Ah, Cincinnati! The city that truly comes alive with the magic of Christmas, offering a sleigh-load of festive events that families like mine just can’t get enough of. From twinkling lights to cozy market stalls, there’s something about the holiday season here that feels like stepping into a snow globe.

I’ve bundled up my favorite picks for Cincinnati Christmas events that promise to sprinkle a little extra joy into your family’s holiday season. Whether you’re locals like us or visiting for the holidays, these events are sure to fill your days with laughter, warmth, and a whole lot of festive cheer. So, let’s dive into the heart of Cincinnati’s holiday spirit, shall we?

Sleigh Rides Through Fountain Square

One of my absolute favorite Cincinnati Christmas traditions is the sleigh rides through Fountain Square. There’s something undeniably magical about bundling up with loved ones, sipping on hot cocoa, and gliding through the heart of downtown Cincinnati in a horse-drawn sleigh. The crisp winter air, the sound of hooves on the pavement, and the twinkling lights all around make it an unforgettable experience.

Every year, local farmers bring their most majestic horses to draw the sleighs, decked out in festive gear, making the rides not just a mode of transport but a spectacle in itself. The rides typically start in the late afternoon, right as the sun begins to set, illuminating the square and the surrounding areas in a golden hue. This timing couldn’t be more perfect as it also coincides with the lighting of the giant Christmas tree, a moment that never fails to fill me with joy and wonder.

Detail Information
Start Location Fountain Square, Downtown Cincinnati
Duration Approximately 15-20 minutes
Cost $25 per person, kids under 5 ride free
Reservations Recommended but not required
Operating Days and Times Thursday to Sunday, 5 PM to 9 PM

Remember to dress warmly as the evening air can get quite chilly, and while blankets are provided, it’s always a good idea to come prepared. The sleigh rides are a fantastic way to see the city from a new perspective, passing by iconic buildings and beautifully decorated shop windows. It’s a cozy, intimate experience that brings families closer together, sharing in the collective excitement and anticipation of the holiday season.

For those looking to capture the moment, the sleigh drivers are more than happy to pause for photos, especially in front of the spectacularly lit Christmas tree or any of the artfully decorated storefronts. These snapshots serve as cherished reminders of the holiday spirit and familial togetherness that define the Cincinnati Christmas experience.

Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

After experiencing the whimsical sleigh rides downtown, my journey to celebrate Cincinnati Christmas events for families took me to the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. This beloved annual event has become a must-see tradition for both locals and visitors, lighting up the holidays with over three million LED lights. It’s easy to see why it’s consistently ranked as one of the top holiday lights displays in the entire country.

Walking through the zoo, I was surrounded by beautifully illuminated trees, dazzling 3D light sculptures, and sprawling light tunnels that seemed to transport me to a magical winter wonderland. The air was filled with the sounds of festive music, adding to the enchanting atmosphere. It felt as if the whole place was alive with the spirit of Christmas.

One of the highlights of the Festival of Lights, which I found especially captivating, was the Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake. The show featured a spectacular synchronized light and music performance that had everyone in awe. Kids and adults alike couldn’t help but dance along to the festive music, making for a heartwarming scene of communal joy and celebration.

Apart from the stunning light displays, there were plenty of activities to keep the family entertained. We had the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself, roast marshmallows over open fires, and enjoy a ride on the BB&T Express train through themed areas of the zoo. I also loved the fact that many of the animal exhibits remained open, offering a unique chance to see some of the zoo’s inhabitants under the twinkling lights.

Festival of Lights Details
Dates Nov 20 – Jan 9
Operating Hours 5 PM – 9 PM
Admission $15 per person
Special Features Wild Lights Show, Meet Santa, Marshmallow Roasting, BB&T Express Train Ride

For anyone planning a visit, it’s a good idea to bundle up as the evenings can get quite chilly. Also, purchasing tickets online in advance can save some time at the gate, allowing for more time to explore this winter wonderland. The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo truly embodies the spirit of the season, providing an unforgettable holiday experience for families.

Ice Rink at Fountain Square

As I delve into Cincinnati’s festive season offerings, the Ice Rink at Fountain Square stands out as a highlight of the city’s Christmas events, especially for families looking to make lasting memories. This iconic outdoor ice rink transforms the heart of Cincinnati into a winter wonderland, inviting people of all ages to lace up their skates and glide into the holiday spirit.

Open from late October through February, the ice rink offers an extended opportunity for family outings and festive gatherings. Skating under the twinkling lights with Cincinnati’s skyline as the backdrop creates a picturesque setting that feels straight out of a holiday movie.

The admission fee for the Ice Rink at Fountain Square is reasonable, making it an accessible activity for families looking to enjoy the city’s holiday charm without breaking the bank. The costs are as follows:

Age Group Admission Skate Rental
Adults $10 $5
Children $7 $5

It’s important to note that hours of operation can vary, particularly around the holidays, so I always recommend checking the latest schedule online before planning a visit. Besides skating, the square is buzzing with additional attractions and food vendors, offering everything from hot cocoa to gourmet snacks, perfect for warming up and refilling after some ice time.

