Brave the snow and venture beyond Detroit and its suburbs for the 2023 holidays to experience new and unique celebrations for Christmas, Hanukkah, and even Krampusnacht — that’s right, that Krampus. Here’s a look at some of the standouts.
Inspired by traditional European markets, this winter wonderland offers 27 days of holiday lights and decor, a market filled with art and food vendors, live entertainment, gluhwein and other hot drinks, caroling, and visits with Santa. Wednesdays-Sundays through Dec. 23. No cost for admission. Grand Rapids Downtown Market, 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids; christkindlmarktgr.com.
Christmas Lite Show
West Michigan’s largest animated drive-thru light display is back for “Another Year of Magic,” this being its 26th annual celebration. Hop in the family car and drive through nearly 2 miles of animated displays and tunnels created with over a million lights. Special events, including train rides, take place on select days, too. Now-Dec. 31. Prices vary by vehicle type. 4500 W. River Drive NE, Comstock Park; christmasliteshow.com.
Jewish congregations in the area host a menorah lighting and other Hanukkah traditions on the first night of the holiday, along with additional candle lightings each night until the last day of Hanukkah, when the whole menorah is fully lit. More details to be released closer to the event. Dec. 7-14. No cost for admission. Bronson Park, Kalamazoo; templebnaiisrael.com.
Wonderland of Lights
Take a stroll around the Potter Park Zoo to marvel at the spectacular light displays, which are accompanied by holiday music, at the 31st installment of this annual event. Zoo Nights with Lights on Dec. 13 offers the chance to visit with animals, too. Thursdays-Sundays through Dec. 23. Ticket prices will be announced closer to the event. 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing; potterparkzoo.org.
This first-ever event aims to “capture the spirit of old world European Krampus celebrations” with a traditional Krampus parade, a costume contest, the Misfit Market, photos with Krampus, games, visits with Santa, and more. Be aware: This event may feature a few scares. Dec. 9. Fees may apply. Old Town neighborhood, Lansing; facebook.com/oldtownlansing.
Christmas in Frankenmuth
Michigan’s Little Bavaria is celebrating Christmas with a driving light tour; a spectacular Christmas tree; mid-Michigan’s largest open-air holiday market, the Frankenmuth ChristKindlMarket; and an ice rink. Be sure to visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland to see Santa, too. Now-Dec. 25. No cost for admission to Frankenmuth; fees may apply for some activities. Frankenmuth area; frankenmuth.org.
Christmas in the ’Ville
This all-day Christmas celebration kicks off with a hot-air balloon show and breakfast with St. Nick. As the day progresses, there will be a cookie walk, Christmas story times, holiday crafts, a pet procession, hay and sleigh rides, visits with Santa, and even a parade. Dec. 2. No cost for admission. Downtown Fowlerville area; michigan.org/event/christmas-ville or christmasintheville.com.
Linden’s Holiday Happening
The historic, charming city hosts a parade and fireworks, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, food trucks, live entertainment, and moonlight shopping, among other activities. No cost for admission. Dec. 1. Fees apply for some activities. East Broad Street area, Linden; lindenholidayhappening.com.
Christmas in Ida
Experience the magic of the holiday season at this winter wonderland. On Friday, explore a craft and vendor show, watch the high-flying BMX spectacle, listen to the Jingle Bell Rockout concert, check out ice sculptures, and much more. Saturday night is the parade of lights, which features two hours of illuminated and animated displays. Dec. 1-2. No cost for admission. Ida East Street area, Ida; christmasinida.com.
Christmas in Mackinaw City
Celebrate the holidays Up North with this annual tradition. It commences with a tree lighting and parade that features carolers, decorated city vehicles, and candy canes from Santa. It happens regardless of the weather, so bundle up. Now-Dec. 31. No cost for admission. Downtown Mackinaw City area; mackinawcity.net.
Christmas in the Village
The Electric Light Parade puts holiday spirit on full display with lighted floats and other parade entries, and the craft show will help you get started on your holiday shopping with one-of-a-kind handmade items on sale. Other details and events to be announced closer to the event. Dec. 2. Fees vary by activity. Roscommon area; roscommonchristmasinthevillage.com.
Cherry T Ball Drop
Heading Up North for New Year’s Eve? Ring in 2024 by watching a 600-pound cherry drop from the skies of Traverse City. Gates open at 10:30 p.m. with entertainment leading up to the big countdown. Funds from the event go to support local charities. Dec. 31. $5 donation. At the corner of Park and Front streets, Traverse City; cherrytballdrop.org.
This story is from the December 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.