CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As mom might say, it’s your own fault if you’re bored.
It’s difficult to be bored in Northeast Ohio during the holiday season. The region hosts a broad variety of activities from now through New Year’s Day. They start at free and go from there.
For free you can shop at holiday markets, attend tree lightings, visit Mr. Jingeling and more. There are multiple productions of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” You can chase history at Hale Farm & Village or ride a train to the North Pole. Join the Funny Bus for an adults-only date night or enjoy some winter fun at a park.
Get your calendar out now and start adding activities.
The Nutcracker by Cleveland Ballet
Cleveland Ballet presents Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” at Playhouse Square’s Connor Palace for only seven performances. With their elegance and sophistication, dancers will enchant all audiences as artistic director Gladisa Guadalupe adds her own interpretation to the treasured holiday ballet. $43-$131.
1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7 p.m., Dec. 15.; 11 a.m. & 7 p.m. Dec. 16; 1 p.m. & 7 p.m Dec. 17; 1 p.m. & 7 p.m. Dec. 18
The Akron Nutcracker
The Dance Institute at The University of Akron and Verb Ballets are working with the Akron Symphony to present “The Akron Nutcracker.” The production’s sets feature Akron landmarks. For example, maestro Christopher Wilkins will bring to life Tchaikovsky’s score as the story starts on a Stan Hywet-themed set on Christmas Eve. $52 and up.
E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill Street, Akron
7:30 p.m., Dec. 22 & 23
The Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet
The Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet is on its 30th-anniversary tour after a two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19. Dancers from Ukraine, Japan, Italy, and Turkey as well as local ballet students are part of the production at Music Hall at Cleveland Public Auditorium.
500 Lakeside Ave E., Cleveland
7 p.m., Dec. 10
“Baby Shark LIVE!: The Christmas Show” at Akron Civic Theatre
Join Baby Shark and Pinkfong in an interactive holiday experience for all ages. This journey into the jungle and under the sea will have you dancing in the aisles to songs like “Baby Shark,” “Five Little Monkeys,” “Wheels On The Bus” as well as holiday classics such as “Jingle Bells”, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and more, learning about shapes, colors, numbers and more. Tickets, $27.50-$52.50.
182 S. Main St., Akron
6 p.m., Dec. 7
“Black Nativity” at Karamu House
A holiday tradition at the oldest producing African American theater in the nation, Langston Hughes’ uplifting musical tells the classic story of the birth of Jesus from a Black perspective through a combination of song, dance, poetry, scripture and narration. Tickets, $35-$45.
2355 East 89th St., Cleveland
Breakfasts with Santa at Merwin’s Wharf
Enjoy a family-style breakfast and take pictures with Santa Claus at the Cleveland Metroparks’ restaurant on the Cuyahoga River. Kids 12 and under receive a free gift bag. Tickets, $18-$25. Dine in a private, festively decorated igloo for an additional $100.
1785 Merwin Ave., Cleveland
Weekends through Dec. 18
Christmas at Castle Noel
This unique retail and museum-type experience bills itself as America’s largest indoor year-round Christmas attraction. You’ll find props and costumes from some of your favorite Christmas movies, animated window displays from major New York City department stores, visits with Santa, a 25-foot Christmas tree, a slide like the one from “A Christmas Story” and more. It even snows inside! Admission, $22.50-$27.50. Reservations required.
260 S. Court St, Medina
Open daily except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
A Christmas Story House tours (and overnights)
With the new movie “A Christmas Story Christmas” out on HBO Max, it’s a great time to tour A Christmas Story House in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. While the house and related properties are for sale, the house and museum are still open for tours. Visitors will see original props, costumes and memorabilia from the classic film. Overnight stays are available in the house. Tickets $11 to $15.
3159 W 11th St., Cleveland
Experience an outdoor Bavarian Christmas market at the German Central Organization in Parma. You’ll find unique hand-made gifts and exclusive products from local artisans and vendors, as well as German snacks and adult beverages. Christmas-themed entertainment includes performances by local choirs, musicians and dancers. Tickets, $6.
7863 York Rd., Parma
11 a.m.-9 p.m., Dec. 3
Little Italy Holiday Arts + Small Business Fest
If you haven’t been to Little Italy lately, check out the Holiday Art Walk for holiday gift ideas and then choose one of many restaurants for dinner. Free.
