Not surprisingly, our 12 things to do in Michigan in December, includes a lot of holiday-themed events, and also other uniquely Michigan fun.

Dec 1-Dec 3 Cirque Dreams Holidaze – Detroit

What do you get when you mix a Broadway show with a circus, then sprinkle it with the holiday season? It’s hard to imagine, but this is it. This unique show features a world-renowned cast of performers accompanied by an ensemble of aerial circus acts, sleight-of-hand jugglers, fun-loving skippers, breath-catching acrobatics, and heart-swelling music. Like the show itself, the original score puts new twists on some old seasonal favorites. Sit back and relax in the comfort of the majestic Fox Theatre, as singers, dancers, penguins, toy soldiers, and reindeer invoke the dreams behind a child’s eye on the most magical of nights.

Dec 1-17 Tinsel & Turkey – Marshall

How about dinner and a show? Then Cornwell’s Turkeyville is the place to go. This unique Michigan business is home to a country gift shop, restaurant, campground, dinner theatre, and so much more. This particular show features a cast of holiday characters such as Suzy Snowflake, Frosty the Snowman, and the Sugar Plum Fairy shaking their tail feathers with toe-tapping Christmas cheer. Tickets may be purchased with or without dinner included. Hint: you might just be able to enjoy some turkey with your toe-tapping.

Dec 1-Jan 15 Mandela: The Official Exhibition – Dearborn

The fall colors have faded, and winter merriment has not yet taken hold. That makes November a lovely time to visit a museum. One of the state’s best has a fantastic traveling exhibit on iconic South African leader, Nelson Mandela. His epic story is told in a series of experiential galleries from his rural childhood home through years of turbulent struggle against the apartheid regime to his eventual vindication and final years as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. The idea for Buy Michigan Now is actually rooted in South Africa, so this exhibit holds a special place in our hearts.

Dec 1-3; 8-1o; 14-17; 19-23; 26-28 Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village – Dearborn

As holiday traditions go, it is truly hard to top this one. Step back into a simpler time. Enjoy holiday melodies from Victorian carolers. Warm up and chat with other revelers around a roaring bonfire. Sip on a hot cocoa or craft cocktail. Taste a roasted chestnut. Pop into a home from a century ago and learn how they cooked the goose and other aspects of the yuletide feast. Be sure to stay until the end of the evening to take in the fireworks. There is something extra magical about those bursts of color on a cold winter’s night.

Dec 1-23 Michigan Made Holiday Art Exhibition – Lansing

Support a local artist this year. Whether treating yourself, or gifting a piece, it’s a wonderful way to boost our economy and spread joy. This exhibition has been an annual tradition for more than three decades. Both established and emerging artists are showcased. Pieces have been carefully curated. The event, at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, will offer holiday shopping, as well as an opportunity to discover and become a fan of new artists. The exhibit will feature artworks ranging from fine art to small gifts including paintings, ceramics, glass, holiday cards and other unique hand-crafted goods, created by more than 80 Michigan artists.

Dec 1-26 Fish-mas – Auburn Hills

Looking for something totally different to do with the kids this holiday season? This may be just the ticket. Head to Michigan’s largest aquarium to soak in an underwater winter wonderland. They’ve decked the halls and the tanks with festive décor. Kids can take a safe polar plunge by dipping their hands in the cold water Touchpool to pet bright red and green sea anemones. They may even catch a glimpse of Scuba Claus and his underwater elves while they clean the Ocean Habitat. Plus, they can help him find his lost gifts, which have been scattered throughout the aquarium in a holiday-themed scavenger hunt.

Photo of performance

A Christmas Carol comes to life during the annual Dickens Festival in the charming hamlet of Holly, Michigan.

Dec 2-3; 9-10 Dickens Festival – Holly

Holly truly comes alive every Christmas season with the nation’s oldest and longest running Dickens festival. The community is still healing from the devastating fire that whipped through the historic Holly Hotel. That makes it an extra special year to come spread some Christmas spirit, and some cash, through this warm and friendly town. This full sensory experience includes the scent of roasting chestnuts, the sounds of strolling carolers, and perhaps even a sighting of one grumpy soul known as Ebenezer Scrooge. Be sure to pop into Battle Alley Coffee, and warm up at one of the best java joints in the state.

Dec 6 2023 Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – Lansing

The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1983 by a group of visionary women led by Gladys Beckwith, who recognized the importance of recognizing and celebrating exceptional Michigan women. The mission is to honor and educate the next generation of women leaders to continue blazing trails and achieving greatness. Each year, contemporary leaders and historic figures and added to the impressive roster at the induction ceremony. This year’s honorees include Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Honorable Denise Langford-Morris, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, and the Traverse City Ladies Library Association.

Dec 8-10; 15-21 Christmas Cabaret – Augusta

Attending this event is like taking part in a Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musical, for those old enough to remember what that is. (Hint: if you don’t, try streaming one, they’re lots of fun). This annual tradition at the Barn Theatre, just east of Kalamazoo, is filled with good old fashioned Christmas spirit. Perfect for the whole family, this joyous, reflective, upbeat show is sure to create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Plus, they’ll be serving up complimentary pie, coffee and hot chocolate. Showtimes are at 7pm, with 2pm matinees added on Saturdays and Sundays.

Dec 9 4-Elf Party – Marshall

The holiday season is a lovely time to visit Marshall. There’s a little bit of magic in the air. While in town, be sure to stroll the streets and enjoy the décor, then pop into Dark Horse Brewing for their best party of the year. The doors open at 11am for those who have built up tailgating tolerance. Wear an elf costume and the cover charge is just 10 bucks, or spend 15 and come as you are. There are lots of free food options, a costume contest, live music, and prizes. Best of all for beer lovers, there will be special barrel-aged beer releases—who wouldn’t want to try beer infused with the flavor of peanut butter cups or s’mores? Naturally, this is a day for grown-ups to play. Must be 21 or over to enter.

Dec 9 Antique Snowmobiles on Mighty Mac – St Ignace

One of the state’s more unique December parades has nothing to do with the holidays. Each year, vintage snowmobiles make their way across Mighty Mac. Whether you have an antique sled and want to take on this adventure, or just be a spectator, this is a uniquely Michigan experience. All snowmobiles that are 25 years or older are welcome. They must have a legal registration or the Historic Registration, a wheel kit with at least 2″ wheels, and no studs or cleats. Riders will be crossing from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace at about 11am. If participating, you’ll want to make sure your machine is in the Colonial Michilimackinac parking lot by 10am at the latest.

Dec 28-29 Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) – Grand Rapids

This wonderful holiday tradition has moved in recent years from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit to Van Andel in Grand Rapids, but the fast-paced action is the same.  The 57th GLI starts with a doubleheader matchup on Thursday, December 28 between Michigan Tech and Alaska at 3:30pm, followed by Michigan State against Ferris State at 7pm. The winners of those contests will advance to the GLI Championship game on Friday, December 29 at 7 p.m., while the puck drops on the third-place game at 3:30pm on the same day.

Join us on social media for ongoing discussions about events and Michigan travel destinations. Tweet @BuyMichiganNow to let us know when you make it to one of our 12 things to do in Michigan in December. For next month’s event highlights, or to get ideas for your local bucket list, be sure to visit our Michigan Tourism page.

Author: BMN Staff