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Christmas in Cleveland: 12 Things to Do This Holiday Season

Note: This post includes dates and details for the 2022 Christmas season, as far as we know them. We’ll update this with more details as the holiday season gets closer!

Christmas tends to be a favorite holiday for most people. And for people in Cleveland, the holiday means lots of extra themed things to see and do!

If you’re looking for something festive to do in Cleveland this Christmas, here are a dozen holiday-related things to consider.

Looking for Cleveland gift ideas instead? Check out our guide to the best local Cleveland gifts, too!

Things to do at Christmas in Cleveland (in 2022)

1. Kick off the holiday season at WinterLand

Cleveland Winterfest fireworks
Winterfest fireworks

When: Saturday, November 26, 2022

Where: Public Square and downtown Cleveland

The annual kickoff to Christmas event happens each year in downtown Cleveland the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Previously known as Winterfest (which was a one-day event in Public Square and the surrounding downtown area), WinterLand will be an ongoing winter festival throughout the holiday season.

The kick-off event on Nov. 26 will include live music, ice skating, food trucks, fire pits, and more. The event culminates in the lighting of the Public Square Christmas tree and a fireworks show after dark.

Read our full WinterLand kickoff guide here: Cleveland WinterLand 2022: How to Enjoy the City’s Holiday Kickoff Event

How much: Free

Terminal Tower at Christmas
Terminal Tower lit up for Christmas

Other neighborhood holiday kick-off events to look forward to include:

  • Light Up Lakewood, December 3 in Lakewood. This holiday kick-off includes a parade, tree lightings, fireworks, and more. More info here.
  • Holiday Circlefest, in University Circle. Scheduled for December 4 and will include a holiday market and ice rink. More info here.
  • Snow Day, in Gordon Square. Scheduled for December 10, 2022. More info here.

2. See Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Wild Winter Lights 2020
Drive-thru event in 2020

When: The event is running November 15-December 30, 2022. Hours are 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Where: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will once again be putting on a family-friendly winter lights display in 2022, which is always a holiday favorite!

Wild Winter Lights will feature hundreds of lighting displays across holiday-themed areas including Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Starry Skies, and Santa’s Workshop. There will be several walk-through displays great for photos, along with carousel rides, ice carvers, live music, and more.

The Zoo is also offering a drive-through experience on select nights for those who would rather enjoy the lights from the safety of their own cars. (Elliot and I did this in 2020, and while it’s not the same as walking through all the displays, it’s still festive and a great way to see the lights.)

Check out this video for a preview:

How much: Tickets are $19 for Zoo members and $22 for non-members if purchased in advance. Drive-through tickets are $57 per car for Zoo members and $66 per car for non-members. It’s highly recommended that you book your timed tickets in advance. You can buy them here.

Looking for kid-friendly things to do in Cleveland this Christmas? We’ve got you covered here.

3. Go to a drive-thru lights show

Speaking of drive-through holiday lights shows, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo isn’t the only option. There are several excellent drive-through lights shows in the Cleveland area.

Christmas lights in Cleveland

Other places to see Christmas light displays in the Cleveland area from the comfort of your own car include:

  • Magic of LightsA drive-through light display featuring the latest LED technology and digital animations at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. It runs daily from 5:30-10 p.m. from November 23, 2022 though January 1, 2023. Entry prices are per vehicle, and start at $19 per vehicle if you purchase tickets online in advance.
  • Country LightsThis drive-through at Lake Metroparks Farmpark is another great option. It takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. through December (starting on Nov. 30, 2022). Advanced tickets are required, and tickets are $27.50 per car.
  • Holiday Lights Cruise-Thru: The Lorain County Metroparks’ Carlisle Reservation is hosting its annual twinkling lights and holiday displays from November 25-December 23, 2022 on Wednesday-Saturday nights. This is free, but they are requesting at least one non-perishable food item to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank. 
  • Lights on the Lake This light display in Ashtabula County claims to be the largest holiday light display on Lake Erie. It has 70 displays across the 54 acres of Lakeshore Park. It runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 6-9 p.m. from November 25 through December 31, 2023. A donation of $5 per car is suggested.
  • Holiday LightsLocated at the Medina County Fairgrounds, this drive-through holiday light display runs Fridays-Sundays from November 25-December 11, and also from December 16-25 in 2022. It costs $10 per car (cash or check only), and is open 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6-9 p.m. on Sundays and weeknights.
  • Bethlehem Hills Christmas Light Park: With 40 different light displays to witness along a 1.5-mile path, you’ll be enchanted by the 2 million LED lights on display at the Geauga County Fairgrounds. This drive-through is open nightly from November 25, 2022-January 1, 2023. Tickets are $25 per (regular) car load.

