Light Up Middletown will be open Nov. 28-Dec. 31. CONTRIBUTED

30 ways to celebrate Christmas in Butler County and Greater Cincinnati

Lots of lights and beautiful trees, plus parades, plays and parties

Here’s a list of ways you can enjoy Christmas both right now and later for those Scrooges who insist on waiting.

Christmas Nights of Lights

This unique 2½-mile holiday lights drive-through combines light displays with rocking holiday music that’ll play through your car radio. Bob your heads as you cruise past dancing candy canes, glowing snowflakes, huge trees, and through a tunnel of lights. (Through Jan. 5, daily dusk-10 p.m., $6 per person and free for children 3 and younger, Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati, (513) 232-8230,

A Zinzinnati Holiday

Krohn Conservatory, home to over 3,500 plant species, has created a holiday display that pays homage to Cincinnati’s German history. Stroll through representations of historic Cincinnati buildings surrounded by poinsettias and evergreens. (Through Jan. 5, daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $7-$10, Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, 513-421-4086,

North Pole Express

Take an hour-long train ride with Santa and his elves. Santa will visit each family, and children will receive hot chocolate, a cookie, and a bell. Balloon artists will also be aboard, and families are encouraged to have their phones handy for pictures. (Nov. 16-Dec. 28, multiple departure times daily, $22-$39, Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad, 127 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon, 513-933-8022,

Christmas at EnterTRAINment Junction

The world’s largest indoor train display is commemorating the holidays with “Main Street Holiday Trains,” a special winter-themed train display. You can also “journey” to the North Pole and meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus right next door to the reindeer stables and the elves’ workshop. Make your list to Santa while Mrs. Claus serves cookies. (Nov. 16-Jan. 1, EnterTRAINment Junction, 7379 Squire Ct., West Chester, 513-898-800,

PNC Festival of Lights

Cincinnati’s premiere holiday light show is back for its 37th year, with several new features, including an immersive “Northern Lights” experience, a search for Fiona statues in Fiona’s Fairyland, holiday photos in the Hippo Hut, and more giant lanterns. Previous features such as the Madcap Puppet show, the Toyland Express train, the S’mores-n-more stands, and the Wild Lights show on Swan Lake will be returning as well. (Nov. 16-Jan. 4, 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, free with $9-$15 zoo admission, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati,

A Magical Cirque Christmas

A modern, international cirque act with a holiday twist. The acts include Yusaku-Mochizuki, the diabolo juggler seen on “America’s Got Talent,” Rachel Salzman, a Cyr wheel dancer, and the trapeze duo, Virginie Gerbeau and Zoe Sanscartier. Magician John Archer will host, and Therese Curatolo will sing holiday classics as the performers bend, balance and defy gravity. (Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., $35-$150, Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, 513-621-2787,

Christmas at Glendower

This historic Greek Revival mansion, built in 1836, will be decorated for the holidays, and you’re invited to take a tour. Themed rooms include Frosty the Snowman presiding over the library, nutcrackers in the nursery, and a Christmas wedding in the drawing room. (Nov. 22-Dec. 29, noon-4 p.m., $10, Glendower Mansion, 105 Cincinnati Ave., Lebanon, 513-932-1817,

Holiday Lights on the Hill

Every year, our favorite local sculpture museum dresses their enormous sculptures up in lights and holiday spirit. Viewing them involves a 2-mile, round-trip drive-through, so you won’t even get cold. (Nov. 22-Jan. 5, $15-$25 per carload, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, Hamilton, 513-868-8336,,)

Hamilton Welcomes the Holidays

Hamilton will usher in the holidays by closing High Street to traffic so people can shop, take carriage rides, listen to carolers and other live music, check out live reindeer, and visit with Santa. The main event is the big holiday tree lighting outside the Butler County Courthouse. (Nov. 23, 5-8 p.m., free admission, 10 High St., Hamilton, 513-860-4194)

Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony

Liberty Center will welcome the holidays with a tree lighting and holiday parade followed by visits with Santa and carriage rides around the park. (Nov. 23, 6 p.m., free admission, Liberty Center, 7100 Foundry Row, Liberty Twp., 513-644-0900,

Christmas Glow at Land of Illusion

Calling itself Southwest Ohio’s largest Christmas drive-through event, Land of Illusion’s mile-and-half cruise will blaze with three million lights, with “Christmas Around the World” as its theme. Other attractions include a gift shop, Santa’s workshop and a 45-foot Christmas tree you can ooh and aah at while warming your hands over the gas fire pits. (Nov. 25-Dec. 31, 6-10 p.m., $18-$22 per carload with $2 off if you bring a canned good, 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown,

“A Christmas Carol”

Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park produces the Dickens classic every year, using state-of-the-art stage effects to enthrall modern audiences. (Nov. 27-Dec. 29, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Cincinnati, 800-582-3208,

Light Up Middletown

This driving tour through holiday light displays features several themed areas, including a tunnel of lights, a floating sea serpent, Santa’s workshop and village, a penguin village, and more. Santa and Mrs. Claus are available every Saturday from 7-9 p.m. through Dec. 23. This display is financed purely by donation. (Nov. 28-Dec. 31, 6-10 p.m., no admission charge but donations accepted, Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve & Other Stories

The megapopular rock group that brought progressive metal to Christmas carols comes to Cincinnati ever year. This year, they’re going back to the beginning to the 1996 album that started it all, “Christmas & Other Stories.” With all-new staging and special effects, they’ll be playing iconic hits such as “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” and others. (Nov. 29, 4 p.m., 8 p.m., Heritage Bank Center, 100 Broadway St., Cincinnati, 513-421-4111,

