Metro Detroit is always so full of events and other fun things to do that it can be tough keeping track of it all. To help you plan your weekend itineraries, we’ve asked Ryan Patrick Hooper, the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET to share his top December events in the area.
Home Alone and Charlie Brown holiday traditions return to the DSO
It’s a perfect mix of pop culture and pops concert — the score of Home Alone performed live in sync with the movie by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
It’s a performance that starts with the thundering drumroll of the 20th Century Fox fanfare to the haunting main title theme, “Somewhere in My Memory.” The score for this holiday classic is a monumental and memorable one by the incomparable John Williams, one of the greatest living composers ever (at least if you’re into Star Wars, the Indiana Jones saga, or the Harry Potter films, to name a select few).
It’s been a blast watching this grow into a beloved holiday tradition at Orchestra Hall, and it’s a bit surprising this is a one-night-only affair considering its popularity. Get your tickets for this ideal family-friendly presentation before it sells out.
And if it does happen to sell out, grab tickets to A Charlie Brown Christmas with pianist Cyrus Chestnut performing “Linus and Lucy,” “Christmas Time Is Here,” and more from Vince Guaraldi’s score of the same name — the only collection of Christmas music that people never get sick of.
A Charlie Brown Christmas concert with Cyrus Chestnut takes place on Friday, Dec. 9, at Orchestra Hall. Home Alone in Concert occurs on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Orchestra Hall. Tickets for both are available via the DSO’s official website, dso.org.
Noel Night makes a major return to Midtown
It’s been a while since Midtown’s marquee event Noel Night has been part of the holiday scene, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but on Saturday, Dec. 3, that will all change.
This event opens the doors of all the major cultural institutions in Midtown, plus the rich bounty of restaurants, bars, retailers, and art galleries that fill out one of the city’s best neighborhoods.
Even if you’re a regular around Midtown or the Cass Corridor, the special events at places like the Detroit Institute of Arts and Detroit Artists Market make this an evening you don’t want to miss.
To boot, it’s a time when families come out in full force to stroll the streets, listening to carolers and soaking in the holiday cheer at the beginning of December. Noel Night is free and open to the public.
Visit noelnight.org for more information.
Greenfield Village gets into the holiday spirit
There’s nothing as charming or as massive as Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights, which turns the 80-acre historic outdoor museum into a winter wonderland.
The scent of roasted chestnuts fills the air. Bonfires are scattered across the property. And when you step into a preserved house or factory, it’s all about what would be happening in that time period during the holidays — from the traditions to the menu. Fireworks bring the whole thing together at the end of the night, capping off a tradition at The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village that stretches more than two decades.
Grab a hot cup of cocoa (you can spike it if you’d like, even though this is a very family-friendly event) and wander the grounds at Greenfield Village to your heart’s content. There are multiple weekends through December — but it will sell out, so don’t sleep on this one.
Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village (part of The Henry Ford in Dearborn) happens on multiple dates in December. For tickets and full dates, visit its official website, thehenryford.org.
Michigan’s Miss Grit returns with new music, new record deal
Miss Grit is the first artist to make their way into our Culture Calendar twice — and it’s with good reason. When I wrote about them over a year ago, it was about their second EP, Impostor, which touched on their experiences as a Korean American growing up in Michigan and showed off huge guitar sounds that will remind fans of St. Vincent or The Breeders.
Now, Margaret Sohn (who records as Miss Grit) returns with a new record deal with Mute and an excellent new single, “Like You,” which is a wonderful tease of the bigger things that this homegrown artist has on the immediate horizon in 2023. Miss Grit’s new single, “Like You,” is available for purchase and streaming.
For more, go to mute.ffm.to/missgrit.
More Top Events in Southeast Michigan This December
Looking for even more fun things to do in your free time this December? Check out this list of upcoming theatre shows, recreational activities, movies, art and more.
Nov. 18-Dec. 24 • THEATER
A Christmas Carol: No holiday tale has proved more enduring than Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella about a greedy, uncaring miser and the ghosts that help him change his ways. Enjoy this live stage adaptation by Charles Nolte, featuring gorgeously festive sets and plenty of faux snow. This annual production is in its 40th year as a Meadow Brook Theatre Christmas tradition. $37+. Meadow Brook Theatre, 378 Meadow Brook Road, Rochester; mbtheatre.com.
