Day 1 You'll See:
- A Christmas Story House
- The Christmas Carol Playhouse Square
- Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
Day 2 You'll See:
- Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
- Wild Days of Winter
- Larchmere Holiday Stroll
- Nela Park
Cleveland at Christmas time is truly something spectacular, especially during that magical beginning stages of the season when everybody is looking for the first true signs of winter, of holidays, of Christmas. This is the perfect time to be visiting the city, right after Thanksgiving (ideally November 26th-29th time range) and right before the intense mid-December weather really hits, the entire city full of fun festivities for the whole family!
Winterfest - Welcome to Cleveland, and welcome to one of Cleveland’s absolute biggest holiday celebrations, Winterfest! There is no better way to get to know local Cleveland culture, celebrate the start of the season, and experience something new than to participate in the annual festival known as Winterfest, a truly spectacular Christmas-themed event taking place each November 26h. Here, downtown near the Playhouse Square, you and your group will be able to participate in such classic Christmas-time events as horse and carriage rides, live music and caroling, gingerbread house building (and eating), and even a massive tree lighting ceremony and fireworks show. This is the best way Cleavelandites get a jump start on holiday spirit, as well as holiday shopping. There will be several various holiday treats along the way, so just sit back, relax (or shop), and enjoy the Christmas spirit!
A Christmas Story House - Continue your holiday-themed trip to Cleveland with a stop by one of the most popular Christmas-y Ohio gems, the A Christmas Story House and Museum. This movie-inspired home was fully restored to its exact cinematic splendor from the 1983 classic holiday film about a decade ago, today hosting regular tours and holiday guests. Inside you will see authentic props, costumes, and tons of great behind the scenes memorabilia in the museum across the street from the actual house. Explore movie props such as toys from the Higbee window, Randy’s snowsuit, Randy’s bunny suit, the classroom chalkboard, and the family car from the film. While here be sure to keep your eyes peeled for celebrity visits and famous leg lamp gifts, the owner of this museum also the owner of the ‘Red Rider Leg Lamp’ Company. And ‘for God sake’s Ralphie don’t shoot your eye out!’
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens - There are several different options when it comes to seeing really great Christmas light displays around Cleveland, this option being one of our favorites. Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens puts on ‘one of Ohio’s largest and most spectacular holiday traditions’ each year, the event known as Deck the Halls. Each November 25th through December 30th you can spend your evenings (5 pm- 8 pm) here at the gardens and see over 900,000 LED Christmas lights, the outdoor light show impressing massive crowds with new animated music each year known as DAZZLE. Younger children will love the ‘dressed up’ Playgarden was known as Gingerbread Land, and older visitors will love the free Historic Manor House tours. Everybody in your group will enjoy the nightly tree lighting at 5:30 pm, live music, family photo ops, Christmas window displays, and 20-foot poinsettia tree within the tropical Corbin Conservatory. You can even take this as another opportunity to get some shopping (or eating) in at Molly’s Shop and/or Cafe.
The Christmas Story Playhouse Square - Next up, the actual Christmas Story! Instead of seeing the house inspired by the movie, now you’ll see the play! At the Allen Theater (1921) on Euclid Avenue, downtown, you will get the opportunity to see the Cleveland Play House put on The Christmas Story, the perfect family holiday tradition for both locals and tourists. From November 25th to December 23rd you will be able to enjoy the ‘one boy, one-holiday wish’ record-breaking show each Friday through Sunday at 6 or 7:30, depending on the day. After getting into the spirits with the great live entertainment you can enjoy onsite fine dining, admire the Festival of Trees lining the hallways of the Play House, or head outside to see the world’s largest outdoor chandelier (GE) with the backdrop of the sparkling city of Cleveland in the background.
Note: At this time you can also see Black Nativity at the Karamu House, as well as The Nutcracker, usually.
Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park Greenhouse - Enjoy a crisp Ohio morning at Cleveland’s very own Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, the natural wonderland located near University Circle on MLK Boulevard. Here you can see all types of exotic and native plants, the entire 270 acres of manicured gardens donated in 1903 by John D Rockefeller himself. At first, this spot was used as a spot to cultivate plants for local parks, then slowly evolved into a beloved garden display center, iconic internationally for its extensive orchard and tropical plant exhibits, as well as its bulbs and holiday poinsettia collections. You will love strolling around the outdoor and indoor gardens featuring favorites such as the Japanese Garden, Latin American desert, and an outdoor peace garden. During the winter, in particular, you and your group can see an impressively decorated Christmas tree, amazing variety of poinsettia plants, and extravagant winter scenes complete with such features as snow and reindeer. The official Annual Poinsettia Show happens all throughout the month of December.
Wild Days of Winter- Next stop, Lake Metroparks, the winter time host of one of the ‘sweetest holiday events’ in Cleveland. At this popular park, you and your group can find a real life-sized Candy Land game board, free to play with each late November to early January. This iconic board game holds a more ‘natural twist’ here at the park, an opportunity for children, tourists, or holiday fanatics to discover more local natural flavors of Christmas, as well as travel through the seasons amid the board. Just as in the game, you will get the chance to draw a card and move to the corresponding spaces, landing somewhere new with something new to learn or experience each time. This isn’t just fun for the kids, though, with several different shops and activities happening regularly here at the park. Enjoy free activities each Saturday 1-3pm, such as campfire with smores, holiday train ride, maple syrup and peppermint hot cocoa tastings, and even lessons on local bees and berries. You will also be able to take part in crafts, scavenger hunts, snack tasting, and shopping at the Nature Store while here, as well as renting snowshoes if the weather is permitting.
Larchmere Holiday Stroll - Today in its third generation, the locally popular annual Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree, known as the Larchmere Holiday Stroll, will be your group’s next stop! Haven’t quite figured out all your Christmas presents just yet? No worries! This shopping adventure is dotted with various holiday treats and specials, taking place each November 27th-29th, 10 am to 5 pm, all along historic Larchmere Boulevard. You and your group will be able to peruse over 40 independent stores and services, as well as participate in local festivities such as free horse-drawn wagon rides, hot cider, and cookie samplings, and even live caroling. Shop all the ‘offbeat charm’ within the myriad of local businesses, enjoying the accompanying holiday merriment along the way. Shop clothing, antiques, local specialties, and vintage decor from such popular shops as Marc Goodman's, Dancing Sheep, and Loganberry Books.
Nela Park - End your charming Cleveland evening with a stop at a local landmark putting on a landmark-sized Christmas display, Nela Park. Nela Park was established in 1901, originally known as the longer name National Electric Lamp Association. The entire 90-acre complex was soon used as the headquarters for General Electric, the absolute perfect spot to establish a Lighting Institute, as well as a massively traditional Christmas light display yearly. Each year (this year being the 92nd year) this company puts up over 500,000 LED Christmas Lights for the public to enjoy, boasting different themes, such as local landmarks, each year. It takes 12 workers 75 days to fully prepare this display on average, with around 1000 people flocking to the display on opening night alone. GE also decorates the White House’s Christmas tree each year, oftentimes putting up a replica here on site for the public!