Festive Holiday Events in Northern Michigan

‘Tis the season of Santa sightings, street carolers and twinkling parades, cheerful concerts, delectable restaurant specials and festive sales. Hit all the highlights this season with MyNorth’s (really, really long!) guide to Northern Michigan holiday events.

(Find awesome, locally made gifts at these holiday markets in Northern Michigan. And check out 106 gift ideas for people who love Up North!)

Jump Down to Your Town! 

Harbor Springs | Petoskey | Charlevoix | Boyne City | Traverse City
Suttons Bay | Northport | Leland | Glen Arbor | Beulah | Frankfort | Manistee | Cadillac

Harbor Springs Holiday Events

November 15: Ladies Night, 5–8 p.m.
A night of shopping at more than 25 businesses. Check out the dinner and drink specials at local restaurants. Need childcare? The Harbor Springs Library and two certified babysitters will be available to read stories and serve pizza to your children while you have fun in downtown! Contact [email protected] to reserve your child’s spot. This is first come first served.

November 24: Cross Village Holiday Open Houses & Tree Lighting, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
Join Black Barn Farm, Cross Village General Store and Three Pines Studio for a day of festivities, culinary delights, workshops and more followed by the annual community tree lighting at 5:30 p.m.

November 26: 102nd Christmas Tree Lighting, 6:30 p.m.
Tree lighting on Main and State streets. The public is then invited to attend an ecumenical chili dinner in the Holy Childhood Parish Hall just adjacent to the tree. At 8 p.m., the Lyric Theatre will be showing the classic Miracle on 34th Street free of charge!

December 2: Merchants Holiday Open House,  6–9 p.m.
A fun evening of shopping, refreshments and holiday treats. Main Street will be closed to allow the community to stroll between stores. Music by the Petoskey High School Steel Drum Band.

December 16–17: CTAC School of Ballet Presents The Nutcracker
Enjoy a dynamic and beautifully choreographed show for all ages at the Harbor Springs Performing Arts Center. Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

Petoskey Holiday Events

November 14: Decorating for the Holidays with CJ Zondervan, 10–11:30 a.m.
CJ Zondervan, owner of True North Interior Design & Antiques, will share tips for incorporating personal style and color palette into holiday decorating both inside and outside of your home.

November 17: Ladies Night, 5–10 p.m.
Shop from 5–9 p.m. then head over to Stafford’s Perry Hotel for Doe Camp! Doe Camp opens at 8:30 p.m. and prize drawings begin at 9:30 p.m.

November 24–25: Merry Makers Marketplace at Crooked Tree Arts Center
Art fair and holiday celebration all in one!

November 25: Stafford’s Downtown Petoskey Holiday Parade, 10 a.m.–noon
The parade will wind through downtown streets and end at the Perry Hotel, where children will have those all-important conversations with Santa. As part of the Toys for Tots program, the U.S. Marines will collect new, unwrapped toys for Northern Michigan families, and Grain Train will be collecting items of need for the Women’s Resource Center Safe Home.

November 25–December 16: Visits with Santa, noon–2 p.m.
Meet Santa and see his workshop at Stafford’s Perry Hotel every Saturday!

December 1: Downtown Petoskey Holiday Open House, 6–9 p.m.
Santa Claus lights the giant Christmas tree in Pennsylvania Park, followed by live music, caroling and more! 

December 3, 10, 11, 16: Holiday Madrigal Dinner & Performance
Petoskey High School’s award-winning show, complete with a four-course dinner at the Perry Hotel;  $45 per guest.

December 3: Sugar Plum Fairy Tea, 1–3 p.m.
For boys and girls of all ages, attendees will sip tea and cocoa with principal performers of Crooked Tree Arts Center School of Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” including Clara, the Nutcracker, the Snow Queen, the Dew Drop Fairy, Mirliton, and of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy. At Stafford’s Perry Hotel.

December 7–10 & 14–16: The Christmas Schooner
The Christmas Schooner presented by Little Traverse Civic Theatre at Crooked Tree Arts Center. The musical is based on the historic Great Lakes voyages of Christmas tree ships during the late 1800s and early 1900s, chronicling the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. This critically acclaimed musical features a powerfully moving story and an exquisite score of both original music and traditional holiday favorites.

December 15–16: Messiah Plus Bach & Rutter Concert
Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra performs at St. Francis Xavier Church. Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

Charlevoix Holiday Events

November 24: Tree Lighting & Holiday Parade, 3–6 p.m.
Black Friday deals and restaurant specials all day. From 3– 5 p.m. children invited to make craft projects at Charlevoix Circle of Arts and head to Charlevoix State Bank to sit on Santa’s lap (free photo!). From 4–6 p.m. cookies and cocoa served at East Park. Holiday Parade comes down Bridge Street at 5:30 p.m. Lighting of the tree at 6 p.m.

