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Christmas in West Michigan

Christmas is right around the corner, and the big day will be here before you know it. Start the celebration now, with events happening all over West Michigan. There will be no shortage of music, gifts, food, and holiday cheer all month long. Stop by your family’s favorite holiday tradition, or create a new one with this list of Christmas fun.

Christmas Fun in Southern West Michigan

The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor is hosting the Mix & Mingle Holiday Party on Tuesday, December 19th, with food, beverages, and good times. A sumptuous buffet awaits guests, with featured selections including chef-carved ham and turkey, a deluxe salad bar, mashed potato station, side dishes, and dessert. Guests enjoy a full cash bar with a wide selection of Michigan wines, craft beers, and mixed drinks. Following dinner, guests can take the short walk inside The Mendel Center to the Mainstage where Bryan Lubeck is back to host Rejoice 2017: A Tapestry of Holiday Music at 7:30pm. Mix & Mingle Holiday Party tickets are $25 per person, while Rejoice 2017: A Tapestry of Holiday Music tickets start at $24, with discounts available for groups of 10 or more, as well as for seniors, veterans, students, and Mainstage Series members. Group dinner and show packages start at $43 per person.

Get into the holiday spirit with a toe-tapping Christmas concert, featuring the Brass Rail Quintet at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings! Playing a variety of musical styles are Roger Lynch and Mike McMinn on trumpets, Ken Cron on tuba, John Dickey on trombone, and Chris Garrett on French horn. After the concert, stop by to meet this quarter’s exhibiting artist, Brian Smith.

Celebrate the holiday season in a turn-of-the-century Victorian setting at Historic Charlton Park in Hastings! Tour over 15 historic buildings, while partaking in activities of yesteryear, including roasting chestnuts, drinking wassail, and taking wagon rides in the snow. Create your very own crafts, as you enjoy popcorn, fresh baked cookies, cinnamon and sugar apples, and plum pudding. These festivities are from 11am to 4pm on December 9th and 10th at the park.

Battle Creek will look very festive all month long, as they hang the lights and run through the downtown area. Running through December 31st is the International Festival of Lights. Walk through the glowing paths, enjoy fun family activities, and take a horse drawn carriage ride to see this annual light display. On Saturday, December 9th, don your best ugly sweater and partake in the Tinsel Toes 5K run and walk in downtown Battle Creek, weaving your way through the lights at night during this unique event.

Experience wintry evenings at Binder Park Zoo with Zoolights from December 15th to 23rd in Battle Creek! Stroll along lighted paths with nightly entertainment as you view some of the weather-hardy animals on exhibit enjoying the winter season. These special evenings will include unlimited free carousel rides, up-close animal meet and greets special holiday activities, time with Santa and his animal friends, and storytime with Mrs. Claus. There’s also Dinner with Santa each night. This is a special opportunity for your child to make sure Santa gets their wish list and for families to share a meal together in a unique setting.  

Slow down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays with a visit to the Barn Theatre in Augusta! Celebrate the Christmas season with all of your favorite carols and holiday songs each weekend between now and Christmas. To add to the festivities, guests enjoy complimentary pie, coffee, and hot chocolate. Perfect for the whole family, this joyous, reflective, and heartwarming show is sure to create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

Holiday carolers are a holiday tradition that guests look forward to as much as the staff at Schuler’s Restaurant in Marshall. Enjoy the sounds of the season while dining with Schuler’s in the festive Centennial Room on December 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 18th, and 19th. There will be a rotating pool of performers each evening. Schuler’s is also hosting their famous Holiday Sunday Brunch Buffet every Sunday through the end of the month.

The Gilmore Keyboard Festival is bringing another renowned pianist to the Kalamazoo area on Sunday, December 2nd with a performance by Andrew Tyson. Take a break from your holiday shopping, and come enjoy this up-and-coming artist. Afterwards, venture out into downtown Kalamazoo to see some of the holiday lights at the park.

Arcadia Brewing Company in Kalamazoo kicks off the month with their Tree Lighting in the Beer Garden on Friday, December 1st. They’ll be turning the beer garden into a winter wonderland with the help of area businesses and organizations. They’re hosting an Ugly Sweater Party on Thursday, December 21st, giving you an excuse to bust out your favorite ugly holiday sweater.

