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12 Things to Do in Michigan in December

by Lisa Diggs

The holiday season is in full swing, bringing with it some delightful events to warm up your December.

Dec 1-Jan 4 Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around The World – Grand Rapids

A visit to Meijer Gardens is always a treat, but at this extraordinary time of year the site transforms into a world of winter magic with the glow of 300,000 lights, more than 40 captivating international trees and displays, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and lots of other surprises. The Gardens Holiday Express train exhibit even winds its way through three separate indoor gardens.  

Dec 1-Dec 31 International Festival of Lights – Battle Creek

Visit Cereal City as it becomes a city of lights before your very eyes at the 2014 International Festival of Lights. This beautiful event includes many lighting structures and a new light feature on the Battle Creek River along State Street. One of the most popular displays is the Twelve Days of Christmas, which is located on the back lawn of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Nightly, children romp through the structures singing and enjoying quality family time together. Enjoy the beauty of the lights in and around downtown Battle Creek.

Dec 1-Dec 31 Wayne County Lightfest – Westland to Dearborn

Stretching for four miles along picturesque Hines Drive, this lighting spectacle has become an annual tradition for many families. Driving together throughout the event makes it an intimate holiday celebration, even though thousands of others will take part. With more than 47 giant animated themed displays and more than one million lights, it is the Midwest’s largest and longest light show. The route is open from 7pm until 10pm daily from November 20 until December 31(except for Christmas Day). The fee is only $5 fee per vehicle and you can enter at 7651 Merriman Road in Westland.

Dec 5 Sinterklaas Eve Procession – Holland

Steeped in Dutch heritage, Holland rings in the season in a manner reminiscent of years gone by. Residents welcome Sinterklaas, otherwise known as the benevolent St. Nicholas. In true Dutch folk tradition, Sinterklaas arrives each December on his great white horse, surrounded by the mischievous Zwarte Piets, who bring candy to all of the children. Prior to the procession, listen to stories, make a craft, and play family games at the Holland Armory beginning at 6pm. Then at 7pm head to the Eighth Street Market Place. From there you can join Sinterklaas in a procession to Centennial Park, where he will greet the crowd, and afterward you can meet him in person and enjoy refreshments at the Holland Museum.

Dec 5 MAC Football Championship – Detroit

Kickoff is at 7pm for this big game, which will match the champions of the Mid-American Conference’s East and West Divisions. Last year’s battle saw East Division champion Bowling Green upset No. 14 Northern Illinois 47-27 to claim the 2013 MAC title and an invitation to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. This year might bring an exciting rematch, or perhaps Western or Central Michigan may be in the mix. Either way, it’s a great affordable opportunity to take the family to a college game inside Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions. Lower Level ticket prices start at just $10.

Dec 5-27 Holiday Lights in Greenfield Village – Dearborn

What do you get when you combine a magical place with a mystical time of year? The answer is Christmas inside Greenfield Village. You can actually take a lantern-lit journey through time to a beautiful place filled with live music, skating, fireworks and tons of winter wonder. Experience the wonder for yourself on December 5-7, 12-14, 18-23, or 26-27.

Dec 5-31 Wild Lights – Royal Oak

A visit to the Detroit Zoo isn’t just for summer. It’s a completely different, equally endearing place in the winter. Check it out and see the zoo in a whole new light, or filled with light as the case may be. In addition to the lights and the sights, the park will be alive with holiday entertainment and activities for guests of all ages. Wild Lights runs from 5:30pm to 9:00pm on the following dates: December 5-7, 12-14, 19-23, 26-31, 2014.

Dec 6-7 and Dec 13-14 Holiday Express Train – Coldwater

The only thing that might make a train trip more fun for the kiddies is if Santa comes along. He and his helpers will be on board the train for this fun excursion. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the station as you wait to depart. The train departs from Coldwater and the ride is approximately 1½ hours. The cars are heated, though you’ll still want to dress appropriately for the weather. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes prior to departure.


Dec 12-13 and Dec 19-20 Farm by Lantern Light – Grayling

Experience one of the most unique holiday events Northern Michigan has to offer. Board a wagon and be transported back in time to the year of 1932. Following the wagon ride, you’ll stroll through the farm trails, which are all beautifully lit by kerosene lanterns. During the course of the walk, you will visit each building at the farm complex to see a scene in a play. The play is based upon an event which supposedly took place in the tiny town of Wellington many years ago. Seating is very limited so reservations are an absolute must, and the event is open on December 12, 13, 19, and 20. The first performance begins at 6:40pm with additional performances beginning every 20 minutes thereafter. It’s an intimate experience as only twelve people are admitted to each performance. The entire event lasts about two hours, and is quickly becoming a heartwarming and uniquely Michigan holiday tradition.


Dec 13 Durand Union Station Holiday Wine Tasting – Durand

Grown-ups who prefer not to even leave the station, will enjoy this evening of Michigan wines, hors d'oeuvres, and a silent auction inside Durand Union Station. Wines will be provided by Burgdorf's Winery from Haslett, Michigan. This Holiday Wine Tasting Event will take place on Saturday, December 13th from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. Tickets are $25 per person, $48 per couple, or $180 per group of eight. Each ticket includes a commemorative wine glass and six tastings. Extra tastings may be purchased at the event. You must be 21 years or older to attend. See the beauty of the depot, sip local wines, and relax with family and friends under the sparkling boughs of dozens of Christmas trees!

Dec 21 Great Russian Nutcracker – Detroit

The holiday season really comes to life when you experience the Nutcracker, and who does it better than the world famous Moscow Ballet? Exclusive to the Great Russian Nutcracker is the “Dove of Peace”, which has a 20-foot wingspan and is created by two dancers moving as one. Russian folk legends, Father Christmas and Snow Maiden, will escort Masha and Nutcracker Prince to the Land of Peace and Harmony. The performance also includes life-sized Matrushka Dolls and whimsical 10-foot tall silk puppets. Wearing intricately detailed costumes, many with shimmering Swarovski crystals, the award-winning principal dancers and corps de ballet bring Tchaikovsky’s master score and the holiday season brilliantly to life. Performances are at 3pm and 7pm.


Dec 31 Murder Mystery Dinner – Frankenmuth

You can’t go wrong with a visit to Frankenmuth during the holiday season, so why not ring in the new year there? Bavarian Inn Restaurant wants you to finish 2014 with a bang…and they mean that literally with a Murder Mystery Show. The event kicks off at 6:30pm. Gather your family or friends and help solve the mystery. It will put a unique twist on your New Year’s Eve celebrations.


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