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Ah, the holidays with young children. The wonder, the magic — the intense pressure to find this year’s coveted gift, play the perfect Santa and wedge a beautifully-wrapped package under the tree for your wee one’s delight on Christmas morning. Did we mention this all has to be done without breaking the bank or arousing suspicion that the man in the big red suit might actually be mom and dad?
Try to relax and take a load off. After all, you’re in laid-back, friendly Cleveland for the holidays. We know how to make the most of the season, including festive fun the entire family will enjoy. Check out the following activities guaranteed to give you those warm, fuzzy feelings — no eggnog needed.
Clevelanders don’t have to make a trip to the North Pole to see Kris Kringle’s workshop; instead, they can pay a visit to Kringle’s Inventionasium Experience at Tower City Center in Downtown Cleveland. This immersive journey lets kids become honorary elves and help Mr. Kringle and his kooky inventing team prepare for the holiday season by creating and testing toys in the top-secret inventing lab. Kids will travel secret tunnels, crack codes, weather the Brainstorming Department, and bring toy designs to life in the Whatchamacallit Workshop, all culminating in a private visit with Mr. Kringle himself.
Select dates from Nov. 23-Dec. 24.
This annual event will transport visitors to festive “Holiday Hollow” for a night of glowing homes and playful gnomes. The winter wonderland will give kids from 1 to 92 the chance to see decorated trees and gingerbread houses, get creative with crafts, catch a ride on the Garden Express and more.
Select dates from Nov. 23-Jan. 4.
Santa Claus is comin’ to town and making a splash — literally — at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, where families can see him swim amongst the creatures of the deep. Stop for a photo op and have a chat with Scuba Claus as he navigates his way through the aquarium’s Shark Gallery.
Select dates from Nov. 29-Dec. 24.
If a fancy outing is your cup of tea, an afternoon at one of The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland’s tea times is a must-attend. At Teddy Bear Tea, the young and young-at-heart can raise their pinkies with a kid-friendly tea menu, teddy bear gifts and story time with Mrs. Claus. The Holiday Tea serves up festive teas, sandwiches and sweets.
Teddy Bear Tea: Nov. 30; Dec. 1, 8, 14, 15 & 22, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Holiday Tea: Dec. 16, 17, 19, 27, 28 & 29, 1 p.m.
Head to Public Square to check out Downtown Cleveland's official holiday tree, as well as six acres of magical lights that illuminate at the annual Winterfest event, but dazzle for the remainder of the season. Get moving with a Lolly the Trolley Holiday Lights Tour, where two routes traverse the Tremont neighborhood and downtown to see festive sights. You also can opt to stay toasty in your own vehicle at drive-through light displays like Magic of Lights, at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea.
Image © Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
New this year, see the zoo’s wild residents in a whole new light — actually, make that more than one million new lights. The zoo, transformed into a winter wonderland, will offer guests interactive zones, a light show on Waterfowl Lake, photos with Santa, a view of the A-Roar-A Borealis, and more.
Select dates from Nov. 22-Jan. 5.
What do fruit cake explosions and non-melting snow have in common? Science, of course! From liquid nitrogen ice cream demonstrations and chemical reactions to carpet skating and dancing in the snow, there’s hands-on family fun for everyone at this annual event.
Select dates from Dec. 26-Jan. 7.
Have a super time at this year’s Deck the Hall event, which carries the crowd-pleasing theme of “Classic Comic Hero Christmas.” The 65-room historic Manor House is adorned with magnificent holiday décor, including 19 rooms with themes of famous superheroes. Be dazzled as you stroll the gardens, conservatory and Gingerbread Land after enjoying the nightly tree lighting.
Select dates from Nov. 29-Dec. 30.
A team of exuberant elves leads children through five interactive stations, including story time with Mrs. Claus, snowmaking, reindeer food mixing, keepsake creating, plus a tour of the museum — which houses the world’s largest privately-owned collection of Christmas movie props.
Elf Labs run Nov. 17 & 24; Dec. 1, 8 & 15. Open for tours 357 days a year.
Go classic or quirky with must-see holiday shows like “A Christmas Carol” and Cleveland’s favorite, “A Christmas Story.” There’s nearly a dozen other festive options taking place before year’s end, as well — they just don’t include Red Ryder BB guns or fuzzy, pink bunny suits.
“A Christmas Carol” runs Nov. 29-Dec.2; “A Christmas Story” runs Nov. 29-Dec. 23.
Looking to add some holly jolly to your holiday season in The Land? Visit ThisisCleveland.com/holidays for events and trip-planning ideas.
If you’ve got a kid who goes absolutely bananas over holiday films, then gas-up the mini van and get him over to Castle Noel in Medina.
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