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Free Cleveland Holiday Activities


Enjoying the winter holiday season in Northeast Ohio doesn't have to be expensive. There are more than a dozen Cleveland holiday activities and attractions that don't cost a dime. The best known of these is Winterfest, the tree-lighting ceremony and concert on Public Square, but there are many other free holiday activities if you known where to look. All of the activities listed below are free.

Cleveland Greenhouse Holiday Flower Display

Cleveland Greenhouse
(© 2006 S. Mitchell; Licensed to About, Inc.)

Cleveland's Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, located just off of Martin Luther King Blvd near University Circle, is a wonderful collection of exotic and native plants. During December, the site is filled with poinsettias of every hue as well as Christmas cacti and other holiday plants.

Nela Park Holiday Lights

Nela Park, located along Noble Road in East Cleveland seven miles east of downtown Cleveland, was the world's first industrial park. The 92-acre campus is home to General Electric's Lighting Division and employs around 1200, but it is best known for its annual holiday light display. The lights go on in early December and stay until New Year's Day. They are best viewed from Noble Road.

Winterfest at Public Square

Cleveland Winterfest
(courtesy of travelcleveland.com)

Winterfest is Cleveland's annual holiday tree-lighting event. Held the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Public Square, Winterfest events include a variety of musical presentations, fireworks, carriage rides around the square, and an opportunity to visit with Santa.

University Circle Fest

University Circlefest - Cleveland Ohio
(courtesy of University Circle Inc.)

Each year on the first Sunday of December, the museums and cultural institutions of University Circle welcome the holiday season with an afternoon open house. Many of the area's 30 attractions offer free or discounted admission and area museums, churches, and schools feature special activities, live entertainment, refreshments, and shopping opportunities.

Larchmere Holiday Stroll

© S Mitchell

The merchants of Cleveland's Larchmere Boulevard antique district celebrate the season each year the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving with a street party and sale. There's music, food, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Don't miss the Bizarre Bazaar, located in the former Sylvia Ullman's American Crafts store. It's filled with two dozen craftspeople selling jewelry, crafts, t-shirts, pottery and other cool stuff.

Tree Lighting at Shaker Square

Shaker Square, the octagonal shopping district, filled with restaurants, stores, and services on Cleveland's east side, erupts with color and lights the day after Thanksgiving each year as the massive tree in the center of the square is lit with music and revelry.

Akron Christmas parade

Akron welcomes Santa and his helpers into Akron on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the annual Santa parade. Watch the floats, bands, and the "Jolly Old Elf" himself. The parade marches down Main Street in downtown Akron.

Lock 3 Holiday Fest

(© Flickr user: la femme jan/cc license)
This month-long celebration begins in late November and features an ice-skating rink (not free), a traditional German outdoor Chriskindl Market, a holiday lighting festival, and lots of holiday music and activities throughout the season.

Little Italy Holiday Art Walk

Held the first weekend in December, the Little Italy Art Walk features dozens of art galleries, all loaded with holiday gift items. The many eateries and food shops in Little Italy are also stocked with holiday goodies. The Art Walk runs Friday evening and all-day Saturday and Sunday.

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