Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill

The best Christmas light displays across the region

When it comes to beloved holiday traditions, taking a tour of impressive holiday lights displays with hot chocolate in hand is high on the list. 

>>STILL OPEN: The best holiday lights displays that are open after Christmas

Thankfully, there are numerous places throughout Dayton and Cincinnati to catch a glimpse of magical holiday lights displays. 

>> 7 of our favorite holiday traditions

Here are some of our favorite places to go to see Christmas light displays throughout the holiday season:

>> COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS: Tree lighting celebrations across Dayton

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


Unlike other lighting festivals where the lights are already on when you arrive, Clifton Mill stages a dramatic opening where people who arrive at 6 p.m. get to see all four million lights turn on at once, producing a Fourth of July-like “ooh and aah” moment. Throughout the evening, either on the hour or every half hour, the lights will be turned off and then turned on again so the later-comers can experience it as well. Don't miss the Santa Claus Museum on site. Refreshments for sale.

>> Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill wins $50,000 prize on national TV special

>> What makes the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill different from the rest

When: Nov. 29 – Dec. 30, 2019

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

Location: 75 Water St., Clifton

Cost: $10. Kids 3 and under are free. Parking is free.

More info: 937-767-5501 | FacebookWebsite

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 37th annual PNC Festival of Lights. The display voted the best holiday zoo lights by USA TODAY for two consecutive years features 3 million LED lights and giant animal lanterns. Visitors can search for Fiona fairies in Fiona’s Fairyland, watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, ride the BB&T Toyland Express or see the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake. Santa will be available for visits starting at 4 p.m. through Dec. 23, an hour before the rest of the festivities begin.

>> WORTH THE DRIVE: Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights is back and this year there’s a new Fiona Fairyland

When: Nov. 16, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020

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

Location: 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati

Cost: Packages start at: Adults: Online $15, Child/Sr: Online $9.

Ticket deals: Plan-ahead pricing allows guests to save by purchasing tickets for select dates online in advance. Prices for traditionally lower traffic nights, such as Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, will be as much as half less than those purchased for the most popular nights. Prices will go up based on demand for certain nights, so buy early to get the best rate. Discount tickets are available at Kroger.

More info: Website | Facebook |  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 27th anniversary season with the lights and sights people have come to love and a month of holiday activities. The half-mile wooded path is perhaps the signature feature of Woodland Lights, featuring lighted holiday-themed figures and vignettes such as reindeer, elves and snowflakes, but also regular objects such as airplanes and helicopters. In addition to the lights, the event includes amusement rides, live animals, concessions and activities for kids. 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.

>> Wander through the enchanted forest at Woodland Lights


When: Nov. 22-Dec. 23, 2019. The display is open Friday through Sunday, Nov. 22-Dec. 1 and nightly Dec. 6-23.

Hours: 6-9 p.m.

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

Cost: Tickets are available at the gate, any Washington Twp. recreation facility or online. Tickets are $9 age 3 and up. Tickets are free for children 2 and younger. 

More info: Facebook | Website

>> Local holiday attraction’s brand new ferris wheel will take its lights to new heights

Kings Island will turn into a winter wonderland during the holiday season with gorgeous lights, including an illuminated Eiffel Tower, and an outdoor ice rink. WinterFest returns bigger and better in 2018 with rides, shops, shows, treats, carriage rides, skating and more. The special event opens on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Jordan Sternberg


WinterFest, one of the Cincinnati area’s most beloved annual traditions, returned in 2017 after a 12-year hiatus. Visitors throughout Southwest Ohio and beyond can experience Snowflake Lake Ice Skating on International Street, take in Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town, and enjoy Rivertown Wonderland as part of Kings Island’s WinterFest celebration. The park is transformed into 10 enchanting winter wonderlands featuring ice skating on the Royal Fountain, the Eiffel Tower transformed into a magical 314-foot tall Christmas tree and a number of rides to enjoy including Mystic Timbers. Carriage rides will allow you to take in the lights and sights of WinterFest atop a horse-drawn carriage. Overall, the experience features more than 5 million lights.


