9 Things to Do in Metro Detroit for the Holiday Season

Austin Black II

Come wintertime, Detroit’s festivities make every local and visitor feel as if they stepped into a wondrous winter paradise, where neighbors gather, families bond, and the celebration never ends. Check out these fabulous events to ring in the holiday season with a bang!

The Rink

Your kids will jump for joy this November when you bring them to The Rink at Campus Martius Park for some outdoor ice-skating fun! The Rink continues to be a premier destination for locals and travelers alike, providing one of the most beautiful and iconic ice-skating rinks in the country. 

This ice skating rink is highly coveted, attracting some of the world’s best Olympic and US champion athletes to perform and skate annually, including gold-medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White and US champions Mirai Nagasu, Jeremy Abbott, Karen Chen, and many others. With the stunning city skyline and Detroit’s Christmas Tree as the backdrop, people of all ages gather at Campus Martius Park to ice skate and create lasting memories.

The 18th Annual Detroit Tree Lighting

The Downtown Detroit Partnership and DTE Foundation are proud to present the highly anticipated 18th Annual Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony in Campus Martius Park. Ring in the holiday season with fantastic live entertainment, Olympic figure skaters, and award-winning local performers and skating clubs. 

Additionally, this outdoor event features awe-inspiring lighting attractions, horse-drawn carriage rides, hot chocolate giveaways, and visits from Santa. There will be a delicious assortment of food and beverages from food trucks and Downtown Detroit eateries and bars. The Tree Lighting is a family-friendly holiday extravaganza you won’t want to miss!

The Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lodge

Downtown Detroit Markets return to Cadillac Square in November, Credit: Bedrock Detroit

Bedrock’s Decked Out Detroit initiative is bringing back festivities and experiences that Downtown Detroit locals and neighbors have come to know and love. The Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lodge return on November 10, with various promotions and activities presented in the coming months. This year’s pop-up Downtown Detroit Markets boasts nearly 20 vendors, including Detroit Hustles Harder, Kept Jewelry, Little High Flyers, The Vintage Wick, and Three Dogs 1 Cat. 

Meanwhile, visitors will relish family-friendly entertainment in the nearby open-air Cadillac Lodge, including trivia nights, magician appearances, and more. There will be plenty of yummy eats to enjoy, such as homemade soups, charcuterie boxes by Thyme & Honey, cinnamon donuts, and create-your-own coffee or hot chocolate from Bea’s. 

Launched last year to bring a memorable community experience to metro Detroit, Decked Out Detroit will also present 1001 Winter Wonders, a North Pole-themed experience where little ones can send a postcard to Santa. Additionally, Decked Out Shopping Days runs from November 17th through December 24, with participating retailers hosting deals, giveaways, live music, and more. An extravaganza with offerings to appease every guest, the Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lodge is a must-visit.

2021 America’s Thanksgiving Parade®

Credit: LittleGuide

Every year, thousands of parade spectators head to historic Woodward Avenue on Thanksgiving morning to watch masterful floats, vibrant balloons, thunderous marching bands, and captivating specialty acts. This coveted celebration has brought joy to metro Detroit for 93 years, gathering nearly one million people annually with its holiday cheer and community pride. Presented by Gardner-White America’s Thanksgiving Parade® was named the Best Holiday Parade in America by the 2019 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Sure, you can stay home and watch the parade on TV, but there’s nothing like being there, feeling the crowd’s energy, and gathering with neighbors, family, and friends to rejoice in holiday tradition!

Birmingham Winter Markt

Stop by the annual Birmingham Winter Markt to experience holiday magic like never before. The market features local artists and vendors displays, European fares, thousands of shining holiday lights, ice sculptures, live entertainment, complimentary carriage rides, and more. 

Your children will adore viewing live reindeer, stopping by Santa House, and partaking in various activities at Kinderhaus children’s activity area, with warming stations to ensure your family stays toasty in the chilly Detroit winter. Be sure to stop by on opening night at 6 pm for the annual Birmingham Holiday Tree Lighting, featuring Santa, live caroling, and the lighting of a 35-foot Christmas tree embellished with over 40,000 LED lights! 

Wild Lights

Wild Lights, Credit: Detroit Zoo

Every year, the Detroit Zoo creates a winter wonderland during their Wild Lights event. The event presents 40 magical nights of millions of LED illuminated trees and over 280 sculptures throughout the front half of the Zoo. The glimmering trees adorned with lights are indeed a sight to behold, boasting the most magnificent Christmas light display you’ve ever seen. Paired with festive vignettes and seasonal treats, the whole family will indeed have a great time at Wild Lights.

Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

A beloved annual tradition for over 20 years, the Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village attracts folks of all ages with over 80 acres of Greenfield Village holiday merriment to explore. This after-hours jubilation allows visitors to stroll down Main Street, reveling in holiday cheer. You can enjoy festive goods and warm beverages and even go for a ride in a historic Model T or horse-drawn carriage. 

Various historic homes will be open during the event, allowing a glimpse into favorite family traditions of centuries passed. Greenfield Village will be adorned with tinsel, with the evening’s finale boasting a colorful fireworks-filled sky. This year’s celebration brings back popular dining experiences like Supper with Santa and Holiday Lights in Eagle Tavern, ensuring your family’s bellies are filled with delightful fares before you take to Main Street to enjoy free carousel rides, ice skating, holiday cooking demonstrations, and so much more. 

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

A twist on a classic, Broadway in Detroit presents The Hip Hop Nutcracker on Sunday, December 5th, for its seventh season. Jennifer Weber directed and choreographed this contemporary dance production, a re-imagined version of the classic that combines hip hop dance and Tchaikovsky’s timeless music into an intriguing and inspiring holiday event. 

The spectacle is brought to life by a powerful cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a violinist, a DJ, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. The story of the nutcracker remains the same, but the unique setting and expression of the story will keep your family entertained and coming back year after year to see the show!

Holiday Concerts at Detroit Symphony Orchestra

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra hosts several family-friendly events during the most wonderful time of the year. This December, welcome the holiday season with a fun-filled week at the orchestra with Winter Wonderland, Home Alone in Concert, and Home for the Holidays. The Winter Wonderland show on December 11th celebrates the season with the audience-favorite, conductor Thomas Wilkins. 

Take a step back into nostalgia by enjoying Home Alone in Concert with your family on December 15th. One of the most beloved family films of all time, Home Alone will be projected on a giant screen in crisp high definition, accompanied by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Premiering December 17-19, Home for the Holidays is Detroit’s favorite holiday musical tradition. Stuart Chafetz leads an extraordinary celebration with carols and classics, and a highly anticipated visit from Santa Claus to boot!

Detroit is a magical city featuring a plethora of family-friendly events throughout the year. Once you have explored Motor City, it will only be a matter of time before you desire property of your own. Contact real estate agent Austin Black II with all of your Detroit luxury home needs. Whether you seek Sherwood Forest real estate or houses for sale in Midtown, award-winning broker Austin Black II will guide you each step of the way. Call today so you can spend your holidays with those you love in Detroit tomorrow!

*The Rink at Campus Martius Park, Header Image Credit: Downtown Detroit Parks


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