As cold weather returns to Ohio, the official start of winter and the university’s winter break are just on the horizon. Whether you need to step away from studying for finals or are just looking for a fun weekend activity, there’s plenty of ways to get out and enjoy Cleveland during the month of December. 

We’ve pulled together three suggestions for how you can get in the winter spirit this month, whether you’re a lifelong Clevelander or spending your first December in the city.

Wild Winter Lights at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Throughout December 

Even during winter, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has plenty to see and do. Held through Jan. 2, the zoo’s Wild Winter Lights brightens up the season with hundreds of displays featuring more than one million individual lights. 

Presented by NOPEC, the event is offered in person or in a drive-through format on select dates. Those who walk through will have the chance to see special displays, costumed characters, model trains, ice carvers and more. There will be live music on some dates, including performances by the Singing Angels.

Pre-sale tickets for the walk-through option cost $20 for the general public or $18 for zoo members. Four-pack tickets also are available. The drive-through option costs $54 per car for zoo members or $60 for non-members.

Learn more about Wild Winter Lights and get your tickets.

Holiday CircleFest

Sunday, Dec. 5

You don’t need to leave the University Circle neighborhood to engage in winter festivities. Members of the community are invited to spend Sunday, Dec. 5, on Wade Oval for the Holiday CircleFest.

A number of activities will be held throughout the event, scheduled to last from noon to 7 p.m. this Sunday. The Rink at Wade Oval will be open throughout the event, but tickets must be reserved online.

You can also shop at the outdoor holiday market, take photos with Santa on the RTA’s Holiday Trolley, watch ice carvers in action, listen to live music, grab a bite to eat from local food trucks, take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage, and more.

The University Circle Police Department also will be accepting donations for the Cops in the Community Program. Proceeds will be used to purchase winter gear for local children.

Get more information and view the full schedule of events.

Winter Riverfest

Throughout December

Enjoy winter along the Cuyahoga River at the Winter Riverfest, presented by Troy-Bilt. Throughout the month, the area surrounding Merwin’s Wharf and Rivergate park will be full of cold-weather activities.

In addition to twirling on the ice at an authentic rink, you can gather around fire pits for warmth, pick up a gift for a loved one, take in the holiday decor, check out the igloo village and more.

On certain dates, there also will be appearances by Santa.

Check out the details.