Macy’s Light Up The Square

The main event for our New York City-style Christmas party is the lighting of the big Macy’s tree. In the meantime, enjoy live music, ice skating, food trucks, a special appearance by Santa, and a fireworks show. (Nov. 29, 6-11 p.m., free admission, Fountain Square, 520 Vine St., Cincinnati, 513-621-4400,

Holiday Sip and Paint at Pinot’s Palette

If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of painting and social drinking, and how the former excuses the latter, Pinot’s Palette is offering a series of holiday-themed events, where you can paint snowmen, penguins, a wintry sky, and other holiday scenes. (Nov. 29-Dec. 31, $35-$45, 7334 Tylers Corner Drive, West Chester, 513-457-6554,

Santa Parade

Not wasting any time, Middletown is hosting a parade of Santas two days after Thanksgiving. The parade will start at S. Broad St. and end at Manchester Ave. After the parade, visit with Santa at Governor’s Square. (Nov. 30, 4 p.m., free admission, 513-594-8801, or visit the Santa Parade Middletown Ohio for more info)

Annual German Christmas Walk

Hamilton’s historic German district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is holding its annual Christmas walk. You and your family can listen to strolling musicians in Dickensian attire, take a bell-jingling, horse-drawn carriage ride, buy roasted nuts and other treats, purchase crafts and gifts, visit Santa and live reindeer, and tour the St. Julie Billiart Church and listen to the choir. (Dec. 1, noon-5 p.m., free admission, Hamilton German District, N. 2nd St., Hamilton, visit the Walk’s Facebook page for more info).

Fairfield Parade of Lights

The city of Fairfield’s Christmas event includes a light-filled parade, a winter market, live music and entertainment from choirs and dance groups, activities, and visits with Santa. (Dec. 1, 4-7 p.m., free admission, Village Green Park, 301 Wessel Drive,

“The Mrs. Claus Show”

When the “North Pole Pox” lays everyone low, it’s up to Mrs. Claus and a few elves and other creatures to save Christmas. This family-friendly musical teaches kids about leadership, teamwork, and good will. (Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m., $5-$7, Fitton Center for the Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton, 513-863-8873,


This German Christmas market will feature authentic German crafts and gifts. As you browse, munch on German food (the giant cream puffs are popular), drink German beer, and listen to live German music. Kids can make out wish lists and drop them in Santa’s mailbox. There will be a lantern parade Friday evening. (Dec. 6-8, 6-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, free admission, Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton, 1 Riverfront Plaza, Hamilton, see Christkindlmarket Facebook page for more info)

Waynesville’s Christmas in the Village

Warren County residents (and beyond) can experience this small-town Christmas vibe while doing some holiday shopping. There’ll be 1300 luminaries sparkling the storefronts, entertainment, carriage rides, and fine places to eat when you need a break. (Dec. 6-8, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, noon-9 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, free admission, downtown Waynesville, visit Waynesville Christmas in the Village for more info).

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

A stage version of the young adult classic that you hopefully read in grade school. As a small town produces their annual Christmas pageant, the town is forced to cast the Herdmans, the most awful delinquents in history, in the most important roles of the Nativity Play. (Dec. 6-15, 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, with an additional 2 p.m. show Dec. 14, $15, Lebanon Theatre Company, 10 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon, 513-228-0932,

“The Nutcracker”

The Miami Valley Ballet Theatre will perform this classic Tchaikovsky work, combining traditional staging with modern innovation. (Dec. 6-15, 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$15, Fairfield Community Arts Center, 411 Wessel Drive, Fairfield, 513-867-5348,

“Disney’s Frozen Jr.”

This musical version of the modern classic expands on the relationship between Princesses Anna and Elsa, and how their sisterhood bond helps them overcome dangers. (Dec. 6-15, 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, $12-$15, Performing Arts Academy, 4400 Lewis St., Middletown, 513-594-7242,

Olde West Chester Christmas Walk

The awful construction on Cin-Day Road in Olde West Chester is completed at last, just in time for the district’s annual Christmas walk. Kids of all ages can get a passport to explore special stops (an elf village, a winter wonderland, and the North Pole) for a special prize. The walk will also include a petting zoo, horse-and-wagon rides, live music, shopping, kids’ games and crafts, photos with Santa, a community tree lighting, and a holiday parade. (Dec. 7, 2-8 p.m., free admission, 8992 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester, 513-777-5900,

Oxford Holiday Festival

The Oxford community’s annual Christmas party includes a craft market, a kids’ corner, live reindeer, ice skating, live music, carriage rides, Santa’s arrival by fire truck, pictures with Santa, and the official lighting of Oxford. (Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., free admission, Oxford Community Center and Uptown Parks, 513-524-8506,

“The Gifts of the Magi”

A musical version of the classic Christmas story by O.Henry. A poor married couple’s struggle to find the perfect Christmas gift for one another features one of the biggest surprise endings in literary history. (Dec. 13-21, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday with an additional 4 p.m. show on Dec. 21, $18, Middletown Lyric Theatre, 1530 Central Ave., Middletown, 513-425-7140,

Fitton Christmas Show

For the fourth straight year, Nancy James and her River City Band will perform a mix of holiday classics and contemporary favorites. (Dec. 14-15, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $29-$37, Fitton Center for Creative Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton, 513-863-8873,

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis

This year, Mannheim Steamroller is celebrating the 35th anniversary of “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas,” the multi-platinum-selling 1984 album that modernized Christmas music with its use of electronica. (Dec. 26, 7 p.m., $38.75-$78.75, Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, 513-621-2787,

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.