2023 December Michigan Holiday Events Calendar: Parties, Activities and Things to DO
December in Michigan is a busy time: there are so fun many things to do in Michigan in December…it really IS the best time of the year!
Michigan in December is magical, with different cities and towns honoring the month and the holiday season with stellar light shows, fun-filled parades, unique shows, and more.
The days may be getting shorter, but each winter night in December is lit up with millions of Christmas lights spread out all across the state, often with thousands bundled together in one place to truly wow people. Christmas parades draw visitors from around the state to participate in a celebration of the season.
From downtown Detroit to the Mackinac Straits, there is plenty of holiday fun to be had in every corner of Michigan, including family-friendly activities and 21+ craft beer and wine outings.
These December Michigan events and things to do are some of our favorite ways to activate that holiday cheer.
Read on for some of the BEST Michigan December Events and Things to Do.
TOP 2023 Guide of December Michigan Calendar of Events, Festivals, Arts Fairs, Christmas Lights, BEST Things to Do in Michigan This Winter, Upcoming New Years Eve, Christmas and Holiday Activities This Weekend
Best Events and Things to Do in December in Michigan
From holiday bar crawls and Christmas ugly sweater contests, to holidays farmers markets and visiting with Santa, the lists of Michigan holiday events and things to do in December are endless. We’ll start with our list of 21+ holiday events and things to do.
December Michigan Events in Southeast Michigan and East Michigan
Official Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl in Detroit
When: Saturday, 12/10 & 12/17/2023
; 2 -9 pm
Where: Greektown, 1211 Chrysler Dr., Detroit, MI
Grab your friends, don your ugliest Christmas sweaters and head for the Greektown in downtown Detroit for the seventh annual Detroit Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl on December 10, and again on December 17. This is the seventh year for this populat Detroit holiday event, and it includes free entrance to 5+ Bars; holiday-themed drinks; Kick-off, Half-time & After Party; on-site photographer & videographer; and Ugly Sweater costume contest; DJ’s entertainment and more!
New Years Eve Resolution Ball in Detroit
When: Saturday, 12/31
Where: The Masonic Detroit, 500 Temple St, Detroit, MI
Billed as the BEST New Year’s Eve event in Michigan, this Chicago-Vegas Style New Year’s experience is held at the beautiful Masonic temple in downtown Detroit. Entertainment includes Cirque-Style acrobat stage performers, stage dancers & roaming performers a midnight blowout balloon drop and confetti storm.
Birds in Your Binoculars
When: 12/10 at 10 a.m.
Where: Lake Erie Metro Park, Marshlands Museum, 32481 W Jefferson Ave, Brownstown Charter Twp, MI 48173
Birds are everywhere! Head out into the park looking for feathered friends to discover which species are residents, which are just here for a few months, and which ones are just passing through. There may be some hiking or a car caravan through the park. Be prepared for either or both! Please bring binoculars.
Detroit Red Wings Hockey
Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Dates and Ticket Prices Vary
Winter is here, which means winter sports are in full swing. Hockey is one of Michigan’s favorite sports and the Red Wings are the pride of Detroit. This season, the Red Wings are really stepping up their game this season, so take advantage of the good fortune and support the Red Wings this December.
Insider Tip: Seats between the blue lines are always in high demand and likely more expensive, but if you snag a seat in the corner at mid-level, you’ll be able to see just as much for less.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas at the Fox Theater
When: 12/10 at 8 p.m.
Where: Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Visit the beautiful Fox Theatre in Detroit for the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. It’s the ultimate holiday tradition, and what better place to celebrate than in this stunning theater that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The program includes dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. Experience the magic as the spirit of the season comes alive with the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller.
Twilight Luminary Hike
When: 12/21 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Lake St. Clair Metropark, 31300 Metropolitan Pkwy., Harrison Township, MI, 48045
Late fall and early winter evenings are beautiful along the trails at Lake St Clair Nature Center. Take a naturalist-led hike along luminary-lit trails, listen for owls, search out nocturnal wildlife, and learn about the ways that Michigan’s animals adapt to the long nights and cold temperatures. We’ll warm up with a bonfire and s’mores after our hike.
Old Fashioned Christmas Horse Parade in Lexington MI
When: 12/10 at 2 p.m.
Where: Downtown Lexington, Huron Ave., Lexington, MI 48450
Charming Lexington’s Annual Old-fashioned Christmas parade features beautiful horses all decked out in holiday garb parading down the street.