December 2: Holiday Merchant Open House, starts at noon
Entertainment, samples, snacks, refreshments, special sales, raffles and more. Don’t miss a visit from Santa Claus, a free holiday movie or the hot cocoa contest!

December 2: Light Up the Night & Soup Cook-Off *Bellaire, noon–7 p.m.
A day full of holiday fun! A free kid’s movie, ornament making and the annual Soup Cook-Off with 10+ participating restaurants. Visit with Santa after the Parade of Lights. Don’t forget the community tree lighting, caroling and a live Nativity. Purchase tickets for the Soup Cook-Off for $5 each to sample soups from 10+ area restaurants (600 tickets available). Last year’s winner was Pelican’s Nest with their cream of mushroom soup. The Cook-Off will run from 4:30–7 p.m. Other great events during the day include Holiday Pop-Up Gift Show from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Commission on Aging, Turkey Bowling, ribbon cutting for “Emma’s Way,” Toys for Tots Toy Drive, Friends of the Library Auction and Christmas reading.

December 2–3: Santa’s Train Wonderland, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
An extravaganza of model and interactive train displays and the ever popular Polar Express, crafts, snacks and more! 

December 6: Holiday Jazz Concert, 7–8 p.m.
Featured vocalist Claudia Schmidt will perform with Steve Stargardt and the JATL Band.

December 9: Happy Howlidays!, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Charlevoix Public Library will have a professional photographer capturing the cuteness of your favorite fur friend!

December 22: Holiday Dinner, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
A traditional homemade dinner with all the fixing, including dessert, live music and other entertainment at Charlevoix County Senior Centers—a full list of centers, locations and times here.

Boyne City Holiday Events

November 18: Earlier Than the Bird, 7–11 a.m.
Friends, family, coffee and holiday shopping specials—all while in the comfort of your pajamas. Thirty merchants invite customers to get an “early bird” preview of all the great holiday shopping available plus special deals and refreshments. Shoppers who wear their pajamas and stop at the Chamber office will receive an exclusive Earlier Than The Bird coffee mug

November 24: Open House and Santa Parade, 5–9 p.m.
The open house includes refreshments and specials at businesses throughout the downtown. The tree lighting is at 5 p.m. in Old City Park followed by caroling. Santa Parade begins at 6 p.m. After the parade, Santa will meet with children in the Gazebo in Old City Park. There will also be free carriage rides leaving from Parkside Grill after the parade. Live Nativity scene returning this year at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, 231 Water St., from 4 to 8 p.m. Kids can feed and pet Gunther the camel and other animals. Hot chocolate, coffee and cookies will be provided.

November 25: Breakfast with Santa at Sommerset Point, 9 a.m.–noon
Breakfast buffet and cookie decorating in the Captain’s Den, $15 for adults and $7 for kids. Reservations requested.

December 2–3: Sleigh Rides to the North Pole
Take a sleigh ride to the North Pole on a horse-drawn sleigh! Hot cocoa, cookies, and pictures with Santa are available. This event is a fundraiser for therapy scholarships at Northern Michigan Equine Therapy. Tickets are $15 per person. Call 231.881.5590 or email [email protected] to reserve your spot!

December 2: Holiday Open House at Boyne District Library, 10 a.m.
Book sale with a Santa visit and other fun activities!

December 6: Boyne Eta Nu Charities Lights of Love, 6:30–8 p.m.
Remember and honor loved ones during the holiday season with all proceeds going to the Hospice of Northwest Michigan to support patient care. In the past 30 years, Eta Nu has raised over $100,000 for hospice. You can make a donation by purchasing a colored light ranging from $5 to $30 or a personalized “heart of love” for $40 for display on the tree. The tree-lighting remembrance ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. on the Dilworth Hotel porch; everyone is welcome to attend. After the ceremony, dinner will be served at Water Street Café (dinner reservations are required).

Boyne Falls: Don’t forget about holiday events at Boyne Mountain like Lunch with Santa, Six-for-One Day (six tickets for the price of one), the holiday open house and more!

