Cadillac Square Downtown Detroit
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BEST Holiday Events in Metro Detroit This Year

If you plan to be in Detroit this holiday season, there is no reason why you should be sitting at home. The city is home to dozens of festive events throughout the holidays, starting as early as November and often continuing until January.

No matter what holiday you celebrate or where you are located in metro Detroit, you are bound to find an event that you love. In this article, we’re highlighting the BEST holiday events in Metro Detroit to check out this year… 

1001 Winter Wonderland Downtown Detroit
1001 Winter Wonders | photo by Amanda Shaffer

Best Downtown Detroit Holiday Events

1001 Winter Wonders

1001 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Brimming with festive decorations, 1001 Winter Wonders is a magical spot for a free visit with Santa and his elves and to drop off letters for Santa. The whimsical atmosphere provides plenty of options for holiday photo opportunities as well.

Monroe Street Midway

22 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226

For free family fun and games, head to Monroe Street Midway. Here you can take a ride down the Artic Slide or play mini golf with hockey sticks and pucks. For a small fee, you can also enjoy bumper bars or arcade games.

Downtown Detroit Markets 

Downtown Detroit

Every year, vendors of all kinds gather in downtown Detroit from November through January. This regular event offers local artists and artisans the chance to show off their work while providing opportunities for the public to support local artists and of course, do their holiday shopping. 

Downtown Detroit Markets - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Downtown Detroit Markets | photo via @tom_jim_33

Menorah in the D

800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226

Every year, Detroit’s largest Chanukah event takes place in the heart of the city at Campus Martius. This festive celebration includes a giant menorah lighting, Chanukah games, food, Chanukah gelt, a fire show, and educational info for guests who want to learn more.

Menorah In The D, Detroit - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Menorah in the D | photo via @menorahinthed

Noel Night 

Downtown Detroit

Noel Night is an annual celebration that takes place in the heart of the city. During this time, hundreds of local businesses come together to host an event unlike any you’ve ever seen, including carriage rides, shopping, food, music, and hundreds of live, free performances. 

Annual Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony 

800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226

Each year, the Annual Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony draws thousands of attendees to Campus Martius in the center of the city. Featuring half a million lights, the enormous tree overlooks the outdoor ice rink, another popular attraction. The night is free and features plenty of food and entertainment!

What time is the Tree Lighting at Campus Martius? 

The annual tree lighting event at Campus Martius starts at 4 p.m., but the tree won’t be lit until Santa Claus arrives just after 7 p.m. If you don’t make it in time, don’t be disappointed — the event continues until midnight, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds. 

When is ice skating at Campus Martius?

Campus Martius’ outdoor ice skating rink is one of the most popular spots to skate during the holidays in Detroit. This low-cost, family-friendly Michigan ice rink is open daily at varying hours from late November to early March.

Is the Campus Martius Tree Real?

The famous tree put up in Detroit’s Campus Martius is a real tree! Though it may vary from year to year, the tree is usually Michigan-grown, often a Norway spruce. Most importantly, it is as tall as possible so that it remains an impressive sight throughout the holiday season while decorated with thousands of lights.

Annual Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Annual Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony | photo via @kaushik0805

Classic Christmas Movies at the Redford Theatre 

17360 Lahser Road, Detroit, MI 48219

The Redford Theatre is a historic movie venue located in the heart of Detroit. It screens classic movies throughout the year, and when the holidays roll around, it is time to show some old favorites, such as “White Christmas,” “The Polar Express,” “Die Hard,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life. “

Classic Christmas Movies At The Redford Theatre, Detroit - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Classic Christmas Movies at the Redford Theatre | photo via @onetogive

The Hard Nut at the Detroit Opera House

1526 Broadway Street, Detroit, MI 48226

The soundtrack to “The Nutcracker” is so deeply ingrained in us that it’s barely Christmas without it. The Detroit Opera House features two performances of The Hard Nut in December, so you’ll get a chance to enjoy a twist on this holiday classic.

The show brings the spirit of “The Nutcracker” into the stylistic 70s. Keep your eyes peeled for dancing action figures, fairies, and a performance, unlike anything you’ve seen before.

BOTTOM LINE: This is fun for the whole family and takes everything you love about a holiday classic and improves on it.

Cadillac Lodge 

60 Cadillac Square, Detroit, Michigan 48226

Cadillac Lodge is a one-of-a-kind lounge located in Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit. Here, you’ll find a luxury experience like no other, complete with an upscale menu and facilities. There are always events going on at the Cadillac Lodge, especially during the holiday season.

Ice Skating at Campus Martius Park

800 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Campus Martius Park is also a great spot for ice skating during the holiday season and is open from November to March. It opens up following the tree lighting and is a great place to skate a few laps and warm up with a hot chocolate. 

Cadillac Square Downtown Detroit
Cadillac Square | photo by Amanda Shaffer

A Festive Holiday Itinerary in Downtown Detroit

Awesome Mitten writer Amanda Shaffer shares her favorite recommendations for a fun and festive evening in downtown Detroit:

“If you are looking for a magical experience in downtown Detroit for the holidays, then you need to look no further than the Midway on Monroe and 1001 Winter Wonders, with magic happening at Campus Martius with the giant lit-up Christmas tree and ice skating rink. 

