Christmas time in Michigan is typically reminiscent of a holiday snow globe. Snowflakes fall gently over evergreens trimmed in twinkling holiday lights. You’ll find numerous opportunities to visit jolly old Saint Nicholas and his reindeer friends. Several venues offer special holiday dinners, from those at the top of a mountain peak reached via a sleigh, to others in 1800s buildings without electricity served by interpreters in period dress.
Here are nine holiday experiences you won’t want to miss during Christmas in Michigan.
1. Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner At The Highlands
The Highlands at Harbor Springs is a year-round resort known for downhill skiing and golfing. The Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner is a unique fine-dining holiday experience from mid-December through the end of February. The evening starts with a sleigh ride that takes you to the top of the North Peak. You’ll arrive at a cozy bonfire and sit at a candlelit dinner in a northern Michigan cabin.
The three-course dinner, accompanied by a live acoustic guitarist, begins with a raclette cheese fondue and a French onion soup. The second course offers prime rib served with Meyer lemon asparagus, white cheddar Dauphinoise potatoes, and a morel mushroom demi-glace. Finally, the meal ends with passion fruit and raspberry citrus cake. This is a beautifully romantic event.
Pro Tips: The dinner at North Peak requires navigating mountainous natural terrain. Additionally, access to restrooms requires climbing stairs.
For more things to do in Harbor Springs, check out Quaint Harbor Springs, MI: The Best Things To See And Do Every Season.
2. Silver Bells In The City
No matter the weather, Lansing celebrates Silver Bells in the City on the third Friday in November. Sparkling lights are the theme of this free event. The festivities start with an electric light parade on the lawn of the capitol building. A celebrity-led sing-along follows the countdown to the official state Christmas tree’s lighting. Then, fireworks over the domed capitol building light up the sky; but that’s just the beginning. You’ll find an evening of outdoor and indoor activities downtown. Complete craft projects with the kids or get into the Christmas spirit by donating to the Toys for Tots collection. The evening concludes with a live concert at the Lansing Center. They offer free hot cocoa to take off the chill.
Pro Tip: To receive text messages concerning traffic, weather, or emergency alerts for Silver Bells only, text silverbells to 888-777.
Extend your holiday experiences in Lansing; this article tells you How To Spend A Perfect Weekend In Beautiful Lansing, Michigan.
3. Postmark Your Christmas Cards
City Of Christmas
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the town named after the holiday itself, Christmas. Located in Michigan’s upper peninsula, about 4 miles west of Munising near the Pictured Rocks National Shoreline, you’ll find the holiday spirit year-round. A larger-than-life Santa greets visitors as they enter Christmas. Take your ready-to-mail Christmas cards any time of the year to the post office in Christmas, and they’ll stamp them with the Christmas, Michigan, postmark. What’s more special than receiving a Christmas card with a Christmas postmark?
Pro Tip: If you can’t visit Christmas to mail your holiday cards, you can ship the stamped cards to the post office in one package. Employees will add the Christmas postmark and send them on their way.
While in the Upper Peninsula, explore the Pictured Rocks National Shoreline. Here are 11 Things To Know Before Exploring Pictured Rocks National Shoreline.
City Of Holland
Throughout the holidays, you’ll find traditional European Christmas markets throughout the Netherlands. Holland, Michigan, residents draw from their rich Dutch heritage and create the local Kerstmarkt, the Dutch word for “Christmas market.” This traditional outdoor market kicks off the Saturday before Thanksgiving and runs through mid-December. You’ll find food and beverages to celebrate the holidays and many vendors offering the perfect gifts for those on your Christmas list.
Check out their website for special events dates, like Handbell Concerts, dog sled races, and the Sinterklaas procession.
Pro Tip: Kerstmarkt offers complimentary on-site parking.
Explore Holland, Michigan, beyond the holidays with this helpful article: How To Spend A Beautiful Weekend In Charming Holland, Michigan.