December | December Michigan Holiday Events Calendar
Rochester’s Big Bright Light Show
Where: Main St. Rochester, MI
See holiday lights like never before at the Big Bright Light Show in Rochester from November 21 to January 15. Here, countless lights completely cover buildings all over Main Street, emanating a magical glow that reflects off of the snow. Taking a stroll through downtown Rochester during this event will fill your heart with holiday cheer and with plenty of boutiques to explore, it’s a great time to do your holiday shopping.
Holiday Nights Greenfield Village
Where: 20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn, MI
Celebrate the holidays at Greenfield Village and time travel to a bygone era. On December weekends, you can enjoy traditional festivities that delight all the senses, from carolers and fiddlers, to classic holiday treats and beverages. A spectacular holiday fireworks display will light up the sky at the end of the night, which will be sure to fill your heart with cheer.
Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village
Where: 2359 Jolsyn Ct. Orion Twp, MI
From November 23 to December 23, Canterbury Village is transformed into a North Pole winter wonderland. Take a stroll through the town to see nearly a million festive lights twinkling on trees and buildings as holiday songs are sung by professional carolers. Grab snacks or drinks, like s’mores and hot chocolate, to fully round out this festive holiday event. Kids can even meet all their favorite Christmas characters, from Buddy the Elf, to Olaf from Frozen.
Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo
Where: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd. Royal Oak, MI
One of the biggest, most popular holiday light displays returns on November 19. Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo is a one-of-a-kind holiday experience for all ages and will be running until January 8. Take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season with millions of LED lights, taking the forms of your favorite animals, as well as lighting up trees, buildings, and more.
Wayne County Lightfest
When: 11/17 – 12/24
Where: 7651 Merriman Rd. Westland, MI
Westland is home to Michigan’s largest holiday light show, featuring more than 50 animated displays spread across about five miles. From November 17 to December 24, you can enjoy this phenomenal display of lights and festive cheer from the comfort of your car as you drive through Hines Park, listening to Christmas music on the radio. Stop at Perrin Park, halfway through the show, to grab some food from food trucks, take a restroom break, and drop off a letter to Santa in a giant mailbox.
A Ford House Christmas
Where: 1100 Lake Shore Rd. Grosse Pointe Shores, MI
From November 18 through December 30, you can travel back in time to experience a Michigan Christmas as the Ford family would have. A shuttle ride will take you to the house for a special holiday tour of the Ford family home. Festivities continue at the Visitor Center with holiday crafts, entertainment, and a concession stand.
December Events in West Michigan
Christmas and Holiday Traditions at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
Where: 1000 E Beltline Ave. NE Grand Rapids, MI
Each year, the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Gardens honors diverse cultures and their holiday traditions. During the last two weeks of December, guests are invited to explore 46 unique displays that depict facts and folklore of the past and present holiday celebrations from around the globe. Take the time to appreciate the artistry of the displays, winter plantings, and the beloved Railway Garden as you wander the indoor section, then connect with nature as you explore the outdoor lights display.
Grand Rapids Griffins Minor League Hockey
When: Throughtout December
Where: Van Andel Arena, 130 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Catch one of west Michigan sports most entertaining minor league teams when they play their home games this beautiful arena in downtown Grand Rapids. If you can’t see a Red Wings game in Detroit, what’s the next best thing? The Grand Rapids Griffins! The Griffins are a fantastic AHL team with plenty of skill and talent, which makes them wildly fun to watch.
Any west Michigan hockey fan knows the Griffins are amazing in their own right and deserve more love. If you can’t make it to an NHL game, the AHL is a solid alternative, especially when you’re watching the Griffins.
Insider Tip: The Griffins are the AHL affiliate team for the Red Wings, meaning Detroit pulls players from Grand Rapids to play at the NHL level. Because of this, the Griffins are highly skilled, nearly as good as the Red Wings, but the price on tickets is much lower.
Reindeer Ranch Kalamazoo
Where: 2921 N 6th St. Kalamazoo, MI
When you imagine a reindeer, you might think of Santa Claus and his magical flying reindeer who pull his sleigh around the world to bring toys to the children. Although the reindeer at the Reindeer Ranch in Kalamazoo aren’t magical, the experience of seeing these legendary animals up close certainly feels like it. Visitors are welcome to tour the Reindeer Ranch, with special Santa and Reindeer tours available during the holiday season.
