Holidays are a great time to get the family together in the old minivan and scout out the prettiest lights in the neighborhood. We sent our crack Santa-sniffing explorers around Southeast Michigan towns with awesome holiday events. Especially between Thanksgiving and New Year. So, where should I go for Christmas in Michigan? If you want to step up your holiday excursion of the best events and light displays, we found these 19-holiday events worth checking out, especially if they are near you.
Bad Axe – Tidings & Tinsel Bad Axe Christmas Parade
The Bad Axe Christmas Parade is held every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It takes place in downtown Bad Axe and has a magnificent festive environment and a variety of family-friendly Christmas themes.
The procession begins from Bad Axe Middle School at 6:30 p.m. on November 26, 2022, and proceeds along Huron Avenue to the Franklin Inn. Aside from the parade, various Christmas-themed events are planned for that day. You may, for example, see a movie or a live performance at the Bad Axe Theater or participate in free ornament decorating outside City Hall. Don’t forget to sample some delectable Christmas fare—food trucks will be parked in front of the Huron County office.
Bay City – Santa House
Santa enjoys visiting Michigan. He loves it so much that he owns numerous holiday houses, including one in Bay City. Mr. and Mrs. Claus welcome visitors from the first Saturday after Thanksgiving to December 22. When Santa pays a visit, he may bring along one of the reindeer.
The Santa House is housed in a log cabin inside Veterans Memorial Park in Bay City, Michigan (immediately south of the Bay County Community Center). Visitors are not bored while waiting to see Santa since there are exciting animated displays around each area. The kitchen exhibit, where elves are busy baking cookies and other treats, is a popular one. Don’t forget to bring your camera if you want to take some beautiful photos!
You may see him from 6 to 8:30 p.m. every day, with extended hours on weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. It is always free to visit Santa; however, donations are accepted to help with the Santa House’s operating costs.
Clarkston – The Magic Of Lights At Pine Knob
Magic of Lighting is a beautiful drive-through Christmas lights experience that features famous holiday scenes and characters of the season, all while utilizing cutting-edge LED technology and computer animations as you cruise down the shimmering route of Detroit’s newest Christmas tradition, experience the Magic of Lights from the comfort and safety of your automobile. One price, one carload.
Clinton Township – Mall at Partridge Creek During The Holidays
As if Clinton Township’s outdoor mall wasn’t stunning enough all year, it’s spectacular around the holidays. The experience of shopping at Partridge Creek Mall during the holidays is nearly bizarre. Keep warm by an outdoor fire. It’s a great place to people watch and if you have a dog, take it for a stroll. Just bring your leash. Shopping for the holidays becomes a particular type of magic at Partridge Creek, where hundreds of pine trees are lit around you and the sounds of the season surround you.
Dearborn – Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village
At Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, mingle with holiday revelers among the aromas of roasted chestnuts and toasty bonfires, as well as the sounds of carolers, fiddlers, and bustling yuletide activities. Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, one of the country’s best holiday events, has been a yearly ritual for countless tourists for almost 25 years.
Explore over 80 acres of Greenfield Village after hours in this glittering after-hours celebration of America’s most touching holiday. Stroll along Main Street, packed with holiday gifts, food, and warm drinks, or take a trip on an antique Model T, carousel, or horse-drawn wagon. Warm up in ancient houses as we welcome you to decades of treasured family rituals. Make our Christmas special, from the slightest tinseled detail to the fireworks-filled sky that marks each evening’s climax.
Online reservations are now available for popular reservation-based dining events such as Supper with Santa and Holiday Nights in Eagle Tavern. See the event site at the HenryFord.
Detroit – Holiday Ice Skate at Campus Martius
Head to Campus Martius in downtown Detroit with your ice skates. With hot chocolate and warming stations, it’s a great spot to be over the holidays. After a spin around the outdoor ice rink beneath beautiful Christmas lights, shop the quaint local holiday Christmas markets in neighboring Cadillac Square. This downtown Detroit park’s gorgeously adorned 60-foot Christmas tree alone is worth a visit. The annual Christmas tree lighting is set for November 19, although the festivities extend into January.
To cover all bases, Detroit’s major Chanukah festival takes place annually in the city’s center at Campus Martius. This joyous ceremony involves lighting a big menorah, playing Chanukah games, refreshments, and gelt.
Detroit – Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Detroit Thanksgiving Parade has been an annual event since 1924. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people line historic Woodward Avenue on Thanksgiving morning to enjoy the Parade’s larger-than-life floats, colorful high-flying balloons, thundering marching bands, and distinctive entertainment acts.
America’s Thanksgiving Parade was chosen as the greatest holiday parade in 2018 and 2019 by USA Today. It has evolved into one of the country’s largest and most popular parades, and it is televised to 184 television markets around the country. It’s produced by The Parade Company in Detroit.
Experience Christmas shopping as it is done in Germany. The Christmas enchantment begins in Frankenmuth ChristKindlMarkt, Michigan’s largest open-air holiday market! Music fills the air as you shop among hundreds of merchants selling anything from homemade gifts to seasonal goodies. Visit Santa, enjoy live music, or drink hot spiced wine!
This historic Christmas market, fashioned after those in Frankenmuth’s sister area of Germany, brings a touch of magic to the city every year. There are several craftsmen providing homemade gifts and items. You’ll discover the perfect gift for family, friends, or even yourself!
Grosse Pointe – Starry Nights at Ford House
Ford House is a historic home in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, on the shores of Lake St. Clair. Many seasonal celebrations are held at the estate. One of the most popular is Starry Nights, when guests may roam the grounds and watch a light show.
