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My family plans on enjoying a staycation this winter holiday. Originally, we planned on going to Disney World because we have never been there for the Christmas season. Once I looked at the park traffic schedule, we decided against it. We are a family which avoids crowds and I didn’t realize that Christmas at Disney is one of the busiest times of the year. Visiting Disney at Christmas time is still on my bucket list, but we will do this in November when the crowds aren’t as bad. So, I am writing this post as a way to help plan what our family will be doing over the holidays. I realize many of my readers aren’t from Ohio, but this list may serve as a springboard for ideas to use for your own community. Please verify dates and times for the events which interest you.
Akron Children’s Hospital Tree Festival (11/21-11/29): This is one of our family’s favorite winter acitivities. Taking place at the Johns S. Knight Center, the Tree Festival is a fundraiser for Akron Children’s Hospital. Admission to the festival is free and showcases over 200 fully decorated Christmas trees and decorations. This festival also includes a variety of live entertainment. Check the website for times as they are different each day.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical (11/24-12/20): The Weathervane Playhouse presents a musical version of the Christmas Carol. Tickets range from $14-$18 and can be purchased online or through their box office. Information can be found here. There is also a pre-show princess tea party on December 19th from 1-2PM. Tickets must be purchased separately for the tea party.
Guys on Ice (11/25-12/20) at Actors’ Summit: Guys on Ice will please families with kids who are elementary age and older. While it is not written for children specifically, kids will appreciate the silly humor in this show. And, there are funny musical numbers throughout the show. Tickets range from $10 for students to $33 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 330-374-7568 .
Deck the Hall at Stan Hywet (November 27th-January 2nd): We have enjoyed this event in the past despite the extremely cold night we endured. My kids asked if we could do this again this year as they remember many details about the house and the way it was decorated. Ticket information can be found on this page. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and can be purchased online or by phone. The grounds and the house are absolutely beautiful as they are decorated with over 800,000 lights.
The Akron Civic Theater provides a number of holiday activities suited for the whole family:
- The Nutcracker presented by Ballet Theater Ohio (11/28-11/29 and 12/5-12/6)
- The Holiday Show Choir Christmas Show (12/13 at 2:00 PM)
- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer – The Musical (12/17 at 7:30 PM)
- GIFTS: (12/19 at 7:30 PM)
The Akron Art Museum runs several young children’s programs throughout the season. Check out the family page on the museum’s website for details. One drop-in activity which sounds fun is the Island of Misfit Toys on December 6th. Children will recycle one of their toys into a sculpture. Registration is required. The program is free, but families are asked to donate a new unwrapped toy for a child in need. It seems that most of the art museum’s programs are geared toward kids under the age of 5.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis at 7:30 PM(December 3rd): The information for this concert can be found here. Ticket prices range from $33-$70.50.
Holiday Pops with the Akron Symphony (December 11, 2015 at 7:30): Holiday Pops features the Akron Symphony in conjunction with the Akron Symphony Chorus, Gospel Meets Symphony, and community partners (including Ballet Excel Ohio). Kids can come early at 6:30 for milk and cookies and a story and visit with Santa. Tickets range from $12.50-$55 and can be purchased online or through their box office.
36th annual Tuba Christmas (December 12th at 2:00 PM): This concert at EJ Thomas showcases hundreds of tubas playing Christmas tunes. The event is free. More information can be found here.
Festival of Lights by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park (December 17th or 18th): The Festival of Lights celebrates the winter solstice. This sounds like a magical and educational event. Dinner is followed by a stroll through candlelit woods. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children (5-11).
First Night Akron (December 31st): First Night Akron is a family focused event to bring in the New Year. For the past few years, I have been involved as an entertainer at this event. The entertainment schedule is immense (over 80 artists and performing groups) and can be found at First Night’s Entertainment Schedule. Every activity is appropriate for children and many are geared for young children. Dress warm because the event is spread out among several locations throughout Akron. Admission requires the purchase of a button which are $10. Children 10 and under are free with a paying adult. The Metro bus offers free transportation on the event loop to those wearing a button. A list of where you can purchase buttons can be found here: Admission Information.
Gospel Meets Symphony with the Akron Symphony (February 20, 2016 at 7:30): Gospel Meets Symphony combines The Akron Symphony with a 200 voice choir. Tickets range from $12.50-$55.
The Akron Zoo presents “It’s a Wild World Animal Show” at the Akron Civic (February 21, 2015 at 2:30 PM): The Akron Zoo presentation is affordable with ticket prices ranging from $5-10. If you are a zoo member, this is free.
Cirque Ziva featuring the Golden Dragon Acrobats at the Akron Civic (February 26, 2015 at 8:00 PM): The tickets range from $17.50-$35. This Chinese acrobatic company features 25 acrobats. Information can be found here.
Pinocchio Ballet (March 5-6, 2016): Ballet Excel Ohio presents Pinocchio choreographed by Erich Yetter. Ballet Excel Ohio celebrates their 40th anniversary this year. Ballet Excel Ohio is a pre-professional ballet company which presents a large-scale production each year at the Akron Civic Theater. Times and ticket information can be found here: Ticket Information.
Winter Outdoor Activities
Lock 3 in downtown Akron offers several family activities throughout the holiday season including a reindeer run, ice skating, Breakfast with Santa, and Cottage Mart. Check out all the events here.
Sled Riding: There are many places to go sled riding in Summit County. You can find the most popular sledding hills at Northeast Ohio Family Fun.
Ice skating: Both Cuyahoga Falls and Lock 3 offer outdoor rinks.
- Cuyahoga Falls outdoor ice rink offers an inexpensive option for families to enjoy the outdoors. It is $3 to skate if you are not a resident of Cuyahoga Falls and $3 to rent a pair of skates. Cuyahoga Falls residents skate for free with the CFOne card.
- Lock 3 offers something new this year. Zippy’s Little Roo Rink is designed for beginner skaters under the age of 14. Lock 3 also offers a 10,000 sq ft. ice rink, the largest seasonal ice rink in Ohio. Skating is free and skate rental is only $3.
Boston Mills and Brandywine offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. You can check out the information at the Boston Mills Brandywine website.
I included only winter activities within Summit County and I’m sure I missed many other activities. If you want to see other activities within NorthEast Ohio, the Northeast Ohio Family Fun website is a fantastic resource. And, if you don’t live in Ohio, your community may have many similar activities to choose from.
What are you favorite winter activities? Please comment below.