Tallest Singing Christmas Tree in Muskegon
Where: 425 W. Western Ave. Muskegon, MI
The Mona Shores Choir Association of Muskegon has proudly presented America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree since 1985. This tree stands tall at 67 feet, with room for 240 singers to perform holiday classics. Make your way to the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in Muskegon during the first weekend of December for a spin on a Christmas Choir show unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Winter Kerstmarkt in Holland
Where: 8th St. Marketplace, corner of 8th St. and Pine Ave. Holland, MI
With the strong Dutch heritage that characterizes Holland, it’s no surprise that Christmas celebrations in town mirror what you might find in Europe. The Kerstmarkt is a perfect example of this; Dutch for “Christmas Market,” this event runs from November 19 to December 10. Visitors will be able to find anything from holiday items, gifts, food, and artisan demonstrations, much like the open air markets of Europe, especially in the Netherlands.
Light Up the Bluff St. Joe
Where: 300 Lake Blvd. St. Joe, MI
On the first Friday of December, the annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place in St. Joseph. See more than one million lights come to life along Lake Bluff Park as the space becomes a winter wonderland for the duration of the season, up until around Valentine’s Day. This is the perfect place to enjoy a chilly coastal walk through twinkling displays and bright lighted archways.
Christmas Nite Lights at Lake Michigan Credit Union Ballpark (formerly Fifth Third Ball Park)
Where: 4500 West River Dr. Comstock Park, MI
Christmas Nite Lights at LCMU Park is the largest animated, drive thru light show in west Michigan. People of all ages are welcome to drive through the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team while over one million lights animate displays across two miles. Certain evenings even offer a stop at the Santa House so you can deliver your wish list to St. Nick himself.
Spring Lake Sparkle Festival
Where: Downtown Spring Lak
Pack a whole day full of holiday festivities at the Spring Lake Sparkle Festival in Grand Haven. Meet Santa, have a holiday snack at the food court, or even grab a drink at Santa’s Workshop. From November 25 to January 3, visitors will be here, experiencing a winter wonderland filled with holiday lights and all the best sights, sounds, and smells of the season.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Concert
When: 12/14 at 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: Vam Andel Arena, 130 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Always near instantly-recognizable, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become a staple of holiday music. TSO breaks the boundaries of what we think of when we imagine Christmas music by reimagining slow, soft melodies as rock opera jams, and on December 4, you can see the spectacle for yourself in Grand Rapids at Vam Andel Arena. Book tickets for yourself and see just how rockin’ the holiday season can be.
Insider Tip: TSO likes to rock hard and loud, so bringing earplugs can help you enjoy the show without putting your hearing at risk. Trust us – you’ll still hear everything!
West Michigan Beer Tours
In winter, Michigan’s craft beer circle thrives. West Michigan is known to be a haven for craft beer and in Kalamazoo, there’s much to explore. For December, the walking tour gets a holiday makeover with special Holiday Beer Shopping & Brewery Tours. Of course, participants must be 21 or older, but anyone over 21 who loves beer simply shouldn’t miss out on this wonderful fusion of holidays and hops.
Insider Tip: Take advantage of West Michigan West Michigan Beer Tours’s exclusive room rate at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Downtown Kalamazoo and make a weekend out of the tour so you can visit more of the breweries, bars, restaurants, and shops Kalamazoo has to offer.
Best Things to Do in Mid Michigan in December
30th Annual Wonderland of Lights Potter Park Zoo
Where: 1301 S Pennsylvania Ave. Lansing, MI
From November 19 to December 30 visitors to Potter Park Zoo will see the zoo lit up in a uniquely festive way. Stroll the paths of the zoo while holiday music fills the air and marvel at the stunning holiday displays throughout the park. Spending a magical evening here will create a lasting holiday memory for the whole family. Be sure to stop by the Savanna Grill for a bite and snag a goodie bag on the way out.
Nite Lites at Michigan International Speedway
Where: 12626 US-12 Brooklyn, MI
In south central Michigan, there’s nowhere better to see a bright and sparkling holiday light show than at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. MIS is hosting Nite Lites from November 24 to December 31, where families can pack into the car for a scenic drive with five miles of Christmas lights. For a new and unique experience, try the Nite Lites express, a train shuttle that will drive you through the path.