RELATED: Where to See the Best Christmas Light Displays Near Cleveland

4. Go to Twinkle in the 216 at Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Gingerbread house at GLOW
I love the gingerbread houses!

When: November 19-December 31, 2022; hours vary.

Where: Cleveland Botanical Gardens, 11030 East Blvd, Cleveland

The Cleveland Botanical Gardens are a gem in Cleveland as it is, but during the holidays the gardens burst with holiday cheer. Twinkle in the 216 is this year’s holiday event, held inside and out at the gardens that includes decorated trees, gingerbread house displays, photo opportunities, and more.

As part of Twinkle in the 216, the garden will also be hosting a Krampusnacht with music, drinks, and crafts on December 3, as well as Breakfast with Santa on select Sundays in December.

How much: You’re encouraged to purchase timed tickets for Twinkle in the 216 in advance. Admission to the gardens is $20 per adult and $14 per child for non-members. Purchase tickets here.

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5. Visit the A Christmas Story House

A Christmas Story House in Cleveland

When: Every day, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from November 1-23, then 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through the end of December. The house is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and is only open until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Tours of the house run every hour beginning at 10:15 am.

Where: 3159 W 11th St, Cleveland

This isn’t strictly a Christmas activity since the A Christmas Story House & Museum is open for tours year-round, but the holiday season is definitely the preferred time of year for a visit.

The yellow house in Tremont was used for exterior shots in the 1983 holiday classic “A Christmas Story.” In the early 2000s, a fan and developer purchased the Cleveland house and turned it into an exact replica of Ralphie Parker’s home as it was in the film.

Today, you can tour the house (which is always decorated for Christmas!), and visit the museum across the street to see costumes and behind-the-scenes photos from the movie.

Tours run every 30 minutes from 10:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.

How much: Tickets are $15 for adults and $11 for kids

READ MORE: Your Guide to Visiting the Christmas Story House in Cleveland

6. See a Christmas theater production

When: Various dates in November and December

Where: Various locations

Cleveland’s Playhouse Square is the second-largest performing arts center in the US after Lincoln Center in New York City. So you’d better believe there are some Christmas shows to enjoy!

There are always a mix of annual holiday favorites and other Christmas classics at Playhouse Square. In 2022, check out:

There’s also a production of Elf The Musical at both the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, and the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre.

Also of note is the Black Nativity at Karamu House. The Karamu Performing Arts Theatre on Cleveland’s East Side is the oldest African-American theater in the United States, and has a unique connection to the Black Nativity. The Black Nativity is a “gospel-drama” by Langston Hughes (it heavily features gospel music) that debuted on Broadway in 1961. Hughes lived and worked in Cleveland, and taught at Karamu House as a young man.

The Black Nativity is running December 2-23, 2022.

7. Check out the Festival of Trees

Amanda at Festival of Trees

When: December 3-22, 2022 from 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesda-Friday, and noon-9:30 p.m. on weekends. Closed Mondays.

Where: Allen Theatre Lobby, 1407 Euclid Avenue

The Festival of Trees is an annual tradition at the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square. Every holiday season, the lobby of the theater is filled with more than 25 Christmas trees sponsored by various local organizations and individuals. Each tree is uniquely (and often elaborately) decorated by local artists and designers.

The highlight is the theater’s Rotunda, which features several trees, including one massive tree at its center. There are also a couple dedicated spots set up for fun holiday photos, and in 2022 you’ll be able to take photos with Santa from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on December 10.

How much: Free

8. Listen to holiday music

Severance Hall stage
Severance Hall

When: December 8-18, 2022

Where: Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave, Cleveland

Cleveland is home to one of the top orchestras in the nation, and the Cleveland Orchestra always delivers at Christmastime with a series of holiday concerts.

This year, the Cleveland Orchestra will be performing its Holiday Concert a dozen times in December. The concert will include the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, and cover all the Christmas classics.

How much: Christmas Concert tickets run $49-$119 depending on dates and seats.

Separately, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra is performing its Holiday Spectacular concert at 2 pm on Sunday, November 27 at the Connor Palace Theater at Playhouse Square.