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo has a variety of events during the holiday season including Eccentric Day, which this year will be held on Friday, December 8th. Along with an impressive tap lineup, the debut of their latest version of Eccentric Ale, a Kalamazoo exclusive, and a free food buffet, this annual Bell’s holiday is one not to miss. Admission is free and the only requirement is that you come ready to have a good time. Just a few days later, on December 10th, Tuba Christmas will return to the Cafe’s Back Room. Admission for this annual event is free. Local tubists will play some holiday classics starting at 3pm for an all-ages show.

The Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is hosting a Christmas lights show called Nite Lites for the first time this year. The show takes your through the grounds and has over three miles of Christmas lights for visitors to enjoy. They’re also hosting the Charity Track and Toy Drive on Sunday, December 3rd. For this event, they take toys or food donations and allow donors to take a lap around the track in their own vehicle. This event helps the community, with some fun incentives along the way!

The Boulevard Inn & Bistro in St. Joseph is hosting their Sundays with Santa on December 3rd, 10th, and 17th. Treat your children to a magical brunch, telling Santa their wishes, picking their favorite foods from the special buffet, and decorating their own cookies!

Christmas comes to Coldwater Country’s Village of Quincy during Quincy Lights on Friday, December 1st. Kids will enjoy cookie decorating, games, crafts, and a visit from Santa at the Quincy Fire Station. The next day, head to downtown Coldwater for the annual Christmas Parade and Santaland. Tree lit streets, bands playing Christmas carols, children anxiously awaiting a glimpse of Santa, and more are all present during this magical part of the holidays in Coldwater.

The Michigan Flywheelers Museum will hold Christmas at the Flywheelers on December 8th and 15th at their museum in South Haven. The old-fashion holiday event features lighted outdoor displays, holiday music, kids’ craft workshops, and a visit with Santa. It’s been five years since the museum last held this event, and museum members have been busy since September decorating the grounds, expanding displays and adding more lighted exhibits.

The Ugly Sweater Party at Virtue Cider in Fennville is Saturday, December 16th. They’ll be giving away prizes for ugliest, most creative, most festive, and more. Of course, there will be plenty of ciders on draft, plus snacks and mulled cider to keep you toasty. Virtue Cider is also outfitting their outdoor spaces with additional fire pits, more seating, covered pergolas, and natural wood-stacked walls to build out some snugs spaces. Once the snow starts falling, they’ll have snowshoe trails cut out for those who would like to explore the orchard’s 48 acres.

This year’s Chef’s Holiday Pairing Dinner at Crane’s Pie Pantry, Restaurant & Winery in Fennville is Saturday, December 9th. This is an exquisite, eight-course pairing dinner, featuring local fare paired with Crane’s wine and hard cider. The evening includes food, drinks, music, and an education on the wonderful things produced at Crane’s.

Holiday events in Southwest Michigan are sure to delight your whole family. The Community Tree Lighting ceremony always takes place on Friday, December 1st. Over one million lights come alive along Lake Bluff Park as it is transformed into a winter wonderland from December 1st through Valentine’s Day. Also on Friday, December 1st is the Dowagiac Candlelight Christmas Parade. Chris Kringle returns to Dowagiac for southwestern Michigan’s largest lighted Christmas parade. The Candlelight Parade features 100 lighted floats, costumed characters, and marching bands, making this a magical evening you’ll long remember. The weekend rounds out with a community classic, as the 19th Annual Reindog Parade makes its way through downtown St. Joseph on Saturday, December 2nd. The parade features dressed up pets and their owners in a variety of holiday garb. Be prepared to see all kinds of costumes from “Santa Bernards” to “Reindeer Rotweilers.” Southwest Michigan kicks off the holiday season with plenty of festivities to get you in the mood!

Kick-off the Christmas season during the annual Hastings Jingle & Mingle on Friday, December 1st through Sunday, December 3rd. The fun starts Friday night with caroling, a traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and an arts and crafts sale. The fun continues with a Christmas parade after dusk on Saturday, and free carriage rides, and additional family-friendly activities on Sunday.

There are events galore in the Saugatuck/Douglas area to bring your family holiday cheer. The month starts with three events on December 2nd: The ‘Whootville’ Christmas Parade, Annual Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop, and the Toys for Kids Benefit Show. Events take place throughout the day, meaning you can do it all! Later in the month is the Harles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Celebrating 30 years, this classic Christmas tale features Ebenezer Scrooge, loveable Londoners, and a few ghosts, all brought to life by community performers. The whole family will love their time in the Saugatuck/Douglas area this holiday season.

