12 Dayton holiday traditions you won't want to miss

It’s never too early to start thinking about holiday fun, right?

Here are some of our favorite Dayton holiday events and traditions. Mark your calendars now:


Nov. 27-Dec. 23, Schuster Center Wintergarden, Second & Ludlow streets

A special shop run by kids for kids and priced within a kid’s budget. Also, visit Santa during special hours.

  • Nov. 27 - 3-9 p.m. (Santa 4-7:45 p.m.)
  • Nov. 28 - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Nov. 29 - noon-6 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 4 - noon-6 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 5 - 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 6 - noon-6 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 11 - noon-7 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 12 - 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 13 - noon-7 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)
  • Dec. 14-17 - CLOSED
  • Dec. 18-23 - 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Santa 2-5 p.m.)


Nov. 27-Dec.31; 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Christmas Eve/Day and during private events, Schuster Center Wintergarden, Second & Main streets

Come see one of the area’s longest-running holiday traditions — the magical old Rike’s department store holiday window displays. Experience the wonder of the animated elves, woodland animals, violinists and skaters right at the corner of Second and Main streets in downtown Dayton, where these displays delighted people beginning more than 70 years ago.


Nov. 27-Jan. 2; Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Kettering Tower lobby, corner of Second & Main streets

Visitors of all ages can view this beloved, one-of-a-kind model train display that was given to the community by Mrs. Virginia Kettering. The display can also be viewed through the building windows at Second and Main anytime. Call (937) 224-1518.


Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 20; 11 a.m.; Uno Pizzeria & Grill, 126 N. Main St.

Have a special lunch with Santa in close proximity to tons of downtown holiday events. Reservations required. Call for cost and reservations. 937-910-8000.


Dec. 5, 12, & 19; noon; The Neon, 130 E. Fifth St.

Bring the family for fun, festive films. Titles subject to change, call the theater for confirmation. Free admission for kids 12 and under, $2 for adults. Scheduled films:

  • Dec. 5 — Jingle All the Way
  • Dec. 12 — The Polar Express
  • Dec. 19 — A Christmas Story


Sure, you can drive through your neighborhoods, OR you could go see one of these two amazing holiday light displays.

The Legendary Lights of Clifton

For more than two decades, people throughout the region have celebrated the Christmas season with a massive holiday display featuring more than 3.5 million lights illuminating the mill, the gorge, the riverbanks, trees and bridges at Clifton Mill, 75 Water St., Clifton. 5 to 9 p.m. daily starting Friday, Nov. 27. Cost: $10, free for children 6 and younger.  Call (937) 767-5501.

Woodland Lights

The annual holiday display features a half-mile festival of lights and displays along a wooded path with costumed characters, Grinch World, amusement rides for kids, live deer and foxes, food trucks and other concessions. Visits with Santa Claus take place nightly in an historic log cabin before Christmas, followed by nightly visits with the Grinch after Christmas. Weekends feature revolving performances by arts organizations and interactive experiences with life-size puppets by the Zoot Theatre Company. Weeknights include a Kids Party in the Park with storytellers, giant games and free cookies for kids. Revolving Activities & Entertainment include carriage rides, pet nights and Star Wars Weekend. Washington Township Recreation Center, 895 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Washington Township. 6 to 9 p.m. nightly. Closed Dec. 24 and 25. $8. Free children 2 and younger. Call (937) 433-0130.


Usher in the winter season on the outdoor ice skating rink at RiverScape MetroPark Ice Rink, 111 E. Monument Ave., Dayton. Open daily beginning Nov. 27, but hours vary. Warm up with hot chocolate from the food concession and warm up at the outdoor fireplaces. No registration required. $7. All ages. Special holiday hours will be offered. (937) 278-2607.


  • Beginning with the Holiday on Ice Preview on Nov. 19: DVAC's ARTtoBUY gallery features fine art and craft by area artists in a special setting created by guest designers. ARTtoBUY is THE place to find one-of-a-kind, artist-made gifts that will be treasured forever. 118 N. Jefferson St., Dayton. (937) 224-3822.
  • Dec. 4-5: Handmade Holiday: Dozens of local artisans will be selling unique locally-made goods such as jewelry, handbags and home decor. Old Yellow Cab Building, 700 E. Fourth St., Dayton. 5-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Free. Swag bags for the first 25 purchasers each day.


Dec. 12: Santa Pub Crawl: The 10th annual event is a benefit for the Marine's Toys for Tots. The Oregon District, Fifth Street, Dayton. 5 p.m. $10 toy or donation. Visit toysfortots.org for more info.


  • Dec. 5: The symphonic rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings its current tour, "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve," to Nutter Center, Fairborn. 3 and 8 p.m. $37.50-$72. www.ticketcenterstage.com
  • Dec. 5-6: "A Christmas Carol": The 2015-2016 Projects Unlimited Star Attractions presents the Dickens classic. Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton. 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. $25-$50. ticketcenterstage.com
  • Dec. 10-19: "The Santaland Diaries": Human Race Theatre Company presents this David Sedaris tale about the misadventures of an elf-gone-bad. Loft Theatre, Dayton. 7 p.m. weeknights, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays. $24. ticketcenterstage.com
  • Dec. 11-22: "The Nutcracker": The Dayton Ballet presents its annual holiday show with special guests the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. The Schuster Center, Dayton. Various times. $17-$72. ticketcenterstage.com
  • Dec. 16-19: "A Charlie Brown Christmas": This holiday favorite is back by popular demand. Sinclair Community College, Blair Hall Theatre, 444 W. Third St., Dayton. 10 a.m. and noon Wednesday and Thursday, noon and 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. $8. sinclair.edu/tickets.
  • Dec. 20: Handel's Messiah: Ring in the season with this holiday classic. Westminster Presbyterian, 125 N. Wilkinson St., Dayton. 6:30 p.m. $29 adults, $27 educators, military, seniors, $14 students. ticketcenterstage.com


Take a romantic carriage ride or a fun family ride at The Greene in Beavercreek. Carriage rides will be available Saturdays Nov. 21, Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 from 6-10 p.m. The cost is $10 per person of $15 per couple (cash only). Children under 15 can ride free with a paying adult. Pick-up and Drop-off is located on the south side of the Town Square on Glengarry Drive.

What are your favorite Dayton holiday events and traditions? Drop us a line at contact@dayton.com.

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