Many businesses and institutions are getting into the spirit of the season, providing holiday entertainment in downtown Columbus and nearby neighborhoods.

One of the biggest events of the season is Village Lights, to be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 in German Village.

Thousands of luminarias will line the streets and patrons will be greeted by carolers and live music. Many retailers in the Village will offer discounts on merchandise.

The Meeting Haus, 588 S. Third St., will host striezelmarkt, a Munich-style bazaar where vendors will sell an assortment of gifts and special gluhwein, a warm spiced wine, will be served.

Families can drop off letters to Santa at the Caretakers Cottage in Schiller Park.

On Dec. 2, the Short North will celebrate with its annual Holiday Hop.

The event will feature street performers, decorated retail windows, lights and new art exhibitions. Patrons can vote for their favorite holiday window display and shop the Short North Alliance's Holiday Hop Pop Up Shop, where merchants will sell their wares, from noon to 9 p.m. at 873 N. High St.

Throughout the season, patrons who snap photos of themselves celebrating in the Short North Arts District with #ShortNorthPole will have an opportunity to win gifts from participating stores. Winners will be selected weekly.

Shadowbox Live will perform “Holiday Hoopla” at 7:30 p.m. on select Mondays through Thursdays and at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. on select Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 30 in the Brewery District venue, 530 S. Front St.

The troupe's performance mixes sketch comedy with seasonal music and features a sendup of the "Santa Babies."

Holiday Hoopla has become a holiday tradition, having been performed for 25 years by Shadowbox.

The Center of Science and Industry has a variety of holiday-related events planned.

Although it doesn't necessarily fit into the theme of Christmas, the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery is on permanent display at COSI, 333 W. Broad St.

The exhibit opened Nov. 17 with 130 specimens and hands-on activities, said Jaclyn Reynolds, spokeswoman for COSI.

The holiday movie "Polar Express" will be shown at select times Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 15-17 at the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater. Live science shows start 30 minutes before each screening.

Those who attend will be treated to hot chocolate, cookies and other surprises, Reynolds said.

Patrons will help illuminate the science-related light show, which will be held through Jan. 7. Visitors can pedal stationary bicycles that light up 12,000 lights, Reynolds said.