Nov. 18-Dec. 30 • RECREATION
A Ford House Christmas: Each year, the historic former residence of Edsel and Eleanor Ford transforms into a holiday wonderland for this festive event. Visits begin with a lighted shuttle ride to the home, where holiday crafts and entertainment await at the property’s visitor center. Concessions will be available for purchase. $20+. Ford House, 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe; fordhouse.org.
Nov. 18-Dec. 31 • RECREATION
Magic of Lights: Detroit’s newest Christmas tradition returns to Pine Knob this holiday season to dazzle visitors with the latest in LED technology. This drive-through experience features several different holiday scenes and characters, all aglow in thousands of glittering lights. The experience is designed to be enjoyed entirely from inside a car, making it the ideal festive outing for those continuing to practice social distancing. $15+ per vehicle. Pine Knob Music Theatre, 33 Bob Seger Drive, Clarkston; 313presents.com.
Nov. 19-Jan. 8, 2023 • RECREATION
Wild Lights: Millions of LED lights illuminate trees, buildings, and hundreds of animal- inspired sculptures at the Detroit Zoo’s annual holiday celebration. The majority of the event takes place outside, but for the first time this year, guests can warm up with s’mores, hot cocoa, and adult beverages inside the Wild Lights Lounge. Perfect for zoogoers of all ages, Wild Lights is known to sell out — so grab your tickets early. $17+. Detroit Zoo, 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak; wildlights.detroitzoo.org.
Nov. 21-Jan. 15, 2023 • RECREATION
The Big, Bright Light Show: Rochester’s charming downtown district bursts with cheer during this annual display, which features more than 1 million dazzling lights. The show kicks off at 5 p.m. each day throughout the holiday season, providing a festive backdrop for the area’s many holiday events, which include Caroling in the City and the Kris Kringle Market. No cost. Downtown Rochester area; downtownrochestermi.com.
Nov. 25-Dec. 23 • RECREATION
Holiday Walk at Meadow Brook Hall: The whole family can discover Meadow Brook Hall estate in all its Christmas splendor during this self-guided indoor tour, which runs daily throughout the holiday season. The National Historic Landmark will be decked out with more than 50 glittering Christmas trees, including a 10-foot-tall poinsettia tree made of 150 live plants. The historic 110-room mansion will also feature cozy lit fireplaces, intricate holiday trimmings, and thousands of twinkling lights. On select Saturdays, visitors can even meet Santa Claus and his reindeer. $20+. Meadow Brook Hall, 350 Estate Drive, Rochester; meadowbrookhall.org.
Dec. 2-3 • RECREATION
Christmas in the Village: Mill Race Village, a living museum in Northville that features restored and replica buildings from the 19th century, will be adorned with lights and festive decor for this annual event hosted by the Northville Historical Society. Browse bespoke gifts at the Christmas Market or snap a selfie beside one of the village’s many decorative inflatables as you enjoy a soundtrack of cheerful holiday music. $12+. Mill Race Village, 215 Griswold St., Northville; millracenorthville.org.
Dec. 2-3 • RECREATION
Kris Kringle Market: Browse a selection of fresh plants, wreaths, locally crafted gifts, and delicious specialty foods at this European-inspired outdoor market in downtown Rochester. Guests can enjoy a selection of seasonal snacks, such as roasted almonds and kettle corn, as they shop to the festive sounds of holiday music. Bring the kids along to play inside life-size gingerbread houses and score a photo with Santa Claus. No cost. Downtown Rochester area; downtownrochestermi.com.
Dec. 2-4 • THEATER
The Hard Nut: What if The Nutcracker took place at a raucous Christmas party in the 1970s? That’s the premise of The Hard Nut, a retro-modern interpretation of the classic holiday ballet from the acclaimed, New York-based Mark Morris Dance Group. A live orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s original score as the story of Marie, her toy nutcracker, and her battle against the Rat King plays out onstage. Expect go-go boots, dancing G.I. Joes, androgynous snowflakes, and lots of holiday spirit. $29+. Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; detroitopera.org.
Dec. 2-19 • THEATER
Who’s Holiday: The Ringwald Theatre at Affirmations LGBTQ community center in Ferndale will present this hilariously raunchy take on Dr. Seuss’s classic tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The irreverent one-woman show follows an alcoholic, trailer park-bound Cindy Lou Who as she recounts her fateful Christmas run-in with the Grinch and the resulting turn of events. This adults-only comedy will show on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. $15+. The Ringwald Theatre at Affirmations, 290 W. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale; theringwald.com.
