Updated: Nov 25, 2022
Your guide to holiday events, celebrations and festivals for kids in Northwest Michigan!
Alden's Christmas Celebration - November 26
Head to downtown Alden and kick off Christmas with a celebration!! Santa arrives at 5:30 via fire truck, Christmas Tree lighting to follow. There will be hot chocolate, a toasty fire and gift bags for children.
Christmas at the Ranch at A Yak or 2 Ranch in Mancelona - November 26, December 3, 10 and 17
Visit A Yak or 2 Ranch for special holiday hours on the four Saturdays following Thanksgiving. The farm store will be open for Christmas shopping, their wagon will run for winter "sleigh" rides with the yaks (weather permitting), and there will be hot cocoa. Bring your own sled for sledding on the pasture hills.
Polar Express Event in Elk Rapids - December 3
All Aboard for Polar Express fun in downtown Elk Rapids. Pick up a magic ticket at Nifty Things or Word Love. Get six hole punches along your route and receive a bell ornament! Visit the train display at 211 River Street and see the movie at the theater for the full Polar Express experience!
Window Night in Central Lake - December 7
On the first Wednesday in December, the Central Lake Area Chamber holds their annual Window Night. Businesses and residents decorate for the holidays and Santa comes to Central Lake by way of the local Fire Department. Activities on this night include, lighting of the village Christmas Tree, hayrides, fire truck and ambulance rides, visiting with Santa, shopping the local businesses and consuming hot chocolate, apple cider and donuts!
Friske's Country Christmas in Ellsworth - December 10
Christmas Spirit and Cheer have come to Friske’s Country Christmas event! Santa Claus will be arriving at 11am with his friend Buddy the Elf. Both Santa and Buddy will be available for photos and to visit with the kids. Warm yourself by the bonfire or have a seat in Santa’s stable which will be decorated, heated and ready for you to enjoy donuts, cocoa, cider, craft projects for kids, and more! This is an all-in-one Christmas experience, so bring the whole family, make memories and create your New Family Tradition with Extraordinary Farm Fun this holiday season!
Holiday Trail Celebration at Crystal Mountain - November 25
Holiday Trails will kick-off with Santa making his way through the resort core beginning at 5pm from Kinlochen to the Crystal Center on a Horse Drawn Surrey. He'll use his holiday magic to help light Crystal Mountain's holiday tree at 5:30pm during the First Light Celebration. Then enjoy a festive tour through Crystal’s quaint resort village. Each trail stop offers unique activities, plus food & beverage and retail sales, including Black Friday specials!
Benzie County Habitat for Humanity Festival of Trees - November 26 - 28
Immerse yourself in the splendor of the season at this year's Habitat for Humanity of Benzie County Festival of Trees! You may view the magnificently decorated trees, wreaths and table decorations in person or online.
Horse Drawn Wagon Rides in Frankfort - November 26
Ride into the festive season with a horse drawn wagon ride! You might even see Santa and Mrs. Claus, too! While there, check out the Holly Berry Arts and Crafts Fair. You're sure to find something for everyone on your gift list and maybe a treasure for yourself.
Frankfort Community Tree Lighting - December 3
Annual Walloon Lake Village Lighting - November 23
Visit Walloon Lake for the annual Lighting of the Village, a free family-friendly event. See live performances from the Petoskey Steel Drum Band, live reindeer, and a special visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus. Bring a donation for Toys for Tots and shop local vendors with gifts for everyone on your list. Enjoy free hot chocolate, kids’ activities, and a cash bar available from 5 PM to 8 PM.
Holly Jolly Boyne in Boyne City - November 26
The streets of downtown Boyne City will be filled with the sounds, sights and smells of the holiday season at Holly Jolly Boyne. Downtown businesses will be offering great shopping, refreshments and hospitality during the festivities. The night begins with a tree lighting ceremony by the Girl Scouts and the Santa Parade starts at 6 p.m.
Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting in Charlevoix - November 25
Mingle and Jingle/Jubilee of Trees in East Jordan - November 26
Lighting of the Community Christmas Tree, downtown business open houses and more. The Jubilee of Trees taking place at The Boathouse on Lake Charlevoix is fun for everyone. Bid on decorated Christmas Trees that have been donated by local businesses, groups, churches, individuals. Each tree has a theme and each one is different.
Christmas Tree Lighting in Harbor Springs - November 26
Celebrate 107 years of a magical tradition in downtown Harbor Springs at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Santa will ride up right outside the theatre to meet and greet kids. The mailbox to Santa will be located at the Lyric Theatre. Make sure your children write their letters to Santa and drop them off anytime the month of December.
Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade - November 26
Head to Petoskey for the Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade. “Light Up the Night” with family activities in Pennsylvania Park at 5 pm, followed by a festive evening parade. There will also be cookie decorating, letters to Santa, a photo area, and more.
Holidays At The Highlands in Harbor Springs - December 16 - January 7
This winter season, don't miss an abundance of holiday activities in the Highlands. From sipping hot cocoa to visits with Santa, there is something for everyone. Savor winter magic this time of year with snow-covered slopes and twinkling lights. Cold drinks, warm treats, and glittering snowflakes will round out your holiday season in magnificent mountain style.
Holiday Fest at Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs - November 25-26
Visit Pond Hill Farm for a magical holiday weekend on the farm! Admission is free, and special Holiday Fest activities from 10-4 include visiting with Santa, ornament making and a winter scavenger hunt. Enjoy picking out a Christmas tree, hot cocoa, sledding, and more all weekend long.
Grand Traverse County
Festival of Trees in Traverse City - November 11 - 13
Spread holiday cheer and give back this time of year during the Festival of Trees in Traverse City. Shop the Yuletide Emporium and stroll through the beautiful Tall Tree Gallery and Tiny Tree Tour November 11 - 13.
