Winter may not be everyone’s favorite time of year, but you can still find plenty to do to keep you busy. Whether you love holiday lights displays, fantastic art, stand-up comedy, music, or even beer, Columbus, Ohio has got you covered.
While the winter weather isn’t always awesome, there are plenty of things to do to keep you warm and toasty all season long. These great winter activities in Columbus, Ohio will surely make your season joyful and full of fun.
The Best Winter Activities in Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is growing like crazy and is actually the 14th largest city in the United States. While the city’s midwestern location might not be what you’re after for a winter vacation, it shouldn’t be overlooked. I promise…winter in Columbus, Ohio can be fun!
Franklin Park Conservatory
Franklin Park Conservatory is a great place to visit during the winter. You’ll find lots to see, from gorgeous flower displays to Chihuly glass to light displays. There are also classes offered throughout the winter, including gardening, culinary arts, crafting, and more.
Conservatory Aglow at the Franklin Park Conservatory is a fantastic light display in Columbus. From November to January, you can check out an exhibition by Dale Chihuly and an interactive light sculpture by Jen Lewin plus holiday favorites like the poinsettia trees, rainbow tunnel, and the gingerbread competition. This year, you’ll also find a Candyland display with a life-sized gingerbread house, plus a fantastic train display.
Here’s some of what’s happening at Franklin Park Conservatory this winter:
- Holiday Blooms: TBD
- Paul Busse Garden Railway: June 3, 2023 to January 7, 2024
- Conservatory Aglow: TBD
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
There’s lots to do at the Columbus Zoo in winter. Check out these wintertime activities to stay warm all season long.
- Wildlights 2023: Daily from November 17, 2023 through January 7, 2024
- Sensory Friendly Lights Stroll and Santa Experience: November 14, 2023
- Sensory Friendly Santa Experience: November 14, 2023 and December 10, 2023
- Zoo Year’s Eve: December 31, 2023
Wildlights is one of my favorite winter activities in Columbus, Ohio. The zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland every evening (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day). Bundle up grab a hot chocolate to explore the zoo under the glow of millions of lights.
Segway Holiday Lights Tour
For a fun evening activity, why not take a segway tour that explores the beautiful holiday lights displays around downtown Columbus? You’ll even get to listen to holiday music during your tour. Tickets are available here.
Location: 400 North High Street, Columbus
Dates: November 25 to December 23, 2023
Dine In An Igloo at VASO
Since it’s cold in Columbus in winter, you might as well embrace it by dining in an igloo. Yes, that’s right, you can enjoy tapas and cocktails from a heated igloo at VASO, a trendy rooftop bar in the trendy Bridge Park section of Dublin. Each igloo has fur-covered seats and blankets to make your experience cozy and fantastic.
Columbus Museum of Art
If you want something to do on a cold Columbus winter afternoon, check out the fantastic Columbus Museum of Art. The museum features permanent collections, special exhibitions, and many special events and programs throughout the year.
Check out these special events and exhibitions this winter in Columbus:
- Sara Rosalena – In All Directions: September 9, 2023, through February 4, 2024
- Accra! The Rise of a Global Art Community: October 6, 2023, to January 28, 2024
- Quilting a Future – Contemporary Quilts and American Tradition: October 6, 2023 to January 28, 2024
Short North Gallery Hop
The Short North Gallery Hop takes place on the first Saturday of every month. This Columbus tradition includes gallery exhibitions, performers, music, food, and drink. Don’t miss this year’s Holiday Hop which takes place on December 2, 2023. This holiday-themed Gallery Hop is the biggest Hop of the year!
If you’ve got kids, COSI is a no-brainer in the winter. It’s a great place to spend the day exploring all of the cool exhibits, taking in a movie in the Giant Screen Theater, or checking out the Planetarium.
Check out some of the current and limited-time exhibits:
- Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence – Opens October 14, 2023
- Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience – Opens October 24, 2023
Funny Bone Comedy Club
Take a break from the cold and head over to the Funny Bone Comedy Club located at Easton Town Center to have some fun. You’ll find great stand-up comedy and a full-service restaurant, making it a great stop for date night.
Here’s just some of what’s coming up this winter at the Funny Bone:
- Morgan Jay: November 1, 2023
- Phil Hanley: November 2, 2023
- Anjelah Johnson: November 3 to 4, 2023
- Majah Hype: November 5, 2023
- Steve Hofstetter: November 6 to 7, 2023
- Gary Owen: November 9 to 12, 2023
- Kevin James Thornton: November 15, 2023
- Sommore: November 24 to 26, 2023
- John Morgan: December 1 to 3, 2023
- Greg Warren: December 8 to 10, 2023
- Dustin Nickerson: December 13, 2023
- Ryan O’Flanagan: December 14, 2023
- Dale Jones: December 15 to 17, 2023
- JP Sears: December 22 to 23, 2023
- Rob Little: December 19 to 30, 2023
- Ashley Gavin: January 5 to 6, 2024
- Josh Blue: January 18 to 20, 2024
- Steph Tolev: January 21, 2024
- Ismo: January 4, 2024
- Jeff Arcuri: February 23 to 24, 2024
Read More: If you’re looking to get away for a day or 2, check out these awesome day trips that are all within a 2-hour drive of Columbus.
2023 Winter Events and Festivals in Columbus
Ohio-Made Holiday Market
This fun holiday shopping event features over 80 independent makers and businesses that are all based in Ohio. You’ll find home decor, clothing, crafts, and gifts. Tickets are available online or at the door.
Location: Hollywood Casino, 200 Georgesville Road
Dates: November 17 to 18, 2023
Winterfair! is an event featuring artists from all over the country where you can shop for jewelry, crafts, art, food, gifts, and more.
When: December 1 to 3, 2023
Where: Multipurpose Building | Ohio State Fairgrounds
Short North Holiday Hop
The Short North Holiday Hop is a holiday-themed gallery hop featuring exhibitions, performers, music, food, and drink!
When: December 2, 2023
Where: Short North Arts District
Columbus Chocolate Wine and Whiskey Festival
The Columbus Chocolate Wine and Whiskey Festival is a kicked-up chocolate festival that includes tons of tasty treats but also whiskey and wine!
Where: COSI | 333 W. Broad St.
Columbus Dispatch Spring Home and Garden Show
This Home and Garden Show is a week-long event featuring indoor gardens, home renovation vendors, demonstrations, and more.
Where: Ohio Expo Center
Visiting Columbus during a different time of year? Check out these guides to Columbus in every season:
- Things to do in Columbus, Ohio in the Summer
- Things to do in Columbus, Ohio in the Fall
- Things to do in Columbus, Ohio in the Spring
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