Things to do in Cincinnati: November 11-12-13 – The Cincinnati Enquirer

1. Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market

One of the largest and most anticipated craft shows in Greater Cincinnati takes place this weekend at the Duke Energy Convention Center (525 Elm St., Downtown). The Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market is almost as much a holiday tradition as the area’s light shows and train displays.

This year, you’ll find some new additions to keep you entertained and filled with the holiday spirit. Zookeepers from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will be visiting for photo opportunities, and you can also get items you purchase wrapped for free courtesy of the Cincinnati Open Box Outlet. There’s also a package holding area where you can stow your treasures and continue shopping unencumbered. Tips given at the holding area benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. You can also register to win “merry money” in hourly drawings, enjoy selfies with Santa and take a break in the lounge with an appetizer and glass of wine.

The Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market runs from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. VIP shopper morning runs 8-11 a.m. Friday; early bird admission is 8-10 a.m. Saturday. Girls Night Out shopping takes place 4-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. General admission is $12. VIP is $25, early bird is $15, and Girls Night Out is $6.

2. Trains!

One of Cincinnati’s most beloved holiday traditions, Holiday Junction featuring the Duke Energy Holiday Trains, returns to the Cincinnati Museum Center this weekend. Since 1946, families have been mesmerized and delighted by the sights and sounds of these electric toy train layouts, some dating back to pre-World War II. Track-level views reveal intricate details of the display, where more than 300 rail cars and 60 locomotives steam past houses and wintery scenes.

Your visit starts with bursts of winter whimsy and a Northern Lights display, and an interactive storybook tells the history of the trains over the decades. Brickopolis also returns this year, featuring Lego bricks crafted into fantastical scenes from Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Harry Potter and more. Holiday Junction opens at 10 a.m. Friday and runs through Jan. 2. Be sure to check the website for extended holiday hours. Admission to Holiday Junction is $10, or $5 with the purchase of any other museum experience. The Cincinnati Museum Center is located at 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate.

Also this weekend, Christmas at the Junction opens at EnterTrainment Junction (7379 Squire Court, West Chester). See the world’s largest indoor train display, decked out for the holidays. Kids can take a journey to the North Pole and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. It opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 1. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily except Sunday, when it’s open noon-6 p.m. On select days in December, Christmas at the Junction will be open for extended hours. It’s closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Another place for trainspotting is at Holly Jolly Days, opening Saturday at Behringer-Crawford Museum (1600 Montague Road, Covington). Kids will love seeing the toy trains and enjoy the winter wonderland in NaturePlay. Fans of the film “White Christmas” will relish seeing the costumes and props from the film on display, courtesy of the Rosemary Clooney House. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

3.Holiday light displays

Load up the kids, pets and grandparents and head out to one of the drive-through holiday displays opening this weekend. Here’s a look at what’s on offer:

Christmas Nights of Lights is the region’s largest synchronized holiday light show, featuring over 1 million lights that dance and twinkle to holiday music that you can sing along to while enjoying the holiday displays. You’ll see larger-than-life Christmas trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes, tunnels of lights and lots more, all from the warmth and comfort of your vehicle. Just tune in your radio to 97.5 FM and turn off your headlights when you arrive at the gate.

Christmas Nights of Lights opens Friday at Coney Island (6201 Kellogg Ave., Anderson Township) and runs nightly from dusk to 10 p.m. – regardless of the weather – through Jan. 2. Admission is per vehicle. Vehicles seating 1-8 people are $30 Friday-Sunday and $25 weekdays. 9-15 person vehicles are $50, and vehicles with 16 or more persons are $75.

Northern Kentucky’s only drive-through light show features over 1 million lights, and this year has been extended to over 2 miles long. The whole family will enjoy a quality LED show experience with displays of giant trees, snowflakes, toy soldiers and more at Light Up the Fair, which opens Friday and runs every night through Dec. 31 at the Boone County Fairgrounds (5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington). Hours are 5:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. Pricing is the same weekdays and weekends. It’s $15 per couple, or $25 per carload (3-7 passengers). Veterans can enjoy free entry this weekend in honor of Veteran’s Day, and active military and first responders get in free any time.

4. “The Lion”

American singer-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer wrote and originally performed this genre-redefining musical, which premiered off-Broadway in 2014 and toured the U.S. and UK for over 500 performances. This revival of “The Lion” comes direct from the London stage for an exclusive Playhouse in the Park engagement, starring Max Alexander-Taylor as Benjamin.

The play is like an intimate, acoustic storytelling event. You meet the singer-songwriter as he shares the story of his family through heartrending monologues and original songs. With guitar in hand, he explores love, loss and the redemptive power of music. Due to the Playhouse’s Eden Park location being temporarily closed, performances of “The Lion” will take place at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater (801 Matson Place, East Price Hill). It opens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and runs through Dec. 4. Tickets start at $35. 513-421-3888;

5. Step Afrika!

Enjoy songs, storytelling and humor teamed with pure energy in a show that features a blend of percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, traditional African dances and contemporary dance. Step Afrika!’s signature performances share the step tradition of audience participation and close with a complex, polyrhythmic percussive symphony that is sure to bring you to your feet with joy.

Catch this performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hall Auditorium on the campus of Miami University (101 S. Campus Ave., Oxford) as part of the university’s Performing Arts Series. Tickets are $22, $21 for seniors, and $11 students.

Honorable mention: “Shine a Light”

A powerful new addition to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s modern-day slavery exhibit is shining a light on the issue of human trafficking in Ohio. “Shine a Light” is a new interactive experience in the Invisible: Slavery Today Gallery that uses flashlights to reveal stories and information about human trafficking in the state, which ranks fourth in the nation in reported cases. The new experience opens Friday and is included with admission. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located at 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown.

Honorable mention: More ice rinks opening

Winter Wonderland Ice Rink opens Saturday at Todd Creech Park (305 W. Tate St., Lawrenceburg). It’s a covered, outdoor rink with skating sessions running for 90 minutes. Admission includes skate rental. There are indoor restrooms and a fire pit for warming cold hands. The rink will be open through Jan. 8. It costs $8 for ages 13-up, $6 ages 5-12 and free for ages 4 and under.

Also opening for the season is the Summit Park Ice Rink (4335 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash). You don’t need reservations to skate; it’s first come, first served. The rink opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 8. The $7 fee includes skate rental. Rink status line: 513-745-6259;

Honorable mention: Jungle Jim’s International Wine Festival

Over 400 wines from around the world are on offer 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Jungle Jim’s International Market, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield. At press time, all tickets were sold out except for the general-admission Grand Tasting ($74.55) and the non-drinker Grand Tasting ($37.28).