It’s enough to impress even Thomas Edison. The 25th annual incarnation of the Cincinnati Zoo’s “Festival of Lights” is a holiday spectacular which features 2.5 million — count ‘em, two-and-a-half million — twinkling bulbs as well as carolers, ice skating and light sculptures. Plus the regular lions, tigers and polar bears, oh my! New this year: The 4-D Special FX Theater, showing The Polar Express in a blend of 3-D visual effects and with a fourth dimension, adding wind, scents and other sensory surprises. Also look for strolling entertainers, ice skating, miniature train ride and fantasy wonderlands. Two 30-foot-high nutcrackers are stationed at the zoo entrance, and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus are in attendance. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale. 5 to 9 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. (open nightly after Dec. 13), through Jan. 1. $12.95 adults, $10.95 senior citizens and $7.95 children ages 2 to 12 (film is an additional $6). 513/475-6124 or
A Christmas Carol is a loyal rendition of Charles Dickens’ familiar holiday chestnut, with actor Bruce Cromer starring as Scrooge. A ghost story with heart for all the humbugs among us, the lavish production includes extravagant scenery, hundreds of costume changes, and special effects: rolling fog, scenery that rises and falls on elevators, ghostly apparitions, the works. The script for this version is adapted directly from the original 1843 novel, so it may be the most painstakingly true adaptation of the author’s work you will ever see. There’s no Hollywood middleman to destroy the original vision. The Playhouse in the Park, Eden Park Circle, Mt. Adams. 7 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sat.-Sun., and 7 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., Dec. 1-30. $41.50 to $54.50 for adults, $15 to $20 for children 5 to 12 (children under 5 not admitted). 513/421-3888 or
They call it the “Miracle on Fourth Street.” The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is celebrating 68 years of Medieval pageantry and the Nativity story. A cast and crew of hundreds, many who return year after year, dress up in elaborate costumes, while a full chorus and orchestra provide the music (a blend of traditional folk music and Christmas carols). Look for a colorful procession of Magi (wearing robes originally created in 1943), Beefeater soldiers on the march, yule sprites, huntsmen complete with live hawks courtesy of Raptor Inc., minstrels, shepherds, even good King Wenceslaus and ‘natch, a wild boar’s head. Christ Church Cathedral, 4th and Sycamore Sts., downtown. 2 and 5 p.m. Sat., 2:30 and 5 p.m. Sun., Dec. 29 and 30. Free tickets are available by calling ahead, then seating is first come, first served.  513/621-2627 or