>> Kings Island to transform into winter wonderland

When: Select nights Nov. 22-Dec. 31. Remaining dates in December are Dec. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

Hours: WinterFest operating hours are 5-10 p.m. each night except for Saturdays (4-10 p.m.) and New Year’s Eve (5 p.m. – 1 a.m.).

Where: Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason

Cost: Ticket packages start at $27.99 per person

More info: FacebookWebsite

Deeds Carillon is now transformed into the Carillon Tree of Light during the holiday season. The breathtaking Tree of Light — an unmistakable symbol of Christmas in the Miami Valley — signals the return of Carillon Historical Park’s month-long holiday celebration: A Carillon Christmas. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photo: Tom Gilliam


See Carillon Historical Park’s 65-acre campus transformed into a winter wonderland of sparkle, magic and holiday cheer. The Carillon Tree of Light, decorated 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, carolers, model train displays, train rides and scavenger hunts for extra fee. 

>> The Carillon Tree of Light and 8 more ways to find your Christmas spirit at Carillon Park


When: Nov. 21-Dec. 30, 2019 (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) 

Times: Sunday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.

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

Cost: $12 per adult (18-59), $10 seniors (60 and older), $8 children (3-17), free for children under 3 and Dayton History members. 

More Info: FacebookWebsite

With over a million sparkling lights, themed displays and Santa, many area families continue to make Light Up Middletown a part of their annual holiday tradition.
Photo: Angela Hatke


With over a million sparkling lights, themed displays and Santa, Light Up Middletown has been a part of the holiday tradition for two decades. This drive-through light display offers themed displays, such as a floating sea serpent in the reflecting lake, whales giving Santa’s reindeer a ride, Santa’s Workshop, an American flag, a penguin village and more. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available in the Santa House from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings through Sunday, Dec. 21. Admission by donation. Open nightly, 6-10 p.m., Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, including holidays and regardless of the weather.


When: Nov. 28–Dec. 31, 2019 

Hours: 6–10 p.m.  

Location: Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave. in Middletown

Cost: Donations accepted.

More info: FacebookWebsite

Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill offers guests a holiday light experience that brings art and nature together. The popular attraction will be open from Nov. 22 through Jan. 5. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer


For the second year in a row, the creators of Lumenocity and BLINK Cincinnati will have an art installation in the pavilion as part of Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill. This popular drive-through display will offer guests a holiday light experience that brings art and nature together in the 300-acre sculpture park. A few of the traditional features will include decorated ponds with swans, a skating pond with a sequence of skaters that light up and doves overhead.

>> Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill: What to know about this year’s plans

 When: Nov. 22, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. Open holidays  

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 6-10 p.m.  

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

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.  

More info: (513) 863-8336 | FacebookWebsite


Walk through more than 1 million dancing holiday lights synchronized to holiday music. Stroll through seven 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 to experience the show in an entirely new way. 

 When: Open Nov. 22- Dec. 23, 2019. Closed Thanksgiving Day. 

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

Location: 3205 S. Waynesville Road in Morrow 

Cost: $20 per carload. Free parking

More info: (513) 444-9362 | FacebookWebsite 

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


This two-and-a-half-mile, drive-through light display features more than one million LED lights synchronized to festive holiday music. Features include larger than life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and tunnels of lights. 

 When: Open every night Nov. 8, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020, including holidays 

Hours: Dusk until 10 p.m. 

Location: Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati 

Cost: $6 per person. Children 3 and under free. Tickets are available online or at the gate. Local charities who will benefit from Christmas Nights of Lights: Salvation Army, The Ruth Lyons Children’s Fund, St. Vincent DePaul, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Starshine Hospice and Toys for Tots.

