Beautiful lights and scenes await visitors at the Country Lights Drive-Thru event at Lake Metroparks Farmpark. Photograph by Andy McGovern

By Lauri Gross
Northeast Ohio knows how to do Christmas! From now through the end of the year, area residents and visitors can fill their calendar with nonstop concerts, parties, shows, and a host of other holiday-themed events across the region. Note that to attend any events in the following sampling, visit the website indicated for more info about prices, tickets and schedules.

Nothing says Christmas like Buddy the elf, performing this season at the Beck Center for the Arts. Photograph by Steve Wagner

Beck Center for the Arts
Detroit Ave., Lakewood,
Elf the Musical
Running on select dates from Dec. 2 through 30, this comedy show based on the beloved holiday film will thrill audiences at the Beck Center for the Arts. This sweet holiday story follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity in a holiday-bedazzled New York City.
Botanical Gardens
University Circle,
Twinkle in the 216
On select dates from Nov. 19 through Dec. 31, visit the Botanical Gardens for this event that celebrates Cleveland’s historic neighborhoods with sparkle, shine and joy. The event spans the indoor and outdoor gardens and includes the Madagascar and Costa Rica Glasshouses, all of which will be transformed in the spirit of the season with special horticultural displays, lights and vignettes that celebrate Cleveland’s iconic local architecture and also feature handmade gingerbread houses, decorated trees and much more. Also, the Botanical Gardens plays host to breakfast with Santa on select dates Dec 11-18. And don’t miss Krampus Night with Krampus of Cleveland, Dec. 3, as you enjoy cocktails at the outdoor bar, plus activities and shopping.
Chagrin Valley Little Theater
River Street, Chagrin Falls,
Elf the Musical
On select dates from Nov. 18 through Dec. 17, the Chagrin Valley Little Theater presents the musical adaptation of the hit Christmas movie “Elf,” the story of Buddy, a human raised by Santa’s elves at the North Pole. When Buddy travels to New York City to seek his real father, he discovers that his childlike and joyous nature doesn’t always fit in.

The home from “A Christmas Story” is open for tours and overnight guests. Photograph courtesy of A Christmas Story House and Museum

A Christmas Story House
West 11th street, Cleveland,
Fans of the beloved movie “A Christmas Story” will love visiting the actual house, now restored to its movie splendor, and open year-round for tours and overnight stays. Also, visit the museum across the street for a close-up look at original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. And, of course, check out the gift shop.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Wildlife Way, Cleveland,
Wild Winter Lights at the Zoo
Running on select dates through Dec. 30, the Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland for Wild Winter Lights, featuring dazzling displays along the holiday trail through the Zoo. Themed areas include Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Starry Skies, Future for Wildlife Trail and Santa’s Workshop, where guests can take photos with Santa Claus. There will also be carousel rides, costumed characters, model train displays, ice carvers, a light show and more. Guests can experience Wild Winter Lights on foot or in their personal vehicle.

Severance Hall will be positively glittering for the New Year’s Eve Concert and Party, with a James Bond/Casino theme. Photograph courtesy of Cleveland Pops

Cleveland Pops
Holiday Spectacular, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Connor Palace Theatre, Playhouse Square,
downtown Cleveland
On Nov. 27, this joyful family concert features classic Christmas songs performed by the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and Chorus. Keep an eye out for Santa who just might come down the aisle with candy. Also, visit Santa in the lobby where you can take your own pics. Guests are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for the City Mission. The event also includes the chance to meet adoptable cats and dogs from several different local shelters and apply for adoption.
New Year’s Eve Concert and Party: Casino Royale, Severance Hall, University Circle
Beginning at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Broadway stars Morgan James and Hugh Panaro will perform songs from your favorite James Bond Movies – from Goldfinger to Skyfall – along with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. After the concert, two bands continue the party with a variety of tunes from jazz to dance music. A balloon drop will mark the countdown to midnight. Bars will be serving drinks and snacks throughout the party, which will wrap up around 1 a.m.
Cleveland Orchestra
Holiday Concerts, Mandel Concert Hall at Severance Hall, University Circle,
On select dates from Dec. 8 through 18, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and members of the Blossom Music Festival Chorus will fill the hall with glorious sounds of the season for an unforgettable experience. The beautiful Severance Hall will be even more captivating with lights, trees, garland and more. This is a great introduction to the Cleveland Orchestra for first-time family members as well as seasoned concert goers.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Scuba Claus Merry Meet & Greet, Dec. 14-18
Explore the Aquarium’s fresh and saltwater galleries and meet Scuba Claus in a live and real-time experience that changes the dynamic of visiting St. Nick, since this St. Nick is under water and on the other side of a significant wall of acrylic. Family members of all ages will enjoy sharing “fish-mas” wishes, participating in an I-Spy activity, and making memories. Also, take home a complimentary “I Saw Scuba Claus” pin.
Lake Metroparks Farmpark
Country Lights Drive-Thru, select dates from Nov. 30 through Dec. 23
From the comfort of your own vehicle, enjoy this magical evening as you drive through the Farmpark grounds taking in the splendor of 30 spectacular lighted displays. Wooden toy kits will be available for pre-purchase for $5 each during the purchase of carload tickets. Kits will be picked up at the event and taken home to assemble. Kits do not include paint or glue.
Lake Metroparks Penitentiary
Glen Reservation
Candy Land Gone to the Birds, select dates Nov. 19 through Jan. 1.
At this favorite tradition, the childhood game of Candy Land is brought to life with an avian twist. On a life-sized game board, you become the playing piece, as you move through an enchanting holiday display of birds and their colorful habitats. Along the way, stop at the pretend Wild Bird Clinic and try your hand at helping wildlife. Then, climb the bird tower for some birdwatching and slide down the spiral slide and play all over again. The fun continues at the Nature Center with special weekend programs, indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts, a holiday craft for kids, and much more. Visitors will also find nature-themed gifts at the Nature Store, and hot chocolate at the Snowshoe Lodge.
Playhouse Square
At various Playhouse Square theaters, enjoy many different holiday shows running on select dates throughout the holiday season. A sampling:
“Christmas with C.S. Lewis,” at the Hanna Theater begins Nov. 18. This show starring David Payne depicts Lewis (best known as the writer of “The Chronicles of Narnia”) at home near Oxford, England hosting a Christmas gathering for a group of Americans as they experience an unforgettable holiday together and share a whole range of emotions.
Nov. 25, at the KeyBank State Theatre, enjoy “An Evening with Harry Connick Jr.,” one of the most beloved artists, as he performs holiday music, including classics and his own originals.
At the Mimi Ohio Theater, beginning Nov. 25, don’t miss the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” the perfect gift of theater for children and adults of all ages.
Other holiday-season shows at Playhouse Square include Brett Eldredge: Glow Live Tour, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Tomaseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas, The Turkey Jam with Bobby Brown and guests, and many others.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
Deck the Hall: Gracious Gathering
During this popular annual event the Stan Hywet manor house, gardens and grounds are decorated with one million holiday lights creating a gorgeous traditional Christmas with some whimsy mixed in. The spectacle includes 30 decorated trees in 19 spaces throughout the Manor House. Also, visit Molly’s Shop, brimming with unique holiday gift items, and the Gingerbread Hut for fresh-baked goodness. Then, try a hot cookie and cocoa or beer, wine or a pretzel from the Salty Reindeer. Dress for the weather and plan on a 60-minute outdoor walking experience. This event is held from 3 to 8 p.m. on select dates from Nov. 25 through Dec. 30.