Clifton, Ohio: Gorge of Lights, Busy Santa

3.5 million lights cover literally every exterior surface surrounding an old mill. Indoors, a hard-working live Santa repeatedly climbs the chimney to load his sleigh.

Clifton Mill

75 Water St., Clifton, OH
South edge of town, north side of the river, just west of Hwy 72/Main St. This is a seasonal attraction, and only open at night.
Evenings Thanksgiving-New Year (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10, but can see much from outside for free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Visitor Tips and News About Gorge of Lights, Busy Santa

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December night scene of the village.

Gorge of Lights, Busy Santa

They also have a huge [seasonal] animated village outside. They have a train running through it, a whole production. Very neat to see.

[Brooke Chesson-Riedel, 05/27/2020]


Clifton Mill Secret Tour

We returned during the off-season to see the water wheel and, after asking if their branded flour was ground on-site, were told they give a secret (unadvertised) tour if a mill employee is available. Go to the cashier at the restaurant to ask about it; for $3 a person, the guy running it took us back and showed us not only the mill mechanisms, but also their collection of flour sacks from all over the world, a "beehive" style rural post office, and a "dynamite-proof" safe, shaped like a diving bell, from Clifton's only bank. (Turns out they have to have grain ground to their recipe offsite, since for health reasons you can't grind on the antique equipment, and then they bag and measure it there. Makes sense.)

[Kitsa, 07/31/2016]

Bad Santas.

Clifton Mill Holiday Spectacle

Hundreds crowd into the little gravelly space at Clifton Mill every night during the Christmas season to watch the big lighting -- which happens several times a night, usually with a pop of electricity and the Hallelujah Chorus blasting from speakers. Although you can see some of it between the trees from the road, your best option really is to pay the admission and go in. They have erected plywood barriers in some places to keep people from getting a free view.

The role of the Santa collection can't be overstated here. We've always called it the Museum of Creepy Santas, as many of the Santas could well be making an appearance direct from someone's nightmares. There is always a long line to get in and it is well worth the wait.

There is a large miniature village that seems to grow every year, including a house that is burning down (a Sterno pot smolders inside), a drive-in movie theater, and a stadium complete with a marching band spelling out OHIO.

[Kitsa, 10/04/2012]
Clifton Mill Waterfall of Christmas Lights

Clifton Mill uses over three million Christmas lights from Thanksgiving until New Years for one of the coolest light displays you'll ever seel

[M Bauer, 09/21/2012]

All exterior surfaces are covered in 3.5 million twinkly lights, including the mill, the trees, the covered bridge, even the rock walls of the gorge leading down to the river. The lights are shut off once every hour, leaving visitors in total darkness. Indoors, there's a Santa Claus Museum and a live, hard-at-work Santa (no lap photos) who climbs the chimney to load his sleigh several times every hour.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Raptor Center in the WoodsRaptor Center in the Woods, Yellow Springs, OH - 3 mi.
Legend of Ha Ha PizzaLegend of Ha Ha Pizza, Yellow Springs, OH - 3 mi.
Young's Jersey DairyYoung's Jersey Dairy, Yellow Springs, OH - 3 mi.
In the region:
Ride Boat Pulled by Mule, Piqua, OH - 35 mi.

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