With November’s early snowfall, it’s not too early to think about winter fun in Ludington. And visitors who come in the winter will be treated to plenty of fun with favorite holiday traditions like the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, newer events like White Pine Christmas and the West Michigan B&B Cookie Tour, and other festive activities to celebrate the winter season.
“If you’ve never visited Ludington in the winter, now is the time,” said Brandy Miller, executive director and CEO of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (LACVB). “You’ll experience all that makes Ludington special, but with lighter crowds and through a magical lens of holiday decorations and snow.”
Ludington offers a variety of winter and holiday events from November to February for all interests.
Food & Drink Events
- West Michigan B&B Cookie Tour, Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14; 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, and 1-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14. This second annual event lets you sample the best Christmas cookies and treats at eight Michigan bed & breakfasts from Whitehall to Bear Lake – with four in Ludington alone. Up to 18 varieties and three dozen cookies are yours for the taking and tasting, along with collector recipe cards from each stop. Tickets are $35 for access on both days of a weekend, with a portion of proceeds funding anti-trafficking efforts through a partnership with Ludington-based HumaniTea.
- Downtown Ludington Cookie Walk, Dec. 14, 1-5 p.m., downtown Ludington. Visit 30 participating locations and pick up one cookie at each business to take home a total of 30 cookies in this new event. Cookie boxes are $15 each, with only 100 boxes sold. Purchase tickets here and pick up boxes at Red Rooster Coffee & Community Dec. 14. All proceeds will be donated to the Ludington Area School District Youth Resource Center.
- Pure Ludington Brrrewfest, Jan. 25, 1-6 p.m., Rotary Park. This popular outdoor winter beer festival now in its sixth year features 25-plus brewers and live music in downtown Ludington. The festival features a heated tent, musical stage, and crafters offering beer, cider and mead. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate, with proceeds benefitting the nonprofit Friends of Ludington State Park.
- We’ll Be Home for the Holidays, Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Ludington Area Center for the Arts. A night of music and joy is in store at this free concert featuring local musical artists taking the stage, including Dan Seabolt & The Miller Boys, Ed Santarelli and Lee Shipman, the Baldwin Choir, LAC∀ffect and Rob Kotecki.
- Edgar Struble Presents: A Nashville Family Christmas, Dec. 21, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Ludington High School Peterson Auditorium. Enjoy this family-friendly evening of entertainment as hometown musician Edgar Struble assembles some of the nation’s best country musicians, including from the Grand Ole Opry band. This country musical extravaganza includes traditional and contemporary holiday country favorites, guest appearances, treats and photos with Santa. Tickets are $25 per person for general admission and free for WSCC students. Group rates are available for a minimum of four tickets ($5 discount per ticket).
- Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., downtown. Shop local businesses for the holidays when stores are holding open houses and offering specials for gift-giving this season. Downtown businesses also sell gift certificates usable at any of 44 listed stores in $20 increments.
- 11th Annual Holiday Craft Show, Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Ludington Area Center for the Arts. As part of Small Business Saturday, this show features artisans from West Michigan with their handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items perfect for holidays gifts.
- 12 Days of Christmas Shopping, Dec. 13-24, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Downtown Ludington businesses are offering special pricing on holiday items each day during this holiday promotion, along with fun giveaways. Get a jump-start on holiday shopping by visiting participating stores in the downtown district.
- Aglow on the Avenue Parade, Nov. 30, 6 p.m. downtown. Floats of animals and characters will be “aglow” on Ludington Avenue during this parade, also featuring Santa and the famous New Year’s Eve ball. A pre-parade warmup is 4-6 p.m. at Mason County District Library with hot cocoa, cookies and holiday music, plus a chance to meet Miss Ludington 2020, Madelyn Shamel. After the parade, enjoy tree-lighting and caroling at James Street Plaza, and then a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus plus holiday treats at Sandcastles Children’s Museum. Downtownludington.org/aglow
- White Pine Christmas, Dec. 13-14, 4-7 p.m., Historic White Pine Village. Experience Christmas traditions of past and present at this 2nd annual holiday event where visitors can tour historic buildings like a chapel, schoolhouse, trapper’s cabin and fire station decorated for the holidays. Experience an old-fashioned street organ, holiday crafts, snacks, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus at this wintry village. Tickets are $8 per adult, $6 for ages 3-17, and free for 2 and under.