Join the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven on Saturday, December 16th for Christmas at the historic Keeper’s House. There will be children’s book readings of the Christmas Tree Ship every hour, hot cocoa, Christmas tree cookies, sledding, and a little nautical holiday shopping. The event is free to attend.

Christmas Fun in Central West Michigan

Rockford is kicking off the holiday season with a Holiday Lighting Ceremony on December 1st. The following day, Saturday, December 2nd, is the 74th Annual Santa Parade through downtown Rockford. There will be Santa visits and carriage rides following the parade in the Rotary Pavilion, where Santa can also be found on December 6th, 8th, 13th, and 15th. Addition activities include Santa’s Live Reindeer on Wednesday, December 13th and a live nativity on Friday, December 15th.

The Lakeshore Museum Center hosts Holiday Tours of their Hackley & Hume Historic Site in Muskegon on December 2nd, 25th, 26th, and 27th. The tours on Christmas Day will be special, with ornament painting and holiday treats. Experience the Hackley and Hume home this holiday season in a special candle lit setting!

The Muskegon Country Club is hosting their inaugural Biggest Little Christmas Party on Saturday, December 2nd. This is an opportunity for smaller companies or offices to bring a group out, and let the country club handle all the planning. There will be appetizers, a buffet dinner, DJ and dancing, and a cash bar.

The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids is hosting three events in December for the holiday season. Running through Sunday, December 10th is the market’s Christmas Tree & Decor Lot. Find the perfect holiday wreath or tree for your home at the Christmas Tree Lot, with everything you need to deal the halls. On Tuesday, December 5th the Winter Wonderland lets you experience the magic of the season, with special offers from Market Hall merchants, experience delicious food and beverage demos in the Teaching Kitchen, and shop the Holiday Artisan Market. Don’t forget to share your wish list with Santa in the Greenhouse! More visits from Santa come on December 15th, 16th, and 17th, as the big buy himself stops by the market. The Downtown Market is celebrating the holidays in style, with many visits from Santa before he heads out on his globe-trotting journey.

Surround yourself in warm and cuddle-worthy luxury at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. The Wrapped in Warmth Package includes deluxe overnight accommodations, breakfast for two, hot chocolate and donuts, a JW flannel blanket, and a $50 Tanger Outlets gift card. This package is available through January 31st, 2018.

Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids has performances all month long, including many holiday favorites. The Grand Rapids Ballet presents the Nutcracker the weekends of December 1st and December 8th. Don’t miss Chris Van Allsburg’s breathtakingly reimagined smash-hit featuring live music from the Grand Rapids Symphony, sets by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee, and choreography by Val Caniparoli. On Sunday, December 3rd is a performance by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Over the past 20-plus years, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become a critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum, musical powerhouse, and its annual winter tours a beloved, multi-generational holiday tradition. The month continues with Christmas with Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith featuring Jordan Smith, Broadway Grand Rapids’ Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops, and the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Old National Bank Cirque de Noël. Tickets for all events are available both online and at the box office, and make for a great early holiday gift!

The Mecosta area is hosting the St. Mary-St. Paul Christmas Bazaar on December 2nd and 3rd. This event includes a luncheon (Saturday), handmade crafts, a bake sale, book sale, grandma’s attic, jewelry booth, gift baskets, raffle, and an array or wreaths and holiday center pieces. On Sunday morning, while shopping the bazaar, everyone is invited to the Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast. This and many more community events are happening in the Mecosta area!

Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake is hosting two holiday concerts this month. The Courtyard Concerts presents the Ho-Ho-Holiday Show with Amy Speace on Sunday, December 10th, followed by the Standing Room Only Dance Party with May Erlewine on Friday, December 22nd. If you’re looking for a good holiday gift, give a gift certificate or tickets to a Seven Steps Up show!

The Muskegon Museum of Art’s 13th annual Festival of Trees community holiday celebration runs through December 3rd. Vintage Downtown Muskegon holiday city scenes will be the backdrop of this year’s event. Professionally designed themed trees and décor will set a festive holiday mood, and will be available for purchase through silent auction over the 10 days of the Festival.

