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While we're not entirely sure we're ready to take on the holiday madness, our gorgeous city is already well on its way to rolling out the festive red carpet for visiting friends and family.
You see, we've mastered the magic, splendor, beauty and all that other mushy stuff you get around the holidays through twinkling light shows, jingling musical performances, festive decor and even on-stage productions of classic holiday films.
But this is Cleveland. And, we do things our own way. Check out these 10 holiday happenings to celebrate the season.
The Polar Express
So your kids want some holiday magic? We're about to help you win the "Parent of the Year" award. From Nov. 11-Dec. 21, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad comes to life as the classic "Polar Express." This vintage railroad traverses through a national park ridden by pajama-clad kiddos and their parents on their way to visit the North Pole. While on board the two-hour adventure, families enjoy an evening of hot cocoa, cookies, caroling, and a reading of the classic story. Let's not forget, of course, a little chit-chat time with Santa himself. NOTE: Tickets went on sale Oct. 2. This event is wildly popular and sells out quickly! If your dates are no longer available this year, make sure to set up a reminder on your calendar for next year.
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The Cleveland Flea Holiday Showcase
Multiple choice question: Would you like to (A) spend hours upon hours at a suburban mall fighting traffic to desperately search for holiday gifts, or (B) spend an afternoon perusing one-of-a-kind gifts made with the skilled craftsmanship of an independent artist in Northeast Ohio? Hmm... unless you're some kind of holiday traffic enthusiast, we think the answer is pretty simple. Thankfully, the Cleveland Flea Holiday Showcase offers multiple days to come down and get everything you need for perfect gifts. This year, the event takes place Nov. 10-12 and 17-19; Dec. 8-10 and 15-17.
Winter Wine & Ale Fest
How about kicking off the holidays with a sip of cider? On Saturday, Nov. 18, Downtown Cleveland is having its 8th annual Winter Wine & Ale Fest to toast to the upcoming holiday season. This event is your all-in-one stop to try fresh cider, drinks from local breweries, delectable food and more. Also, in the spirit of the holidays, there is nothing like giving back to those in need. Participate in the Wine Pull and Beer toss--all proceeds go to a charity for Downtown Cleveland's homeless community. Register here.
Holidays at the Higbee
Take a step back in time at the JACK Cleveland Casino. But, wait, didn't the casino just open in 2012? Well, yes. But the iconic building in which it is housed is the former home of the Higbee Department Store, which once served as a Mecca for elaborate interior and exterior holiday decorations, including classic window displays. The casino brings back many of the celebrated decorations--along with several gorgeous window displays--during its Holidays at the Higbee event happening Nov. 21-Jan. 1. And, heck, since you're there, you might as well play a quick hand of blackjack, amiright?
Every year, the Cleveland Botanical Garden transforms into the king of holiday events here in Cleveland. Even when it's not the holidays, the Cleveland Botanical Garden's indoor glasshouses--complete with flowers, plants, wildlife and even dozens of butterflies--is truly a sight to behold. During the holidays, it takes on new life with brilliant Christmas trees, a huge gingerbread competition, holiday music and even a kids' train ride through the garden. It's called GLOW and it's one heck of a family-friendly hotspot Nov. 24-Dec. 31.
Winterfest is typically known for its legendary lighting ceremony and brilliant fireworks display on Public Square during the evening of the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And, what many don't realize is that Winterfest is a day-long Downtown event that includes family-friendly Santa sightings, horse-drawn carriage rides and Downtown tours. Click here to learn more about the event, happening November 25.
Downtown in December Trolley Tours
So, you've been hearing a lot about Cleveland lately, haven't you? What's all the jibber-jabber about anyway? The stretch of Euclid Ave. in Downtown Cleveland that connects Public Square and Playhouse Square has undergone such an energetic revitalization over the past few years, many ex-pats are suddenly feeling the desire to come home. Board a free, red Lolly the Trolley running on Euclid Ave. any Saturday in December and get a guided tour through all the incredible development.
Dinner + Deck The Hall
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, located in the Akron area, is an estate featuring a historic 65-room Tudor Revival manor house, conservatory, lodge and 70 acres of artistically landscaped grounds and formal gardens. So when they put on a holiday event, as you might imagine, the place truly comes alive with the holiday spirit. Running December 1, 8 and 15, Deck the Hall glitters with more than 800,000 sparkling lights and includes the outdoor Ginger Bread Land for kids, elaborately decorated rooms and holiday treats.
Nothing better than free admission to many of University Circle's renowned museums, gardens, galleries, churches and schools. How about a bevy of holiday activities like live music, craft making, storytelling, a singing Santa, a massive gingerbread competition and ice skating? It's all happening in University Circle during the 21st Annual Holiday CircleFest, Dec. 2-3. The two-day event concludes with the Cleveland Museum of Art's Winter Lantern Lighting from 5:30-6 p.m.
Holiday Theater & Musical Productions
We wish you a Cleveland Christmas! Start your holiday off right by watching live performances of the famous A Christmas Story, the Singing Angels 2017 Holiday Spectacular, or listening to the beloved Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concerts. Cleveland has so many incredible holiday theater and musical productions that we needed to create an entirely separate article covering these on-stage Cleveland traditions. Okay, okay. Enough with the #humblebrag. Read more here.
Cleveland Botanical Garden, located in Cleveland’s University Circle cultural district, is an ever-changing 10-acre urban oasis where visitors find...
Considered one of the top art museums in the nation, visit for an hour or explore all day; free of charge to all. Renowned for the quality and breadth...
Experience the beauty of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park from the comfort of a train. Climb aboard at one of our stations and travel through the...
JACK Cleveland Casino opened in May 2012 as Ohio’s first full-service casino and welcomes millions of guests each year. Located inside the historic...
Home of The Cleveland Orchestra and one of the world's most beautiful concert halls, offers public & private tours. Call 216-231-7421 for more...
Completed in 1915, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron, Ohio is the former estate of the family of F.A. Seiberling, the co-founder of The Goodyear Tire...