- Santa’s Workshop at FloraCraft, Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., FloraCraft. Join this 9th annual day of Christmas crafting at the headquarters of Ludington-based FloraCraft, the world’s leading manufacturer of foam products for the crafting and floral industries. This free, family-friendly event for all ages includes crafting, holiday games, stories with Mrs. Claus, hot chocolate, horse-drawn wagon rides and photos with Santa.
New Year’s Eve Events
- New Year’s Eve Balloon Drop, Dec. 31, 5-8 p.m., Sandcastles Children’s Museum. Enjoy conga music, food, party favors, ice cream sundaes, crafts for all ages, dress up, balloon drops, and more. Admission: $10 per person or $40 per family. Space is limited, so email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation.
- New Year’s Eve Family Party, Dec. 31, 7:30-11:30 p.m., Mason County District Library. Families, children and teens can celebrate New Year’s Eve at this family party with crafts, games and activities for partygoers of all ages – including board games, Legos and video games. The party closes at 11:30 p.m. in time to stroll downtown for the Ball Drop. Free event, and children under 12 must be with an adult.
- Ring in the Roaring 2020’s – Showing of “The Great Gatsby,” Dec. 31, 7:30-11:45 p.m., Ludington Area Center for the Arts. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. along with a bar serving beer and wines in the main gallery. At 8:30 p.m., the LACA will show the 2013 film “The Great Gatsby” staring Leonardo DiCaprio on the 15-foot LED video wall in the performance hall. Following the film ending at 11 p.m., viewers can enjoy live music from Redux band in the main gallery and make it downtown to the Ball Drop at midnight. $1 suggested donation for entry, and popcorn, pizza, soda, water, and beer and wine available for purchase.
- New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Dec. 31, 9 p.m.-12:01 a.m., downtown. Ludington’s biggest winter celebration and one of West Michigan’s largest New Year’s Eve ball drops, Ludington’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop offers a quintessential New Year’s Eve celebration complete with outdoor beer garden and music, ball drop with 6,000 LED lights, and fireworks in the heart of downtown. Activities begin at 9 p.m. when a tent opens for music, dancing and beer tasting. At midnight, the ball drops above the intersection of James Street and Ludington Avenue in the heart of downtown (open only to pedestrians that night), followed by fireworks. The event is free, though beer is available for purchase. Commemorative glasses are $8 in advance (plus other Early Bird packages) or $10 that evening. Companies are offering free rides on New Year’s Eve, and various hotel establishments are offering lodging specials.
- New Year’s Resolution Run, Jan. 1, 11 a.m. Kick off the new year right with this fun 5K starting at Loomis and James Streets by Ludington Pub, which also will host an afterparty. Strollers and dogs are allowed as well. Registration fee is $25, or $100 for all four Ludington races with a free swag item.
- Lantern-Lit Skiing/Snowshoeing, Jan. 4 & 18, Feb. 1 & 15, 6-8 p.m., Ludington State Park. Visitors can bring cross-country skis and/or snowshoes to ski or walk a short lighted, groomed trail through the park’s forested sand dunes for this free* evening event. The lighted trail begins at the Warming Shelter and follows lanterns to a campfire along the trail for a warm-up and hot beverage. The park has 40 pairs of snowshoes to loan free on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors 10 years old to adult. Reservations not required.
- Guided Snowshoe Walks, Saturdays Jan. 4-Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. plus Jan. 11, Jan. 25 and Feb. 11 at 6 p.m., Ludington State Park. This 1.5-hour, free* guided snowshoe hike highlights the park’s nature and history through snow-covered sand dunes. The park has 40 pairs of wooden snowshoes to loan for free on a first-come, first-served basis, fitting visitors aged 10 years old to adult. Reservations are not required. Staff is on hand to help novice trekkers.
- Downtown Ice Skating Rink, Nov. 1-Dec. 29, James Street Plaza. Strap on skates and glide around this 30’x56’ synthetic surface skating rink in the heart of downtown, free of charge, seven days a week. Those who don’t have skates can check out one of 100 free pairs of new ice skates on loan at the Ludington branch of Mason County District Library with a Mason County District Library card.
*Free event, though a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Ludington State Park
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan with miles of beachfront and water access, Ludington offers a quintessential “Up North” experience close by. Ludington and Mason County deliver the perfect combination of unspoiled natural resources and unrivaled outdoor recreation with quaint, small-town charm – all within easy reach located at the intersection of U.S. 31 and U.S. 10. For information on the Ludington area including lodging, events, and other tools to help plan a Ludington getaway, visit PureLudington.com, facebook.com/PureLudington, @Pure_Ludington or call(800) 542-4600.