Come to downtown Muskegon this winter to celebrate the holidays. As part of their monthly murder mysteries, Amanda’s Bequest Bed & Breakfast is hosting the Murder at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party murder mystery Saturday, December 2nd. Registered attendees will be assigned their roles in advance so they can arrive in character. The next day, the Circle of Trees is held, as trees are decorated in Walker Park. There will be a tree lighting ceremony, refreshments, and a visit from Santa during the event. The area is also home to holiday musical events, including A Disney Christmas and A Celtic Christmas. Tap your feet and join into the fun at these enjoyable family-friendly performances.

From December 5th to December 30th, the Critter Barn in Zeeland transforms into a Christmas tradition with their annual Live Nativity. The display will take you back in time to imagine what the very first Christmas was like, with the sights, sounds, and smells! Each presentation offers families a personal, hands-on look at the way of life in Bethlehem, long ago. You’ll be surrounded by sheep, cows, shepherds, angels, and lights as you listen to carols and hear the Christmas story.

The Holland area is hosting events all month long to celebrate the holidays. Events include Sinterklaas Eve on Friday, December 1st; the Holiday Kerstmart on December 1st, 2nd, 8th, and 9th; the Parade of Lights on Friday, December 8th, and many more. Each event proves why West Michigan is one of the best places to visit during the month of December.

The Holland Museum invites your family to discover the magic of the Victorian age at the Cappon House on December 9th, 10th, 16th, and 17th. Guests will sing Christmas carols, decorate holiday treats, listen to classic Christmas stories, play Victorian games, and design their own holiday card or ornament. Tickets may be purchased in advance, with a discount given to museum members.

Great Legs Winery, Brewery & Distillery in Holland is hosting events for the holidays. Their Christmas Wine & Canvas is on Tuesday, December 12th, and includes everything that you’ll need to complete your painting, with wine, beer, and snacks available to purchase while you paint. They’re also hosting Christmas Caroling on Saturday, December 23rd, as they celebrate the sounds of Christmas with musicians Ruth Miller and Ben Ashby. This is also the perfect opportunity to do some last-minute shopping, with a selection of wine, candles, and glasses available.

Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland presents its annual Sinterklaas Storytime on Saturday, December 2nd with free cookies and cider for all. The Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) annual celebration in the Netherlands begins in mid-November and reaches its peak on Sinterklaas day, on December 6th. If you’re looking to do some shopping, their large import shops have a huge assortment of gifts related to Sinterklaas and Dutch life. Choices include cookies, candy, licorice, stroopwafels, and delftware, all ready to give to that special someone.

There’s Christmas events going on all month in the River Country area. The month kicks off with the Christmas Walk in Downtown Newaygo on Friday, December 1st and the ChoiceOne Bank Saint Nick race and walk on Saturday, December 2nd. The Annual Christmas Festival held in Grant returns for another year on Saturday, December 9th, bringing free wagon rides, warming stations, and kids activities. Rounding out the area’s festivities is the Christmas in Croton Hardy on Friday, December 15th, which includes many holiday-favorites, from Santa and hot chocolate to horse drawn carriages and crafts. Bring your family to these spectacular holiday events all over the River Country area.

Christmas Fun in Northern West Michigan

Elvyn Lea Lodge in Boyne City is the perfect place to host your next holiday get together. Guests enjoy comfortable accommodations in twenty guest rooms with varied bed configurations. Two lounges, 44 wooded acres with trails, a spectacular 1.5 acre event lawn, and fire pit area are also available. With the log-beamed ceilings in the lounge and pine walls throughout, this authentic “up north” lodge offers modern comforts and amenities, yet has retained its rustic charm.

Voted “Best Steakhouse” in Michigan by MLive, Vernales Restaurant in Harbor Springs is serving up delicious food for your family’s Christmas celebration. In addition to a dine-in menu, they also have to-go orders and off-site catering. You can feast upon flank steak, brisket, broiled whitefish, chicken parmesan, penne alfredo, and more. Whether you’re looking for a meal at their steakhouse or something to bring back for a Christmas at home, Vernales will be serving up a delicious holiday menu all season long.

Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville is hosting a Holiday Celebration from December 16th to January 6th. This celebration includes everything, from the 17th Annual Snowiest Snowflake Contest and photos on the mountain to outdoor laser tag and a family campfire. Stop by anytime over the three weeks for holiday fun!

