Top 5 Events to Kick-Start the Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, there isn’t much time left to form a holiday state of mind. Dive into Cincinnati’s holiday season with these festive activities.
Holiday shoppers explore the ware underneath the heated tent at Germania Society's Christkindlmarkt.
Holiday shoppers underneath the heated tent at Germania Society's Christkindlmarkt.

Photo by Mary Jo McClain

1. Main Street Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner
Find some common ground with your vegan cousin (we all have one) this Thanksgiving in the plant-based Main Street Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner. Don’t be fooled by the lack of animal products; this is an indulgent affair. Drinks, entrees, appetizers, soups, salads, and desserts make for a belt-busting full course menu of food from favorite OTR eateries. Starting at Park + Vine, the holiday dinner features stops at Iris Book Cafe, MOTR, and Macaron Bar, with treats from Chocolats Latour, Grateful Grahams, and Happy Chicks Bakery. You might not need to eat again until Thanksgiving. Thurs, Nov 19, 6-9 p.m., Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over the Rhine, $32 tickets, (513) 721-7275,

2. Christkindlmarkt
The Germania Society of Cincinnati puts on the oldest Christkindlmarkt in the region. German food, drinks, music, and imported gifts can all be found under Christkindlmarkt’s heated tent. Get in the holiday spirit with some Glühwein (hot mulled wine), grab an ornate German stein, and don’t forget to take the kids to see Sankt Nikolaus. Also for the little ones, make sure not to miss the lantern parade (bring your own or buy one there), featuring a free German holiday pastry for all kids. Fri-Sat, Nov 20-22, hours vary by day, Germania Park, 3529 West Kemper Rd., Pleasant Run, $3 admission, free for children 12 and under, (513) 742-0060,

3. Apple Pie Workshop
Ditch the store-bought pie this Thanksgiving. Grandma Kathy Benken will teach you how to make an apple pie that will keep them talking until Christmas. Learn how to make dough from scratch, roll it out perfectly, get just the right apple mix for the filling, and top it all off with a decorative crust. Freeze the pie you make in class, or bake it there to practice for Turkey Day. Grandma Benken suggests students bring their own rolling pin, paring knife, bowl, and apron. Sat, Nov 21, 10:30 a.m., H. J. Benken, 6000 Plainfield Rd., Silverton, $15 fee includes all ingredients, preregistration required, (513) 891-1040,

4. Bowling on Ice
If you were having trouble this week deciding between bowling and ice skating, then I have some amazing news for you. The rules of “bowling on ice” are fairly similar to regular bowling, with the biggest difference being that the ball is not actually a ball; it’s you on a sled. Skip the skate rental and bowling pass fees by bring two non-perishable goods to donate to St. Vincent de Paul. Hurry to get your ice bowling fix; this is the last week Fountain Square is hosting the event. Tues, Nov 17, 5–10 p.m., Fountain Square, Downtown, $6 rink admission, $4 skate rental and bowling pass, (513) 621-4400,

5. Festival of Lights
Christmastime in Cincinnati would not be complete without the Festival of Lights. The annual holiday tradition returns to the Cincinnati Zoo this Saturday and features additions such as the new Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake and a Frozen Wonderland-themed area. Dress warm and plan ahead; trying to see all two million lights (plus animals) in one night is no easy task. Sat, Nov 21, times vary by day, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Clifton, adult tickets $16, child/senior $11,  (513) 281-4700,

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