Traverse City Holiday Events

November 18: Wreaths & Wine, 2–4 p.m.
This beginner-level workshop provides everything you need to design a beautiful wreath over the course of 2 hours at Bowers Harbor Vineyards. Tickets are $40 each and available by contacting Hooper’s Farm and Gardens at [email protected]

November 24: Christmas Concert and Sing-A-Long with Dave Calendine, 7–9 p.m.
Sing-a-long of your favorite Christmas music with Red Wings organist Dave Calendine leading the fun on the Wurlitzer. The Music House Museum will be decked out in its holiday splendor and attendees will also be treated to delicious holiday fare to sweeten the evening. Tickets available on MyNorthTickets.com.

November 25: Silents with a Side of Christmas & Red Wings Organist Dave Calendine, 5:30–7 p.m.
Join us at the Music House Museum for two showings of Silents with a Side of Christmas at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. A family holiday treat with silent shorts featuring Laurel and Hardy as well as some Christmas Classics fun. All of this will be presented and accompanied by Red Wings Organist, Dave Calendine! Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

November 26: Christmas Songs & Stories with John Berry, 7–8:30 p.m.
John Berry began doing a Christmas tour in 1996 after his incredible performance of the title track of the 1995 CD O’ Holy Night. This year marks his 21st consecutive Christmas concert series.

December 1: Santa’s Arrival, Tree Lighting & Parade, 6:30–9 p.m.
The holiday season will kick off with a new event! The Light Parade route will run along East Front Street from Boardman Avenue to Union Street. Santa will ride in the parade on an antique fire engine. At the end of the parade, attendees may gather at the corner of Cass and Front Street for the tree lighting ceremony.

Tip for parents: Santa is also available on other dates! If the line on his first evening stretches beyond bedtime, here are other dates to see the big guy:

  • Fridays: December 8, 15 & 22, 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturdays: December 2,9 & 16, Noon to 3 p.m.
  • Sundays: December 3 & 17 Noon to 3 p.m. (NOT Sunday, December 10)
  • Extended Hours: December 23 & 24: Noon to 3 pm

December 1–3: Walking in a Window Wonderland, all day
The window competition between downtown businesses will be judged by the people and also incorporates an “eye spy” component. Ballots will be available at participating stores the weekend of December 1 and due by December 3 at Santa’s House. Enter your completed ballot for your chance to win some Downtown TC Gift Certificates for the holiday season!

December 1–29: Mitten Tree
Celebrated each year on December 6, “Mitten Tree Day” was inspired by the book, Mitten Tree, by Candace Christiansen. Throughout the month of December, decorate the tree at the Senior Center with donated mittens to be distributed to those in need. Last year, over 220 items were donated!

December 2 & 16: Breakfast with Santa at Grand Traverse Resort
The resort will serve a family-friendly buffet and Jolly Old Saint Nick will be on hand for photos and to visit with children. In addition to the buffet, this one-of-a-kind event will include tableside face painting, balloon artists, DJ music, a build-your-own-doughnut station and more Christmas magic. Reservations required. Seatings are available at 10 a.m. Update: December 16 event sold out. 

December 2: Creating Winter Porch Pots with Terry Hooper, 10 a.m.–noon
Terry Hooper of Hooper’s Farm Gardens returns to the Botanic Garden Visitor Center to lead the class in creating lovely porch pots to enjoy during the winter months. There is a $25 fee for this class, which includes materials and containers. Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

December 2: Winter Songs & Carols, 7:30–9 p.m.
Local chamber ensemble Manitou Winds will present their annual Winter Songs & Carols concert. Selections include familiar tunes from advent, Christmas, and solstice celebrations as well as some unexpected surprises. Hosted by Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City, admission is free.

December 2: Biggest Little Holiday Party, 4:30–10 p.m.
This party takes all of the planning, organizing and budgeting out of your hands, and delivers a memorable holiday extravaganza. The pre-party reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes hors d’oeuvres, snacks and a cash bar. Dinner buffet follows at 7 p.m. with entertainment by Sound Productions and comedians Ben Wilke and Mike Armstrong. Group will meet at the Senior Center in Traverse City at 4:30 p.m. for pictures with Santa and optional gift exchange, then carpool to the event at the Grand Traverse Resort. Advance registration required by Wednesday, November 17.

December 3: Downtown Cocoa Crawl, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
A delicious first-ever event! Round off the weekend at the hot chocolate competition. Ballots will be available at participating locations.

December 7: Ladies’ Shopping Night, 5–9 p.m.
Enjoy food, refreshments and specials at downtown shops!

December 8–10: Christmas in the Village
A weekend-long celebration at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons filled with music, carriage rides, Santa Claus, shopping specials and much more. Merchants are featuring Stocking Stuffer items $20 and under. View the schedule of events.