9. Skate at a holiday ice rink

Public Square ice rink
Public Square rink

There are always a handful of seasonal outdoor ice rinks to enjoy around Cleveland. A few to check out include:

  • Cleveland Foundation Skating Rink in Public Square – The Public Square rink opens this year on November 25, 2022, and will remain open through February 21, 2023 (various open dates; check here). Tickets are $12 per person, and include skate rental.
  • The Rink at Wade Oval – This rink is a great place to stop off between museum visits in University Circle, or after going to Twinkle in the 216 at the Botanical Gardens. It opens on December 2, 2022, and is set to remain open through February 26, 2023. Admission. is$2, and skate rentals are $3. They’re even doing free skating lessons this year every Saturday at noon! More info here.
  • Crocker Park Ice Rink – Presented by the Cleveland Monsters, the rink at Crocker Park in Westlake opens on November 19, 2022, and will remain open through February 20, 2023. The rink is located in Union Square right in front of Regal Cinemas. Skating costs $12, and includes skate rental.

10. Shop local at a holiday market or pop-up shop

There are usually several pop-up markets and shops in Cleveland that are only around during the holiday season. These are always an excellent option to get some holiday shopping done in a way that also supports local makers and businesses!

A few notable pop-up Christmas shops and markets in 2022 include:

  • Home for the Holidays – A pop-up shop in Lakewood filled with hand-made gifts and goodies from local makers. You can shop in-store or online.
  • Made Cleveland – You can shop handmade goods from local makers online here, or visit their physical holiday shop in Coventry.

Find our full guide to Cleveland area Christmas markets and pop-up shops here. (There are lots of one-day holiday markets to visit this year!)

11. Drink up at a pop-up Christmas bar

Christmas Corner Bar in Lakewood
Christmas Corner Bar (photo from 2019)

Get ready to raise a cup of good cheer at one of the city’s pop-up Christmas bars this year! There are always a couple of these opening each holiday season. Some of our favorites include:

  • Christmas Corner Bar – The Around the Corner Bar in Lakewood transforms for a few weeks each year into an over-the-top Christmas bar, with tons of decorations, a themed drink menu, and even Christmas karaoke.
  • Miracle on 4th Street – Miracle is a national chain of pop-up Christmas bar, and this year it’s popping up for the season at Society Lounge on East 4th St. The cozy bar is decked out in holiday decorations, and is serving up a tasty menu of festive cocktails.

Be sure to check out our post on pop-up bars and Christmas bar crawls for more details on all of these!

READ MORE: Drink Up at These Christmas Pop Up Bars and Bar Crawls Around Cleveland

12. Enjoy Christmas decorations everywhere

Cleveland Arcade at Christmas
Christmas at the Arcade

Cleveland knows how to do holiday displays! Here are spots with holiday displays you can see for free:

  • Lights, wreaths, and a Christmas tree at the Cleveland Arcade
  • The holiday light display at GE Lighting Center in Nela Park
  • And of course the lights and tree in Public Square

You can book a holiday walking tour to see many of these downtown decorations this year with Tours of Cleveland; tours start on December 1.

I also always love the Christmas displays of holiday plants and decorations at Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, which are always at their best during the greenhouse’s annual poinsettia sale. (The greenhouse is free to visit, too!)

Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
Rockefeller Park Greenhouse

BONUS: Have dinner in an igloo

There are several spots around Cleveland where you can rent out a private igloo for drinks or a meal – and some will be very festive feeling!

If you want to rent an igloo on a patio that’s also decked out in holiday cheer, then you want to head to Georgetown & Vosh in Lakewood, which has 5 igloos on its twinkling patio. Igloos can be rented for two hours at a time.

Georgetown heated igloos
Igloo at Georgetown / Vosh

Many local restaurants are installing these igloos again this year, so you have several different options! Read more about heated patios and igloos in Cleveland in this post.

READ MORE: Heated Patios and Igloos in Cleveland to Enjoy this Winter

Christmas beyond Cleveland

I feel like one of those people on an infomercial now… but wait, there’s more!

If you’re willing to drive a little ways outside of Cleveland, there are lots of other holiday-themed things to enjoy in northeast Ohio, too.

Winter favorites like the toboggan chutes in Strongsville and snow sports at Boston Mills and Brandywine are always on the table, of course, but Christmas-specific things you can do not far from Cleveland include:

1. North Pole Adventure in CVNP

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is already a pretty cool place to visit in the winter, but the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s North Pole Adventure is THE place to be around the holidays if you have kids. The train transforms for a few weeks each year, with cookies and hot chocolate on board, and a chance for kids to deliver letters to Santa. More info here.

