CINCINNATI — It may still be a few weeks from Thanksgiving, but the transformation of downtown Cincinnati into a winter wonderland is set to begin this weekend.

What You Need To Know

  • 3CDC will install the Macy's Holiday Tree at Fountain Square on Saturday

  • The ice skating rink was installed Monday

  • Various events take place throughout the weekend at Fountain Square; admission to the rink may be required for some activities

  • Macy's Light Up the Square will take place Friday, Nov. 26

​The annual Macy's Holiday Tree will arrive in the heart of downtown early Saturday morning. The 56-foot Norway spruce was selected specifically for Fountain Square by Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC), which operates and programs the space.

The tree serves as the centerpiece of 2021 Macy’s Light Up the Square, which is returning this year as an in-person event after going all-digital in 2020. It will take place Friday, Nov. 26, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Macy's Holiday Tree being installed at Fountain Square (Provided)
The Macy's Holiday Tree being installed at Fountain Square (Provided)

3CDC said it has been working with Zuk’s Tree Moving for a few months. This is coming from a tree nursery in Westfield Center, Ohio.

"This tree is the centerpiece for many Cincinnati holiday traditions," said Andi Schultes with 3CDC. "Our goal every year is to find a beautiful tree that will be a part of a lasting memory for Fountain Square visitors."

Zuk’s Tree Moving begins its trek from northern Ohio to Cincinnati shortly after midnight on Friday. They expect the tree to arrive in downtown by 6 a.m. Saturday.

Maxim Crane starts the tree installation at 7 a.m. in the southwest corner of the Square. They expect to finish around noon, at which point the decoration of the tree will begin. They'll continue to add strands of decorative lights and a 5-foot-tall, red Macy’s star over the course of the days that follow. 

3CDC reminds onlookers that the tree you'll see during and just after installation will not be the final product. 

A photo of last year's holiday tree installation went viral, with some declaring it the "perfect tree to represent 2020." The tree had not yet fully fallen out so parts of the tree looked barren and as if branches were missing.

"Beauty takes time. We assure you that the holiday tree will look glamorous once all the proper adjustments are complete by the end of the weekend," said Caroline Curran with 3CDC. 

The tree installation is part of the overall winterizing of Fountain Square. On Monday, 3CDC opened its seasonal ice rink, which will be open for skating at 8 a.m. on Saturday, as the tree is being installed.

The rink is open seven days a week for ice skating and use of special bumper cars. There's a full-service concessions tent with hot and cold snacks, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It also has a warming area.

3CDC is encouraging families to come down to the Square Saturday to take part in what they're calling a "tree trimming party" during the tree installation. From 10 a.m. to noon, local artist Abby Palen will lead a holiday ornament crafting activity for patrons to enjoy. 

Admission to the rink will be required to participate in the event. Admission is $15. Those interested in taking part should reserve the 10 a.m. skate and bumper car session.

Opening weekend festivities continue Sunday with a Pajama Skating Party during the 10 a.m. and noon skate and bumper cars sessions. Patrons wearing cozy pajamas will receive free hot chocolate.

3CDC reports that reservations are still available for opening weekend. They can be made on the Fountain Square website.