We first started our visit by parking at the 1001 Woodward Parking garage, with a flat rate of ten dollars, and the convenience of its location made traveling downtown easier for me as we visited the downtown area. 

Our next stop was 1001 Winter Wonders. With photo opportunities around every corner and a completely free visit to Santa, we walked away with the most magical feeling, as everyone there made the experience truly memorable.

With our free photo with Santa and our letter mailed off, we walked through Campus Martius Park to watch the skaters and visit the tree before crossing the street to browse the shops at Cadillac Square

After stopping in the shops, we made our way to the Cadillac Lounge to grab a hot chocolate and popcorn.

After warming up in the lodge, we walked to the Midway on Monroe for more free fun! With our waivers complete, the kids made their way to play puck-puck golf, a winter-themed mini golf course played with hockey pucks and sticks.

A trip down the Arctic slide was the highlight of the night. You’ll just pay a nominal fee for the winter bumper cars (insider tip: make sure to purchase your ticket for the bumper cars before getting in line at the booth just behind them). 

Other than that you’ll just need to bring some money if you’d like to play at the arcade or stop at the concession and hot cocoa stands.”

Awesome Mitten writer Amanda Shaffer

Best Holiday Events in Farmington Hills

Holly Days 

Multiple locations around Farmington Hills

Holly Days is an annual, multi-weekend event with attractions for visitors of all ages. Kids will enjoy the treats, crafts, and chance to see Santa. Adults will love the chance to enjoy an adult beverage while strolling the market. There is a photo booth and tree lighting for everyone!

Holiday Events at Heritage Park

24915 Farmington Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48336

The festivities begin in late November during Cookies with Santa, which allows parkgoers to see Santa’s workshop while enjoying sweet treats.

The fun continues during HoliDOG Pictures with Santa, where visitors can bring their four-legged friends to get a picture taken with Jolly Ol’ St Nick.

The holidays really get into full swing with the Holiday Lights Celebration in early December. Santa makes an appearance and a 20-foot candle is lit that symbolizes unity and peace.

Oh Deer, Santa’s Here in early December is one of the best family events in the area. Not only can visitors stop by to get a picture taken with Santa, but there are also seasonal crafts and campfires to sit around and enjoy hot cocoa.

TIP: Visitors can also purchase s’mores kits to perfectly pair with the hot cocoa. 

Visitors can have more fun closer to Christmas during Breakfast with Santa. The Man in Red joins visitors for a meal, and shares stories of his time at the North Pole, sing songs, and even play some reindeer games.

Wayne County Lightfest, Westland - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Wayne County Lightfest | photo via @jessica_landeros1517

Best Holiday Events in Rochester 

The Big, Bright Light Show 

Downtown Rochester 

The Big Bright Light Show is an annual tradition where the local businesses throughout downtown are decorated with more than one million lights. During this time of year (running from November to January) downtown Rochester becomes a beacon of holiday spirit, the perfect backdrop for your seasonal shopping.

Related: BIG LIST of Where to See Christmas Lights in Michigan

The Big Bright Light Show, Rochester - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
The Big Bright Light Show | photo via @ingridaskk

BYOB Christmas Light Trolley Tour

Rochester Tap Room, 6870 N. Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills, MI 48306

Everyone loves looking at holiday lights, but if you’re looking for something a little more adult, you’re in luck. The annual BYOB Christmas Light Trolley Tour invites visitors to don an ugly Christmas sweater, bring their booze of choice, and enjoy a holiday ride through metro Detroit.

Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Walk

Meadow Brook Hall, 350 Estate Dr., Rochester, MI 48309

Meadow Brook Hall is a historic mansion located in Rochester, sitting on 1500 acres of land. Its annual holiday walk is a nearly 50-year-old tradition, offering visitors the chance to enjoy refreshments while strolling the historic rooms and grounds, decorated with dozens of trees and thousands of lights. 

Best Holiday Events in Westland

Wayne County Lightfest

7651 N Merriman Rd., Westland, MI 48185

If you love Christmas lights, you’ll be utterly amazed at what you see along this four-mile stretch of Hines Park. The entrance to this display is at 7651 North Merriman Road in Westland.

Along this wondrous stretch, you’ll find almost 50 wonderful animated light displays, lit up by more than 100,000 lights. And if you have kids, make sure to stop at the halfway point of the light fest at Perrin Park to drop off a letter to Santa.

The Lightfest is open from mid-November to Christmas Eve though weekends may have longer wait times Vistors who want to see these displays can do so for a fee and updates on the event are available on AM 1640.

Wayne County Lightfest, Westland - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Wayne County Lightfest | photo via @jessica_landeros1517

Best Holiday Events in Royal Oak

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo

8450 W.10 Mile Rd., Royal Oak, MI 48067 

If there was ever anything better than a visit to the zoo, it’s the zoo decorated for the holidays. The Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak offers nighttime visits from November to early January, featuring thousands of LED lights in one-of-a-kind displays. The Polar Patio package will get you access to refreshments too.