Where: 534 N. Main St. Frankenmuth, MI
On select weekends from November to December, Frankenmuth invites you to participate in the holiday season with their annual ChristKindlMarkt, mid-Michigan’s largest open air holiday Market. This Christmas Market is modeled after those found in Frankenmuth’s sister region of Germany, Bavaria. Here you can shop among dozens of vendors selling handmade crafts and treats, then visit with Santa and warm up with a cup of hot spiced wine.
North Pole Express
When: 11/19-12/17 Saturdays and Sundays
Where: 405 S Washington St. Owosso, MI
Climb aboard the Pere Marquette 1225 Locomotive for the ride of your life on the North Pole Express in Owosso. Don your coziest PJs or dress in vintage mid-century attire to maximize the nostalgic journey. Once the North Pole Express departs from the Steam Railroading Institute, prepare for plenty of Christmas magic and holiday fun as you embark on your round-trip excursion to and from Ashley.
Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad
When: begins 11/27
Where: 6140 N Bray Rd. Flint, MI
During weekends throughout the end of November and December, Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad are opening their doors to those looking for holiday festivities in Flint. Packages include access to historic Crossroads Village or access to both the village and a ride aboard the steam train on Huckleberry Railroad. With much to do, see, and explore, the holiday magic is seemingly endless at Crossroads Village.
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland
Where: 25 Christmas Ln. Frankenmuth, MI
No one does Christmas like Frankenmuth, due in part to the year-long festive powerhouse that is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. While this massive Christmas shop is open year round, the world’s biggest Christmas store becomes massively busy as the Christmas season approaches. With plenty of decorations, from twinkling lights, personalized ornaments, or adorable mini holiday village pieces, there’s something for everyone here, which amplifies excitement for the holidays tenfold.
Chippewa Nature Center Outdoor Fun
400 S Badour Rd, Midland, MI 48640
All month long the Chippewa Nature Center has events centered around getting outside in the winter wonderland, even as the days get shorter and colder. Spending time outside in Michigan winter can be daunting, but also exciting and fun. Check out events like “Celebrating the Winter Solstice,” the “Full Moon Stroll,” or the “Forest Night Hike” to see Michigan’s winter like you’ve never seen it before.
Insider Tip: Check the calendar on the Chippewa Nature Center’s website to see all events and plan your next outing.
Best Things to Do in Frankenmuth in December
Christmas in Frankenmuth is a Hallmark movie come to life, with fun things to do all season long.
Tis the Season Weekends
Where: Frankenmuth River Place Shops, 925 South Main Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
‘Tis the Season Weekends continue into December at Frankenmuth’s River Place Shops. Engage with all the holiday cheer with activities including Santa and Mrs Claus visits, caroling, and plenty of holiday shopping bargains. This ongoing event is fun for all ages and well worth making a weekend out of. Stay at Zehnder’s or the Bavarian Inn to enjoy the fun of the indoor water park after a day out shopping ‘till you drop.
Insider Tip: Take some time for a stroll around Frankenmuth at night to enjoy all the festive holiday lights. At this time of year, Frankenmuth looks like it belongs in a Christmas movie.
Breakfast or Lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Zehnder’s
Where: 730 S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
On December 3, Santa and Mrs. Claus come to town to dine at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth – and you’re invited. For both breakfast and lunch, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at Zehnder’s and available for pictures and holiday fun.
Make reservations to enjoy a delicious Zehnder’s meal and some hot chocolate with a little added Christmas magic.
Insider Tip: Children in attendance will receive a small gift from Santa himself, but keep it a secret for a magical and memorable surprise.
12 Days of Christmas Shopping in Frankenmuth
Where: Frankenmuth River Place Shops, 925 South Main Street, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
For the first 12 days of December, Frankenmuth River Place Shops are offering a special sale. With these doorbuster deals, you can do your Christmas shopping as you’re immersed in the spirit of the holidays. Enjoy Christmas music, beautiful decorations, and plenty of great holiday shopping deals across over 40 shops.
Insider Tip: Keep an eye on participating stores to know what you might want. That way, when you get there, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for and will be more likely to find it.
Best Things to Do in Northern Michigan in December
A Colonial Christmas at Colonial Michilimackinac
Where: 106 W Straits Ave. Mackinaw City, MI
On Saturday December 10th, travel back in time, beyond the mid-century nostalgia, and explore the historic holiday charm of the colonial era. At Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, the traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries come to life for visitors to explore. Lanterns light the paths inside the fort where storytellers recount the first Christmas at Mackinac in 1697 and mass at Ste. Anne’s is prepared exactly as it would have been in the 18th century. Participate in crafts and historic games while snacking on food offered throughout the fort.
