If you’re a mom of older kids like me – getting them to do ANYTHING as a family is tough. They can tell by the tone of my voice which events are optional (meaning they can whine themselves out of going) and which ones they are forced to attend, with fake smiles and laughter. Fortunately for me, December tends to bring out the best in kids of all ages and I have less of a hard time dragging them to fun events in our city.
That could be because organizations like Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Playhouse Square, Cleveland Museum of Art and hotbeds like Ohio City, University Circle, Gordon Square and Tremont have found the right mix of gatherings and festivals to make our city one of the coolest playgrounds in the country (in my opinion, but we all know I’m right).
Last night I convinced my husband, daughter and her best friend (my son and his girlfriend were supposed to meet us there but somehow they ended up at another party – BORING) to attend Winterfest 2015 in Playhouse Square for the Christmas Tree lighting and fireworks. Now, no one really complained but they didn’t seem to be beaming with excitement either – until we got there. It was fantastic!
The Playhouse theatres housed decorated and themed Christmas trees, you could tour (and even jump on and act) the different theatre stages, there were vendors galore (which was a perfect way to support Small Business Saturday), and the actual festival was awesome! A band called Old Skool jammed out to just enough “oldies” that all the generations had fun (and yes, apparently popular 80s and 90s music is now considered OLD), Santa made an appearance for the little ones, and the lighting of the Christmas tree and the fireworks made even the teenagers smile. I highly recommend you get down there one night this month to see the lights and the action! Bravo, Playhouse Square and Downtown Cleveland Alliance. You hit this one out of the park!
But if you missed last night’s festivities and are looking for some ways to force your family into having some holiday fun this month – check out the list below. It’s certainly not ALL of the events but it’s the ones I plan on trying to hit up before I fall over with exhaustion on January 1st.
Cleveland Botanical Gardens: The Cleveland Botanical Gardens’ Glow holiday event brings more lights and action than the North Pole. Now in its fourth year, it boasts a two-story treehouse, a Garden Express train ride, a build-your-own Gingerbread House bakery and enough treats to throw anyone into a sugar coma. Though many activities cater to families with little ones, there is still plenty offered to get adults into the holiday spirit. The decorative trees alone are worth the visit and for those of you with teenagers, they have extended hours where there should be less little ones running around.
HOURS: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the garden is closed Christmas Day, new Year’s Day and Mondays (with the exception of Dec. 28, when Glow will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Admission is free for garden members, $16 for non-member adults and $12 for non-member children.
Lolly The Trolley: Lolly the Trolley is the warmest way to see the holiday lights and attractions around the city. Hop on the bus for three Holiday Lights Rides available: A Christmas Story Tour (takes you to several locations featured in the movie including the Christmas story House itself, admission included), the Silver Bells Plus Tour, and the Family Fun Plus Tour.
HOURS: Tours last between 1.5-2 hours. Available dates: Fridays/Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. December 5-6; 12-13; 19-20; and 26-27. Sundays at 4:00 p.m. December 21 and 28 only.
Cleveland Flea – Holiday Markets: My kids never fight me on heading to the Cleveland Flea. How can they? They walk out with a different 216 shirt every time! Stroll through midtown and visit hundreds of local artists, crafters and other vendors who sell their handcrafted goods, vintage finds and goodies (I always snag my stocking stuffers here for my family).
HOURS: Nov. 20-22 or December 11-13 in Midtown (and don’t forget – with every gift you purchase, you are supporting a Cleveland entrepreneur and our local economy)!
Tremont BrewHaHa: Ok, so this one may make you think I am a bad parent but my kids are old enough to see me sip on a delicious pint as we peruse all the fantastic boutiques! On Friday, Dec. 11 Tremont adds a special twist to its ArtWalk where the local stores, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants stay open late and live bands and awesome music and excitement fill the streets!
And if you and a special one (over the age of 21) want to attempt to be active while drinking, you can join the Santa Shuffle on Saturday, Dec. 12 and run through the neighborhood where everyone’s decked out in Santa gear and there is plenty of beer stops to make the run enjoyable. On Sunday, Dec. 13, the event closes out with a bash that includes an all-day happy hour, free hot dogs during the Browns game and Karaoke at the Flying Monkey Pub.
And if those don’t get you excited – let’s not forget the tried and true – the events that are always a hit with families and friends.
- The Cleveland Museum of Art is putting on one heck of a show with its Monet and Matisse exhibit http://www.clevelandart.org/events/exhibitions/painting-modern-garden-monet-matisse
- The Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert on December 11th
- 2015 Cleveland Jingle Bell Run / Walk Sunday, December 13, 2015 (for a great cause)
- Amazing theatre options at Playhouse Square (A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, Wizard of Oz and many more!)
- Plenty of shows at The Beck Center – Note: Nutcracker is already sold out!
- Pet Photos with Santa at Crocker Park – yes, I’m obsessed with my kitties and also a Westlaker so deal with this one!
- Scrooge – the Musical at Gordon Square’s new Near West Theatre (community theatre at its finest)
There is NO WAY I caught them all so please list out other events in the comment section and hopefully I will see all of you (and maybe even some kids) out and about in our wonderful city this month.