It’s the holly jolly season in the Cincy Region and the December calendar is jam-packed. With holiday festivities, Christmas markets, block parties, football games. Check out the top things to do in December! 

Free holiday things to do in December

Get in the holiday spirit at these free events!

Exterior of the Ark Encounter lit up for ChristmasTime at the Ark holiday event

Downtown Dazzle (Dec. 2, 9, 16): See Santa rappel from a Cincinnati skyscraper, go ice skating in Fountain Square, and enjoy a festive fireworks show. 

Sharonville Christmas on the Loop (Dec. 9): Celebrate the season at Sharonville’s holiday festival! There will be horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas carolers, face painting, food, drinks, and more! 

Light Up College Hill (Dec. 7): Create holiday memories and enjoy festivities in the College Hill Central Business District. The whole family can explore Hamilton Avenue and enjoy train rides, live entertainment, a Santa’s Workshop, pictures with Santa, real reindeer, and more. Don’t miss the tree-lighting ceremony in Patrick’s Park.

ChristmasTime at the Ark Encounter (Select dates through Dec. 30): Explore a lifesize Noah’s Ark surrounded by holiday lights, animal encounters, holiday shopping, and more. 

Winter Nights & River Lights (Through Jan. 7): Experience the Purple People Bridge in all its holiday splendor. Enjoy this annual holiday light show and don’t miss the Christmas Wish Tree.  

Family-friendly events in Cincy this December

From holiday festivities to musical theater, check out these fid-friendly events for the whole family. 

Deck the Y'allsDeck the Y'alls

Breakfast with Santa (Dec. 3, 12, & 17): Bring the whole family to breakfast with Santa and his elves at Newport on the Levee. 

Deck the Y’alls Lightfest (Through December): Marvel at millions of holiday lights, meet Santa, cook s’mores over the fire, ice skating, and more!  

Holly Days at the Heritage Village Museum (Dec. 9-10): Go back in time and experience the magic of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Meet the ghosts of Christmas past, explore the holiday village, enjoy Victorian holiday decorations and crafts, learn about Victorian Christmas and Hanukkah traditions, and more.

Holidays on the Farm (Through December): Learn about winter life at Parky’s Farm and celebrate the holiday season! Meet Santa and his reindeer, hike illuminated trails, gather around the fire for festive songs and storytime with Mrs. Claus, and more. 

Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland (Through Dec. 14): Celebrate the season with one of Cincy’s favorite holiday traditions! Experience Newport Aquarium with Scuba Santa, playful penguins, magical bubbles, holiday lights, and more.  

Scuba Santa at Newport AquariumScuba Santa at Newport Aquarium

Holly Jolly Days at Behringer Crawford Museum (Through Jan. 7): Go back in time and experience the warmth of an old-fashioned holiday. Explore vintage Christmas decorations, ornaments, and everyone’s favorite holiday trains. 

Fiona: The Musical (Select dates through Dec. 29): Learn all about the most famous hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This musical brings Fiona’s life to the stage from preemie hippo to larger-than-life hero! 

Narnia the Musical (Select dates through Dec. 18): Always winter but never Christmas, the story of the magical kingdom of Narnia takes to the stage. This musical is  Based on C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and will delight kids of all ages. 

Kings Island Winterfest (Select dates through Dec. 31): Cincy’s favorite amusement park transforms into a real winter wonderland every December. Go ice skating on the Royal Fountain, see the Eiffel Tower turned into a magical Christmas Tree, live entertainment, and of course some of your favorite theme park rides.  

Winterfest at Kings IslandWinterfest at Kings Island

Servatii Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt (Through Dec. 31): Family-friendly holiday event featuring German food and drinks, and live music. Guests can shop for holiday gifts from local artists. 

New Year’s Eve Kids Cruise (Dec. 31): Ring in the new year on the Ohio River with lunch, countdown to 12 noon,  and a dance party with BB Riverboats. 

PNC Festival of Lights (Through Jan. 7): Start your holiday season right with a magical visit to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens Wild Winter Wonderland.

Looking for more holiday things to do? Check out these Christmas markets and the full events calendar for holidays in Cincy.

December sporting events and outdoor activities in Cincy

Cheer on your favorite sports stars at these Cincinnati sporting events!

Cincinnati Cyclones

FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew (12/2): FC Cincinnati is one step closer to winning it all! Watch them face our in-state rivals, the Columbus Crew, at home in TQL Stadium for the eastern conference finals. You don’t want to miss this explosive “Hell is Real” playoff round!

Redsfest (Dec. 1-2): The fest for the ultimate Reds fan! Meet current and former Reds players, enjoy interactive games, autograph signings, stock up on Reds merch, and more.  

Cincinnati Cyclones (Dec.1, 2, 9, 13 ): Hockey is more than a game in Cincy–it's where non-stop action meets affordable family fun. Bring the whole family to cheer on the two-time Kelly Cup Champion of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL)! 

Ice Skating: There’s nothing ice skating under the stars and enjoying a hot cup of cocoa! Check out ice rinks in Fountain Square, Summit Park in Blue Ash, and more. 

Cincinnati Bengals (Dec. 10 & 17): See reigning AFC champs Cincinnati Bengals go up against the Colts and Vikings at Paycor Stadium. Before or after the game raise a glass at one of Cincinnati’s best sports bars. Who Dey!

December food and drink events in Cincy

Toast Cincy’s delicious food and drink scene at these food tours, Cincinnati bars, and events this December!

Dark Charge Day (Photo: Shane Fournier)Dark Charge Day (Photo: Shane Fournier)

Dark Charge Winter Block Party (Dec. 2): Celebrate the release of Braxton Brewing’s bourbon barrel-aged stout, Dark Charge!

Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl in OTR (Dec. 2): Grab your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and explore OTR one cocktail at a time. There will be live DJs, holiday movie trivia, cheap drinks, holiday coozies, and event photographers to capture all the holiday fun. Cash prize of $100 is up for grabs.

Santa Con (Dec. 9): Eat, drink, and be Santa! Thousands of jolly Santas come together to kick off the holiday season, sing Christmas carols, and enjoy food and drink from 50 different venues. Proceeds of the event benefit The Cure Starts Now Foundation.

Holiday Tea at Taft Museum of Art (Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16, & 22): Enjoy a festive afternoon tea complete with live music, scones, petit fours, and a selection of Winston Churchill’s teas. After tea, peruse the holiday displays and the galleries.  

Check out our full Cincinnati events calendar for everything happening in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this month. Start planning your Cincy adventure now!

Dazzling holiday light displays in the Cincy Region

  • 5 minute read

Looking for something to get you in the holiday spirit? The whole family will enjoy celebrating the magic of the holidays with these spectacular light displays around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Light up Fountain Square Fountain…