Bear Lake Sparkle in the Park
Where: 7727 Hopkins Dr. Bear Lake, MI
Beginning after Thanksgiving and operating throughout December, Bear Lake Sparkle in the Park is a magical holiday event that brings the community together in festive spirit. This downtown Christmas light show is one of the best of its kind found in the northern lower peninsula and is certainly something you won’t want to miss. The opening ceremony is ever-popular, with lots of fun activities, including a meet up with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Old Christmas Weekend in Manistee
Where: Downtown Manistee
For fans of nostalgic and vintage Christmas celebration, Old Christmas Weekend in Manistee is the perfect opportunity to celebrate. From December 1 to 4 downtown Manistee hosts a variety of unique vintage holiday events, including the majorly popular Victorian Sleighbell parade, complete with horse drawn carriages, bagpipers, reindeer, and carolers in era-appropriate attire.
As part of the parade, a massive tree is transported down River Street where it is then lit to kick off the holiday season. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy the Festival of Trees, craft bazaar, 5K and more as part of Old Christmas Weekend.
Lights over Leelanau
Where: Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, Leelanau Peninsula
Created by the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, Lights over Leelanau brings people together over lovely local wine to celebrate the beauty of the season. Wineries along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail participate by decorating their rolling hills and landscapes with lights all throughout December.
Stop by your favorite winery along the trail or make a tour of it, visiting well-loved participating wineries like Black Star Farms, Aurora Cellars, Shady Lane Cellars, and more.
Downtown Traverse City Ladies’ Shopping Night/Men’s Shopping Night
When: 12/8 & 12/15
Where: Downtown Traverse City
Shopping in Downtown Traverse City is a treat, especially when you can get all the guys or girls out together. Luckily, TC has planned for just that, with December 8 being Ladies Shopping Night, and December 15 being for the lads. Support local businesses and have plenty of fun while shopping for unique holiday gifts among your best guys or best gals.
Insider Tip: For those looking for a deal, know that special discounts will be decided by local businesses for each shopping event.
Black Star Farms Brunch with Santa
Where: 0844 E Revold Rd, Suttons Bay, MI 49682
The holiday spirit just isn’t complete without Santa. At Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, a special Brunch with Santa event is available on December 3. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery of northern Michigan in the wintertime and embrace the magic of the holidays. Bring the kids and snap that priceless photo with Santa as he listens to their Christmas lists.
Insider Tip: A cash bar will be available for mimosas and wine by the glass or bottle for those looking for a more literal Christmas spirit.
Best Things to Do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in December
47th Annual City of Marquette Tree Lighting
Where: Third Street and Marquette Commons, Marquette, MI
When: Thursday, December 8, 2023 at 6 p.m.
Usher in the holiday season along the shores of Lake Superior at the annual Winter Snow Fun holiday parade and annual City of Marquette tree lighting. The parade, prior to the lighting of the tree, features carolers, bands, illuminated floats and decorated trucks, including a cement mixer.
Escanaba Winter Farmers Market
When: Staurdays Throughout December
Where: 225 21st St. N Escanaba, MI
You might imagine a farmer’s market as a late summer or fall event, but that’s not always the case. In Escanaba, the Winter Farmer’s Market is as popular as any other. Hosted at the Civic Center on Saturday’s throughout the season, patrons can purchase plenty of baked goods as well as meat products and byproducts, like fish, eggs, and more.
Holiday Lasers on the Ore Dock in Marquette
When: Thuursdays-Saturdays in December
Where: Marquette Ore Dock, Marquette, MI
For a truly unique light show you can’t find anywhere else, head to Marquette for Holiday Lasers on the Ore Dock. The Lower Harbor Ore Dock is an iconic landmark of Marquette, having been a key stop for ore freighters on Lake Superior for decades. Although most of the year it stands tall and foreboding in the water of the harbor, each Thursday through Saturday throughout December it becomes a beacon of holiday cheer as a laser light display transforms its appearance.
Find Exciting Michigan Holiday Parades
Who doesn’t love a good holiday light parade to lift the spirits? There are plenty of holiday and Christmas Parades to check out all across Michigan this year. Who knows, you might get to meet Santa in a horse-drawn sleigh. Here is our list of must-see Michigan parades for the holiday season.
More Things to Do in Michigan in December
About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor with mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.