Fountain Square isn’t just about skating; it’s a hub of holiday activity. Throughout the season, events like the tree lighting ceremony, free concerts, and weekend markets add layers of festive cheer, turning a simple outing into a full-blown holiday extravaganza. I’ve found that pairing an afternoon of skating with one of these events can turn a day out with the family into a cherished seasonal tradition.

Safety measures, including the use of hand sanitizing stations and the encouragement of social distancing on and off the ice, are in place to ensure that the fun is matched with responsibility. It’s this attention to detail and care for the community that makes the Ice Rink at Fountain Square not just an event, but an experience.

Victorian Holiday Village at the Taft Museum of Art

Every year, Cincinnati welcomes the holiday season with open arms, and one of the highlights for my family has always been the Victorian Holiday Village at the Taft Museum of Art. There’s something truly magical about stepping back in time and experiencing the charm of the 19th century, all while being surrounded by the glittering lights and decorations that adorn this historic setting.

The Victorian Holiday Village is an outdoor event, free to the public, making it an accessible treat for families looking to soak up some holiday cheer without breaking the bank. My little ones are always enchanted by the miniature, historically styled houses decorated to the nines with festive lights, wreaths, and ribbons. Each house features a different theme or a nod to various holiday traditions, making it a fantastic educational experience as well.

Photography with Santa, a perennial favorite, adds to the charm, allowing families to take home a snapshot of their holiday adventure. I recommend arriving early for this as the line can get quite long, but it’s worth the wait. The smile on the kids’ faces when they meet Santa in such a quaint setting is priceless.

Aside from the visual treats, the museum typically organizes activities that engage both children and adults. In past years, my family has enjoyed storytelling sessions, arts and crafts, and even holiday-themed performances. Though the activities may vary from year to year, they never fail to delight and entertain.

A notable mention is the “Holiday Art Market” held inside the museum. It’s a great place to find unique gifts crafted by local artists and artisans. From handmade jewelry to delightful holiday decorations, I’ve found some of the most memorable presents for friends and family here.

  • Event Details:
  • Location: Taft Museum of Art
  • Admission: Free
  • Dates: Typically runs through the first weekend of December

As the night draws in, the entire village glows with a warm light, creating a cozy atmosphere that’s hard to leave. The scent of hot chocolate in the air, the sound of holiday music floating from the museum, and the sight of families enjoying this simple pleasure together always fills me with a deep sense of joy.

Visit to Santa’s Village in the North Pole

When I think of the holiday season, a visit to Santa’s Village at the North Pole—right here in Cincinnati—is a must for families looking to capture the magic of Christmas. Nestled in the heart of downtown, this enchanting setup transforms a city block into a winter wonderland that seems straight out of a storybook.

As I stroll through the gates, the sights and sounds of the North Pole embrace me. The air is filled with the aroma of pine and the melodies of classic holiday tunes. It’s hard not to get swept up in the festive spirit. The village is meticulous in its detail, with snow-dusted trees lining the pathways, leading families on a journey through a glowing landscape of twinkling lights and joy.

One can’t help but admire the craftsmanship of the replica elf workshops. Each one opens up to scenes of elves busily preparing for Christmas. My kids always get a kick out of watching them work, their faces pressed against the glass, eyes wide with wonder. It’s these moments that remind me why visiting Santa’s Village has become a cherished tradition in our family.

The highlight, of course, is the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself. Situated in a cozy, lantern-lit cabin at the center of the village, Santa awaits to greet every child with a warm smile and a hearty “Ho, Ho, Ho!” I’ve snapped countless photos of my little ones perched on Santa’s knee, each visit weaving another thread into the fabric of our holiday memories.

Interactive activities around the village keep the fun going. From craft stations where kids can create their own ornaments to a miniature ice skating rink that twinkles under a canopy of lights, there’s no shortage of magic to be had. And for those looking to warm up, the hot cocoa stand offers a decadent treat, with marshmallows piled high, steaming cups of chocolatey goodness that are perfect for sipping while wandering through this festive paradise.

Every year, Santa’s Village continues to expand, adding new attractions and activities that cater to families and children of all ages. It’s become more than just a visit; it’s an experience—one that ignites the wonder of Christmas in the hearts of those who walk its snowy paths.


I’ve always believed that the magic of Christmas isn’t just in the gifts we receive but in the memories we create with our loved ones. Santa’s Village in Cincinnati captures this essence beautifully. It’s not just a place to see Santa; it’s a whole experience that wraps you up in the festive spirit. Whether you’re crafting ornaments, gliding on the ice, or just sipping hot cocoa while the snow falls around you, these moments are what the holidays are all about. So if you’re looking for a way to make this Christmas unforgettable for your family, Santa’s Village might just be the perfect destination. Trust me, the smiles and laughter you’ll share there are the kind of holiday magic that lasts a lifetime.


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