December 9: Mix and Mingle with a Little Holiday Jingle, 6–9 p.m.
This seasonal celebration features music sung by the award-winning TC West High School Choral-Aires, Westmen, Bella Voce and West Middle School Madrigals. Come celebrate the holidays at the beautifully refurbished Kirkbride Hall, located in building 50 of the Old State Hospital. Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

December 9: Holiday Open House *Elk Rapids, 5–8 p.m.
Santa, tree lighting, reindeer, shopping and more! The tree lighting is at 7 p.m.

December 9–10: Home for the Holidays
Guest conductor Lonnie Klein takes the podium in a decked-out auditorium as the NMC Children’s Choir returns for the Symphony’s annual holiday celebration to capture the spirit of the season. Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

December 14: Men’s Shopping Night, 5–9 p.m.
Get your holiday shopping done, guys! Food, refreshments and specials at downtown stores.

December 14: Parallel 45 Theatre Holiday Party, 6:30 p.m.
Celebrate the season, learn more about Parallel 45’s vision and get a taste of their work with a performance of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] *Remounted!” Watch as three actors hilariously perform all 37 plays in under one hour. Tickets cost $50.

December 17: Jingle Bell 5K, 5 p.m.
A fun, non-timed event. Bring the kids, food and refreshments included, festive attire encouraged (prizes available)! Please bring a non-perishable food item for ACTS Food Pantry. Register here.

December 25: Christmas Day Buffet at Aerie
A Christmas Day Dinner complete with all of your holiday favorites like mashed potatoes, ham, prime rib and green beans. For reservations, call 231.534.6800. View the menu.

Suttons Bay Holiday Events

November 18: Holiday Open House, noon–4 p.m.
Area businesses will donate a portion of their proceeds back to the department of your choice at Suttons Bay Schools. Look for the Norseman on the door/window of participating the business.

December 2–3: Holiday in the Village Weekend
is Family Day! Help the friends of the Suttons Bay Bingham District Library decorate for the holidays 10 a.m.–noon and enjoy cookies, crafts and write a letter to Santa. Family Movie Day at noon at the Bay Theatre—$1 admission, featured movie TBD. Santa Arrives by firetruck for the tree lighting at 5 p.m. on the corner of Jefferson and M-22. Caroling with the Suttons Bay High School Band. After, visit Santa at the VI Grill. Sunday: Antlers & Elves – Brain Storm! & Enerdyne noon–3 p.m. Cookie Extravaganza from noon–3 p.m. Mix or match to make your own assortment—$7 per pound at Suttons Bay/Bingham Friendship Center (201 Broadway). Community Choral Concert at Congregational Church at 3 p.m.

Northport Holiday Events

November 25: Northport Tree Lighting & Merchants’ Open House, 6 p.m.
Merchant Open Houses are all-day, and the tree lighting ceremony starts at 6 pm.

December 10: Northport Community Band and Village Voices Christmas Concert
Seasonal classics from each group and a rousing sing-along, Northport Community Arts Center.

December 21: Winter Solstice Party, 6–9 p.m.
Celebrate the winter solstice with good food and dance at the Village Arts Building.

Leland Holiday Events

November 22: Light Up Leland for the Holidays, 5:30 p.m.
Tree lighting at Christmas Tree Corner followed by Santa riding in a fire engine to the Village Green for caroling and treats!

November 24–25: HollyPOP!
An artful holiday pop-up at the Old Art Building. Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–noon.

November 24: Leland’s PJ Party & Sale, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Wear your jammies and shop for sales. Early bird discounts from 8–10 a.m.

December 2: Merry Marketplace at the Old Art Building, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
This year’s show will feature 20 local artisans with, jewelry, willow furniture, pottery, specialty foods, candles, herbal and soaps and lotions, cards, clothing for children, hand knit items and much more. Complimentary cookies and coffee available!

Glen Arbor Holiday Events

November 24: Glen Arbor Pajama Shopping, 6 a.m.–9 a.m
Roll out of bed and head to downtown boutiques and shops for great deals!

November 24: Christmas Tree Lighting & Holiday Market Preview Party, 6:30–8 p.m.
The tree lighting is at 6:45 p.m. in front of Town Hall off of M-22/Western Avenue. The Holiday Market “Preview Party” is inside Town Hall immediately following the tree lighting. Get first picks on artisan gifts! Free admission.

November 25: Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Shop handcrafted, locally made goods from 25+ artisans. Holiday greenery will also be for sale. Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus from 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. They will be at the market with little toys and goodies! Bring the kids and your camera for some great fun and photo opportunities.