Mayfield Road, Cleveland
- 5 to 9 p.m., Dec. 2
- Noon to 9 p.m., Dec. 3
- Noon to 5 p.m., Dec. 4.
78th Street Studios Holiday Shopping
78th Street Studios has expanded its hours for holiday shopping. Four floors of studios are home to more than 100 local makers, artists and more. 78th Street will host its usual monthly “Third Friday” art walk, this time with a holiday theme, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 16. The Black Friday Shopping Experience will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 25, followed by the Small Business Saturday event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 26. Free.
78th Street Studios, 1305 W. 80th St., Cleveland
Holiday Market on Hale Farm & Village
Enjoy a holiday market with a historical twist. See Hale Farm artisans, including live demos of textile and ceramic arts. You might even block print your own holiday cards.
2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath
4-8 p.m., Dec. 2
Christmas in Peninsula
This picturesque town in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park was seemingly made for Christmas. The annual festivities begin on Dec. 1 with a candlelight walk, tree lighting, carolers, an ornament craft kit giveaway for kids and a special program at Bronson Church. Reindeer Day on Dec. 11 features live reindeer, a community sing-a-long, costumed characters and a balloon artist.
1712 Main St., Peninsula
5-8 p.m., Dec. 1 and 12-3 p.m., Dec. 11
Cleveland Orchestra holiday concerts
The sounds of the season fill the festively decorated Severance Music Center when guest conductor Brett Mitchell leads the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and vocalist Mikaela Bennett in a performance of some of your holiday favorites. Some of the dates are accompanied by a Brunch with Santa (reservations required) and appearances by Mr. Jingeling, Mrs. Kringle and Twigbee Bear. Tickets start at $49.
11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Dec. 9-11, Dec. 15-18
Cleveland Pops Holiday Spectacular
Get into the spirit of the season as the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and Pops Chorus along with guest vocalist Connor Bogart O’Brien perform a festive selection of holiday carols and songs at the Connor Palace in Playhouse Square. Take photos with Santa or play with cute, cuddly, adoptable puppies and kittens in the lobby before the show or during intermission. Tickets: $19-$45
1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
2 p.m., Nov. 27
Apollo’s Fire presents Handel’s “Messiah”
Apollo’s Fire performs Handel’s beloved holiday classic, “Messiah,” in a dramatic interpretation that harkens back to the original concept of this masterpiece – as theatrical entertainment. The ensemble takes listeners on a spiritual and emotional journey as soloists engage directly with the audience. Tickets, $28.
- 7 p.m. Dec. 6, Federated Church, Chagrin Falls
- 7 p.m., Dec. 7, Lakewood United Methodist
- 7 p.m., Dec. 8, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Akron
- 8 p.m., Dec. 10, First Baptist Church, Shaker Heights
- 5 p.m., Dec. 11, First Baptist Church, Shaker Heights
Dave Koz and Friends at Playhouse Square
Nine-time Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Dave Koz brings his 25th anniversary Christmas tour to the Connor Palace for a show that features special guests Rick Braun, Peter White, Keiko Matsui and Rebecca Jade. Tickets, $45-$85.
1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 p.m., Dec. 11
Disney on Ice presents Frozen and Encanto
Featuring world-class ice skating, thrilling aerial acrobatics and some of your favorite Disney songs, this show features characters and stories from “Frozen” and “Encanto.” Expect cameo appearances by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald and Goofy, too. Tickets start at $20.
1 Center Court, Cleveland
“Elf” at Beck Center for the Arts
Based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, this funny and heartwarming musical follows a grown man adopted as a child by Santa’s elves on a journey to New York City in search of his true identity. Tickets, $12-$38.
17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood
Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Holiday Movie-Themed Brewmaster’s Dinner
This annual event features a seasonal five-course menu with each course inspired by a holiday classic movie paired with seasonal and year-round beers. Enjoy dishes inspired by “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Gremlins,” “Elf,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Home Alone.” Tickets, $85.
