The 12 Best Christmas and Holiday Events in the Akron Area
Do you hear this?
It’s the sound of sleigh bells ringing, snowflakes falling softly, and the slow-burning crackle of the fire in the fireplace.
It can only mean one thing: The holiday season has officially begun in Northeast Ohio.
The area has so many traditional holiday celebrations to see and do between now and the new year that it can be a little overwhelming.
To help narrow down your choices, here’s a list of some of the most popular holiday traditions you can try in the area before time runs out.
Wild lights at the Akron Zoo
The Akron Zoo will come alive with nighttime lights and displays this holiday season.
Oh yeah, and the zoo residents will be there too.
The Zoo will be open on select evenings during the holidays. The scheduled dates for Wild Lights are November 24-29, December 1-3, 8-10, 15-23, 26-29.
More information: The Akron Zoo sets dates and times for its holiday Wild Lights celebrations
Hours are 5-9 p.m., and the event is sponsored by Akron Children’s Hospital.
Discounted tickets for the zoo’s Wild Lights can be purchased in advance at akronzoo.org/wild-lights. Advance tickets cost $15 for adults, $11 for children, and $3 for parking and shuttle fees. This year, tickets are also available at the gate. Prices are $18 for adults, $14 for children, and a $5 parking and shuttle fee. Children 2 and under are free.
Wild Winter Lights at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
More than 1 million lights will light up the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo this holiday season.
Holiday-themed displays on the zoo grounds include the Enchanted Forest and Santa’s Workshop, where guests can take photos with Santa Claus.
There will also be two dynamic light displays – a first for the event – including a 50-foot tree and a display on Waterfowl Lake.
Visitors have the option to walk through the displays or drive through on select dates during the Wild Winter Lights Drive Through Experience, supported by community partners CrossCountry Mortgage, Meijer, MetroHealth and Serpentini Chevrolet.
Training dates are November 16-19, 22, 24-26, 30, and 1-3, 7-10, 14-23, and December 26-29. Drive dates are November 14-15, 21, 28-29, and December 5-6, 11-13.
Hours are 5:30-10:30 p.m., and this event is presented by NOPEC. Single and four-way ticket sets are available for purchase. For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com.
Holiday music concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the nation’s finest orchestras and presents a series of holiday concerts each season in the Severance Music Center’s Mandel Concert Hall.
This year, its holiday concerts will include the Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus, the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, the College of Wooster Chorus, and the Cleveland State University Chorus on select dates. All concert dates are December 13-17 and 21-23. The price of a single ticket starts at $49. More information at clevelandorchestra.com.
The Christmas Queen is coming to town: Mariah Carey is on vacation tour in Cleveland
Skiing in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls
Nothing says happy vacation like ice skating while drinking a tall cup of hot chocolate.
The Cuyahoga Falls Ice Rink will open for skating on November 25. Admission is free and skate rental is $5.
Visit cityofcf.com/places/ice-skating-rink for full ice skating hours and more information.
And in Akron, Huntington Ice Rink, billed as Ohio’s largest outdoor seasonal rink, returns to downtown Akron the day after Thanksgiving.
Ice skating in Akron: WinterBlast brings ice skating, bumper cars on ice, Santa and more to downtown Akron
The rink has been moved to the area between the State Street Bridge and Canal Park Stadium temporarily due to construction at Lock 3 Park.
Ice skating hours are 11am-9pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11am-11pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am-6pm Sundays from November 24th to February 19th.
Ice skating costs $5 and includes rental or $3 if you bring your own skates.
For more information or to make reservations for other attractions, visit lock3live.com.
Pop-up Holiday Bars in Greater Akron, Cleveland
Raise a cup of holiday cheer at one of the many pop-up holiday bars that appear annually in Northeast Ohio.
The key word is “festive” when it comes to holiday decor and specialty drinks created by local bars and restaurants. Here are the bright and cheerful spots from years past to check out this season.
- Christmas Corner Bar; 18616 Detroit Blvd., Lakewood
- Miracle on Fourth Street In the community hall; 2063 E. Fourth Street, Cleveland
- Pop-up Christmas Vacation at Tiki Underground; 1832 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls
- Blitzen pop-up bar at Hudson’s Restaurant; 80 n. Main Street, Hudson
- Winter Wonderland PLX pop-up bar on The Upper Deck; 357 Turkeyfoot Lake Road, Akron
- Reindeer Room in the President’s Lounge; 341 Darrow Road, Akron
Welcome Santa Parade to Akron
The 36th Annual Santa’s Welcome Parade will be held on November 24 in downtown Akron. For the second time in the show’s 36-year history, it will be held at night, kicking off at 6 p.m
This is a lighted holiday Santa welcome parade, featuring community groups, arts and cultural organizations, marching bands, drum lines and businesses participating with lighted floats, vehicles and costumes.