Left Foot Charley Winery in Traverse City invites visitors of all ages to experience Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night on Friday, December 8th. Unsilent Night is a free, outdoor participatory sound sculpture of many individual parts played through a roving swarm of boom boxes, mp3 players, iPhones, iPads, laptops, all carried through a cloud of sound which is different from every listener’s perspective. Unsilent Night is an international event that has taken place in cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Missoula, and Melbourne. Detroit and Traverse City are the only Michigan cities among the members of the international community that are part of this phenomenon.

The Cadillac Holiday Home Tour is on Sunday, December 3rd. Each year, four different historical homes are selected for the tour. Tickets include a local map with each house address and a brief description. Lite refreshments and music will be available at the homes. This is a self-guided tour, so visitors can choose the order of the homes they visit and enjoy them at their own pace.

There are so many ways to celebrate Christmas with Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire. Plan a weekend getaway to relax, unwind, and celebrate. Choose the weekend before Christmas when Santa will visit to read holiday classics during Storytime with Santa, taking advantage of Breakfast with Santa the following morning, and the annual Tannenbaum Blitzen celebration Saturday night. Saturday wraps up with the Torchlight Parade, led by the big guy himself, down Schuss Mountain. Shanty Creek Resorts also has a gift to you this holiday season: Join Santa on the slopes of Schuss Mountain on December 25th and ski for free!

Three events at the Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire lets your family bring out their creative side. Catch up on your holiday decorating and create a grapevine wreath on Saturday, December 2nd. Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle on Saturday, December 9th to create an assortment of holiday crafts and gifts. Return on Saturday, December 16th to create nature ornaments and decor using glass globes, wood, candles, and objects found on the trail. Each weekend brings another exciting craft to help you decorate your home for the holidays.

The city of Marquette kicks off the magic of the holiday season on Friday, December 1st with the 7th Annual Winter Snow Fun Holiday Parade, followed by its 42nd Annual Tree Lighting at the Marquette Commons. The parade is led by the staff of the Marquette Post Office, who lend Santa a hand, and happily collect the children’s letters along the parade route. Irontown turns to Tinseltown in downtown Negaunee on Saturday, December 2nd, as visitors go to local businesses and fill their Tinseltown Passport to drop in Santa’s mailbox for a chance for prizes. The evening concludes with a holiday parade kicking off along Iron Street, followed by a community stroll through the Tunnel of Lights.

Train Wonderland at Castle Farms in Charlevoix is a unique tradition that continues on December 2nd and 3rd. Kids of all ages will love having access to the extravaganza of model and interactive train displays, including the Polar Express display and riding trains for children and adults. Holiday interactive games, craft, snacks, and hot cocoa are included. Can’t make it to Train Wonderland? Castle Farms will have a holiday train display open through December 23rd!

During the holiday season, Charlevoix’s restaurants offer a festive variety of unique holiday food options. Area restaurants can help you celebrate this special time of the year with a great family meal. Enjoy a variety of Christmas lights downtown and in residential areas, and visit the area’s shops to find unique gifts for someone special.

The Petoskey area has decked the halls and all that’s needed for a great holiday season now is you! The most festive of weekends is the first weekend in December. Santa hits the scene in Petoskey on Friday, December 1st to light the tree and kick off the Holiday Open House, complete with a performance by the Petoskey Steel Drum Band. Be sure to stick around the next day, as the jolly old elf heads to Harbor Springs for the annual Merchants Holiday Open House with live music, treats, and even more holiday cheer.

Starting December 15th and ending December 31st is Light Up the Soo, an event where the citizens and local business owners of Sault Ste. Marie decorate their homes and businesses celebrating the holidays. Your family will love the beautiful lights and decorations that are put up over town as part of this community event.

Step back in time as you take part in one of Michigan’s most unique holiday celebrations at the Victorian Sleighbell Parade in Manistee on December 1st through 3rd. Come see draft horses pulling a 30-foot Christmas tree down River Street, followed by a beautiful display of fireworks. Also check out the festively-decorated downtown shops, strolling carolers dressed in Victorian attire, carriage rides, and chestnuts roasting on street corners. The Old Christmas Weekend includes additional events, like the Festival of Trees, Sleighbell Bazaar and Craft Show, and guided tours of the historic 1894 Lumber Baron Mansion.