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.
Do you remember visiting the Lazarus department store, waiting wide-eyed to sit on Santa’s lap?
On Saturday, December 1 from 11 am – 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 cell-phone 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 take-in another time-honored seasonal attraction– the Orange Line Holiday Train in the Center for Architecture and Design.
But that’s only the beginning! Columbus Commons will be celebrating the start of the holiday season in style, with Carousel rides, face painting and hot chocolate – all for free from 11 am – 5 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 21 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.
To sweeten the deal, Fridays in December will be a little extra festive, with free hot chocolate and carousel rides on December 7, 14 and 21. Plus, you’ll catch carolers roaming around the park so you can sing along to your favorite seasonal songs as you stroll.
While you’re traversing this glowing green space, take a photo and share it on Instagram using #CCHolidayLights!
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 21, 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 second annual WinterFest at Bicentennial Park on Saturday, December 1 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>>
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.
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.