Glimmering light displays, seasonal cocktails, and visits with Santa mark the holiday season in Detroit, Michigan. As a born and raised Metro Detroiter who celebrates every Christmas with my family in Dearborn, I’ve rounded up 14 of the most joyfully festive things to do in Detroit and its surrounding communities at the holidays.
Disclosure: This guide to holiday events in Detroit contains some affiliate links. When you click on one of these links, make a purchase, or book your hotel, I may earn a commission.
Go Ice Skating At Campus Martius Park
With Detroit’s Christmas tree setting a festive backdrop, ice skating around the outdoor Frankenmuth Rink at Campus Martius Park is a family-friendly holiday activity. Also one of the best things to do in Detroit at night during the holiday season, the rink is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays through early January. For the Frankenmuth Rink’s hours and admission costs, please refer to the Downtown Detroit Partnership.
Shop At Downtown Detroit Markets
Located at Cadillac Square, the Downtown Detroit Markets feature locally made goods from 18 Detroit-based vendors in small glass houses. Fellow foodies, don’t miss the Mongers’ Provisions pop-up shop for artisanal cheese, cured meats, chocolates, and jams. Then get cozy in the Cadillac Lodge for drinks, s’mores, and snacks. Check back later for 2020 dates, hours, and more information about the Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lodge.
Celebrate The Festival Of Lights At Cadillac Square
To celebrate Hanukkah, visit the Menorah in the D at Cadillac Square for the annual lighting on Dec. 22. In addition to lighting the 26-foot menorah, there will be hot cider and snacks, marshmallow roasting, face painting, a food truck serving kosher eats, and more fun activities for all ages. For more information about the Jewish Family Festival and Menorah Lighting Ceremony, visit the Menorah in the D website.
Stroll Through Parker’s Alley On Winter Weekends
Shop and dine at Parker’s Alley behind the Shinola Hotel on Saturdays through Dec. 21 during Winter Weekends. The Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company will be caroling, and Huddle and MadCap Coffee will give away goodies while supplies last. For more information about Winter Weekends in Parker’s Alley, visit the Shinola Hotel’s website.
Drink At Kris Kringle’s Beachy Retreat — Sippin’ Santa at The Skip
Shoot a lusciously chocolate-flavored “Rudolph Shoots the Curl!” made with herbal mint and dark chocolate liqueurs and amaro, or sip the tropical Shaka Kalikimaka at this festive tiki pop-up at The Skip. You’ll find The Skip in downtown Detroit’s street art-filled alleyway The Belt conveniently near the Z Deck parking garage. To keep up with all its Sippin’ Santa happenings, follow The Skip on Instagram.
Watch A Holiday Show At Fox Theatre
Dressing up for a holiday show at the Fox Theatre is a time honored tradition in Detroit. In 2019, you can see Michael W. Smith on Dec. 18, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis on Dec. 21, and the Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” on Dec. 22. To learn more about these Fox Theatre concerts and shows and to purchase tickets, visit the 313 Presents website.
Dine Inside Lumen’s Igloos At Beacon Park
Share a cheese and charcuterie board as you sip a winter sangria or Griffin Claw Flying Buffalo inside Lumen’s chateau or an igloo. Surrounded by the twinkling holiday light display at Beacon Park, this is the ideal spot to dine in Detroit’s winter wonderland. To see the restaurant’s hours and full food menu, visit Lumen’s website, or make your reservation on OpenTable.
Sip Christmas-Themed Cocktails At Miracle
Don your ugly Christmas sweater and head to The Oakland in Ferndale for the Christmas-themed cocktail pop-up bar Miracle. Surrounded by kitschy Christmas decor, you can sip a spiked egg nog of brown butter and cinnamon-infused Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Amontillado Sherry, vanilla, cream, sugar, eggs, almond milk, and nutmeg. Before you go, make your reservations online (strongly recommended), arrive early to park in downtown Ferndale, and look for the Art Novelty Company sign of this modern speakeasy.