Stroll around the paths of the historic estate to see a wintry starry-sky-themed light and music display, complete with projected animations, interactive elements, and even historical home films of Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s family.
Holly – Hollyday Dazzel
HollyDazzle is a spectacular three-quarter mile outdoor route in the Michigan Renaissance Festival Village that has over 1 million twinkling lights throughout a dozen lighted Christmas scenes, including Santa Claus, Sledding Penguins, and Candy Land Castle in a magical winter wonderland walk-through!
Pay a visit to Santa and receive a present. Hot chocolate is available for children. Listen to holiday stories while sitting around the Christmas tree.
Lake Orion – Holiday Stroll at Olde World Canterbury Village
Canterbury Village is transformed into a winter wonderland to create a wonderful Holiday environment that truly captures the spirit of Christmas! Stroll around this charming town near Lake Orion, which is lit up with almost a million Christmas lights. This family-friendly outdoor event features a 7-minute stunning light show synced to famous holiday carols and the sounds of professional carolers and live Christmas performances.
It runs from November 26 – December 23rd. Information and tickets at the Canterbury Village website.
Lincoln Park – Fantasyland
An annual tradition since 1964, Lincoln Park’s Fantasyland promises visitors the sounds, sights and smells of Christmas. For just $1 (cash only), you can enter a world of holiday spirit complete with caroling, Santa visits, and a look into the North Pole workshop, where elves are busy crafting gifts for girls and boys around the globe. The indoor display also includes an array of toy trains.
Owasso – Ride the Polar Express Christmas Train
This is the same train that appeared in Tom Hanks’ Christmas film Polar Express. Put on your favorite pajamas or Christmas jumper this holiday season, and join us for a nostalgic voyage to the Christmas of yesteryear onboard the North Pole Express, drawn by the world-famous Pere Marquette 1225!
Depart from Owosso’s Steam Railroading Institute for a four-and-a-half-hour round-trip excursion to Ashley’s Country Christmas Village. Choose one of our six distinct service levels and enjoy a one-hour and fifteen-minute train travel to and from Ashley. As the North Pole Express speeds northward, each form of luxury accommodation and Christmas ambiance, from antique coaches to historic cabooses, is available.
Disembark at Ashley’s Country Christmas Village for a two-hour Christmas festivity straight from the past! Take part in the many activities offered by the village, such as live entertainment, getting your photo taken in front of 1225, and meeting Santa Claus himself! For detailed information on the various travel accommodations and tickets, see the North Pole Express site.
Port Austin – Christmas Tree Lighting
The Port Austin Annual Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on Friday, November 25, 2022, at 7 p.m. You may also see the procession if you arrive around 6 p.m. There’s plenty to do in and around this lively town near the tip of Michigan’s Thumb.
Rochester – Christmas Lights on Mainstreet
If there is a list of southeast Michigan towns that do the holidays right, Rochester must be on that list. For almost a decade, the Big Bright Light Show has illuminated downtown Rochester throughout the Christmas season. Throughout December, buildings on the downtown length of Main Street are completely decked in multicolored lights. Visit any evening to stroll or drive through the spectacular buildings decked up in over a million lights to enhance your Christmas season.
Rochester Hills – Holiday Walk At Meadow Brook Hall
Meadow Brook Hall has been transporting guests through the magnificent home decorated in glittering glory for over 50 years, providing a spectacular Christmas experience. Discover the awe-inspiring beauty of our more than 50 gorgeous trees, flickering fires, and many lights! Holiday Walk allows guests to explore the 110-room estate, from the Grand Ballroom to the magnificent guestrooms, on certain Saturdays and meet Santa’s reindeer! This location is ideal for a romantic date night or a family trip.
Seasonal Walk is a self-guided interior tour of outstanding holiday sights and decorations within Meadow Brook Hall, a historic house and National Historic Landmark on Oakland University’s Rochester campus.
Southeast Michigan towns with awesome holiday events – Royal Oak – Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights
Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak – Millions of LED lights will be used to illuminate the zoo, covering trees, buildings, and over 280 sculptures across the grounds to create festive light shows. This lovely, bright, and one-of-a-kind atmosphere is ideal for everything from a romantic night to a family adventure.
Troy – BYOB Christmas Light Trolley Tour 2022
Grab a bunch of friends, dust off your ugly Christmas sweater, and board a fully decorated Christmas Trolley or our Grinchmas Bus to see some of the most magnificent Christmas Lights Metro Detroit offers.
This event does not take place in Troy but strikes out on a tour of light displays and events in other communities. They offer three different routes! Tickets include admission into Detroit Zoo Wild Lights/Canterbury Village Holiday Stroll. Other tours include Rochester Big Bright Light Show, Detroit Zoo Wild Lights, and Campus Martius. It’s geared toward adults 21+. Details of times and tickets can be found on the event site.
Westland – Holiday Lights at Hines Park
If you enjoy Christmas lights, you will be astounded by what you will see along this four-mile section of Hines Park. About 50 fantastic dynamic light shows are lighted up by more than 100,000 lights throughout this magnificent length. If you have children, stop at the midway point of the light festival at Perrin Park to drop off a note to Santa.
The Lightfest is open from mid-November through Christmas Eve, with lengthier wait times on weekends. Visitors can observe these displays for a charge, and updates on the event can be found on AM 1640. This exhibit is located at 7651 North Merriman Road in Westland.
Final Thoughts on Where I Should Go for Christmas in Michigan
Hosting a great bunch of holiday events is another thing that Michigan is known for. Hopefully, you will find a couple of events to do and places to see this holiday season in Southeastern Michigan. If you know of a highly extraordinary event we missed, please include it in the comments section below.