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City of Stars: Where to see the best holiday light displays




Ah, wintertime. It brings frigid temperatures and an ever-blowing icy wind to Ohio, but it also gets people in the mood for the holidays—once the first snowfall arrives, everything becomes enchanting (as long as there isn’t ice). Cozily sitting at the fireside with a fresh cup of cocoa is a hard thing to beat, but what’s the next best thing? Holiday light displays! They’re joyful, colorful, and some even have animations or music paired with them. So grab your friends, family, and some mittens to go down this list of the best holiday light displays in Columbus.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – Wildlights

If you’ve never been to the Columbus Zoo—ever—you need to go around the holidays. Polar bears. Need I say more? In the warmer months you can visit all of the animals or cool off in the water park. Starting in mid- November, though, the zoo begins its annual Wildlights event. Lights and trees are put up all around the park; this includes music and shifting colors at different times, especially around the lake area. The Wildlights event also features a whole indoor display of Christmas movie clips and merchandise like Elf and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You can even meet “Rudolph” this year if you are feeling nostalgic.

German Village

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Who is ready for Village Lights tonight??

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Everyone already knows that German Village looks picturesque in the daytime—if you don’t know this, plan a trip to Schmidt’s immediately, because you’re missing out. German Village puts up beautiful lights each year in the wintertime, which usually consists of white icicles and string-light outlined architecture that looks like glowing gingerbread houses. The Book Loft looks especially cozy with its many windows full of books, and if you stop by the Fudge Haus near Schmidt’s, your holiday fantasy will truly be complete. These lights are best experienced walking around the village rather than driving through in my opinion; you can get a closer look inside and at peoples’ personal decoration styles. Happy dreaming!


Conservatory Aglow – Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

If you’re looking for a great display but want to stay a bit warmer, head over to The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Their Conservatory Aglow holiday display features an interactive portion dubbed “The Pool” that is computerized and will glow wherever and whenever someone jumps on its pads. There is also a rainbow tunnel that will make for the perfect selfie or a cute photo for your Instagram feed. The Conservatory takes a unique approach because many of its displays are actually sculptures by artists (think Otherworld-esque). There is even a gingerbread competition that is put out for viewing, so if you are looking for gingerbread decorating ideas, look no further. This is a great chance to see art, plants, and the holidays come together—what could be better?

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights – Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds

You’ve probably driven around neighborhoods to see holiday lights in your car many times as a kid and as an adult, and this display aims to keep the classic trend going. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights lets you drive around the Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds in your car to experience all of the amazing lights without breaking in your new snow boots. This is a great opportunity to carpool with a few friends for a fun midweek night out together, or make it a date night if your partner is crazy about the holidays; play “All I Want for Christmas is You” for the best potential results. Put a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate together with a few cookies to snack on—this will be a night to put your heart at ease.

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Cedar Point, Kings Island are suing to get you back




It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Columbus Zoo & Aquarium are allowed to re-open but Cedar Point and Kings Island have been snubbed in Gov. Mike DeWine’s most recent announcement that Ohio’s entertainment venues were allowed to re-open.

After being left out of the party, Cedar Point, Kalahari Resort and Kings Island sued the director of the Ohio Department of Health Thursday, arguing that Dr. Amy Acton doesn’t have the authority to keep the state’s amusement parks and waterparks shut down and in doing so is violating the park’s rights.

The lawsuit was brought by attorney Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. The county health departments for both parks were also named in the lawsuit.

No word yet from the Ohio Department of Health as to when, or if, either amusement park will be allowed to open in June.

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Updated hours for North Market as first Farmers’ Market of the season opens Saturday




Get excited Columbus foodies - this Saturday marks the beginning of North Market’s Farmers’ Market season! The Farmers’ Market will tantalize your taste buds every Saturday this summer through October, from 8 a.m. until noon at the North Market outdoor plaza at 59 Spruce Street.

During the coronavirus pandemic, North Market provided customers with fresh pick-up bundles. Now they’ve updated their operating hours to give consumers who want to shop again a chance to pick their own culinary delights.

"The hope is that a gradual reopening will strike a balance between the desire to serve the public and still respect the very real health concerns still shared by merchants, public, and staff," said Rick Harrison Wolfe, North Market's executive director, in a press release Thursday.

The updated hours, which will go into effect this Sat., June 6, are as follows:

  • Monday - Tuesday: closed
  • Wednesday - Friday, Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

All of those in attendance will have to observe the following guidelines as outlined in a press release by North Market:

  • North Market's mask requirement that applies to indoor merchants and guests will also apply to all outdoor vendors and guests.
  • Access to each farmers' market booth will be limited. Markings on ground will indicate this requirement and will show the distance required between people. Only one person/group traveling together may be in each box at a time.
  • Several farms and vendors will offer contact-free shopping and pre-orders. North Market asks that guests pre-order and plan out shopping trips when possible. This helps keep crowds to a minimum and lines moving smoothly.
  • Farms and vendors will provide hand sanitizer for guest use.
  • North Market farms and vendors are committed to helping prevent the spread of illness by washing hands frequently, covering coughs/sneezes, staying home when sick, and avoiding exposure to others who are sick. We ask that all guests follow the same protocols and do not visit North Market or the Farmers' Market if feeling ill.
  • North Market farms and vendors will continue to strictly follow all local public health guidelines, safety protocols, and best practices.

If you’re interested in which merchants will be open on what days, North Market has been dedicated to providing you with that information during the pandemic. You can find the list, which is updated daily, here.

Although there are still limitations on indoor seating, outdoor seating on the porch and the farmers’ market plaza are currently available.

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Weekend Getaway: Ohio State Park lodges reopen




Cooped up inside of our homes for the past few months, everyone could use a change of scenery. Luckily for those that love the great outdoors of Ohio, the perfect getaway is now possible once again.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced on May 28 that all nine Ohio State Park lodges would be reopened by June 5.

The places where you can escape to are listed below in order of closest proximity to Columbus to furthest:

  • Deer Creek
  • Burr Oak
  • Mohican Lodge
  • Salt Fork Lodge
  • Shawnee 
  • Hueston Woods
  • Maumee Bay
  • Punderson Manor

Director of State Park Lodges Tom Arvan had this to say in the May 28 press release:

“Our staff has been working diligently to ensure that guests return to a safe and sanitized environment following the CDC safety guidelines. Our goal is for our guests to feel comfortable as they enjoy the fun activities and relax in the natural beauty of the lodges and all the state parks have to offer this summer.”

Visit to secure your much-needed wilderness adventure today.

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