Celebrate the Season with These Holiday Events

New programming at old favorites highlight festive happenings in 2021
holiday events - holiday nights henry ford
Carolers sing at Henry Ford’s Holiday Nights event. // Photograph courtesy of Nick Hagen

Season of Light and Holiday Nights 

After a 2020 holiday season of subdued programming, The Henry Ford’s holiday spirit is back in full force. This year, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation will offer four different holiday-themed experiences, including returning favorites, such as the holiday model Lionel Train display and a Lego building display. Among new 2021 arrivals is the museum’s Season of Light pop-up exhibit, which invites guests to explore holiday traditions from various cultures and religions.

The exhibit is part of a larger effort to welcome guests from all cultures and backgrounds, says the museum’s general manager, Cynthia Jones. “We purposefully are featuring a more inclusive look at December holiday traditions, to open our arms to more families,” she says. Donna Braden, senior curator at The Henry Ford, adds that the museum is “gathering objects, photos, and stories that provide a broader representation of traditions.”

Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village will also return to its full splendor. On select dates this month, guests can stroll along Main Street and the venue’s 80 acres after dark and experience more than 300 years of holiday traditions, from decorating with wreaths and trees to baking and cooking. Expect carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, a Supper with Santa, and more.

Through Jan. 3, The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation; Dec. 3-28, Greenfield Village; thehenryford.org.

Starry Lights 

Ford House is inviting visitors to “illuminate their holidays” at its new Starry Lights winter display. The immersive exhibit will feature festive lights, sounds, animations, and projections that pay homage to the property’s history and surrounding natural beauty. “We wanted to create something different,” says Clare Pfeiffer, director of communications and engagement for Ford House, Eleanor and Edsel Ford’s estate. “On this side of town, there’s really nothing quite like this.”

The display will feature interactive elements, including a singing tree and lights that “move and respond to visitors’ motions,” Pfeiffer says. Guests will also be able to view historic archival footage of the Ford family, which will be projected onto the side of the home during the display. 

“[We’re] mixing some of that tradition and our story with some really interesting technology,” Pfeiffer says. “It all kind of came together to create something that we think will be pretty magical.” The event follows the property’s recently completed expansion, which includes a new cafe, a visitors center, and multiple event spaces.

Starry Lights is entirely outdoors, so guests are advised to dress for the weather. For those looking for indoor activities, tickets to Holiday House Tours of Ford House are also available and include a self-guided tour and grounds pass. 

Through Jan. 9; fordhouse.org.

Three More Must-See Holiday Events

Mannheim - holiday events
Mannheim Steamroller brings its Christmas show to Detroit on Dec. 18. // Photograph courtesy of Matt Christine Photography
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Following a COVID-spurred hiatus in 2020, Mannheim Steamroller will return to Detroit’s Fox Theatre on Dec. 18, as part of a 75-stop national tour. It marks the 35th Christmas tour for the group, which is known for iconic renditions of holiday classics like “Deck the Halls” and “Carol of the Bells.” Dec. 18. Fox Theatre; 313presents.com

Magic of Lights

Enjoy a festive holiday experience from the comfort of your own car, at this unique drive-thru display. Returning to DTE Energy Music Theatre for its second consecutive year, the event will bring holiday-themed scenes to life, through LED technology and digital animations. Two new displays — Prehistoric Christmas and Mega Tree — have been added to the event this year. Through Jan. 1. DTE Energy Music Theatre; 313presents.com

The Big, Bright Light Show

More than 1 million lights will illuminate the buildings and trees of downtown Rochester during this annual celebration. The show serves as a colorful backdrop for the city’s other seasonal events, including the Greater Rochester Christmas Parade and the 13th annual Kris Kringle Market — an open-air shopping experience, featuring fresh wreaths, handmade gifts, and local specialty foods. Through Jan. 3. Downtown Rochester; downtownrochestermi.com

This story is featured in the December 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.