City of Lights in Columbus, Ohio
The Scioto Mile—Grand Illumination
Along the Scioto River, golden orbs hang from open pavilions and tree branches, and circles of color dance across the base of the fountains. The recently renovated riverfront—with new biking and walking paths and a fine-dining restaurant—is staying green with 200,000-plus LED lights. A curved video screen by the interactive fountain shows images synched to music, including a chorus line of dancing gingerbread men that kids can’t resist joining.
During the day, art-lovers at this 7-acre downtown park will recognize the perfectly groomed topiaries as a take on Georges Seurat’s 1886 painting A Sunday on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. By night, the 54 ivy-and-snow-clad gentlemen and ladies of the tableau become even more magical when the lights on surrounding evergreen trees illuminate the scene. For the perfect Instagram shot, arrive before dusk because the unlit topiaries tend to blend into the night.
Brilliant hues of fuchsia and teal illuminate the evening sky—and the 6 acres of this park. A crazy quilt of more than 200,000 lights seems to cover every tree, shrub and building in the commons. A stroll through the park’s Franklin Park Conservatory Gardens winds past large colorful ornaments, crimson winterberry shrubs and conifers. Columbus Commons is also pet-friendly, so can enjoy the festivities together.
- Photo by Dave Wenner
Alum Creek Fantasy of Lights
Take in the peace, joy and 40-foot-tall snowmen from the comfort of your car at this drive-through light show, north of downtown. The 3-mile-long Alum Creek State Park campground transforms into a world of animated installations and 1 million lights. As you drive through arcs of red poinsettias, you’ll pass reindeer fishing and all 12 days of Christmas. And is that Santa riding a dinosaur? A Christmas miracle, indeed. Admission is $20 per car; plan on at least an hour to drive the winding route. At Santa’s Gift Shop, get your picture taken with the jolly gent himself.