2516 Market Ave., Cleveland
6:30-9:30 p.m., Dec. 13
Great Lakes Theater’s “A Christmas Carol”
Ebenezer Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas after being visited by a series of ghosts in this Cleveland holiday tradition, now in its 34th year. Performances of this Dickens classic take place at Playhouse Square’s Mimi Ohio Theatre. Tickets, $30-$80
1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Nov. 25-Dec. 3
“SCROOGE: The Musical” at Akron Civic Theatre
Everyone should see Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” annually. “Scrooge: The Musical” reinterprets the story as a musical. During the show, Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption when four ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve. Tickets, $25.
7:30 p.m., Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17
182 South Main Street, Akron
Harry Connick Jr.: A Holiday Celebration at Playhouse Square
One of the most beloved traditional pop and jazz artists of our time comes to the KeyBank State Theatre for an evening of Christmas classics, original holiday music and fan favorites like “(It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus” and “When My Heart Finds Christmas.” Tickets, $55-$150.
1519 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
8 p.m., Nov. 25
University Circle’s 28th and final Holiday CircleFest celebration features ice skating, ice carvers, an outdoor holiday market, horse-drawn carriage rides, food trucks and appearances by Mr. Jingeling, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The neighborhood’s cultural institutions will offer holiday-related exhibits, activities, performances and shopping, too. Free.
University Circle, Cleveland
12-7 p.m., Dec. 4
“How the Circus Stole Christmas: A Circus Holiday Extravaganza!” at Cleveland Public Theatre
Created with the Crooked River Circus, this fun, festive and high-flying show features characters inspired by your favorite holiday stories. Watch them try to sabotage Christmas on a night full of trapeze, acrobatics, aerial dancing and other circus hijinks. Tickets are choose what you pay.
6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Jim Brickman: A Very Merry Christmas at Playhouse Square
A Cleveland holiday tradition returns to the Hanna Theatre as the singer, pianist and Shaker Heights native performs a mix of yuletide classics and original music that celebrates love, family and faith. Tickets, $50-$75.
2067 E. 14th St., Cleveland
Light Up Lakewood
Downtown Lakewood hosts the city’s 16th annual holiday celebration that features a parade, lighting ceremony, fireworks, live music, Santa visits, train rides, children’s games and a holiday market at Lakewood Masonic Temple. Expect food trucks, hot cocoa and a beer garden, too. The main stage is located at City Center Park. Free.
14900 Detroit Ave., Lakewood
4-8 p.m., Dec. 3
Magic of Lights at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds
This dazzling drive-through experience returns once again, this time with the theme “Prehistoric Christmas” as life-sized displays of dinosaurs fill the county fairgrounds. Tickets, $23-$35 per carload.
19201 Bagley Rd., Middleburg Heights
5:30-10 p.m. through Jan. 1
”Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” at Playhouse Square
This uplifting musical brings the classic stop-motion animated television special to life on stage, telling the origin story of an outcast reindeer who, with the help of an elf, prospector and misunderstood snow monster, saves Christmas. Tickets, $25-$75.
1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
TSO has been coming to Cleveland for the Christmas season since the late 1990s, but the progressive rock group’s 2022 show is billed as “a completely updated presentation of the unforgettable, multi-generational holiday tradition, ‘The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.’” Tickets start at $50.
1 Center Court, Cleveland
3 & 7:30 p.m., Dec. 30
Back from a two-year hiatus, this free concert returns to the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, featuring more than 50 area tuba and euphonium players performing your favorite Christmas carols and holiday songs.
3630 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland
5:30 p.m., Nov. 27
Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl
Put on your most hideous holiday sweater for a bar hop through the Warehouse District. You’ll enjoy holiday-themed drinks, discounts on food and beer, live DJs and an ugly sweater contest. The crawl includes stops at Barley House, Ivy Nightclub, Rumor Nightclub, Velvet Dog’s rooftop and Dive Bar. Tickets, $15-$30
3-10 p.m., Dec. 17
Formerly known as WinterFest, downtown Cleveland’s annual holiday celebration begins on Nov. 26 with a lighting ceremony, fireworks and ice skating on Public Square. The festivities continue throughout the season with appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Kringle, holiday-themed pop-up bars, shopping events, city tours, carolers and more.
Public Square, Cleveland
Holiday lighting ceremony, Nov. 26 at 4-6 p.m.
Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with hundreds of festive displays located throughout the park. Featuring over 1.5 million lights, the themed areas include Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Starry Skies and Future for Wildlife Trail. Guests can also take photos with the big fella at Santa’s Workshop. Walk and drive-thru options available. Tickets, $22 a person or $57-$66 per car.