More info: FacebookWebsite

The Land of Illusion Christmas Glow on Thomas Road in Madison Township is open nightly through December with over 3.5 million lights in a 1.5 mile drive-through light display. The Christmas Village with Santa is open on select nights. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer


Celebrate the season at The Christmas Glow, a mile of 3 million lights at the Christmas Around the World drive-thru experience. If you’re willing to get out of your car, you can visit Santa at the Christmas Village Santa Workshop and warm up by the fire pit. There are also shops and a petting zoo.


When: Nov. 22-Dec. 30, 2019

Hours: Monday-Wednesday drive-through only, 6-10 p.m. Thursday to Sunday drive-through and Christmas Village open, 6-10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday 6-11 p.m.

Where: Land of Illusion, 8762 Thomas Road in Middletown

Cost: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday drive-through only $18 per carload. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday drive through and village tickets $22 per carload. Bring a canned good for $2 off park admission and it will be donated to The Hope House Mission of Middletown. Additionally, there will be a Toys for Tots drop-off location at the venue. Group tickets by bus load (eight or more people) are $35 Monday to Wednesday drive-through only and $45 per bus load Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (drive-through and village).

More info: FacebookWebsite

Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods has been a Cincinnati tradition for 28 years. (Source: Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods Facebook)


This drive-through lights display is built over a mile of wooded roadway and has been a Cincinnati family tradition for nearly three decades. Holiday-themed displays depict everything from Santa Claus and his elves to every animal on the ark. If you’re up to getting out of your warm car, stop by Santaland for warm beverages, carolers, baked goods, a gift shop, a train display and photos with Santa.

When: Nov. 16-Dec. 31, 2019 (Santaland closes after Dec. 23)

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

Location: 11450 Lebanon Road, Route 42, Sharonville 

Cost: $15 per vehicle ($45 for buses/large passenger vans). A portion of the proceeds will go to A Child’s Hope International. 

More info: FacebookWebsite

Holiday Lights at Lostcreek Reserve in Troy will open on Nov. 29, 2019. The new drive-through lights display will be open weekends only and is set on a picturesque historic farm and wooded area. Here is sneak peek at what to expect from a media preview event on Nov. 23, 2019. DAVID MOODIE/CONTRIBUTED


The first season of the Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve in Troy will begin on Nov. 29 and run through Dec. 29. Located on a scenic 456-acre reserve, the mile-long drive-through tour will feature 80 light displays that work to enhance the natural beauty of the surroundings. The tour will end with a special glimpse of the historic homestead and barns decorated for the season. 

>> New drive-through Christmas lights coming to woods and historic farm

When: Open on weekends from Nov. 29-Dec. 29, 2019

Hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 6-10 p.m., Sundays from 6-9 p.m.

Location: Lost Creek Reserve: 2385 E. St. Rt. 41 in Troy

Cost: $10 per car and $15 for groups of 15+. Cash only. 

More info: (937) 335-6273 | FacebookWebsite

Fort St. Clair's Whispering Christmas light display is open through December from 6-10 p.m. every night with hot chocolate and cookies. A $5 donation per car is requested to help to cover the operation costs. Fort Saint Clair State Park is located at 135 Camden Road in Eaton. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Tom Gilliam


Since 1987, the Whispering Christmas lights display has been a holiday favorite in the city of Eaton. The display features over two million lights in total, casting a jolly glow over Fort St. Clair State Park. Throughout the end of December, the lights display will be open every night from 6-10 p.m. Santa Claus will be making an appearance every night from 6-9 p.m. until Dec. 23. Cabins are open to visitors through Dec. 24. 


>> Eaton’s Whispering Christmas lights display has become a decades-old tradition

When: Open every night until Dec. 31.

Hours: 6-10 p.m., every night of the week

Location: Fort St. Clair State Park, 135 Camden Rd., Eaton

Cost: $5 per car

More info: Facebook