Learn More: Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo

Wild Lights At The Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo | photo via @on_the_go____

Holiday Magic Marketplace

Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E 11 Mile, Royal Oak, MI 48067

Shopping for the holidays is the perfect time to support local businesses, and the Holiday Magic Marketplace at the Royal Oak Farmers Market makes that easy. This annual market offers visitors the chance to meet local artisans and shop for unique Michigan-made gifts. There are also refreshments for sale provided by locally-owned food trucks.

Made In The Mitten Holiday Market, Royal Oak - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Made in the Mitten Holiday Market | photo via @kendras_gotwood

Best Holiday Event in Birmingham

Carriage Rides

Corner of Henrietta and Merrill, Birmingham, MI

Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride might be one of the most classic holiday traditions of all time. In Birmingham, these take place throughout November and December. They are free and open to the public. The route goes through downtown, offering sights of local light displays.

Downtown Detroit Markets - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Downtown Detroit Markets | photo via @tom_jim_33

Best Holiday Events in Grosse Pointe

Home for the Holidays at Ford House

1100 Lake Shore Dr., Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236

Ford House is a historic mansion located on the shore of Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe. The mansion is home to many holiday events. New for 2023, Home for the Holidays allows visitors to explore the grounds among tons of holiday lights and listen to captivating stories regarding the estate’s history.

The Grosse Point Santa Claus Parade

Downtown Grosse Pointe

Grosse Pointe loses no time in preparing for Christmas. Just after Thanksgiving ends, it’s time to celebrate with a Santa Claus parade. This event features a holiday-themed parade as well as a snowman-building contest and other activities. It’s a family-friendly event that’s perfect for all ages. 

Cookies With Santa

1100 Lake Shore Dr., Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236

Throughout December, bring your child to the historic Ford House to meet Santa. Kids have the chance to bring St. Nick their Christmas wishes, take holiday photos, and head home with special treats. It all takes place with the beautiful backdrop of the historic Ford mansion on Lake St. Clair.

Lakeshore Drive Christmas Lights

Lakeshore Dr, Grosse Pointe

As a kid growing up in Metro Detroit, one of my parents’ favorite things to do was get in the car and drive around looking at the Christmas lights in the area. We saw a lot of great displays but the area that always blew me away was Lake Shore Drive in Grosse Pointe.

Kati Bethuy

The houses are so huge and impressive to begin with that when you add lights to them, they become like something out of a movie. Some of the houses have a theme for their light displays, others are set to music, and all are incredible.

The best part is that it doesn’t cost you anything to drive around, perhaps with some hot chocolate and Christmas music, and take it all in.

Wayne County Lightfest, Westland - Holiday Events In Metro Detroit
Wayne County Lightfest | photo via @jessica_landeros1517

Best Holiday Events in Dearborn

Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village

20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI

Greenfield Village is fun to visit any time of year, but it really comes alive during the holidays, especially with this tradition that’s been going strong for more than 20 years.

Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village occurs several times in December. With the smell of chestnuts in the air, fires crackling, and carolers caroling, all the ingredients are there for holiday merriment.

Take a ride in a Model T, relax with warm drinks, and munch on holiday goodies too. You can get into the holiday spirit even further with a Supper With Santa dinner package or by chowing down on a holiday feast at Eagle Tavern.

Best Holiday Events in Lake Orion

Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village

2359 Joslyn Ct, Lake Orion

If you love the holidays, then a trip here is a must. It’s even designated as a historic landmark.

The village is open from late November to just before Christmas on select dates. This family-friendly event is the perfect outdoor winter event.

The Holiday Stroll has everything you need to enjoy the holidays: a choreographed light show, carolers, a chance to meet classic holiday characters like Jack Frost, sing-a-longs, hot chocolate, marshmallows and so much more.

Youngsters can even bring their letters to Santa and have them mailed to the North Pole!

If you think the Holiday Stroll sounds fun, just wait! Canterbury Village is chock-full of events during November and December to fill you full of good cheer, including:

  • Village Tree Lighting
  • Cookie Crawl
  • Cocoa Crawl

Sing and Stroll Tree Lighting

This is a fun way to kick off the holiday season. With appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment, fire pits, hot cocoa, roasting marshmallows, and more, it’s not to get into the holiday spirit.

Hometown Holidays Shopping Passport

If you love holiday shopping, fear not! During the holiday season, shoppers get rewarded for shopping at downtown shops and get rewarded with gift certificates when they turn in receipts.

Lake Orion Holiday Parade

Of course, the holiday wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas parade. Lake Orion’s takes place on the first Friday in December and offers plenty of pomp and circumstance to get you in the holiday spirit.

Campus Martius - The Rink, Detroit - Campus Martius, Winter In Metro Detroit
Campus Martius – The Rink | photo via @edoardoindetroit

Metro Detroit Holiday Events & Festive Things to Do

No matter what holidays you celebrate or what you’re interested in, there is no shortage of holiday fun and things to do in Metro Detroit this winter, with something for everyone!

From family events to 21+ activities and more, you can find it all in Detroit and its surrounding suburbs, with plenty of things to keep you entertained until the New Year. 

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