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Steubenville Nutcracker Village

Ohio for the Holidays

"Ohio Holiday Lights Trail" features 43 extraordinary light displays.

Steubenville Nutcracker Village

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Nov. 18, 2021) — Getting into the holiday spirit won't be hard this year, especially in Ohio, where family and friends have plenty of options for getting together to enjoy seasonal celebrations and experiences for all ages.

Ohio. Find It Here., the state's tourism division, wants to help everyone enjoy Ohio for the holidays, starting with the Ohio Holiday Lights Trail, the largest trail since its inception five years ago. This curated list of the state's most impressive light displays features 43 locations across Ohio, which means people can visit multiple displays throughout the season.

"There really is no better place than Ohio for the holidays," said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. "It's a magical experience to see so many charming towns and amazing places across the state decked out to celebrate the holiday season."

For many families, taking a drive to view holiday light displays is an annual tradition. In Ohio, there's no shortage of magnificent displays to choose from.

  • In Akron, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens presents "Deck the Hall: Lights, Cameras, Christmas." The Manor House features 25 beautifully decorated trees, a reception hall turned into a movie theater lobby, and 21 rooms each showing a different class holiday movie. Outside, more than 1 million holiday lights illuminate the gardens and grounds.
  • The historic Clifton Mill will again present "Legendary Lights," voted one of the 10 best public holiday lights displays in USA Today's 2020 Readers' Choice Awards. More than 4 million twinkling bulbs light up the mill, gorge, riverbanks, bridges and trees.
  • Now in its 10th year, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta kicks off the holiday season by illuminating its grounds with tens of thousands of twinkling lights in the shape of space-themed displays.
  • The Kings Island Winterfest, held select nights between Nov. 26 and Dec. 31, captures the spirit of the season with dazzling light displays, carriage rides, ice skating and more!
  • The city of Belpre in southeast Ohio turns its public park and other areas into a winter wonderland with lights in the shapes of poinsettias, angels, a carousel and more.
  • Conservatory Aglow transforms the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus into a wonderland of lights with stunning displays, including a musical light show.
  • Ohio has five of the country's top-rated zoos, which all boast amazing light displays:
    • Nearly the entire Akron Zoo is decorated with lights for Wild Lights, including, for the first time, the Lehner Family Foundation Wild Asia exhibit.
    • Wild Winter Lights presented by NOPEC transforms the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo into a winter wonderland with more than 1 million individual lights.
    • Columbus Zoo Wildlights, voted the second-best zoo lights in the country by the Travel Channel, features many animated lights displays set to music.
    • Cincinnati Zoo's PNC Festival of Lights was voted the best zoo lights in the country in 2020 by the readers of USA Today and by the Travel Channel.
    • Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo, presented by KeyBank, was voted the second-best zoo lights in the U.S. by the readers of USA Today and the fifth-best by the Travel Channel.

"The Toledo Zoo is thrilled to be part of the 2021 Ohio Holiday Lights Trail. This year's edition of the electrical spectacle is sure to be both merry and bright," said Shayla Moriarty, chief of staff and senior vice president of the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium. "This year's Lights Before Christmas features more than 1 million lights, 200+ illuminated animal images, an ice slide and photos ops with Santa."

More holiday attractions, destinations and events

There's plenty more to see and do in addition to the light displays. Here are some fun, unique and family friendly holiday excursions across Ohio.

  • At the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's North Pole Adventure, guests enjoy caroling, refreshments and interacting with elves as they hand-deliver their letters for Santa to the North Pole postmaster.
  • Since it first aired in 1983, A Christmas Story has become one of America's favorite holiday films, and visiting the beloved house is a holiday favorite. Located in Cleveland, A Christmas Story House & Museum is open for day visits and overnight stays.
  • Considered America's largest indoor Christmas entertainment attraction, Castle Noel in Medina features props and costumes from classic holiday movies, animated window displays from New York City department stores, a big red slide down Santa Claus Mountain and visits with Santa Claus himself.
  • From Nov. 27 to Dec. 19, a Dickens of a Christmas at the Ohio History Connection's Ohio Village allows guests to experience a 19th century Christmas celebration and interact with characters from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
  • The Ohio History Connection will also host a Kwanzaa celebration each day from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. The free event will showcase African drumming, dance, poetry, theater and storytelling.
  • The Steubenville Nutcracker Village features 180 life-size nutcrackers. Displayed throughout the historic business district, each 6-foot nutcracker is made in the woodshop of Nelson's, a small, family owned manufacturing company in Steubenville.
  • Celebrate the holidays in downtown Cincinnati with a Cincinnati Streetcar Holiday Tour. The 2 ½-hour tour on the Cincinnati Bell Connector takes guests to visit holiday attractions and enjoy festive treats.
  • Celebrate eight nights of fun at the 2021 Columbus Chanukah Festival, hosted by Chabad Columbus. The celebration kicks off with a Maccabee skydiving landing and includes menorah lightings at the Ohio Statehouse and other locations in central Ohio.
  • Take in the wonder of the season when you visit these five charming Ohio towns that go all out of the holidays.
  • Visit a tree farm to find and cut down your perfect Christmas tree — and Support Local Ohio while you're at it. Grab a cup of hot chocolate from your favorite coffee shop afterward to warm up!

Ring in the new year

The holiday fun can keep going to the very last day of 2021. Here are a couple of ideas to celebrate New Year's Eve in a special way in Ohio.

  • Join the residents of Port Clinton as they ring in the new year with the Walleye Drop. Thousands of visitors gather in the "Walleye Capital of the World" to watch a 20-foot, 600-pound, LED-lit fiberglass walleye descend from the sky at the stroke of midnight. 
  • Celebrate New Year's Eve on a train! The Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad in Nelsonville offers a two-hour train ride through southern Ohio, stopping at midnight to treat guests to a lovely fireworks display.

Share your holiday adventures on social media using #OhioForTheHolidays and #OhioFindItHere. For more holiday ideas and inspiration, follow @OhioFindItHere on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or visit Ohio.org.

Download or read a PDF version of this press release. 

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Media Contact:
Celina Fabrizio
cfabrizio@werthpr.com, 614-745-9462

About Ohio. Find It Here. Operating within the state of Ohio's Department of Development, Ohio. Find It Here. works to position Ohio as a destination of choice to enrich lives through authentic travel experiences. The Ohio. Find It Here. brand supports Ohio's multibillion-dollar tourism industry. In 2019, the tourism industry captured a record-breaking $48 billion in visitor spending and welcomed 226 million visitors into and within the state. The industry also supported 431,000 Ohio jobs. For more information, visit Ohio.org.