5. Holiday Nights At Greenfield Village
The Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village are magical. With more than 80 acres, the twinkling lights, roaring fires, and carolers will get you into the holiday spirit. In addition, the event includes ice skating and skate rentals, carousel rides, historic model train rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides with live music.
If you prefer indoor activities, you can visit decorated homes and shops from years gone by, watch holiday cooking demonstrations, and shop for Christmas trees and greenery. The evening concludes at the Village Green with a sing-along and a fireworks grand finale.
One of my favorite experiences is the Holiday Nights at Eagle Tavern where they serve candlelit dinners as they were in Michigan’s 1800s-era. After dinner, carolers in period dress entertained us, adding to the holiday magic. The holiday dinner at Eagle Tavern is one of my favorite Christmas memories.
Dearborn is a short drive from Detroit. While in the area, check out these 7 Fantastic Things To Do In Downtown Detroit.
Pro Tip: This popular experience sells out quickly. Plan and order your tickets online early. The Holiday Nights in Eagle Tavern Dining Package and the Supper with Santa Dining Package include entry tickets to the Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village.
6. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park showcases the University of Michigan Health West: Christmas & Holiday Traditions from November through early January. This exhibition honors holiday traditions from around the world, offering 46 different displays representing both folklore and facts of the past and present.
The indoor Christmas trees are works of art and stunning at night. Be sure to take the time to look at the tropical garden decorated for the holidays. The Railway Garden runs through three indoor gardens with a model train traveling past glittering lights and over high trestles. Within the garden are buildings modeled after Grand Rapids landmarks and their Sister Cities around the globe.
I found that I needed to go twice to this magical place during the Christmas holiday season: once during the daylight hours to see the daytime holiday decorations, and most definitely after dark to take in all the sparkle of the lights. The grounds are magical, with over 350,000 lights indoors and out, while dustings of snow cover the sculptures and plants.
Pro Tip: The gardens aren’t open on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day.
While you’re in the area, check out these 7 Fantastic Restaurants To Try In Grand Rapids, Michigan.
7. Holiday Stroll At Old World Canterbury Village
Canterbury Village in Orion Township is a State of Michigan-designated historic landmark. With 21 acres once part of old Scripps Farm, it is now part of the village that includes 14 specialty shops, including Aldridge’s Always Christmas store. One of the building’s features is the fieldstone wall, part of an 1870 barn, which is currently a backdrop to Christmas displays in the store, one of the largest of its kind.
What I love about the family-friendly Holiday Stroll is that they showcase nearly a million Christmas lights and set them dancing to the tunes of various Christmas songs. While many outdoor light shows in Michigan are drive-through visits, the Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village involves walking through the village, listening to professional carolers, and enjoying other live Christmas performances. You can do some Christmas shopping and cross a few names off your list during this time.
The kiddos will have a great time interacting with Jack Frost, The Grinch, and Frosty, to name a few of the live characters. The Children’s Caroling Corner showcases Christmas classics on a big screen for a sing-along. Add to that s’mores and hot chocolate and the children will have a lot of fun. Santa Claus is sure to pay a visit and Canterbury Village offers complimentary professional photos as a memory of your visit.
The adults will enjoy the C-Pub patio with various beers, cocktails, hard ciders, wines, and a fire pit to keep everyone toasty and warm.
Pro Tip: The Holiday Stroll is Tuesday through Sunday, from 5–8 p.m.
8. Reindeer Ranch Tour
Of course, you’ve seen Santa’s reindeer pulling his sleigh across the night sky, but if you want a close-up view of these exciting animals, visit the Reindeer Ranch in Kalamazoo. This interactive tour begins with a 15-minute presentation all about reindeer. The kids touched reindeer hide, shed antlers, and mounted hooves. Then, after we covered some safety tips, we had a one-on-one experience with one of the ranch’s reindeer. We had the opportunity to pet their fur and take a selfie.
Pro Tip: Arrive early for your scheduled tour because they begin right on time.
To explore Kalamazoo beyond Reindeer Ranch, check out How To Spend A Perfect Day In Vibrant Kalamazoo, Michigan for more fun ideas.