10 must-see holiday light displays close to home

Tis the season to admire wonderful whimsical displays through crisp air under the light of the moon with family, friends or your special significant other. Dayton is home to many parks and sceneries that offer light shows all season long. You will not want to miss out on an opportunity to walk or drive through some of the most beautiful holiday décor this fall and winter. 

Here is a list of the best places to go to see holiday light displays in Southwest Ohio:

The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill will open for the season on Nov. 25. STAFF FILE PHOTO (STAFF PHOTO)


The Clifton Mill lights are celebrating 30 years. Gaze upon 3.5 million lights covering the bridge, the mill’s windows, roof, sides and bottom while every hour the lights shut off completely leaving guests in total and complete darkness. As quietness sweeps the atmosphere, orchestral music begins a medley of Christmas songs and lights over the bridge will twinkle on and off again. Don't miss the Santa Claus Museum on site. Refreshments for sale.

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Cost: $10. Kids 6 and under are free. Parking is free.

When: Nov. 24 – Dec. 31 

Times: 5-9 p.m. Lights go on at 6 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Location: 75 Water St., Clifton, OH 45316 

More info: Website

>> RELATED: Rustic hike and gigantic pancake adventure at Clifton Mill


Scenes from the annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. CONTRIBUTED


The Cincinnati Zoo will once again be transformed into a “Wild Wonderland” for the 35th annual PNC Festival of Lights. The display voted the best holiday zoo lights by USA TODAY features 3 million LED lights. Visitors can watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, ride the BB&T Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland, see the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake. Santa will be available for visits starting at 4 p.m., an hour before the rest of the festivities begin.

Cost: Packages start at: Adults: Online $17(Gate $19) Child/Sr: Online $21 (Gate $22).

Ticket deals: Discount tickets available at Kroger locations.  Skyline Chili Half Price Nights are Monday through Wednesday nights from opening until Dec 6. (November 20,21,22, 27, 28, 29 & December 4,5, & 6). Pick up a coupon at your local participating Skyline Chili location.

When: Nov. 18 – Jan. 1 

Times: Sundays to Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. & Fridays and Saturdays from 5-10 p.m.

Location: 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220 

More info: Website | (513) 281-4700 | Buy tickets online here

Get in the holiday spirit at the Woodland Lights annual display of twinkling lights in Washington Twp. CONTRIBUTED


Woodland Lights celebrates its 25th anniversary season with the lights and sights people have come to love and a month of holiday activities. To mark the occasion, every night of this year’s festival includes carriage rides, amusement rides, live animals, concessions and activities for kids. Woodland Lights offers a walk through eight acres of lights sparkling along a wooded path and a whimsical view of illuminated characters preparing for the holidays. Santa and his elf welcome children nightly through Dec. 23 to their historic log cabin that’s decorated for the holidays. Costumed characters visit many nights and local arts organizations take the stage on weekends.

Cost: Tickets are available at the gate, any Washington Twp. recreation facility or online. $8 for adults. Free for children 2 and younger. 

When: Opens for the season Nov. 25. The holiday lighting festival is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 3 and nightly Dec. 8-30, except Dec. 23 and 24.

Hours: 6-9 p.m.

Location: Countryside Park on the Washington Township Recreation Campus, 895 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Washington Twp.

More info:  Website

Ohio’s largest tree of lights — at 200 feet tall and 20,000 volts — is now lighting up the night sky at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton. The tree lighting on Wednesday kicks off A Carillon Christmas, a month-long celebration filled with holiday-themed activities at the park. TODD JACKSON/STAFF (Contributing Writer)


See Carillon Historical Park’s 65-acre campus transformed into a winter wonderland of sparkle, magic and holiday cheer including Santa.

The Carillon Tree of Light with thousands of lights stands at 200 feet, affixed to the top of 151 foot tall Deeds Carillon that was dedicated in 1942 by Col. Edward A. and Mrs. Edith Walton Deeds as a gift to the Dayton community. The first concert played on the Carillon took place on Christmas Eve, 1941, just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Tree consists of over 20,000 light bulbs on nearly 100 separate strands that come to life each night at dusk and blaze through until dawn for the entire month of December. Special activities include photos with Santa, caroloers, model train displaym plus train ride, carousel ride and scavenger hunts for extra fee. 

