There’s just something about being “home for the holidays.” Which, for Shores & Islands locals, means some pretty unique seasonal activities that don’t happen anywhere else. One thing our communities specialize in is making everyone feel like they’re “home” thanks to our Midwest hospitality. So, even if you’re not from the area, you may want to consider a visit – you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere along with traditional events mixed with some distinctive “life on Lake Erie” holiday happenings. Here’s how we’ll be coasting through the season; join the fun!
Nov 29 Holiday Brrrzaar & Brew – Part of Sandusky’s Bazaar & Brew series, which features local artists and makers alongside craft brewers, the Brrrzaar takes the event to a chilly level with an outdoor Christmas market. While sampling Ohio-made beers, shop for one-of-a-kind, homegrown gifts at the Schade-Mylander Plaza beginning at 2 pm. Warm up at one of many downtown businesses while awaiting Santa’s arrival and the official lighting ceremony at 6 pm.
Dec 7 Christmas Tree Ship – This quintessentially-coastal tradition stems from a late-19th and early-20th Century tradition of delivering evergreen trees to Great Lakes coastal towns via lake schooner. No other Ohio community has a Christmas tradition quite like this one. Main Street Vermilion invites everyone, young and old, to bundle up and gather riverside at McGarvey's Landing for the arrival of the Christmas Tree Ship, an icebreaker stocked with Christmas trees and cheer. Purchase fresh-cut trees or evergreen wreaths for your home décor. Lunch with Santa will follow at the adjacent Quaker Steak & Lube.
Dec 7 Adult Gingerbread Lighthouse Workshop – Why should children get all the gingerbread-house-making fun? This adults-only workshop at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky allows grown-ups to create a truly coastal holiday treat in the form of a lighthouse!
Dec 8 Santa Hustle – Hundreds of running Santa’s in an amusement park? You don’t see that every day! The annual Santa Hustle Cedar Point 5K and Half-Marathon welcomes runners of ages and skill levels to participate in this rare opportunity. Runners are gifted a themed hoodie along with a Santa hat, beard, and festive finisher medal. Jolly tunes will be playing throughout the park, and water stations will include cookies and cocoa. Kids can join in the Kids Dash. It’s the most wonderful raceof the year!
Dec 14 Carousel Christmas Ride-A-Thon – Very few towns are able to kick-off the holidays in such a unique way. The Merry-Go-Round Museum’s Carousel Christmas Ride-A-Thon invites guests to experience the fascinating history of carousels and the art of their menagerie animals with free admission for the day and $1 carousel rides. On this day, the young and the young-at-heart can relive the magic of riding the merry-go-round as many times as they’d like. The museum also offers kids crafts, Christmas movies, and visits with Santa during this special day.
Dec 14 A Taste of Christmas – Historic Lyme Village in Bellevue hosts this event within their village, which will be all a-glitter for the season. Discover delicious foods in the historical buildings, while kids can visit the Merry School House to write a letter to Santa (aka Father Christmas), stop by the Lyme Post Office to mail it, then visit with Father Christmas himself at the John Wright Mansion. Believe it or not, he will already know what you asked for!!!
Dec 15 Holidays Around the World – Firelands Symphony Orchestra presents an observance of different cultures and their celebrations. Join the full orchestra as well as the Firelands Symphony Chorale at the Sandusky State Theatre as they present the musical sounds of caroling, feasting, gift-giving, and the greetings of the season around the world.
Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Walleye Drop – For the most uniquely Shores & Islands event, head to Port Clinton on New Year’s Eve to usher in 2020 with the annual Walleye Drop festivities. Beginning with the kids’ “Minnow Drop” at 6 pm and ending with the countdown to midnight where a 20-ft, 600-lb fiberglass walleye, affectionally dubbed Wylie the Walleye, is dropped from a crane overlooking the entrance to Lake Erie. The downtown party includes food trucks, live music, games, and fireworks as well as specials at pubs and eateries.
Not local? Unless you’re visiting friends and family, you’ll need a place to stay while enjoying the holidays. The Lake Erie Shores & Islands region has plenty of options, from full-service hotels and resorts, to bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. Indoor water parks welcome families to warm up through the season with summer-like temperatures mixed with traditional spirit. Special activities at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay, and Great Wolf Lodge allow guests to make new traditions and celebrate together. Start planning at SHORESandISLANDS.com.