The parade will start on South Main Street at Cedar Street and travel north for a half-mile on South Main Street, ending at Bowery Street. Immediately following the parade, the city will host its annual tree lighting ceremony and fireworks at Lock 3, sponsored by the Downtown Akron Partnership.
Nativity scenes in Akron
Akron is home to one of only two replicas in the country that recreates the cave in which Jesus is said to have been born exactly as it appears in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The Nativity of Jesus Catholic Church on Myersville Road is home to Bethlehem Cave as well as the Nativity Museum, which houses more than 500 nativity scenes from around the world.
The cave and museum in Springfield Township is open for tours by appointment. You can call 330-699-5086 or email Tours@nativityofthelord.org to schedule a visit.
Visit the largest Christmas museum in America in Medina
A museum filled with Christmas movie props and a collection of iconic holiday display windows from New York department stores has called Medina home for the past 11 years.
Last year, Castle Noel added the “Enchanted I Had That Toyland Experience” to its collection to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The exhibit features rare and not-so-rare toys, and many of the toys come to life – from a Furby and spaceships to a toy or two.
Christmas Museum in Medina: It’s Christmas 365 days a year at Medina’s Noel Castle
With a little help from Hollywood, the museum has a complete set from NBC’s holiday special “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas,” as well as some props and one of the Buddy puppets used in the production.
Not quite Christmas enough for you? It also features the giant Naughty or Nice globe from the Santa Clause movies next to the giant sleigh that Jim Carrey rode in the movie “The Grinch.”
The museum is very popular this time of year, so it’s best to check their website castelnoel.com to see where tours are available.
Akron’s historic Stan Hewitt hosts Deck the Halls
Stan Hewitt Hall and Gardens is a popular destination in Akron during the holidays.
The Manor House, Ohio’s largest historic home, is decorated from floor to ceiling.
The gardens on the property of the Goodyear Tire co-founder come to life at night under the glow of 1.2 million lights.
Deck the Halls is open from 3-9pm November 25-27, December 1-4, December 8-23 and December 26-30. The last guests are allowed into the grounds at 8 p.m
Tickets must be purchased in advance at stanhywet.org.
Sugar Plum Tour of Akron Vacation Homes
Have you ever wanted to see inside some of Akron’s historic homes? Now’s your chance to see them in all their holiday glory.
The Sugar Plum Tour of the Holiday Homes will be available in person and virtually. Live tour tickets include a self-guided tour of five decorated homes in the greater Akron area from noon to 5 p.m. on December 3, while the virtual tour includes a video tour of seven homes that can be viewed as many times as you like on December 9. -10.
Among the homes on display this year are a 1939 Federal-style Merriman Heights home built by Roy Firestone, a 1952 Fairlawn Heights Cape Cod home featuring custom wall rooms, and a 1922 Good & Wagner-designed Tudor home in west Akron with a spiral staircase, and a modernized 1928 French Tudor Revival in Merryman Heights also designed by Roy Firestone and a 1953 Cape Cod Modern in Highland Square.
Tickets for the live or virtual tour are $35 and $60 for both tours.
Visit sugarplumtour.org for more information.
(Case Barlow Farm in Hudson).
Case-Barlow Farm in Hudson will host a variety of events in December.
The historic site is planning an adult Christmas tea on December 1st.
Ginger tea will be served to children on December 2 and 3.
The tree open house tour featuring 50 decorated trees will begin on December 8 with various dates and special days planned, including visits from Anna, Elsa and Olaf.
For more information and a list of planned events, visit casebarlow.com.
Lantern Tours at Hill Farm and Holiday Village
You can take a stroll while on vacation and enjoy some history at the same time.
Holiday Lantern Tours are back at Hale Farm & Village in Bath.
Visitors will depart on a lantern-led tour of the grounds and historic village and interact with residents as they prepare for the holidays in the 1840s.
Tour dates are December 2-3, 8-10, 15-17 and 20-23.
Advance reservations are required and can be made by visiting wrhs.org.
Got a story recommendation? Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TawneyBeans. And follow her adventures on TikTok @akronbeaconjournal.