Snowvember Fest at Mt. Holiday - November 12
Christmas on the Farm at Myrtle and Maude's in Williamsburg - November 17 - 20
You will find the market exploding with the warmth of Christmas during Myrtle and Maude's Christmas on the Farm event - including gifts, décor, and treats! Santa arrives on Sunday with his live reindeer! Make sure to bring the kids out for a squeeze from the big guy and so he can hear their biggest wish this year!
Downtown Holiday Festivities in Traverse City - November 19
Tree Lighting at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons - December 6
Visit The Village at Grand Traverse Commons for hot chocolate, live music and the tree lighting! Live music and hot chocolate will be from 5-7pm on the patio outside of Cuppa Joe. The tree lighting will happen at 7pm
Christmas in the Village at Grand Traverse Commong - December 8 - 10
'Tis the season for joy and celebration, visit The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, December 8-10 for “Christmas in the Village”. A weekend long celebration filled with music, carriage rides, Santa Claus, shopping specials and much more.
NMRRC Festival of Trains in Traverse City - December 17 - 31
All aboard for the NMRRC Festival of Trains featuring model train layouts constructed in several gauges! Nothing says the holidays like the fun and excitement of a working model train. Bring the whole family to enjoy this opportunity to see some of the best of them! Interested in selling or buying? There's a swap meet planned at the Festival on the 17th and 18th.
Sleigh Bells with Santa at Ranch Rudolf - December 18
Ranch Rudolf will host Santa Claus at their upcoming Sleigh Bells with Santa event. Their beautiful horses, Beau and Knox, will proudly wear their Christmas bells as they take you on an approximately 35-minute winter hayride - bundle up to enjoy this authentic experience, and warm up by the fire upon your return. Enjoy a hot cocoa and dessert station following your ride, with sweets and treats to please all ages. Reservations are required.
Delamar Breakfast with Santa in Traverse City - December 18
The Breakfast with Santa Experience at Delamar includes fun activities for the whole family. Enjoy a breakfast buffet, visit with and write letters to Santa, design your own ornament, roast s'mores, decorate cookies with their chef, indulge in a fancy hot cocoa and coffee bar (with special add-ons for mom and dad), and vote on the staff gingerbread house competition.
Light Up Cedar - November 25
Visit downtown Cedar for the Light Up Cedar event. Santa will arrive on the fire trick to light the town, and will be available for pictures and to listen to children's Christmas requests. His reindeer will also be available to see. A DJ will be playing music, there will be a bonfire and s’mores, and area businesses will be providing crafts and activities.
Light Up Leland - November 25
Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace - November 25 - 26
The annual Holiday Marketplace is held the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. On Friday, November 25, enjoy Christmas caroling and a ceremonial tree lighting, followed by the Holiday Marketplace. On Saturday, November 26, meet Santa at the marketplace!
Northport Tree Lighting - November 26
Mark your calendars for a day of festivities and fun at the Northport Tree Lighting! This year there are over 20 activities including horse-drawn carriage rides, cookie decorating, Santa and Mrs. Claus brunch, Northport Gingerbread Competition, a Soup Cook-off, kids yoga, meeting Santa's Reindeer at Around the Corner Foods & Fun, the rock climbing wall, and more!
Holiday in the Village at Suttons Bay - November 26
The magic of the season is captured beautifully at the Holiday in the Village event in Suttons Bay. The stores are adorned with lights and holiday finery, a truly special place to make memories this holiday season. Highlights include Caroling on the Corner, Santa arriving via fire truck, storytime with Mrs. Claus, tree lighting, mail letters to Santa, gifts from Santa, extended business hours & more!
Strolling Lights Festival in Glen Arbor - November 26 - December 31
Kick off the holiday season with the 2nd Annual Strolling Lights Festival! The Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District invites families, groups or individuals to sponsor a tree to decorate this holiday season. All visitors are then invited to enjoy the works through the New Year. There is no cost to attend this and all are welcome!
Brunch with Santa at Black Star Farms - December 3
Get into the holiday spirit and bring the family to Black Star Farms Suttons Bay for a memorable dining experience with Santa! Our festive Inn will be the backdrop for this family-friendly strolling brunch, including menu options that will surely delight your little ones. In addition, our guest of honor, Santa, will arrive for those priceless photo opportunities and to hear your Christmas wish lists!
Shop & Sweets Saturday in Glen Arbor - December 17
Bring the family to shop local for the holidays while enjoying some festive treats, activities and specials available at participating businesses in Glen Arbor for the Shop & Sweet Saturday event. Dressing in Ugly Sweaters encouraged!
Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend in Manistee - December 1 - 4
An entire weekend of excitement including the Victorian Sleighbell Parade with horse-drawn entries, bagpipers, reindeer and carolers elegantly dressed in Victorian attire. The highlights of the parade are draft horses pulling a 30-foot Christmas tree down River Street followed by a beautiful display of luminaries, caroling and the lighting of the tree.
Cadillac Annual Christmas In The Park - November 25
The annual City of Cadillac Christmas In The Park at the Cadillac Commons in downtown is a fun event for the entire family. Santa and Mrs. Claus will take pictures with your kids and family. Also enjoy Christmas carols, candy for kids and the lighting of the City Christmas Tree and lights. Primos BBQ will have a food truck starting at 5pm with food for sale, and free hot chocolate is provided by Salvation Army.
Pahl's Santa Experience in Buckley - November 26 - December 19 (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays)
Visit Santa, roast marshmallows, and drink hot cocoa at Pahl’s Santa Experience! Take a tractor-pulled hayride into the forest where Santa awaits in his little cabin. Stay warm by the bonfire and enjoy the serene snow-covered woods. Shop the store for local gifts and treats!