As the holiday season paints the town in twinkling lights and festive cheer, there's a world of enchanting experiences awaiting you in Dayton. You're looking for something to do between Christmas and New Year's Day? Don't worry, we're unveiling a magical journey of things to do for you AND your family. Get ready to make lasting memories with our curated guide to the best holiday activities in the Gem City!

Woodland Lights

1. Look at Bright Lights

With a trio of enchanting light displays that will ignite the holiday spirit, you'll be sure to easily fill evening plans! Carillon Christmas, a festive extravaganza at Carillon Historical Park, invites you to stroll through festive decorations, take a miniature train ride, enjoy festive treats and watch the Tailor of Gloucester Puppet Shows through December 30. Admission is $14 per adult; $12 per senior (60+), $7 per child (ages 3-17); free for children (ages 2 & younger) and Dayton History members. Meanwhile, Woodland Lights beckons with its immersive light show set amid the picturesque Countryside Park. This fantasy land is a half-mile paved path open through December 30 with general admission being $9 and children 2 & under get in FREE! For a unique drive-through experience, venture to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland. This award-winning light show is synchronized to music where cutting-edge technology and traditional holiday charm meet. Bring your carload out through January 7 for $29.95.

Man looking at Toulouse Lautrec portrait

2. Explore the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibit at Dayton Art Institute

Step into the vibrant world of bohemian Paris in the late 19th century with the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute. This internationally acclaimed Post-Impressionist artist delves into the heart of Parisian life, capturing the essence of cabarets, race tracks, music halls, circuses, cafés, and brothels.

The exhibition, titled "Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: The Birth of Modern Paris," showcases over 240 works, highlighting the artist's mastery in printmaking, seamlessly blending modern life with the graceful lines of Art Nouveau. Toulouse-Lautrec's unique ability to merge art and life is evident in his diverse creations, ranging from theatre advertisements and book covers to lithographs and café menus. The exhibit will be open through January 14. Museum admission includes access to all galleries and exhibitions: $15 adults; $10 seniors (60+), active military & groups (10 or more); $5 college students (18+ with ID) & youth (ages 7-17); free for children (ages 6 & younger) and museum members.

Riverscape Ice Skating

3. Strap on Your Ice Skates at RiverScape MetroPark Ice Rink

Embark on a winter wonderland adventure at RiverScape MetroPark and experience the sheer joy of gliding on ice beneath the open sky. Picture the sun kissing your face, the invigorating crispness of the air, and the sheen of freshly laid ice beneath your skates. The MetroPark boasts a world-class ice rink that invites you to relish the outdoors against the enchanting backdrop of the downtown Dayton skyline and the meandering Great Miami River.

Whether you're a seasoned skater or just starting, this rink provides the perfect setting to create lasting memories with family and friends. Embrace the magic of winter and lace up your skates for a season of outdoor fun! The rink is open until March 1 with concessions and designated 'warming areas'.

NMUSAF National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

4. Delve into Rich Culture at one of Dayton's Museums

From the fascinating artifacts at the John W. Berry Sr. Wright Brothers National Museum to the captivating artistry showcased at the Edward A. Dixon Gallery, the city's museums offer a diverse array of experiences. The world of aviation awaits your presence at the FREE National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, home to an impressive collection of aircraft and exhibits. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery provides interactive and educational fun for the whole family. You won't want to miss out on seeing their new naked mole rat colony.  America's Packard Museum allows you to step back in time and witness the evolution of transportation with 45 cars, ranging from 1903-1956, plus a wide assortment of Packard related displays and memorabilia. Celebrate the actions of the past and recent peace activists at The International Peace Museum: view one-of-a-kind exhibits, attend events, and join their community. Uncover the treasures and stories that shape Dayton's identity as you embark on a museum-hopping adventure in this culturally rich city.

NYE at the Dayton Arcade

5. Ring in the New Year

With a countdown to 2024 quickly sneaking up on us, there will be loads of fun to be had! Get ready for an epic journey through time as you bid farewell to the current year and step back into the iconic '90s at the Marriott at the University of Dayton. Revel in the nostalgia with Howl2Go's Dueling Piano Band playing the best hits from the '90s, capture the memories at the "Take a Picture, It'll Last Longer" photobooth, and indulge in the flavors of '90s-themed dinner stations. Raise a glass to the countdown with a champagne toast and dance the night away in this blast from the past.

If you're up for a historic celebration, Culture Works presents the First Ever New Year's Eve Celebration at the beautifully renovated Dayton Arcade, featuring non-stop music, captivating lights, and a champagne toast. The American Czechoslovakian Club invites you to dance with The Frank Moravcik Band, celebrating the Czech-Slovak New Year in style. Meanwhile, Yellow Cab Tavern hosts a Silent Disco and Ball Drop, and RiverScape MetroPark offers a unique New Year's Eve Skate, creating unforgettable moments to kick off 2024. Whether you're into '90s nostalgia, historic celebrations, live music, or ice skating, Dayton has the perfect New Year's Eve event for you! Find more information about all of these events in our previous blog: Countdown to Midnight!


As the festive season bathes Dayton in a warm glow of twinkling lights and joyous merriment, here's to making lasting memories and embracing the joy of the season as we usher in 2024 with style and celebration in the Gem City! Explore more things to do around Dayton and Montgomery County at our Calendar of Events.