What’s there to do around Christmas time in central Ohio? Well, there are probably a ton of options, but the most well-known has to be the insane light display at historic Clifton Mill, near Yellow Springs. This annual tradition been drawing huge crowds for many years, and there’s no wondering why… it’s a truly breathtaking installation.
A few years back, we visited Clifton Mill for lunch at their cozy restaurant. This is a beautiful area at any time of year, but after finding out about their Christmas insanity, we promised ourselves to visit the next time we were in Ohio for the holidays. So when we found ourselves in Springfield in December this year, we made good on our vow, hopping in the car and driving 15 minutes south to Yellow Springs.
This year, they incorporated over 4 million Christmas LEDs to completely cover the mill, the surrounding buildings, the covered bridge and basically the entire grounds with light. Literally almost every inch was covered; a grueling task that took a team of six people over three months to set up.
Gates opened at 5pm and the lights went on at 6. We arrived fifteen minutes ahead of the first lightshow of the evening, on a chilly December night. Families were already lined up around the barn, but we found a good spot and awaited the show. And when the lights came on, everyone in the crowd made some sort of sound: gasps of surprise, ooohs of wonder, cheers of joy, and howls of pain from burned retinas. It was truly stunning.
For the first couple minutes, we loved the light show, since we were completely dazzled by the lights flipping on. But eventually the novelty wore off… it’s amazing how fast your brain can get accustomed to something like 4 million lights, and be like “Fine, what’s next?” Naturally, the show was synced to the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which is just a given at things like this. (I’ve always found this to be such a strange phenomenon. Who are the “rockers” yearning to headbang to Silent Night?)
We were happy enough once the light show was over, and luckily there were some other things to see (to help justify the rather outrageous $15 price of entry). We enjoyed the real life Santa popping outside the workshop’s chimney. And there was an incredible collection of Santa Claus related memorabilia and animatronics inside one of the barns. There was also an impressive model train chugging around a huge Christmas village, which was neat.
We’re not exactly Christmas guys, but with the lights glowing the air around us, hot chocolate warming our hands, the joyful atmosphere among all the other visitors, and the holiday music in the background, it was impossible to not feel the spirit. If you’re in the area during the Christmas season, Clifton Mills is definitely worth seeing!
More Christmas Lights Photos from Clifton Mill:
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