Cost: $8 per adult (18-59), $7 seniors (60 and older), $5 children (3-17), free for children under 3 and Dayton History members. 

When: Nov. 29 through Dec. 30 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) 

Times: 5-10 p.m. 

Location: Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

More Info: Website

(Angela Hatke)


After setting attendance records last year, Light Up Middletown is preparing for its 19th season. Drive your way through this 100-acre illumination display in Smith Park this holiday season. Notice the thousands of twinkling lights including a floating sea serpent in the lake, a penguin village, deer leaping over the roadway, whales, Santa’s workshop and more. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit every Friday and Saturday from 7-9 p.m. through Dec 23. The signature entry tunnel is longer this year. Hot air balloons will once again be on display during a special balloon glow event from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

Cost: You choose the price; make any donation at the gate that you deem appropriate. Donations support nonprofit groups in the community and upgrades to Smith Park.

When: Nov. 23 – Dec. 31 

Times: 6 P.M. – 10 P.M. every day regardless of weather 

Location: 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown

More info: Website

>> What’s new at Light Up Middletown this season?

Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill will offer guests a holiday light experience that brings art and nature together. The popular attraction will be open for the 2017 season from Nov. 17 through Dec. 31. CONTRIBUTED (Contributing Writer)


Holiday Lights on the Hill will feature gardens of light, trees that sparkle up to 60 feet in the air, colorful forests and illuminated sculpture. This is the 16th season for the annual light display. See the 300-acre Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park sparkling with over 2 million twinkling lights in this drive-through display. 


Cost: Monday through Thursday $20; Friday through Sunday $25 (Per carload). Admission for Pyramid Hill members presenting a current membership card is $15 every day.  

When: Nov. 17 through Dec. 31. Open holidays  

Hours: Hours are Monday through Thursday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  

Location: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton  

More info: Website

>> What to know about Pyramid Hill’s holiday lights

The Christmas Ranch Light Spectacular lights up 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow. CONTRIBUTED (


Find out why this display has received national attention. Walk through more than 1 million dancing holiday lights synchronized to holiday music. Stroll through six Christmas shops and stop in Santa’s Bakery. Get your picture taken with Santa and take a train or wagon ride. Be sure to pick up your 3D glasses. 


Cost: $15 per vehicle Monday through Thursday and $20 per vehicle Friday through Sunday. Wagon rides are $4 per person ages 3 and up (under 3 free) 

When: Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 23. Closed Thanksgiving Day. 

Hours: Sunday through Thursday 5-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5-10 p.m. 

Location: 3205 S. Waynesville Road, Morrow 

More info: Website 


Janet and Bob Niederman present the family farm s free Walk Thru the Bible Christmas Display, which draws more than 10,000 guests annually. (GINNY MCCABE) (GINNY MCCABE)


Enjoy this walk-through Christmas lights display. Walk Thru the Bible features tens of thousands of lights set to the sounds of holiday music, plus live animals. 


Cost: Free  

When: Nov. 24 through Dec. 30.  

Hours: Sunday through Thursday 6-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 6-10 p.m.  

Location: Lesourdsville West Chester Road. Use 4972 in your GPS to access parking lot.  

More info:  Website 


Coney Island’s popular drive-through Christmas lights show will return for a second holiday season. CONTRIBUTED (Staff Report)


Take a 2.5-mile car ride through Christmas displays and light shows with over a million lights, tunnels and more all synchronized to music. See larger than life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and more. 


Cost: $6 per person. Children 3 and under free. 

When: Now through Jan. 1 including holidays 

Hours: Dusk until 10 p.m. 

Location: Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati 

More info: Website



This drive-through lights display is built over a mile of wooded roadway. Holiday-themed displays depict everything from Santa Claus and his elves to every animal on the ark. 


Cost: $13 per vehicle ($45 for buses/large passenger vans) 

When: Nov. 17 through Dec. 31 

Hours: 6-9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 

Location: 11450 Lebanon Road, Route 42, Sharonville 

More info: Website

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