German Village at Christmas Time is Magical – Come Stay with Us!
The Tennessean — Old-world vibe brightens Christmas in Columbus
By Kathy Witt – The Tennessean (11/18/07) — Article
Visit Columbus, Ohio, this holiday season and you’ll be greeted with a city twinkling with 10,000 candles in its German Village and dazzling with the works of a French Impressionist in its downtown.
The Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal will be on display at an indoor garden railway, and the North Pole experienced at the zoo. All this, plus shopping and gallery-hopping in a winter wonderland give travelers a world of reasons to explore Columbus.
Soon it will be cheaper than ever: Skybus begins a Chattanooga-to-Columbus route in December, with fares as low as $10 each way.
Look at the lights
Add an old-world touch to your holidays with a visit to German Village, a 233-acre neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its bricked streets, wrought-iron fences, tiny and trim yards, and eclectic architecture — including buildings with Queen Anne, Italianate and Dutch features — lend a Euro vibe to the nation’s largest privately funded historic district.
During its Village Lights event, 10,000 candles illuminate the streets and charming SchillerPark as strolling carolers sing and shopkeepers and restaurateurs offer hot mulled cider and snacks. Santa Claus and his reindeer cause a stir, as does Pelsnickel, the German gift giver known for rewarding those on the “nice” list while punishing those under “naughty.”
Visit the shops on foot or via tram, poking into the 32-room Book Loft, plus antiques and art galleries and fine crafts shops along the cobbled way: Mars Creations for funky, affordable jewelry; Caterina for fine European linens; DogWorks for Fido’s stocking stuffers; and others. Stop by the locals’ watering hole, Beck Tavern, which is tucked in the village center, or Club 185 with its exposed brick walls, tin ceiling and easygoing atmosphere.
If 10,000 lights aren’t quite enough, head to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where more than two million of them twinkle throughout the zoo’s exhibits, lighting up the model railroad, the Enchanted Ice Rink, Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen and a fully restored 1914 carousel. The event, a Columbus tradition for more than 17 years, includes horse-drawn wagon rides, children’s and family activities, diving demonstrations, a hands-on touch pool and visits with Santa Claus.
Joie de vivre is abundant at the Columbus Museum of Art, where “In Monet’s Garden: The Lure of Giverny” invites visitors into the artist’s gardens in this picturesque French village. With a core of 12 Monet paintings, the exhibition also features works by American Impressionists who visited and worked at Giverny. Adding depth to the exhibition while demonstrating the enduring seductiveness of these gardens will be 20 additional works by contemporary artists.
At Wexner Center for the Arts, the critically acclaimed exhibition “William Wegman: Funney/Strange,” runs through the end of the year. This 40-year retrospective of more than 200 works showcases Wegman’s wryly funny style through his photography, painting, drawing, collage work and videography from the 1960s to the present. Wegman fans will make a beeline for his famous photographs of Weimaraner dogs in fanciful or surreal poses, including Dusted, in which man’s best friend is being showered with flour, and Armored, featuring a dog completely covered in shiny silver doilies.
Pop into the Wexner’s museum shop for Wegman-inspired gifts for the holidays, including the DVD Fay’s Twelve Days of Christmas. This timely item features the artist’s dog, Fay Ray, and her brood celebrating the merriment of the season in numbers and shapes.
The architectural wonders of the world are re-created in moss, twigs, leaves and seeds and are presented in small scale at Franklin Park Conservatory. Famed garden railroad designer Paul Busse has crafted a whimsical three-dimensional world called “Enchanted Express” to illustrate the historical and literary connections between plants and people.
The indoor garden railway adventure chugs through the Conservatory’s Himalayan Mountain, Rain Forest and Desert biomes and travels past vignettes of the Great Wall of China, the Lost City of the Incas and the Egyptian pyramids, among other storied structures. Also on tour are the residences of famous fairy tale denizens Rapunzel, the Three Little Pigs and the Old Woman in the Shoe.
Get busy and shop
Columbus has a dynamic shopping scene that bustles throughout the city’s many distinctive neighborhoods, offering specialty shopping not found anywhere else — such as the live caterpillar, with instructions on how to watch it turn into a butterfly, at the Franklin Park Conservatory gift shop.
In the Short North Arts District, miles of independently owned boutiques and galleries stretch as far as the eye can see. Within this jumble of shops can be found everything from thrift-shop treasures, original works of art and artisan chocolates to designer furniture and contemporary shoes.