaching LEDs, to create the most aesthetically pleasing downtown possible. Image courtesy of Ohio Magazine.

The Scioto Mile

Columbus, OH

Nov. 21-Jan. 6

Dusk to dawn

For some free holiday fun, try walking through the winter wonderland that is The Scioto Mile. All 175 acres of this naturally beautiful string of parks is glamorized with over 250,000 lights from November 21 onward. Sit on one of the many park benches to enjoy the view, or take a gander as you pass by on Civic Center Drive (while someone else is driving, preferably).

Woodland Lights

A Winter Wonderland In The Woods

This cute walking tour may not have the highest density of lights, but it’s still sure to put you into the holiday spirit! Image courtesy of Dayton Local.

895 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd

Washington Township, OH 45459

Nov. 23-Dec. 2: Fri-Sun, 6pm-9pm

Dec 7-Dec 23: Mon-Sun, 6pm-9pm

With thousands of lights strung out over a half-mile wooded trail, Woodland Lights makes for an enchanted walk that the whole family can enjoy. In addition to this cheery light display, Woodland Lights offers carriage rides around the beautiful park with Percheron horses, a visit with Santa in a charming historic cabin, live animals (deer, silver foxes, and wild turkeys), local food trucks, and amusement rides, appropriate for both older and younger children. This is a great opportunity to experience the holidays in nature, especially for those living in nearby Dayton.

Christmas Nights Of Lights

Cincy’s Largest Synchronized Light Show

If you can’t make it to the Cincinnati Zoo, the Christmas Nights of LIghts makes for a great alternative. Image courtesy of Cincinnati USA.

6201 Kellogg Avenue

Cincinnati, OH 45230

Nov. 8-Jan. 5

Dusk-10pm (extended hours on weekends)

The Christmas Nights of LIghts display hasn’t been around for long, and it’s one of the more modern-looking light shows. Accompanied by festive music played through your car stereo, the 1 million lights jump and dance to create a stunning visual. The entire show lasts around 30 minutes, which means that there can be a bit of a lineup during the busier hours. No need to worry about the weather — Nights of Lights is open rain, shine, or snow, and you’ll be perfectly cozy and warm in your vehicle.

Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show

Four Magnificent Synchronized Light Shows On One Historic Building

A lot of thought goes into these light shows — the first one took an entire year to plan. Image courtesy of Gypsy Road Trip.

801 Wheeling Ave

Cambridge, OH 43725

Nov. 2-Jan. 1

Mon-Sun: 5:30pm-9pm

Just to give you an idea of the complication involved in the Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show, the entire display takes 364 electrical circuits, 36 animated light displays, and 30,000 lights in total to pull off. Now that’s impressive! The entire display consists of four separate shows, each eight to twelve minutes long. This doesn’t seem like much, but every two minutes of the light show originally took at least eighteen hours of work. All this hard work pays off, however, in the final product, featuring traditional holiday music as well as a more contemporary take featuring local saxophonist Gordon Hough.

Light Up Lakewood

A Free, Family-Friendly Winter Festival

Though this event of course includes plenty of cheery lights, there’s also plenty more to see and experience. mage courtesy of Patch.

Downtown Lakewood

Dec. 7


Celebrating both the holiday season and the rich culture of Lakewood, Light Up Lakewood is now entering its 13th year, and it’s more popular than ever. Shop to your heart’s content in the Holiday Market, hosted inside the Lakewood Masonic Temple, observe ice carvings while sipping on hot cocoa, enjoy live music while chowing down on food from local food trucks, or spectate one of the many events, like the holiday parade, lighting ceremony, or winter fireworks. There’s so much to see and do, you won’t know where to start!

Cleveland Public Square

A Lovely Treat In A Gorgeous Downtown Park

Cleveland’s Public Square is a nice place to hang out during any time of year, but it’s really a sight to behold when dressed up for the holidays. Image courtesy of Ed Balaun.

50 Public Sq

Cleveland, OH 44113

Famous for the part it played in the classic movie “A Christmas Story,” Cleveland now uses over 500,000 bulbs to deck out its public square for the holidays. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll and admire the city, have a  skate on the ice rink, or meet other locals getting in the holiday spirit. The square is illuminated through January 1.

Wherever you live in Ohio, you can still get a good dose of holiday cheer from twinkling lights. The days may be dark, but that doesn’t mean they have to be depressing! Winter is a time to hang out with loved ones and appreciate your community, including their light displays. Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays!

November 20, 2019
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