Dec. 2-23 • RECREATION
Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village: Lake Orion’s historic landmark is decked out in nearly 1 million twinkling lights for this memorable holiday event taking place every weekend until Christmas. Enjoy a light show, professional carolers, and recreations of classic Christmas scenes as you wind through the charming village. Expect to be greeted by live characters along the way, including Frosty the Snowman, Buddy the Elf, and even the Grinch himself. Cap off the festive experience with a cocktail or hard cider on the C-Pub’s outdoor patio, where blazing firepits keep things warm and cozy. Visit the village’s website for a host of other holiday happenings. $15+. Canterbury Village, 2359 Joslyn Court, Lake Orion; canterburyholidaystroll.com.
Dec. 3 • FILM
The Polar Express: The whole family will enjoy this festive tale of friendship, bravery, and holiday spirit as it plays on the big screen at the Redford Theatre. Based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 children’s book of the same name, the story centers on a young boy who hops aboard a North Pole-bound train on Christmas Eve. Tom Hanks, who is one of the film’s executive producers, also voices several of its prominent characters — including the train’s conductor and Santa Claus. $5. Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit; redfordtheatre.com.
Dec. 3 • FILM
The Nightmare Before Christmas: This Academy Award-nominated Tim Burton classic will show for one evening at Detroit’s Redford Theatre. Through ingenious stop-motion animation, the film relays the tale of Jack Skellington, the king of a fictional Halloween world, as he falls head over heels in love with all things Christmas. The movie features a catchy score written and performed by Danny Elfman, along with a star-studded cast of voice actors that includes Catherine O’Hara, Chris Sarandon, William Hickey, and Ken Page. $5. Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit; redfordtheatre.com.
Dec. 3-4 • ART
Delightfully Yours Ornament Signing with Jacki Edwards: Since 1983, prolific Wisconsin-based artist Jacki Edwards has been crafting unique keepsake ornaments for families. For this special event, Edwards will be on-site at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth to display, sell, and sign her signature “Delightfully Yours” on her clay dough and resin pieces. Guests can also browse the sprawling store’s enormous selection of Christmas trees, lights, homeware, and decor. No cost. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, 25 Christmas Lane, Frankenmuth; frankenmuth.org.
Dec. 4 • THEATER
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang for this live-action version of the classic animated Christmas special. Actors will perform everyone’s favorite scenes from the original TV show, singing and dancing to Vince Guaraldi’s classic score along the way. Stick around after the show for a sing-along concert featuring favorite holiday tunes. Three showtimes are available. $25+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit; 313presents.com.
Dec. 7 • MUSIC
Dave Koz and Friends 25th Anniversary Christmas Tour: Despite his Jewish heritage, California-based smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz enjoys Yuletide festivities so much that in 2014, he released a Christmas album, The 25th of December. Enjoy his contemporary interpretations of holiday carols like “The First Noel” and “Let It Snow” when he stops at Detroit’s Music Hall this month. Koz will be joined by special guests including keyboardist Keiko Matsui, horn player Rick Braun, guitarist and pianist Peter White, and jazz vocalist Rebecca Jade. $45+. Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit; musichall.org.
Dec. 8 • MUSIC
Christmas with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith: Multi- platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning gospel vocalists Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith are joining forces for a nine-city Christmas tour, which includes a stop at Detroit’s very own Fox Theatre. Featuring selections from each artist’s award-winning Christmas albums, the show is a holiday tradition for music fans of all ages. Special guest Michael Tait, lead singer of the Christian rock group Newsboys, will open the show. $30+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit; 313presents.com.
Dec. 8 • COMEDY
The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show: RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme — also known as the “queens of Christmas” — unite for this hilarious holiday-themed comedy variety show. The internationally acclaimed production is a yearly tradition, and veteran audience members can expect to enjoy their favorite elements from previous years, along with all-new songs and plenty of surprises. $49+. Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; royaloakmusictheatre.com.
Dec. 9 • MUSIC
Celtic Woman: A Christmas Symphony: Known for performing traditional Celtic music across the globe, this Grammy-nominated Irish music ensemble is returning to the road with a special holiday show. A live full orchestra will accompany the group for new arrangements of such classics as “Silent Night” and “Sleigh Ride” as well as ancient Gaelic carols like “Dia do Bheatha.” Audiences will also hear a selection of tracks from Celtic Woman’s 2019 The Magic of Christmas album. $64+. Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit; musichall.org.
