Looking for the best things to do in Cleveland in December? We’ve got you covered!
The month of December is full-on holiday mode in Cleveland. You can get into the holiday spirit all month long with activities like Christmas light displays and holiday walking tours, or beat the cold and check out some indoor activities like museums or a show at Playhouse Square. (Find our full holiday guide here.)
Cleveland is a great place to be for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, with festivities happening all month long.
These are some of the best things to do in and around Cleveland during the month of December.
Weather in Cleveland in December
You’ll want to bundle up, because December is a cold month in Cleveland. Temperatures this month range from an average high of 39° F to an average low of 26° F.
It’s not uncommon to experience a white Christmas season in Cleveland, with several days of light snowfall typical throughout the month.
Top 10 Things to Do in Cleveland in December
What are the best things to do in Cleveland during the month of December?
Here are some of the best December activities in Cleveland! You can also check our Cleveland Events Calendar for more suggestions on things to do.
1. Get into the holiday spirit
When: All month long
Where: All around Cleveland
There are plenty of ways to celebrate Christmas in Cleveland. Some of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit include:
- Attend a holiday kick-off event like Light Up Lakewood on December 2, or Snow Day in Gordon Square on December 9.
- Take a holiday walking tour with Tours of Cleveland
- Go ice skating at the festive Public Square rink
- Visit the house from A Christmas Story which is located in Cleveland
- Go to one of Cleveland’s holiday-themed pop-up bars
- Listen to holiday music performed by the Cleveland Orchestra
- Take the kids to breakfast or brunch with Santa
READ MORE: Cleveland Holiday Guide
2. Enjoy holiday light displays
When: The month of December
Where: Various locations around Cleveland
Some of the best local Christmas lights displays include Wild Winter Lights at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the lights around Public Square in downtown Cleveland, and various drive-thru light displays all over the Greater Cleveland area.
Read our full guide to the best holiday light displays here (there are a ton of options!).
3. Poinsettia sale at Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
When: December 1-2, 2023
Where: 750 E 88th St, Cleveland, OH 44108
Shop for fresh poinsettias at the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse poinsettia sale that happens every December. There’s nothing like a bouquet of these fresh red flowers to add a festive touch to your home for the holidays.
This is also a great time to visit the Greenhouse, as they deck it out with festive plant displays for the holidays. And the best part? It’s always free to visit!
The sale runs December 1-2 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with each plant costing $5. The greenhouse is otherwise open all month for visits (daily from 10 .m.-4 p.m.), where you can enjoy the holiday displays.
4. Little Italy Art Walk
When: December 1-3, 2023
Where: 12010 Mayfield Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106-1922
The Little Italy Art Walk is a weekend-long event in December that takes place in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. Shop for unique art gifts, try Little Italy’s delicious restaurants, and admire new murals about the history of this neighborhood.
The Art Walk is officially running 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 1, noon-9 p.m. on Dec. 2, and noon-5 p.m. on Dec. 3.
5. Celebrate Krampusnacht
When: Traditionally celebrated on December 5th
Where: Several locations around Cleveland
Krampusnacht is an offbeat holiday tradition that is celebrated in Germany, Austria, and several other European countries. Krampus, a devilish horned beast, is said to come out every year on December 5th to terrorize children who have made the naughty list. (Consider him the opposite of Santa Claus.)
These days, Krampusnacht is celebrated with parties and parades, with a rowdy atmosphere that feels more like Halloween than Christmas.
There are several Krampusnacht events happening around Cleveland this year:
- KrampusFest 2023 (Dec. 1)
- Krampus Night at Cleveland Botanical Garden (Dec. 2)
- Krampus Night at the Sachsenheim (Dec. 9)
- Krampus of Cleveland at My Corner Bar (Dec. 16)
6. Take part in Unsilent Night
When: December 8, 2023 at 7 p.m.
Where: Starts at Lincoln Park Gazebo in Tremont
Join in on a one-of-a-kind “live” performance of “Unsilent Night,” a piece of music composed by Akron-native Phil Kline. The piece was originally written to be played through boomboxes, but today it’s performed through smartphones, bluetooth speakers, and other devices.
The event consists of a 45-minute walk through the Tremont neighborhood. If you want to participate, meet at the Lincoln Park Gazebo in Tremont at 6:30 p.m. on December 8, where you’ll be assigned one of 4 tracks to play through your phone or speaker (music available to stream/download at unsilentnight.com or through the Unsilent Night app on iOS & Android).
The community performance walk begins at 7 p.m.!
7. Ride the toboggan chutes
When: All of December
Where: 16200 Valley Parkway Strongsville, OH 44136
The Cleveland Metroparks Toboggan Chutes are a great outdoor activity for December. The toboggan chutes at The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation open at the end of November, and the twin 700-foot-long chutes can run with or without snow!
The toboggan chutes are normally open Friday-Sunday during the winter, but have extended hours in December and are open Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 26-Jan. 2 from noon to 5 p.m.
Advance reservations are required, and you can book your timed tickets here. (Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for kids, and get you as many rides as you want.)
8. Attend a menorah lighting
When: Various dates
Where: Various locations
Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated this month! You can also help kick off Chanukah celebrations around Greater Cleveland. A few public menorah lighting ceremonies include:
- December 10, 2023: Chanukah Celebration at Crocker Park
- December 10, 2023: Light After Dark Menorah Parade at Legacy Village
- December 11, 2023: Menorah lighting at Eton Chagrin Boulevard with the Fromovitz Chabad Center
- December 12, 2023: Menorah lighting in Public Square with Downtown Chabad of Cleveland
- December 12, 2023: Friends of the Maltz Museum Chanukah Lighting
9. Night out at Playhouse Square
When: All month long
Where: Playhouse Square
Catch a show at one of Playhouse Square’s theaters this month. The hit Broadway show Hamilton will be running most nights in December. You can also catch festive performances of A Christmas Carol or be enchanted by Cleveland Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
And this year Karamu House’s Black Nativity is being performed at the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square.
December is also the month where you can enjoy the Festival of Trees, which is a free holiday exhibit in the lobby of the Allen Theatre. The festival runs December 1-23, 2023, and is open (and FREE) to the public Tuesday-Friday from 6-10 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from noon-10 p.m.
10. Ring in the New Year in style
When: December 31, 2023
Where: All around Cleveland
To finish out the month, ring in the New Year at one of Cleveland’s many NYE celebrations. There are many ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Cleveland including:
- Gemstone Glamour: A Ruby New Year’s at The 9
- Windows on the River NYE
- NYE 2024 with Lago Custom Events
What are you most excited to do in Cleveland in December?
Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of her home state. Now, she’ sharing her love of the Cleveland area with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.