Free Light Displays in Columbus

Columbus light display

It’s the holiday season and the Buckeye state is awash in the beautiful lights and colors of the season. There are a number of drive through and walk through sites and no doubt you’ve hung some lights of your own. But today, we’re going to take a look at the free light displays in Columbus, for those of us on an holiday budget.

State Auto’s Christmas Corner

We started our tour at State Auto’s Christmas Corner at 518 East Broad Street. According to an article in Columbus Monthly, the company has been featuring Christmas displays at the location since 1931. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the company decided to forgo the annual lighting ceremony and will not feature musical performances this year. The life size nativity, however, remains.

Holiday display of shepherds in their fields in Columbus, Ohio.
Shepherds in their fields at night at State Auto’s annual Christmas display.

The walk through experience begins with the angels visit to Mary and culminates in the scene at the manger. Additional scenes include the shepherds, the three wise men following the star, King Herod’s castle, and more. There are lighted signs marking the way and telling the Christmas story as well. Recorded Christmas music plays adding to the holiday atmosphere.

King Herod holiday display at State Auto's Christmas Corner.
King Herod at Christmas Corner on Broad Street in Columbus.

The site is lit daily from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 to 11:30 p.m. through the week. Fridays and Saturdays the site stays lit until 12:30 a.m. Be sure to check for any local regulations. Face coverings and physical distancing is required.

The manger scene nativity in Columbus, Ohio.
An angel watches over the scene at the manger.

Columbus Commons

From State Auto, we headed to John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons, just off of South High Street in downtown Columbus. The impressive 400,000 light display is funded by a partnership with local electrical provider AEP.

The pavilion at Columbus Commons lit for the holiday season.
The pavillion at John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons near downtown Columbus.

Initially, I was concerned with physical distancing given the downtown location. But upon arrival, I could see there was plenty of space (over 6 acres) to spread out and the crowd was moderate. Most, if not all, were wearing face coverings due to the Ohio and Franklin County COVID restrictions.

Columbus Commons, near downtown Columbus, Ohio, is lit for the holiday season.
The Commons are lit up for the holidays.

The site is currently in its tenth year of operations according to the Columbus Commons website. The site will be lit every day through January 3 from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Panorama of Columbus Commons free Christmas light display.
Above is a panorama of the Columbus Commons site.

Scioto Mile

Just a short five minute walk to the river brings us to the Scioto Mile light display. The site on the river is lit with over 250,000 twinkling lights.

Downtown Columbus, Ohio at viewed from the Main Street Bridge during the holidays.
The Scioto Mile provides a beautiful view of downtown Columbus.

Taking the walking path to the middle of the Main Street Bridge gives you a unique perspective. The lights of downtown shine in the distance, while the holiday lights of the Scioto Mile flicker on the river bank nearby.

The Scioto Mile free holiday light display.
Lights along the Scioto Mile.

Like the Columbus Commons lights, the display at Scioto Mile will remain lit from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. through January 3.

Easton Shopping District

Lastly, we made a quick drive through of Easton, a shopping destination just northeast of downtown. Though the coronavirus has put a damper on some of the holiday shopping season, the lights of Easton still shine brightly.

The entrance to Easton shopping district lit up for the holidays.
The entrance to Easton shopping district lit for the holidays.

Though visits with Santa are cancelled for the 2020 season, the carriage rides will continue according to the website.

With smaller crowds, the Easton area is perfect for a lighted stroll. All of the buildings are lit and lights are strung overhead. Giant trees mark each end of the location and a model train makes its rounds, perhaps delivering toys from the North Pole.

The two million lights at the location will remain on from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. nightly.

Model train set decorated for the holidays at Easton in Columbus, Ohio.
The Easton Express model railroad at Easton shopping district.

Even with COVID, it is possible to get out and enjoy the holiday season safely. And, as we’ve seen with this list, it’s possible to do it all without breaking the bank.

Make sure to make yourself some cocoa and get out there and explore. Perhaps, make up a dish of Johnny Marzetti before you go! You can slide it in the refrigerator before you go, then just pop it in the oven for an easy late dinner when you return.

Free holiday light display in Columbus, Ohio's Easton shopping district.
The Easton shopping district lit for the season.

Where are your favorite Christmas light displays in Ohio? Looking for more displays in Central Ohio? Check out Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park in Columbus. Share your favorite light display in the comments and we’ll do our best to experience it for the blog.

Thanks for FindingOhio with us. We hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of free light displays in Columbus. And, as always, we appreciate it when you share our content to social media.

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