Family Fun Day — Holiday CircleFest

       As a parent in today’s modern day society, it is more convenient than ever to let our electronic devices babysit our children.  How many times have you been guilty of turning on a movie or the TV for your kids, or handing them your cellphone or iPad?  Thanks to the advances in modern technology, so few kids get regular exposure to the great outdoors.

       When I was a kid, I remember being told by my mom that I had to stop sitting around and go outside to play.  And I did.  But when my friends were busy or I got bored, there were problems.  Suddenly, sitting me in front of the TV didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

       I think in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we have slowly forgotten about the amazing resources that are available to us in Northeast Ohio.  There are dozens of fun, educational places nearby where we can take our kids and teenagers to explore and broaden their horizons.  And the best part?  Many of them are fairly inexpensive…or free!

       This is the first installment of a new group of posts that I am going to call “Family Fun Day,” where I will feature free (or low-cost) options for local family entertainment.  I am looking forward to doing this research and sharing it here with you, so let’s get started!




* * * Holiday CircleFest * * *

       Here is a great way to personalize a day with your kids and truly make it your own.  The 21st Annual Holiday CircleFest will be presented on Sunday, December 7th in UniversityCircle.  In the spirit of the holidays, more than a dozen local organizations present a free day of admission for families.  You will experience crafts, music, cookie decorating, food, ice sculptures, ice skating, activities, and much more!  With such a wide range of places to go and things to see and do, there is something for everyone in your family.

       The list of events is pretty overwhelming because there are so many participating organizations.  If you want to view a complete list of events, activites, and places, you can visit UniversityCircle’s website at  I have taken the liberty of highlighting a few below that would be especially fun if you are bringing your kids.  Unless noted, all of the following events are free for the entire family.  Enjoy!


University Circle, Inc.
→ 12 – 7 p.m. – Experience ice skating on Wade Oval! (Skate rentals are $3, or bring your own!)
→ 1 – 5 p.m. – Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage rides, beginning on Wade Oval.
→ 1, 2, 3, & 4 p.m. – Any Frozen fans? See an ice carving demonstration on Wade Oval.


The Children’s Museum of Cleveland
→ 1 – 4:30 p.m. – In addition to free admission, you can also create your own mini snow globe.


Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
→ 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. – ArtSquad Plays Activity Space will present a variety of free activities for kids that correspond with the art on view in the gallery.


The Lake View Cemetery
→ 1 – 5:30 p.m. – Meet at the Euclid Gate to make a free animal-friendly ornament that can be displayed outside to feed the birds.


Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM)
→ 1 p.m. – Peter & the Wolf performed by the CIM Chamber Orchestra.
→ 1:45 p.m. – Excerpts from The Nutcracker Suite performed by the CIM Harp Ensemble.
→ 2:45 p.m. – Jingle Brass performed by the CIM Brass Ensembles.


The Music Settlement
→ 1 – 5 p.m. – Come be a part of a community sing-along!


Hawken School – Sally & Bob Gries Center
→ 1 & 3:00 p.m. – See a theatrical performance of Hansel & Gretel and the Creepy Woods.


The Junior League of Cleveland
→ 1 – 5 p.m. – Children who donate a warm winter accessory to the League (like a hat, mittens, or a scarf) can decorate a holiday cookie to take home.


Cleveland Museum of Natural History – You must pay for parking.
→ 1 – 5 p.m. – Enjoy the new Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age Try your hand at snowflake making or a mammoth and mastodon craft.  Winter-themed Planetarium shows will be presented for an additional charge.


The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) – You must pay for parking.
→ 2 – 4:30 p.m. – Make a simple lantern to carry in the processional that evening.
→ 5:30 p.m. – The Lantern Processional, which will be led by giant puppets and dancers, will start at the CMA north entrance and will process through the Environment of Lights on Wade Oval.




Cleveland Botanical Garden (CBG) – You must pay for parking.
→ 1 – 6 p.m. – The first 4000 guests receive free admission to the CBG, featuring GLOW 2014.
→ 2 – 4 p.m. – Experience some GLOW seasonal music performances and partake in a children’s seasonal craft.


Judson Manor
→ 1 – 3 p.m. – Have fun decorating holiday cookies.
→1 & 3:15 p.m. – Enjoy the musical sounds of The River Valley Bell Ringers.


Cleveland Public Library, Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch
→ 1 – 5:30 p.m. – Partake in a children’s holiday craft, enjoy free face painting, and a visit from a balloon twister.


Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland
→ 1 – 5:30 p.m. – Kids and adults can take part in a holiday cookie decorating party, where you can even win a prize! Holiday baking kits will be available for purchase and come with complimentary gift wrapping.
→ 3 p.m. – The clown himself, Ronald McDonald, will perform a special holiday magic show.


Cleveland Sight Center
→ 1 – 5 p.m. – A one-of-a-kind experience – decorate a holiday cookie while blindfolded. Concessions will be served for free.


Shuttle Bus Service
→ 12:30 – 6:30 p.m. – A complimentary shuttle bus service will take you to many of the locations listed above and a few others that are not listed. One loop on the shuttle takes approximately half an hour.


I hope you enjoyed this first edition of Family Fun Day (FFD)!  Use our comments section below to tell everyone about the event.  Do you have a suggestion for a future FFD post?  Let me know!  Thanks for reading!


Photo Copyright: [Untitled Images]. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from

Share This

About the Author

Dave Hoffman