Christmas Toledo Style

Who doesn’t love Christmas?  It’s the time of year when houses are lit up with lights, hot chocolate is plentiful, and the baking of special treats seems non-stop.  And of course, there’s the presents.  Those beautifully wrapped boxes carefully hiding a spectacular treasure inside.

Like most families, various cities have cherished holiday traditions shared by many.  Toledo, Ohio is no exception.  Host to both indoor and outdoor seasonal activities, Toledo offers the opportunity to create some special seasonal memories. 

Lights at the Zoo

You can’t live within 50 miles of this city and not know about the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium’s Annual Lights Before Christmas.  Celebrating its 38th year, this spectacular outdoor display features over one million lights and 200+ illuminated animal images spread out over 72 acres.  The most prominent photo spot in the entire exhibit has to be in front of the 85-foot Norway spruce adorned with over 35,000 lights. 

In addition to the awe-inspiring light extravaganza, the zoo offers other outdoor activities.  You can visit with live reindeer in the Nancy L. & Martin Davidson Barnyard.  Train enthusiasts can hop on the Holiday Railway (weather permitting) for a ride through the zoo.   

If ice is your thing, you can watch an ice carving demonstration or fly down the ever-popular Ice Slide on either a personal inner tube or one built for two.

Need a break from the cold?  Step inside and take a spin on the African Animal Carousel or visit the Carnivore Café for a snack or cup of delicious hot chocolate.

Of course, there are also daily visits with Santa.  He can be found in the newly designed Winter Village. 

Holidays at the Manor House

One of the most popular and beloved parks in Toledo is Wildwood Preserve Metropark.  Originally the sprawling estate owned by R.A. Stranahan, co-founder of Champion Spark Plug Company, the well-groomed landscape, and towering trees continue to surround the 30,000 square foot mansion where Mr. Stranahan and his family once lived. 

For 45 years, more than 30 areas in this Georgian Colonial home have been lovingly and uniquely decorated for the holidays by countless volunteers.  From the Lolli-pop Forest to the Ugly Sweater Room, no two rooms are ever decorated alike.      

Each year over 25,000 visitors come through the Manor House to witness its transformation into a true holiday wonderland.  For many, it’s an annual tradition for the whole family.

Children’s Wonderland

A Northwest Ohio holiday tradition for over 50 years, this indoor display brings out the kid in everyone.  Visitors can take a climate-controlled walk through dozens of classic exhibits illuminated with hundreds of bright Christmas lights.  There are plenty of beautifully decorated trees and Victorian houses to admire and much amusement is provided by the many animated wildlife creatures.  

In addition to viewing the expansive model train display, little ones can take an actual train ride through the snowy Wonderland town.  There are a variety of activities to enjoy such as crafts and games, and of course, visit with Santa.  

Hensville Lights

Head downtown Toledo for a stunning view of more than 200,000 twinkling lights that decorate the buildings along St. Clair Street with a special dancing light show synced to music on the side of the Fleetwood’s building.  If that isn’t enough to get you into the holiday spirit, standing 45 feet tall is the Hensville Park Christmas tree lit with more than 10,000 lights.  Talk about a photo op!

With numerous restaurants and pubs in the area, it’s easy to make visiting the Hensville Lights a yearly tradition.  

Christmas Music & Carols

The beauty alone of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral is breathtaking.  Add to it the experience of listening to the glorious voices of the Cathedral Choir, and you’re guaranteed to remember the experience for years to come. 

Built amidst the Great Depression in 1931, Rosary Cathedral was designed with Toledo’s Sister City, Toledo, Spain, in mind.  It has a basilica floorplan and is constructed of Massachusetts granite with Indiana limestone accents.  Its mosaic works of art were meticulously restored to their original brilliance in 2000.  Today, it still houses its crown musical jewel, the Ernest M. Skinner pipe organ, virtually unaltered from its original installation.

In the Peristyle at the Toledo Museum of Art, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra has performed joyful sounds of the season for many years.  This year, the Christmas at the Peristyle concert will feature the talents of Tony DeSare, an American jazz and soul singer, pianist and songwriter. 

Formed in 1943, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra has grown from twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra made up of sixty-five professional musicians.  They perform year-round in venues throughout Toledo, including the Valentine Theater, Stranahan Theater, and the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater.  

Grand Aire is proud to be a part of this talented and entertaining community.  If your travels bring you through Toledo, let us put our 35+ years of air charter experience to work for you.  Give us a call at 1-800-70-GRAND or email our team directly at