10 pandemic-friendly Cincinnati Christmas attractions to visit this year

There’s nothing quite like the holidays in Cincinnati. The city is literally aglow, with Christmas cheer to be found around every corner. While Christmas will look a bit different this year, there is still lots of festive fun to be had. Local attractions are taking extra measures to make sure beloved Cincinnati traditions can still happen in 2020.

Here’s a roundup of 10 pandemic-friendly Cincinnati Christmas attractions to visit this year:


Festival of Lights (pictured)

Nov. 21-Jan. 3, 2021, 1-9 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Bonus Nights: Jan. 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17

The Cincinnati Zoo will once again be transformed into a winter wonderland for the 38th annual PNC Festival of Lights. In addition to boasting 4 million LED lights, the Zoo has added a “Northern Lights” light experience, new animal lanterns and an outdoor scavenger hunt to this fan favorite. Advanced registration is required.

Journey Borealis

Holiday Lights on the Hill

Nov. 22-Jan. 5 at Pyramid Hill

Pyramid Hill is known for its holiday drive-thru light display that’s perfect for social distancing. This year’s event runs Nov. 22 through Jan. 5 and features a creative collaboration between Brave Berlin and Pyramid Hill — the former being responsible for Cincinnati’s epic BLINK event.

Holiday in Lights

Open nightly from Nov. 21-Jan. 2, 2021 including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours are 6-9 pm Sunday-Thursday and 5:30-10 pm Friday & Saturday 

Our charming light show is built over a mile of wooded roadway, the only drive through light show through the woods of a beautiful Hamilton County park! The holiday themed displays showcase everything from Santa Claus and his elves to every animal on the ark. There’s no need to bundle up to enjoy Holiday in Lights; simply warm up the car, round up your friends, family, or a special date, and head to Sharon Woods. It’s that easy. Admission is $15 per vehicle ($45 for buses and 15 passenger vans), and you can get a $2 off coupon here. New for 2020: cash not accepted at the gate.

Holiday Junction

Open daily Nov. 13 through Jan. 3, 2021, 10 am to 4 pm

Holiday Junction opens Nov. 13!Holiday Junction, a beloved holiday tradition, will return to the Cincinnati Museum Center — albeit with some changes. To ensure guest safety, Holiday Junction’s riding train will not be pulling into station this season, but CMC has created a Holiday Scavenger Hunt in its place. The Northern Lights display, presented by ESI Electrical Contractors, serves as the perfect backdrop for family photos as wispy green lights dance behind you and snow-rimmed trees surround you. The history of the Duke Energy Holiday Trains is also told through an interactive storybook guests can flip through with just the gesture of their hand. The no-touch experience features historic photos and stories of the trains projected onto a giant storybook. And while Santa arrives Nov. 27, kids can speak with the jolly elf in the Public Landing adjacent to Holiday Junction.

Ice Skating on Fountain Square

Nov. 7-Feb. 15, 2021

This year, the ice rink will include a new experience: bumper cars on ice. The bumper cars may be driven by adults as well as children ages 7 and up, and will allow for individuals with limited physical abilities to enjoy the rink in a new way. Due to the pandemic, a maximum of 80 patrons will be permitted on the rink at once, and advanced registration is required. More info.

A Very Merry Garden Holiday

Nov. 14-Jan. 10, 2020 at Krohn Conservatory0 things you have to do in Cincinnati before the end of the year

Each year, Krohn’s holiday show is a must visit. This year, it’s called “A Very Merry Garden Holiday,” and features a floral showroom intricately designed with a special Cincinnati Christmas theme. Expect lush green foliage, beautiful red poinsettias, Christmas trees and, of course, its train displays. This year’s show runs Nov. 14 through Jan. 10 and advanced ticket purchase is encouraged.

Light Up the Fair

Open nightly beginning Nov. 13 at Boone Country Fairgrounds

Light Up the Fair is a newer holiday event that’s quickly become a cult favorite. More than half a million lights adorn a 1 1/2-mile driving path at the Boone County Fairgrounds, making this event family- and pandemic-friendly.

Scuba Santa

Nov. 27-Dec. 24 at Newport Aquarium

Starting Nov. 27 and happening every day through Dec. 24, kids can tell Scuba Santa what they want for Christmas while he swims in a tank full of sharks (talk about built-in social distancing!) Precautions will continue to make sure the aquarium is a safe place for families to visit, including limiting capacity to allow for social distancing and advance ticket or annual pass purchase.

The Lights at Clifton Mill

Nov. 27-Dec. 30

For 32 years Clifton Mill has celebrated the Christmas season in a very special way. Their light display boasts over 4 million lights illuminating the gorge, riverbanks, trees, bridges and eponymous mill. There is even a 100 foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights. This attraction is mostly outdoors, making it a pandemic friendly option for families.

Christmas Nights of Lights

Nov. 6-Jan. 9, 2020 at Coney Island

Christmas Nights of Lights will return to Coney Island this holiday season, the perfect socially distanced event for the holiday season. The 2-mile path features more than 1 million LED lights. This fun event runs Nov. 6 through Jan. 9 and is open daily from dusk until 10 pm, with extended hours on the weekends. Read more here.

2020 has been a rough year for everyone, and we could all use a little extra holiday cheer this year! Stay healthy this season while enjoying some quality time with the people you love most.


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