Each year, Santa seems to start visiting towns earlier and earlier, but this time I’m happy about it. If you are too, and want to start harnessing the Christmas spirit, attend a November celebration. Your own community may be hosting a sing-along, tree or street lighting, or a parade, but if not, these are some of the best in the state. Don’t forget to pop into small shops and enjoy a bite in a local eatery while you’re nearby. Every dollar we spend in our state really counts.

November 17 Silver Bells in the City in Lansing

Lansing locals love it, yet this is almost a party for the whole state with the Capitol as a backdrop. Silver Bells in the City is an ideal family event to kick off the holiday season. Enjoy the Electric Light Parade, which steps off at 6:00pm at the corner of Lenawee Street and South Washington Square. Then feel some holiday spirit and state pride swell, with the lighting of the Christmas tree. Get your carol on at the Community Sing, featuring Michigan-native Grace West. She was on Team Blake during Season 23 of NBC’s The Voice, and landed in the number two spot overall. That’s not all. The evening’s big finale is a Firefly drone light show, followed by a stunning fireworks display over the Capitol (weather permitting). You’ll also be able to shop a holiday market with local vendors and pop into a nearby eatery or pub to soak up the energy on this electrifying evening in the capital.

November 17 Annual Detroit Tree Lighting at Campus Martius Park

The Motor City does take on a certain unique charm during the holiday season, and it really begins with this unforgettable night. You can enjoy spectacular live entertainment with Olympic figure skaters, skating clubs, and award-winning local performers, not to mention wonderful holiday shopping. All the festivities will center around a Michigan-grown Norway spruce decked with ornaments and illuminated by thousands of shimmering LED multi-colored lights. Santa and some friends will turn it on at 7pm. If you can’t make it to the event itself, tune into WXYZ Channel 7 Detroit for live coverage.

November 17 Holidays in the Heart of the City in Saginaw

When was the last time you explored Saginaw? This is a magical time to do it, with seasonal revelry and access to some of the city’s gems. From 5:30pm-8:30pm, visitors can enjoy open houses at many venues including the Children’s Zoo, Andersen Enrichment Center, Japanese Tea House, The Montague Inn and the Mexican American Council. Plus, there are free Christmas concerts and pony rides. Spark some old-fashioned holiday joy with a horse-drawn wagon ride on Ezra Rust Drive.

November 20 Lagniappe in Rochester

Mondays can be so dreary, but not with an event like this to brighten our evening. Traditionally, a lagniappe is some kind of small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase. However, if you head to Downtown Rochester on November 20, it’s much more than that. Indeed, from 6pm-9pm, the merchants will be offering customers tokens of appreciation for their support throughout the year. Elves have been covering the buildings downtown with over 1.5 million lights that have yet to shimmer. The annual Big, Bright Light Show debuts on this Monday evening. The program will begin at 6:00pm on E. Fourth Street with music from The Keynote Sisters & the Meadow Brook Carolers. Then stay tuned for a visit from the Mayor, and by the man in red, Santa Claus himself. The lights will officially glow at 7:00pm. Kids can share their Christmas lists with Santa from 7:15 pm – 9:00 pm so have your camera ready.

November 24 Holiday in the Park in South Haven

While much of this event takes place in Dyckman Park, be sure to spend some time just kicking around South Haven, enjoying the scene. At the park, the festivities include a parade, s’mores around firepits, and free pictures with Santa. Don’t miss the luminaries along Phoenix Street, and the holiday lights downtown. Enjoy it all amidst brisk shoreline weather and a soundtrack of holiday tunes.

November 25 Aglow on the Avenue Parade in Ludington

How about a little holiday fun in what is typically a summer beach destination? This is a favorite event of the Christmas holiday on the lakeshore. First, take advantage of Small Business Saturday, and shop with local merchants. Then, the parade kicks off at 6pm, with lighted entries ensuring that Downtown Ludington streets are aglow with holiday cheer and excitement to usher in the season. There will also be a tree lighting, carols, visits with Santa, Christmas tree sales, and vendors at Legacy Plaza. The celebration features the Ludington High School band and choir.

November 25 Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Harbor Springs

For over a century, townsfolk have been gathering together in Harbor Springs for the lighting of a community Christmas tree. Over the years, the celebration has definitely grown, and you are invited to join them. Be sure to shop, drink and dine your way through town leaving some dollars behind with local businesses. At 6pm gather with friends, neighbors and strangers, to sing carols and enjoy the lighting of the tree on Main Street. The public is then invited to attend an ecumenical chili dinner in the Holy Childhood Parish Hall at 150 W Main Street, just adjacent to the tree,. There, you can also meet Santa, and enjoy homemade cookies and hot cocoa. For those who can’t attend on the 25th, there is a mailbox to Santa located right outside the Lyric Theatre. Children are welcome to write their letters to Santa and drop them off anytime during the month of December.

December 1 Tree Lighting on Mackinac Island

If you crave a little bit of Dr. Suess’ Whoville, it’s hard to imagine a more magical destination to find it than on Mackinac Island. Yes, Virginia, you can still go to Mackinac in the winter. The annual Christmas Tree Lighting downtown on Main Street ushers in the winter season on the island. Gather with those hardy locals at 5:30pm across from the Star Line Dock #1 for caroling and good cheer. The last ferry boat leaving the island is at 7pm. It’s the Star Line Ferry to St. Ignace, or you can take a flight on and off, weather permitting.

December 1 Sinterklaas Eve in Holland

Of course, if an event is taking place in Holland, you can expect it to have a fun Dutch twist. This special celebration features Sinterklaas, the benevolent Dutch St. Nicholas. Head to the holiday Kerstmarkt, which is a delightful European-style market with festive items, delicious food, hand-crafted goods and demonstrations. It’s located at 8th and Pine streets. There, children can follow Sinterklaas, who traditionally arrives on a horse. They’ll learn about the tradition of Sinterklaas and pose for photos.

December 8 Winter Snow Fun Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting in Marquette

This summer destination takes on a totally different look and feel as winter descends. Usher in the holiday season along the shores of Lake Superior. Bundle up with friends and family as illuminated floats, tinsel-strewn trucks and colorful carolers transform Third Street into an enchanted scene from the North Pole. Afterwards, head over to Black Rocks Brewery to relive your favorite moments.


Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.