Attend Holiday Nights In Greenfield Village For Yuletide Cheer
Join Santa, live reindeer, and carolers to step back in time for one of the most unique Christmas experiences in the United States. Annually held at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village features homes and shops decorated for Christmas, holiday cooking and skilled artisan demonstrations, ice skating, live music, and holiday vignettes in period attire. The festive evening culminates in a fireworks finale and sing-along. Though you’ll find food and warm beverages throughout the event, you also can attend a happy hour filled with holiday jazz music, seasonal cocktails, and small plates beforehand. Other tasty packages include pairing your visit with dinner at Eagle Tavern or Supper with Santa. To purchase tickets and find more information about Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, visit The Henry Ford’s website.
Walk Through The Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights
Through Jan. 5, see more than five million LED lights illuminating trees, buildings, and 280 sculptures — including 230 of animals — at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. This family-friendly holiday display takes about 1.5 hours to walk through, but plan to spend extra time to ice skate, ride the carousel, or enjoy a hot chocolate on the Polar Patio. To purchase tickets online and learn more about Wild Lights, visit the Detroit Zoo’s website.
Tour Edsel & Eleanor Ford House At The Holidays
Visit the Ford family’s estate as it is decorated for a 1969 floral-themed holiday party! During the tour, you’ll learn how Mrs. Ford hosted large receptions, including the decor, music, and food. Tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday as well as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. To purchase your tickets, do so at the Ford House website by midnight the day before your tour. Please note tours sometimes sell out.
Drive Through The Twinkling Wayne County Lightfest
Beginning at Merriman Hollow Park in Westland, drive through five miles of colorful, twinkling holiday light displays along Hines Drive in the Detroit area’s Wayne County. You’ll end at Dearborn Heights’s Warrendale Park, where you can stop for hot chocolate and photos with Santa through Dec. 23 inside the Santa Shelter. Though Santa will no longer be there, the Wayne County Lightfest runs through New Year’s Eve. However, it is closed on Christmas. For hours, admission, and more information, visit the Wayne County website.
Visit Meadow Brook For The Annual Holiday Walk
The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit the historic Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester. Since the estate is decorated for the holidays, you’ll see 50 Christmas trees — including a tree completely made of poinsettias. During the final Holiday Walk weekend, Dec. 21-23, jolly ol’ Saint Nick and his reindeer stop by, and you can get cozy and warm by the bonfire with hot cocoa or a warm seasonal alcoholic beverage. For more information and to purchase tickets for the Holiday Walk, visit Meadow Brook’s website.
Visit Rochester’s Big Bright Light Show
Visit Rochester through Jan. 5 to see the downtown businesses aglow with one million bright and colorful holiday lights. For ideas of what to do while in Downtown Rochester during the Big Bright Light Show, visit the Rochester DDA website.
Where To Stay In Detroit For The Holidays
Whether you are visiting from out of town or are a local wishing to spend Christmas in Detroit, I recommend an overnight getaway at one of the city’s downtown hotels.
Last year, I used my Marriott Bonvoy rewards membership to nab a fantastic deal during the holiday season at the Courtyard by Marriott. Conveniently located near downtown’s holiday attractions, I was just a short walk from Greektown in its white and blue holiday lights and garlands, too. You can click here to book your stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Detroit Downtown, and be sure to read other travelers’ reviews.
If your holiday plans are centered around visiting Detroit’s downtown holiday attractions, shopping, and dining, I also recommend staying at the new Shinola Hotel or the boutique Detroit Foundation Hotel.
If You Are Visiting Detroit For The Holidays …
I recommend downloading this guide to the Detroit area’s holiday events and attractions. Not only will you be able to access this list of festive activities while on the go, the downloadable version is embedded with GPS coordinates to help you map your walking or driving route. Additionally, GPSmyCity offers even more self-guided walking tours and GPS-embedded travel articles for Detroit. In case you are wondering what GPSmyCity is and how to use the app, I’ve created this handy guide explaining why it’s such a helpful resource for travelers.
Read More About Detroit And Nearby Destinations
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- 7 Romantic Ann Arbor Date Ideas for Foodie Couples
- Mitten in Bloom Guide – When & Where to See Flowers in Michigan
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How will you be celebrating the holidays this year?
Tell me about your holiday plans in Detroit or elsewhere in the comment section below!