Dec. 9-Jan. 1, 2023 • THEATER
Sugar Plum Panto: In British culture, the term “panto” refers to a performance of a classic fairy tale that utilizes music, dance, jokes, and exaggerated pantomime-inspired movements. This unique spin on the Christmas classic The Nutcracker, written by Carla Milarch and R. MacKenzie Lewis, has become a Theatre Nova tradition. Complete with hilarious parodies, original songs, and an outrageous cast of characters, the production is expected to sell out. $25. Theatre Nova, 410 W. Huron St., Ann Arbor; theatrenova.org.
Dec. 10 • MUSIC
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas: Celebrating more than 35 years of Christmas shows, Mannheim Steamroller founder Chip Davis will once again bring his sprawling neoclassical music collective to Detroit’s Fox Theatre for a night of holiday cheer. The ensemble, known for blending classical music with new-age and rock ’n’ roll sounds, has sold more than 41 million albums worldwide. Attendees can expect to hear renditions of beloved holiday hits like “Carol of the Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Silent Night,” while colorful multimedia effects enhance the festive experience. $30+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
Dec. 11 • RECREATION
Caroling in the City: Downtown Rochester transforms into the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss’s Whoville for this annual holiday celebration. Guests can compete in an ugly Christmas sweater contest, make a sweet treat at the cookie station, and enjoy choral music amid Rochester’s vibrant annual light display. The evening will conclude with a festive sing-along around the Main Street Christmas tree. No cost. Downtown Rochester area; downtownrochestermi.com.
Dec. 11 • THEATER
Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet: Witness the finest international dancers of the Ukraine Ballet, along with 10-foot-tall puppets, colorful hand-painted backdrops, 3D effects, and dozens of exquisitely detailed costumes, at this performance of Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet. As a show of solidarity with Ukraine, a portion of ticket proceeds from The Nutcracker will be donated to humanitarian relief causes in the embattled country. Three showtimes are available. $35+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
Dec. 11 • MUSIC
Holiday Swingin’: A Kat Edmonson Christmas: Known for a throwback sound that hearkens to the golden ages of jazz and swing, singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson will perform an intimate holiday program at Ann Arbor’s The Ark this month. Audiences will hear swingin’ versions of classic Christmas favorites, including “Jingle Bell Rock,” “O Christmas Tree,” and “Let It Snow.” Edmonson has been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series and The Late Show with David Letterman. $25. The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; theark.org.
Dec. 15 • MUSIC
Ocean Quartet: A Celtic Christmas: Celebrate the holiday the Celtic way when this high-energy group brings its electrifying jigs to The Ark this month. Made up of vocalist Christine Noyes, percussionist Stephen Winick, fiddle player Seán Heely, and keyboardist Jennifer Cutting, the ensemble will perform a holiday program fit for all faiths and traditions. Audience members should arrive ready to participate — they’ll be invited to sing along throughout the night. $20. The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; theark.org.
Dec. 15-26 • THEATER
Cirque du Soleil: ’Twas the Night Before …: Performers fly, dive, leap, hula-hoop, and roller-skate across the stage in the first-ever Christmas production from the world-famous Cirque du Soleil entertainment company. With the help of jaw-dropping acrobatics, dazzling special effects, and a loveable cast of characters, it tells the story of the curious young Isabella, who finds herself transported into a topsy-turvy version of the classic Christmas poem. $26.50+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
Dec. 16-17 • FILM
It’s a Wonderful Life: Frank Capra’s 1946 tale about a man struggling with hopelessness on Christmas Eve is not just a holiday classic — it’s widely regarded as one of the best movies of all time. Nominated for five Academy Awards, It’s a Wonderful Life placed at No. 11 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American films ever made. See Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and the rest of the iconic cast on the Redford Theatre’s big screen during this two-day holiday feature. $5. Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit; redfordtheatre.com.
Dec. 16-18 • MUSIC
Home for the Holidays: A beloved local tradition known for selling out year after year returns this month for six Yuletide performances. Conductor Michelle Merrill will lead the strings, horns, and drums of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra through a festive program of holiday classics and carols that will be sure to get the whole family into the holiday spirit. Each performance concludes with an appearance by Santa Claus himself. $19+. Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; dso.org.
Dec. 29 • MUSIC
Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Experience the symphonic rock band’s unique spin on classic Christmas tunes in person when members hit the road for their annual holiday tour. Infused with elements of hard rock, progressive rock, and heavy metal, the band’s triple-platinum 1996 debut album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, is one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time. Fans can look forward to hearing classic holiday tunes such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Carol of the Bells,” along with original holiday selections from the group. $43.50+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
This story is from the December 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.