The Ludington area is preparing for a full season of winter events – with favorite holiday traditions returning like the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Downtown Cookie Walk, lantern-lit snowshoeing and Pure Ludington Brrrewfest, plus new activities like horse-drawn carriage rides and a holiday artist market to celebrate the winter season. Some newer attractions will be open this winter as well like the Ludington Outdoor Social District and Legacy Plaza for outdoor gathering.
“We’re excited for the return of Ludington’s many treasured winter traditions like the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Brrrewfest ,” said Brandy Miller, executive director and CEO of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (LACVB). “Some events have been tweaked slightly to maximize safety, and we’ve added a few new attractions as well to round out the season. There should be something for everyone.”
Ludington offers a variety of winter events and activities from November to February (listed in order by date). The LACVB recommends that visitors consult websites and/or call attractions in advance to confirm details.
- Aglow on the Avenue Parade/Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, 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. The day is held in conjunction with Small Business Saturday – a chance to shop local businesses for the holidays. After the parade, enjoy tree-lighting and caroling at Legacy Plaza, along with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. ludington.org/c-events/c-primary-events/c-aglow-on-the-avenue
- NEW – Early Bird Snowshoe Walk, Dec. 4 and 11, 10 a.m. – noon, Ludington State Park Warming Shelter. Park Interpreter Alan Wernette will lead this free* nature snowshoe walk if snow comes early. (In the event of no snow, the event will proceed as a nature walk.) The park has 60 pairs of wooden snowshoes to loan free on a first-come, first-served basis, fitting visitors aged 10 years old to adult. Michigan.gov/Ludington
- NEW – West Shore Community College Holiday Rock Spectacular, Dec. 10, shows at 6:30 and 9 p.m., Radiant Church. This high-energy evening of holiday rock, funk and blues features Guitarist Lou Musa from the Verve Pipe, Craig Avery, and Kevin Depree from the popular Grand Rapids-based band Brenna, along with special appearances from Groove 101, Edgar Struble, and more local musicians. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for under 18. westshore.edu/community/performing-arts
- Downtown Ludington Cookie Walk, Dec. 11, 1 – 4 p.m., downtown. Visit 30+ participating locations and pick up one cookie at each business to take home more than two dozen cookies in a Downtown Ludington tote bag. Tickets are $25 each, with only 100 sold. Purchase tickets here and pick up totes at Five Star Real Estate at 513 S. James St. Dec. 11 from 12:30 – 1 p.m. downtownludington.org/cookiewalk
- NEW – Holiday Mansion Tour, Dec. 12, 12 – 3 p.m., Cartier Mansion. Carson the Butler will open the Cartier Mansion doors to the public for self-guided tours throughout the historic mansion decorated for the holidays. Visitors can tour each room of the home plus the new Carriage House, and staff will be on hand to share historic notes about the Cartier family. Tours are ongoing throughout the timeframe with a limit of 30 people at a time, and masks are required. Following the festive tour, guests can take home a hot cup of holiday Cheer. $10 per person, with all profits donated to Mason County Mutts. cartiermansion.com
- 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, the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop returns this year – featuring an outdoor beer garden and music, ball drop with 6,000 LED lights, and fireworks. Activities begin at 9 p.m. with a live DJ, dancing, and beer, wine and champagne tasting at Legacy Plaza. At midnight, the ball drops above the intersection of James Street and Ludington Avenue (open only to pedestrians that night), followed by fireworks. The event is free, though alcoholic beverages and souvenir light-up glasses can be purchased. Companies will offer free rides that evening, and various establishments will feature lodging specials. Downtownludington.org/nye
- New Year’s Resolution Run, Jan. 1, 11 a.m. This fun 5K starts at Loomis and James Streets by Ludington Pub. Strollers and dogs are allowed as well. Registration fee is $30 and includes a custom finishers medal and race tee. downtownludington.org/runludington
- Pure Ludington Brrrewfest, Jan. 29, 1 – 6 p.m., Legacy Plaza. This popular outdoor winter beer festival returns after a one-year hiatus, moving to the new Legacy Plaza – featuring beer, cider and mead plus live music. Twenty-five-plus brewers will serve samples under the open pavilion space, with smaller warming tents and heaters spaced throughout the plaza. Disposable sample cups will be used, and commemorative glasses can be purchased as a take-home souvenir. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the gate, which includes six drink tokens. Tickets go on sale in December and will be limited to 1,000 attendees. Proceeds benefit Friends of Ludington State Park.
Ongoing Winter Activities
- NEW – Art of Giving Holiday Artist Market, Nov. 26 – Dec. 17, Ludington Area Center for the Arts. Local creators will sell their unique paintings, prints and jewelry throughout the holiday shopping season. Hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ludingtonartscenter.org
- NEW – Horse-drawn carriage rides, Saturdays, Nov. 27 – Dec. 18, 2-6 p.m., downtown. Meadow Breeze Farms will provide free, 15-minute horse-drawn carriage rides downtown starting and ending at James and Court Streets near the Legacy Plaza pavilion. The carriage seats 10 adults and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Downtown Ice Skating Rink, Nov. 27 – Jan. 31, Waterfront Park. This 30’x56’ synthetic-surface rink is open for skating, 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. downtownludington.org/check-out-skates
- Deck the Halls: A Mason County Decorating Contest, Dec. 1 – 27. This free, multi-week event created in 2020 is back by popular demand, where Mason County residents decorate their homes for a chance to win cash prizes based on popular vote. Visitors can access an online map and tour the lights in their cars, voting for their favorites.
- Lantern-Lit Skiing/Snowshoeing, Jan. 8 and 22, Feb. 5 and 19, 6 – 8 p.m., Ludington State Park. Visitors can bring cross-country skis and/or snowshoes to follow a one-mile lighted, groomed trail through the park for this free* evening event. The lighted trail begins at the Warming Shelter and follows lanterns to a bonfire halfway along the trail for a warm-up and hot beverage. The park has 60 pairs of snowshoes to loan free on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors 10 years old to adult. Reservations not required. Michigan.gov/ludington
- Guided Snowshoe Walks, Saturdays Jan. 8 and Feb. 19 at 1 p.m.; Jan. 15, Jan. 29 and Feb. 12 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 60 pairs of wooden snowshoes to loan free on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors aged 10 years old to adult. Reservations are not required. Michigan.gov/Ludington
- Ludington Outdoor Social District, downtown. A new addition to downtown Ludington this past summer, the Ludington Outdoor Social District (LOSD) allows patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages in specially marked cups from participating downtown food and drink establishments and enjoy them in designated outdoor “zones” throughout downtown to encouraged dispersed socializing. LOSD businesses include Blu Moon Bistro, Jamesport Brewing, Luciano’s Ristorante, Ludington Bay Brewing, Mitten Bar, Old Hamlin Restaurant, Q Smokehouse, SandBar, Sportsman’s Restaurant, and Timbers Steak & Seafood. The social district includes Ludington Avenue along the 100 block east and west of James Street, James Street from Ludington Avenue south to Melendy Street, Rath Avenue from Ludington Avenue to the alley south of the businesses, and the alley north of Ludington Avenue from Rath to behind Old Hamlin. Look for the “Get LOSD” stickers on the pavement and on sign poles. downtownludington.org/LOSD.