There’s no doubt Downtown Columbus is always a magical place to be, but when you sprinkle in thousands of holiday lights – it’s a sight worth seeing. We've compiled a list of Downtown destinations to help you plan your holiday hoopla, but there are even more experiences to take in throughout Downtown from the State Auto Christmas Display to the Scioto River. While you’re out and about soaking up the holiday spirit, be sure to snap a photo and tag it with #DowntownColumbus and share the merriment with others.
LAZARUS SANTA’S WORKSHOP - FREE
Saturday, December 2 | 2 pm – 5 pm
Lazarus Building Galleria 50 W Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215
No tickets needed
Plan your parking>>
Do you remember visiting the Lazarus department store, waiting wide-eyed to sit on Santa’s lap?
On Saturday, December 2 from 2 pm – 5 pm, Mr. Claus himself will be making a comeback at the very place many Columbus residents affectionately recall making seasonal expeditions to see him: The Lazarus Building.
In addition to iPhone photos with the big man in the original sleigh from the building’s former life, your little elves can kick-start the yule-tide decorating with crafts led by the OSU Urban Arts Space. Patrons can also enjoy complementary refreshments in the Center for Architecture and Design while taking in another time-honored seasonal attraction – the Orange Line Holiday Train.
Free spins on the Columbus Commons carousel will also be available from 11 am – 6 pm. Stick around until the Holiday Lights come on in the park (5 pm) to see this green space start to glow!
This classic holiday experience will take you back to the hey-day of the Lazarus department store, when the season beckoned thousands of shoppers in an era before cyber Monday.
Columbus Commons Holiday Lights Presented by AEP
Enjoy the festive lights at Columbus Commons from November 20 through January 2 from dusk until to 11 pm. Stop by after a Downtown dinner to see more than 320,000 LED lights dazzle in the park, thanks to our wonderful partnership with American Electric Power. While you’re traversing this glowing green space, take a photo and share it on Instagram using #CCHolidayLights for a chance to win a Condado gift card (see complete contest details here)! Learn more>>
Lazarus Building Holiday Display
After you’ve walked through the Commons’ holiday haven, hop across High Street to check out the displays in the Lazarus Building windows along High and Town Streets.
The Scioto Mile
Beginning November 17, The Scioto Mile will also be decked out for the holidays, thanks to a generous contribution from CDDC and The Scioto Mile Endowment, so be sure to walk over and take in the stunning view of the Scioto River sparkling with more than 250,000 lights. From Bicentennial Park in the south all the way up to Broad Street, our riverfront will be heralding the holiday season.
And you won’t want to miss the inaugural WinterFest at Bicentennial Park on Saturday, December 2 from 11 am – 4 pm. This celebration of giving will feature local and national musical acts, seasonal ales from hometown breweries and favorite dishes from Columbus food trucks. A portion of food truck and beer sales will be donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to warm your heart and fill your belly. Check out the full lineup of bands and beer>>
Holidays at COSI
COSI also has festive activities through the season including screenings of the Polar Express in the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater and a Let it Snow show in COSI’s state-of-the-art Planetarium. If that weren’t reason enough to run over the river (and through the woods) to Columbus’ #1 spot for hands-on learning, on Nov 18, Dinosaurs from the American Museum of Natural History come alive at COSI in a brand new, first-of-its kind permanent exhibit. Catch all the action>>
Polar Express (G)
December 8-10 & December 15 -17
Show times: Friday - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday - 10am and 4pm
$8 for members, $10 for nonmembers
Enjoy The Polar Express (G) in COSI’s National Geographic Giant Screen Theater with hot chocolate, cookies, and other surprises. Pajamas are welcome!
Let it Snow
December 20, 2017 – January 6, 2018: 10:30 am | 5:15 pm
$4 for members and $8 for nonmembers
"Let it Snow" features a new variety of festive classics from Frank Sinatra and Chuck Berry to Burl Ives and Brenda Lee, and includes a stunning multi-media finale by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The soundtrack is visually enhanced with thematic animation, laser imagery, special effects and all-dome scenery in the audiovisual setting of the Planetarium. Recommended for all ages.
#CCHolidayLights PHOTO CONTEST
Want to win a $25 gift card to Condado? Twenty-five people will and one of them could be you! While you’re out and about exploring the Commons’ holiday display, snap some photos and share them on Instagram using #CCHolidayLights or post them to the Columbus Commons Facebook page here and use #CCHolidayLights. They’ll be picking one fabulous photo at the start of each week to win a $25 gift card to Condado, December 6 through January 2. Learn more>>
Ready to head Downtown, but not sure where to park when you arrive? Here are a few suggested locations in close proximity to Downtown Columbus’ premier holiday experiences.
Fun fact: Parking at either of the Columbus Commons garages supports free events in the park and makes programming like Holiday Lights possible. Park here and pay it forward to enjoy everything from local bands to family fun in the new year.
Columbus Commons Main Garage (55 E. Rich St.) Parking is easy at the Columbus Commons Main Garage. Located at 55 East Rich Street, garage entrances can be found on Main and Rich Streets between High and Third Streets. View rates.
Columbus Commons Underground Garage (191 S Third) The Underground Garage is located at 191 South Third Street, with an entrance off of Third Street, between State and Rich Streets. View rates.
RiverSouth Garage (232 South Front Street) Steps away from the Scioto Mile, the RiverSouth garage is located at 232 S Front Street with an entrance on Front Street between Rich and Cherry. View rates.
In case you need a bite to eat before, during or after your downtown Holiday Lights excursion, here are a few nearby spots that may pique your interest. The downtown restaurant scene is booming so this is just a snapshot of some of the top spots to chow down in our neck of the woods, but you can check out the complete compilation of downtown eateries here.