3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland
Now through Dec. 30
Wild Lights at the Akron Zoo
The Akron Zoo comes to life at night with the spirit of the season in the form of over one million twinkling lights. You’ll find dozens of dazzling photo-ops including some set to music, along with appearances by Santa Claus, s’mores at other goodies at Mrs. C’s Sweet shop, plus warm beverages, beer and more. Tickets, $11-$18.
500 Edgewood Ave., Akron
5-9 p.m., Nov. 25-Dec. 30
Twinkle in the 216 at Cleveland Botanical Garden
This event celebrates the historic character of Cleveland’s neighborhoods as they sparkle and shine. Expect festive plants, trees, decorations, events, a gingerbread house competition and much more. Members free. Non-members $19/adult, $13/child, 2 and under free..
11030 East Blvd, Cleveland
Now through December 31
Geneva-on-the-Lake Lodge Holiday Weekend Events
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake starts its Light Up the Lodge weekend with a four-course Holiday Ale Tasting Dinner on Friday, Dec. 2. Activities throughout the weekend include a gingerbread house decorating contest, lighting of The Lodge tree, story time with Mrs. Claus, a visit from Santa and more. Prices vary by activity.
4888 North Broadway, Geneva-on-the-Lake
Dec. 2 to 4
Celebrate winter at Cleveland Public Library
Starting Saturday, Nov. 26, the Main Library Campus in Downtown Cleveland and neighborhood libraries will transform into a WinterLand complete with reindeer, holiday-themed stories and crafts. Free.
Various library locations
Nov. 26 through Dec. 22
Track Mr. Jingeling
Mr. Jingeling has a busy schedule this year. You can find him this week at the Downtown Cleveland Lighting Ceremony at Public Square on Nov. 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. Additional appearances include:
- Dec. 4: West Side Market, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
- Dec. 4: Holiday CircleFest, The Rink at University Circle, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
- Dec. 7: HofbrauHaus Cleveland, 7 p.m.
- Dec. 8-11 Cleveland Orchestra Holiday Concerts, meet and greet in Grand Foyer
- Dec. 10: Rudy’s Strudel, Parma, 11 to 12:30 pm.
Mr. Kringle & Company overnights
Stay overnight in a holiday-themed hotel suite. Decorated to the whimsical max, The Mr. Kringle Suite is in the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, the Mrs. Kringle Suit in the Hotel Indigo Cleveland downtown and the Mr. Jingeling Suite in the Kimpton Schoefield Hotel. Milk and cookie deliveries come with each stay. Room rates, $500+.
Now through December
North Pole Adventure train CVSR
Climb aboard a train and embark on a magical journey to the North Pole. You’ll enjoy cookies and cocoa while you work on your letter to Santa Claus. Upon arrival, watch Santa’s elves in action and hand deliver your letter to the North Pole’s postmaster. Trains depart from CVSR’s Rockside Station. Tickets, $45-$92.
7900 Old Rockside Road, Independence
5:30 & 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 21.
Rock the Halls at House of Blues
Rock The Halls at the House of Blues in Cleveland is a female-fronted fundraiser to benefit reproductive freedom with all proceeds split between Pro-Choice Ohio & Preterm Cleveland. Artists include Envoi, Hello Luna, TRUSS, Grumpy Plum, Detention, Lilieae, Mr. Princess, Solon. Tickets $15.
308 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
5 p.m., Dec. 9
Summit Choral Society Children’s Choir Concert For the Holidays
Summit Choral Society’s Children’s Choir Program presents a holiday music showcase at Akron’s Goodyear Theater that features nationally recognized, award-winning choirs. Tickets, $15
1201 E. Market St, Akron
7 p.m., Dec. 2
Holiday Lantern Tours at Hale Farm & Village
Take a candle-lit tour through Hale Farm & Village’s historic grounds, and visit Village residents as they prepare for the holiday season, 1840s style. During the tour, you’ll learn the heritage of gingerbread as made for kings and canal workers, as sweetheart gifts and charity presents. The night ends before a roaring fire in the Gatehouse Visitors Center. Reservations are required. Tickets, $25.
