He came late this year, but Old Man Winter has finally brought his gray skies, frigid temperatures and bitter precipitation to Columbus. As usual, he'll be staying roughly until April. That's about five months - but it'll feel like 10.

He came late this year, but Old Man Winter has finally brought his gray skies, frigid temperatures and bitter precipitation to Columbus. As usual, he'll be staying roughly until April. That's about five months - but it'll feel like 10.

To keep you from settling down to a long winter's nap, we put together a list packed with things to keep you somewhat sane until spring.

1. Grab some local gifts

Holiday Hop

Gallery Hop has been running for nearly 26 years, and the monthly event has only gotten bigger, better and more popular. This Saturday, the city's arts and entertainment capital will be decked with festive trimmings and filled with holiday cheer.

2. Practice your triple axel

Adult Skate at the Dispatch Ice Haus

Numerous Chiller Ice Rinks dot Central Ohio, but the Blue Jackets only practice at one. Located adjacent to Nationwide Arena, this pond offers a weekly adult skate - i.e., more romance, fewer birthday parties.

3. Experience a classic Christmas tale

"The Nutcracker"

Artistic Director Gerard Charles weds comedy and class in this unique but faithful spin on Tchaikovsky's most famous piece, running through Dec. 10-26. Luxurious costumes, accomplished dancing and live music from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra make it a highlight of the season.

4. Enjoy an afternoon in the stacks

The Book Loft

Thirty-two rooms of books await readers, browsers and those who simply enjoy getting a little lost in a cozy corner. After wandering through the open-late space, grab a nice coffee or hot chocolate next door at Cup o' Joe.

5. Fly down a snowy hill

Highbanks Metro Park

The county park system has several good sledding spots, but the steepest and fastest lies within this Lewis Center preserve's Big Meadows Picnic Area. Its popularity means packed snow - and that means top speeds on your favorite disc, tube or Flexible Flyer.