December 8: Winter Songs & Carols: An Encore, 7:30–9 p.m.
Five musicians, eleven different instruments, two guest vocalists—Christy Burich and Emily Curtin Culler. A special extension of the Glen Arbor Art Association’s Manitou Music Festival held at The Leelanau School in Glen Arbor. Admission is free, and a freewill offering will be collected to benefit music and art programs at The Leelanau School.

Beulah Holiday Events

December 9: Christmas Magic Downtown Beulah, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Kids activities, horse-drawn wagon rides, Christmas Magic Parade, carolers and of course, Santa. The parade starts at 5:15 p.m. and shops will stay open late!

Frankfort & Elberta Holiday Events

November 25: Holly Berry Art & Crafts Fair, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Find holiday gifts and decorations at Frankfort-Elberta High School. Over 100 vendors.

November 25: Tree Lighting & Santa
Santa visits Hotel Frankfort from noon to 2 p.m. Free horse-drawn carriage rides all day. Tree lighting at 7 p.m. at Rotary Park.

November 25–26: Festival of Trees *Benzonia
The Festival of Trees features over 100 artificial and real Christmas trees, wreaths and table decorations all for sale to the public at a silent auction at Benzie Area Historical Museum in Benzonia. The auction ends 4 p.m. on Sunday at which time successful bidders may pay for and remove their purchases. Christmas at the museum features a special “Sugar and Spice” holiday exhibit of vintage baking equipment and aprons.

December 10: Oliver Art Center Holiday Open House, 2–4 p.m.
Enjoy a hot chocolate bar and treats while the kids decorate ornaments to take home. There will also be holiday shopping and Christmas music. Free admission.

Manistee Holiday Events

November 18–19: Christmas in Onekama
Craft show, baked goods sale, silent auction, chili cook-off and more on Saturday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. at Onekama Schools. Lighting of Community Tree and reading of memorial names, followed by caroling and refreshments at the Farr Center on Sunday starting at 6 p.m.

November 30: A Tuneful Christmas Carol, 7:30–9 p.m.
The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts will be presenting a tuneful rendition of the classic tale. Taking their cue from Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, the RRCA will turn their main stage production into an opportunity to share the best of the season with the community. Each performance will be dedicated to a local non-profit including Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens, Homeward Bound, Love Inc and One Pantry. Audience members will be able to snap a photo with Santa when they donate goods to the featured non-profit of the evening. The RRCA will also be donating 20% of the show profits to each non-profit.

November 30–December 3: Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend
Tour a lumberjack mansion, watch a performance of A Christmas Story at the Victorian-era Ramsdell Theater, eat roasted chestnuts from a street vendor, take a carriage ride and more. Don’t miss the Victorian Sleighbell Parade as it makes its way down River Street beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 2. The highlight is a team of draft horses pulling a 30-foot Christmas tree down the street while fireworks exploding in the wintery sky.

December 1 2, 3 & 8, 9, 10: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
In this hilarious Christmas classic, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids—probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem—and the fun—when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! Performed at Manistee High School by the Manistee Civic Players. Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

December 2: Jingle Bell Jog 5K Run/Walk
Support the Manistee cross-country team. Race details. 

December 9: Edgar Struble – Home for the Holidays *Scottville, 7:30–10 p.m.
Director and composer for the annual “Academy of Country Music Awards,” and embarking on his 12th year in the same capacity for the “American Music Awards.” A Scottville, Michigan native, Edgar and his stunning line-up will be performing a number of holiday favorites! Tickets available at MyNorthTickets.com.

Cadillac Holiday Events

November 24: Christmas in the Park, 5:30–6:45 p.m.
Join Santa at the City Park Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion to officially launch the lakefront lights and sing carols!

November 25: Small Business Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Shopping and festivities all day! Some stores offer extended hours.

December 2: Annual Holiday Home Tour, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Tour four area homes decorated with the holiday’s finest. Free refreshments and live music. Tickets available on MyNorthTickets.com.

December 8–10: A Christmas Carol *Roscommon
Michael Paller’s adaptation of this timeless classic finds Charles Dickens and his family celebrating Christmas eve in the Author’s garret. Complete with whimsical period set and costumes, this adaptation shines new light on the wonder of redemption at Kirtland Center for the Performing Arts.

Flip through the pages of MyNorth Holidays for more festivities.
Just click the cover!

More Northern Michigan Holiday Fun!

The Best Holiday Cookie Recipes

How To: MyNorth Holidays Michigan Gift Wrap

Video: Fancy Frosting Tips From Ruthann’s Gourmet Bakery