(From Playhouse in the Park’s annual performance of A Christmas Carol.)
Year after year, many Americans lament the commercialism of the holiday season. Yet, year after year that commercialism continues, unabated. Why?
Sometimes, the best holiday gifts are the ones that you can't wrap up in a box and a bow. Material goods are nice to have, but do they really provide your family members with lasting joy? Not as much as a memorable experience can.
There are plenty of opportunities to make memories during the holidays in Cincinnati. Instead of loading your family members up on extra presents, get them together for a few outings that they’ll remember the rest of their lives! Those memories will far outlast most of the baubles you might buy.
Today, we thought we’d take a moment to call your attention to a few of our favorite holiday experiences in Cincinnati. Try these out with your family and friends this season.
1. The Cincinnati Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker
This perennial holiday run has brought joy to seniors and children alike for decades. The Nutcracker, presented annually by the world-class Cincinnati Ballet, is an excellent entrance point for cultural appreciation.
The storyline is easy to follow. Even small children love the familiar music and fanciful costumes. The Nutcracker has created many a lifelong classical music and dance appreciator from otherwise pop culture-obsessed youth.
This year, pack your family down to the Aronoff Center downtown to enjoy gorgeous choreography, set to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score. At the time of this writing, tickets are still available for performances in the middle of December!
2. Take a ride on the North Pole Express!
Head up to Lebanon, Ohio, just 25 miles north of downtown Cincinnati, to take a ride on the Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad’s holiday-themed North Pole Express.
This year, the LM&M has reimagined and improved the North Pole Express. For the first time, you have a choice between first-class seating in the railroad’s new Milwaukee Road 3200 car, or coach seating in its restored 1930s-vintage Lackawanna coaches, which are now equipped with heaters.
During the approximately hour-long ride, Santa and his elves walk through the cars, visiting with passengers. Hot chocolate and cookies from Sweet Alexis Bakery will be available on the platform while you wait for your train; they are included in the ticket price.
Give your grandchildren the experience of riding the trains of yesteryear — and of visiting with Santa — on this memorable day trip.
3. See A Christmas Carol at Playhouse in the Park
Another yearly holiday favorite in Cincinnati, the Playhouse in the Park’s annual performance of Charles Dickens’ seminal 1843 holiday work is sure to provide your grandchildren with a lasting, fun memory.
Now in its 26th season, the iconic story will be performed through Dec. 31 in The Playhouse's Robert S. Marx Theatre. The Playhouse's version, adapted by Howard Dallin, brings Dickens' narrative to life with spectacular effects, illuminating Ebenezer Scrooge's sojourn with the three kindly Spirits of Christmas.
The cast this year features a mix of new and familiar actors. Bruce Cromer returns to fill Ebenezer Scrooge's miserly shoes for the 12th time — the longest run among the four actors who have played the role at the Playhouse.
Also returning are Craig Wesley Divino as Scrooge’s nephew Fred, Ryan Wesley Gilreath as the harried counting house clerk Bob Cratchit, Kelly Mengelkoch as Mrs. Cratchit and Gregory Procaccino as Jacob Marley. New this season are Sara Masterson as Belle and John Skelley as Young Scrooge.
A Christmas Carol is a fanciful stage experience that grandchildren and family members of all ages will readily enjoy. And, before or after, scoot just across Eden Park to the Krohn Conservatory, to take in the live outdoor Nativity scene.
Give the gift of memories this year.
Presents are great. But they wear out. They lose their usefulness or charm. Toys are eventually outgrown.
This holiday season, take your family out to enjoy one of the memorable Cincinnati holiday traditions listed above. Or, start your own holiday traditions and keep them alive through your golden years. Pass along the memories and the fun.
There’s plenty to do for the holidays in Cincinnati.