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A Holiday Wonderland in Licking County

The Licking County courthouse illuminated for the holidays.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again – Christmas. Boasting the largest number of Christmas tree farms per capita in the state of Ohio, Licking County, which should from here on out be known as Ohio’s penultimate Christmas County, is back at it again with fun filled events for the entire holiday season. Two cities in the heart of Licking County, Granville and Newark, are leading the festivities.

On the first Saturday in December, Granville will host its 38th Annual Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour in downtown. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a Hallmark film as you stroll through the streets lined with gorgeous trees from nearby local farms, where you can also cut down your very own picturesque tree. Local businesses and collectives along Broadway and Main Street will feature various activities, such as mailing letters to the North Pole and taking pictures with the main man himself, Santa Claus. Local breweries and coffee shops will also be joining the festivities with classic winter drinks to keep your body and spirits warm as you peruse the pop-up European-inspired craft market sponsored by the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce. You can purchase this year’s commemorative ornament to remember all the fun you had on the Walking Tour frolicking through downtown from several local shops.

Also, near Granville this year will be the return of the new and wildly popular igloo dining series brought to you by the Cherry Valley Hotel. Who needs to travel to the Arctic Circle when you can get those scenic views right here in Ohio. Cherry Valley Hotel’s “Winter Glow Experience” offers an absolutely delicious prix fixe menu featuring in-season accouterments and stunning views of the ponds, waterfalls, and decorative lights along their botanical gardens, all while staying warm and cozy cuddled up with your holiday boo in the heated igloo. The experience will be available for reservations Wednesdays through Sundays, and don’t forget to post your pictures basking in the winter glow for a chance to win prizes from Cherry Valley Hotel.

Not to be outdone by Granville, Newark will play host to this year’s 75th Annual Licking County Courthouse Lighting. Each year, thousands of people flock to Newark’s downtown the evening after Thanksgiving to watch as Santa and city officials light up the county courthouse, and this year a little elf told me that it will be an event to remember, even bigger and flashier than years prior. There will be live music and performance troupes stationed around the square to enhance the festive atmosphere. The courthouse square and streets surrounding it will be blocked off so viewers can enjoy as the area lights up for Christmas. Just a few blocks away, Canal Market District will be open that afternoon for patrons to browse local artisan crafts and goods all while supporting the revitalization of their community.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without Christmas movies; that would be like Halloween without Jason or New Year’s Eve without a ball drop. One of the most quintessential holiday movies, Elf, departs the silver screen and makes its way to your hearts in stunning fashion. This December, the Weathervane Playhouse in Newark will step outside of their usual summer season to bring audiences Elf the Musical. If smiling is also your favorite, bring yourself and your buddies to watch Buddy the elf journey from the North Pole to bustling New York in search of his estranged, naughty-list native father, Walter. Will they be able to help Santa – I know him – save Christmas? You can see Buddy’s venture through the land of swirly twirly gumdrops to the “Big Apple” December 19-29. Don’t forget to get the world’s best cup of coffee beforehand.

There’s something superbly magical about trees and snow during the holidays, which is probably why flocked Christmas trees are so popular. Where else is there to go for an immersive nature experience than Dawes Arboretum? Spanning 2,000 acres with over 5,000 plant species, Dawes Arboretum does the holidays right with their annual Winter Wonders Walks on December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16 where you can explore their grounds under the decorative lights complete with an appearance from Santa Claus. Continuing through December will also be their wreath making classes and their “Preschool Storybook Science” series where families can enjoy a fun and educational experience exploring areas of the Arboretum. Stay tuned to their website and Facebook for information on all upcoming events.

In the heart of Ohio, you’ll find the heart of the Christmas season. From courthouse lightings to Christmas trees, Licking County has what you need to feel the holiday spirit. Stay on the nice list and visit Granville and Newark this winter.

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