2. Deck the Halls at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Deck the Halls at Stan Hywet Hall
Deck the Halls at Stan Hywet Hall

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron celebrates the holidays with its annual Deck the Halls event, held on select nights November 25-December 30. In 2022, the theme is “Gracious Gatherings,” and will feature 33 decorated trees inside the house, plus a light show outdoors.

3. Christmas at Hale Farm

The Western Reserve Historical Society celebrates the holidays with its popular holiday lantern tours of Hale Farm and Village in Bath, Ohio. Visitors can take a lantern-lit tour of the historical village and its cheery holiday scenes. Tours in 2022 run December 3, 9-10, 16-18, and 20-23. Reservations are required. More info here.

4. Castle Noel

Castle Noel in Medina bills itself as an “indoor year-round Christmas entertainment attraction,” but of course it’s always more fun to visit around the holidays. Inside, you’ll find animated Christmas windows, props and costumes from your favorite Christmas movies, plus interactive exhibits. Online reservations are required for tours in 2022.

Amanda at Castle Noel
We love Castle Noel!

READ NEXT: The Best Things to Do in Cleveland in Winter

What are your favorite things to do in Cleveland at Christmas?

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12 Things to do for Christmas in Cleveland

This Post Has 21 Comments

    1. Claire

      For Christmas…in Cleveland was missing a city event that doesn’t exist in most cities of the same size: Cleveland Ballet!!!!

      DECEMBER 5-8, 12-15, 2019
      The Nutcracker
      December 05, 7:00 pm
      December 06, 11:00 am, 7:00 pm
      December 07, 1:00 pm, 7:00 pm
      December 08, 1:00 pm
      December 12, 7:00 pm
      December 13, 11:00 am, 7:00 pm
      December 14, 1:00 pm, 7:00 pm
      December 15, 1:00 pm

      Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square

      Buy Ticket
      With a sold out run of a holiday favorite the ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ during 2018, Cleveland Ballet returns to the Hanna Theatre for only 12 shows this coming December 2019.
      A production suitable to audiences of all ages, this production is Cleveland’s very own and is one to not be missed. The ballet in 2 acts is based on the original story of E.T.A. Hoffman with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The fascination of Tchaikovsky’s score and the suitability of the theme for Christmas entertainment, has inspired many choreographers including Cleveland Ballet’s own Artistic Director which has created a version with a twist!

      1. Amanda

        It’s listed under #4, along with several other holiday performances!

  1. Maureen Spinetta

    I don’t think I saw Castle Noel mentioned. It’s a great Christmas time activity!

    1. Amanda

      Good call! I’ve actually never been there, but I’ll add it to the list!

      1. Karen

        Itis a must see. Every year we go there are no things on display

    1. Amanda

      Ah yes! I’ll add a mention along with the other Mr. Kringle entry. So many cool things to do with kids for the holidays in Cleveland!

  2. Kelly Weaver

    I believe the times for the toy soldier show may have changed a bit since this was published… contact tower city to be sure!!!

    1. Amanda

      Thanks, Kelly. I got all the dates/times for this post from official websites, and the toy soldier site does say 2019 schedule. I would suggest everyone double check exact times for any events they might want to attend closer to the actual dates, though!

  3. Mary Anne

    NelaPark lights and Berkshire Golf Course Display of lights in Chesterland…fee charged per car.

    1. Amanda

      Both excellent spots to see some holiday lights!

  4. Maryann

    Ice Skating and Halloran Skating Rink- so much nicer and very inexpensive. ‘It’s the season 🥰⛸

    1. Amanda

      That’s definitely a great place for a skate year-round!

  5. Stephanie

    Akron Christmas tree lighting

  6. Linda

    Over 1000 nativity sets in display in Kirtland.

    1. Amanda

      Oh wow, I had no clue there were that many!

  7. Andy

    Having people from out of state during Christmas weekend. Any activities like the snow sports at Progressive Field they had years ago?

    1. Amanda

      I haven’t heard about anything like that happening this year – if I do, I’ll update this post! But for now, these are really all the highlights that I know of for this year.

  8. Mackenzie Wachter

    I went to the A Christmas Story house, the Cleveland Winterfest, and The Nutcracker. I was originally gonna go to this year’s Cleveland Winterfest, but my grandmother and my aunt are both having Thanksgiving dinners that day. But hopefully I’ll be going to the Wild Winter Lights for the first time. There’s also local winter events that I went to. One of them was Breakfast With Santa at the Irish American Club in Euclid Ohio when I was younger. I am hoping to go to the Christmas dinner at the same location on December 5th. I am looking forward to the amazing holiday events this year.

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