2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath
5 to 9 p.m., Dec. 3, 9-10, 16-18, 20-23
Lake County Metroparks presents Candy Land gone to the Birds
Penitentiary Glen Reservation puts an avian twist on a popular childhood game, Candyland. In this life-sized board game, visitors are the playing pieces, moving from space to space through a holiday display of birds. Free.
8668 Kirtland Chardon Rd, Kirtland
Now through Jan. 1
Deck the Halls at Stan Hywet
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is decking the halls for the holidays. Each year the estate is tastefully adorned, inside and out with rooms decorated in holiday themes while more than 1.2 million lights line pathways, trees and the grounds. This year’s theme is “Gracious Gatherings.”
714 N. Portage Path, Akron
Nov. 25-Dec. 30
Kringle’s Inventionasium Experience
Journey to Mr. Kringle’s secret toy lab where you’ll invent your own, unique toy to present to Santa himself. You’ll travel through secret tunnels and passageways on your way to the toy design studio and workshop. The magical, interactive experience, held at Tower City Center, culminates in a private visit with Mr. Kringle. Tickets start at $34.
230 W. Huron Rd., Cleveland
Now through Dec. 24
Tower City Center Holiday Events
Bruce the Spruce, the talking holiday tree, returns to the downtown shopping center for the holiday season. Among the many holiday events planned for Tower City is the Cleveland Police Department’s Free Holiday Party for Kids on Dec. 4 from noon to 4 p.m. Activities include face painting, magicians, games, the K-9 unit and the mounted unit. For a complete list of holiday events, visit towercitycenter.com.
12 to 4 p.m., Dec. 4
230 W. Huron Rd., Cleveland
Cleveland Play House’s Festival of Trees
Dress up in your holiday best and head to Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre to take your own Christmas card portraits in front of the many trees decorated by local designers and artists that adorn the ornate lobby. The event features a special appearance by Santa Claus on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Free.
1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Tree Lighting & Gingerbread houses at Intercontinental Hotel
Carolers, treats, mulled wine, hot chocolate and more bring the holiday spirit to the tree-lighting ceremony in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel. The tree will be adorned with more than 7,500 ornaments including passports, vintage post cards, globes and other international-themed ornaments. A Kinara for Kwanzaa and a Menorah for Chanukkah will also be displayed. The pastry chef is crafting Gingerbread Houses from Around the World to represent each continent. A full-size sleigh is available for family photos or selfies. Free.
9801 Carnegie Ave.
4 p.m., Nov. 26
Menorah Lighting at Pinecrest
Join Temple Emanu El in Central Park at Pinecrest for a Menorah Lighting. Enjoy free Duck Donuts afterward. Free.
200 Park Avenue, Orange Village
- 6:45 p.m., Dec. 19
- 5:30 p.m., Dec. 20, 21, 22
Ma & Pa’s sleigh and carriage rides
Want to know what it feels like to dash through the snow in a one (or two) horse open sleigh? Every winter, all winter long, Ma and Pa hitch up the sleighs and take visitors through the woods and out in the field and then back to the cabin for a warm fire, Ma’s cookies, hot cocoa, and maple coffee. Romantic night and family rides available. Reservations required. Prices start at $60.
15161 Main Market Road, Burton
Dec. 1 through March 1
Funny Bus Comedy City Tour
The adults-only, Funny Bus “Lights and Laughs” tour combines comedy, history, holiday music, games, and lights for a different entertainment experience. Tickets, $28
1250 Old River Road, Cleveland
Nov. 25 to Dec. 23
Switchfoot at Goodyear Theater
This alternative rock band’s “This Is Our Christmas Stuff” tour combines their original California-surf style holiday music with fresh takes on the classics. Tickets start at $38.
1201 E. Market St., Akron
7:30 p.m., Dec 1
Tour of Trees Open Houses at Case-Barlow Farm
Bundle up and walk through the Case-Barlow Farm barn in Hudson to see more than 50 festively decorated trees with a different theme each week. Think of the photo ops! Tickets, $3-$10.
- Kids Holiday Singalong, Dec. 2
- Nutcracker Night, Dec. 9
- Dickens Night/Charity Night, Dec. 10
- Frozen Night, Dec 16
- Kids Holiday Singalong Two, Dec. 17
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
1931 Barlow Road, Hudson