If you’re a senior living in Cincinnati, you’re probably excited that the holidays have rolled around once again and your favorite holiday traditions have returned.
Today, let’s review some of the perennial Cincinnati holiday favorites and take a look at other, unexpected events you can enjoy with your children, grandchildren and friends.
1. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens
One of the most well-known holiday events in the Tri-state for over 30 years, the PNC Festival of Lights returns to the Cincinnati Zoo Nov. 19 through Jan. 1. The festival is open Sunday through Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5-10 p.m.
During the festival, the zoo is lit up by 2.5 million brilliant LED holiday lights. Seniors and their families can enjoy shows, strolling characters, plenty of refreshments, puppet shows and, of course, many of the animal habitats.
You can ride the BB&T Toyland Express with your grandchildren, take in the Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, or grab a snack and a hot chocolate at one of the S’mores-n-More stands. And don’t forget — little ones can visit with Santa beginning at 4 p.m. every evening.
2. Sharon Woods Holiday in Lights
Another fantastic annual holiday light display occurs at Sharon Woods, part of the Great Parks of Hamilton County system.
Holiday in Lights features a mile-long, drive-through light display, depicting Christmas scenes and other kid-friendly themes. The holiday soundtrack for your viewing experience is provided by radio station Warm 98 (98.5 FM).
Holiday in Lights is open nightly from Friday, Nov. 18 to New Year’s Eve. Sunday through Thursday, the display is open 6-9 p.m; Fridays and Saturdays it’s open 5:30-10 p.m. Admission is $13 per car.
3. Fountain Square Skating Rink
The outdoor skating rink at Fountain Square is now open! Every winter, from early November to President’s Day, the rink hosts young and old for ice time and nice time.
With a concessions tent with hot and cold snacks, a full-service bar, a warm-up tent with viewing platform and ice skate rentals available on site, it’s easy to get in and skate to your heart’s content.
On Thanksgiving weekend, the hours of operation will be 9 a.m.-11 p.m. In general, until Dec. 15, the rink’s hours are:
Monday – Thursday, noon-10 p.m.
Friday, noon-11 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
After Dec. 16, through New Year’s Day, the rink is open 9 a.m.-11 p.m. every day!
4. Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt
Also making its return to Fountain Square for the holidays is the Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, an authentic German Christmas market now in its fifth consecutive year.
Come experience the Gemütlichkeit and shop for unique Christmas presents from local artisans. Enjoy traditional German holiday foods, Glühwein (hot spiced wine) and plenty of entertainment. The Christkindlmarkt’s hours are:
Friday, Nov. 25, noon-10 p.m.
Saturdays, Nov. 26 through Dec. 17, noon-10 p.m.
Sundays, Nov. 27 through Dec. 18, noon-5 p.m.
5. Krohn Conservatory Holiday Floral Show and Live Nativity
Every year, Krohn Conservatory, located in Cincinnati’s Eden Park, hosts a holiday poinsettia show and live Nativity display. This year, the floral show’s theme is A Whimsical Wonderland.
Unwrap your imagination and explore poinsettias of various wild and unexpected colors, including royal blue, brilliant orange and deep purple in addition to the traditional colors you’re used to. The show also includes a toy train display, holiday performances and special botanical displays, including pompom junipers, globe amaranths and powder puff plants.
In addition, the live Nativity display is open, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, beginning Dec. 9, right next door to the Conservatory.
6. Holiday Train Displays
One of the oldest Cincinnati holiday traditions is the annual CG&E (now Duke Energy) Holiday Train Display.
It began decades ago as a lobby display in the Cincinnati Gas & Electric building. After CG&E became part of Duke Energy and the old headquarters building was shut down, the display moved to Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.
This year, Museum Center is undergoing a much-needed renovation, so much of Union Terminal is closed and the Duke Energy Holiday Trains are not on display. But a holiday train display will be open to the public in the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, keeping the tradition alive!
And if that’s not enough to whet your model railroading appetite, EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester will host its own annual holiday train display, featuring 25,000 square feet of model trains in an enormous, detailed layout.
7. LEGO BRICKmas in Memorial Hall
A newer event sure to thrill old and young alike, BRICKmas is a tremendous, holiday-themed LEGO architecture display, hosted downtown in the newly-renovated Memorial Hall. It’s sponsored by American Legacy Tours, in partnership with 3CDC and the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana LEGO Users Group (OKILUG).
BRICKmas provides a place for LEGO lovers of all sizes to see amazing, large-scale LEGO displays. There’s an interactive area where kids can build their own LEGO creations, plus an area for writing letters to Santa.
Your admission to BRICKmas also includes admission to a holiday movie, shown in the theater at Memorial Hall. Children 3 and younger are admitted free!
There’s plenty to do for the holidays in Cincinnati.