December sparks stunning light displays, festive parades, Christmas markets, and seasonal celebrations across Michigan. From Santa parades to cozy Christmas markets, here are the most magical ways to embrace the season in Michigan.
1. Noel Night
Noel Night transposes Midtown Detroit into a festive holiday wonderland. Families adore activities like writing letters to Santa, craft-making, holiday shopping, music, ice sculpting and more.
Kids enjoy story time and creating arts and crafts projects while parents browse the Midtown shops and galleries adorned for the holidays. Families can go ice skating at Campus Martius Park, take horse-drawn carriage rides, and enjoy music performances throughout the Cultural Center.
With free admission, it’s the merriest way to celebrate the season Detroit-style! Remember to arrive early to fully enjoy the activities. Catch a performance at a nearby museum or church.
2. Christmas in the Ville
Find old-fashioned holiday charm at Holly’s Christmas in the Ville event. Families adore activities like writing letters to Santa at the historic Holly Hotel, reindeer petting zoo, festive treats, parade, and Santa strolling the streets.
Make reindeer food, catch Santa’s grand arrival, and enjoy wagon rides, carolers, craft shows, and small town holiday magic! See Santa’s dramatic arrival by firetruck and helicopter. Stay for the Electric Light Parade after meeting Santa.
3. Frankenmuth ChristKindlMarkt
Modeled after traditional German Christmas markets, Frankenmuth’s ChristKindlMarkt celebrates the season with weekend holiday shopping. Families admire decorated trees, kids craft ornament making, and unique artisan vendors.
Enjoy strolling with hot spiced wine, fresh potato pancakes, and other special treats too! Take the free horse-drawn carriage rides on weekends. Make time to also see the town’s holiday decorations.
4. Magical Christmas Lights
Magical Christmas Lights features over 1 million dazzling LED lights arranged in spectacular scenes and structures across a 2-mile drive-through. Families will delight seeing the illuminated holiday displays set to festive music.
Weeknights tend to be less busy for enjoying this luminous holiday tradition. Upgrade to a limo or carriage ride for an extra special experience. Bring hot cocoa or apple cider.
5. Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo
Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo offers a magical winter walking tour with over 5 million LED lights illuminating trees, animal sculptures, tunnels and more. Families will marvel at dazzling displays set to holiday music with hot cocoa in hand.
Watch for twinkling penguins, dancing bears and other delightful creatures along the path! Go on a weekday or early on weekends to avoid crowds. Check the entertainment schedule for carolers.
6. Merry KrisKringle Market
Find European-inspired holiday magic at Holland’s KrisKringle Market located at the Civic Center Place. Families will discover craft vendor cabins, tasty foods, visits with SinterKlaas, ice sculpting, reindeer, fire pits, and more over three festive weekends.
Enjoy strolling with hot chocolate amid the sights and sounds of the season! Take the reindeer and carriage rides offered for a small fee. Come hungry – the baked goods look amazing.
7. Santa’s Workshop
Historic downtown Northville provides a quaint Victorian setting for Santa’s Workshop leading up to Christmas. Kids create crafts, meet reindeer, write letters, and visit with Santa himself during this charming event.
Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, marshmallow roasting, festive treats, and holiday magic on Main Street! Make time for a photo by the large Christmas tree on Main Street. Catch a horse-drawn carriage ride if possible.
8. Plymouth Ice Festival
This family favorite festival celebrates Plymouth’s ice carving heritage with stunning sculptures on display downtown. Watch professional carvers create icy works of art during the competition then take a self-guided walking tour to admire their designs lit up at night.
Enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, music, food, and holiday craft vendors too! Don’t forget to bundle up because it can get chilly. Grab hot drinks and snacks from downtown restaurants and cafes.
9. Heritage Park Holiday Nights
Families adore Heritage Park’s immersive holiday experience with thousands of sparkling lights, historic building tours, reindeer petting, carolers, chestnut roasting, Santa visits, model train displays, crafters, and horse-drawn carriage rides across the village grounds.
The magical setting transports you back to Christmas past! Definitely take the train ride for a unique perspective. Plan to tour the historic structures too.
10. Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village
For an unforgettable holiday experience, families must visit Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village near Detroit in December. This magical event transforms Henry Ford’s historic village into a winter wonderland over select evenings leading up to Christmas.
Kids eyes shine as they trick-or-treat at elaborately decorated homes where Model T cars filled with costumed interpreters hand out old-fashioned candies and treats. Horsedrawn wagon rides, heartwarming theater shows, and the legendary Santa Land with reindeer bring extra joy. The smells of chestnuts roasting and model railroad displays add nostalgic flair.
The happy memories created during this event become lifelong traditions passed down through generations. It’s the hallmark of Michigan Christmases past and present!
11. Visit with Santa at The Village of Rochester Hills
For families seeking a magical Santa experience, Visits with Santa at The Village of Rochester Hills creates a true winter wonderland. Taking place on select dates in December, this beloved event transforms the outdoor village area into a whimsical backdrop for Christmas memories.
The visit with Santa takes place in a cozy log cabin warmed by a stone fireplace. Kids sit on Santa’s lap and share their Christmas wishes as parents capture photos of this special annual tradition. Gently falling snow outside the window adds to the spirit.
Afterwards, kids delight in writing letters to Santa at the mailbox before mailing them off to the North Pole. Families can grab festive snacks like hot cocoa, cookies, and fudge to enjoy while walking among the lights. Holiday shopping at the village stores and horse-drawn wagon rides complete the memorable evening.
12. Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Walk
For an elegant holiday experience, Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester decks its halls each December for The Holidays at Meadow Brook Hall event. The historic 1920s mansion of Matilda Dodge Wilson transforms into a splendid scene from Christmas past.
Upon arrival, families are awestruck entering the Grand Hall adorned with an enormous Fraser fir, garlands, ribbons, and thousands of ornaments. Christmas music fills the air to enhance the nostalgia. docents guide guests through the first floor public rooms elaborately trimmed in the theme “Nature’s Bounty.”
The dining room impresses with a cornucopia centerpiece overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and gorgeous floral arrangements. Kids love spotting the 50 themed Christmas trees artfully placed throughout the halls.
The scents of pine and cinnamon, sounds of carolers, and luxurious holiday decor transport families back to an elegant time. Memories are made while experiencing how the season was celebrated almost 100 years ago. The pure nostalgia and beauty of The Holidays at Meadow Brook Hall is unmatched.
And there you have my top picks for delightful December festivals across Michigan! From beloved parades and Christmas markets to dazzling light displays, these family-friendly events offer timeless holiday magic.
I hope you and your family create special memories while celebrating the season at these merry Michigan happenings!