30 Cheery December Events in Northern Michigan

Get in the holiday spirit at concerts, dinners, parties, Santa brunches and more lively Northern Michigan events in December.

IRISH CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA | December 1

Celebrating its 15th year, this hugely popular holiday show is a fascinating performance of music, song, dance and stories. The family-friendly event at Traverse City’s Milliken Auditorium will feature lively instrumental tunes on fiddle, flute, uilleann pipes and harp, along with thrilling Irish old-style dancing from Samantha Harvey. Evocative photographic images provide a backdrop of some of Ireland’s rich historical traditions.

ELF THE MUSICAL | December 1–14

Embrace your inner elf! A young orphan mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Raised as an elf, he is unaware he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. Then he sets out to find his birth father, discover his true identity and help New York City find the true meaning of Christmas.

SOLSTICE SOIREE DINNER | December 5

Escape Michigan’s crazy weather patterns with a Hawaiian-stylin’ dinner at Tapawingo. This evening’s menu will transport you to a warmer climate as you indulge in spring rolls, Fustini’s ginger pork and rice and mango sorbet to top it off.

JOSHUA DAVIS | December 6

The Leelanau Community Cultural Center is delighted to welcome back Voice finalist and Leelanau County resident Joshua Davis to the Old Art Building stage in Leland. This “Josh-only” show, will feature heartfelt stories of family, friends and traveling on the road interspersed with original and cover songs.

ANNUAL HOLIDAY HOME TOUR IN CADILLAC | December 7

Visit four homes decorated in the finest fashions of Christmas! The Cadillac Garden Club has sponsored this premier event for the past 18 years and it has proven to be one of the highlights of the season. Enjoy free refreshments, music and surprises along the way.

TERRARIUM MAKE & TAKE WITH TERRY HOOPER | December 7

Terry Hooper, a Master Gardener and owner of Hooper’s Farm Gardens, is back for another wonderful make-it-take-it class at Traverse City’s Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park. During this program, she will guide participants through creating their own terrariums.

MAWBY: MAC & MAGNUMS | December 7 & 14

It’s the most indulgent time of the year and MAWBY is celebrating with magnums and mac ‘n’ cheese! Sample from a selection of magnum bottles from MAWBY Sparkling Wines and Big Little Wines and learn why bubbly out of the big bottle is better. Chef Bryon Figueroa of Fig’s Breakfast and Lunch in Lake Leelanau is creating the richest, creamiest macaroni and cheese featuring Leelanau Cheese’s raclette, pork belly and crispy fried onions.

WINDS OF DECEMBER | December 7

Encore Winds presents its “Winds of December” concert featuring the Grand Traverse Show Chorus and Director Jill Hanson at First Congregational Church in Traverse City. 

CHATEAU FONTAINE WINE DINNER | December 7

Head to Blu in Glen Arbor for an evening of food, wine, stories and cheer as the culinary team honors one of its favorite wineries. Five courses from Chef Randy Chamberlain will be perfectly paired with five wine selections from Chateau Fontaine.

LIVE IN THE YURT: THE LAUREL PREMO TRIO | December 7

Laurel Premo is known for her rhythmically deep and rapt delivery of roots music on fiddle, banjo, guitar and vocals. The Laurel Premo Trio dives deeply into both traditional and new fiddle music, musically revealing a bloom of underlying harmonic drones, minimalist repetition and rich polyrhythms. See the band live at The Little Fleet in Traverse City.

A WINTER JAZZ ENSEMBLE SHOWCASE | December 7

Join the NMC Jazz Bands for their Winter Jazz Ensemble Showcase featuring NMC Jazz Bands and Vocal Jazz Ensemble and directed by Laurie Sears and Mike Davis.

LAITH AL-SAADI – MANISTEE SLEIGHBELL | December 7

In 2016, Laith Al-Saadi won America’s hearts and a spot in the finale of NBC’s The Voice. Now he’s bringing his authentic blend of blues, soul and classic rock to audiences around the nation and world. Opening the evening is Cousin Curtiss, a musical mastermind that combines the picking style, soul and energy of John Butler, the harmonica style of John Popper and the multi-instrumentalist-live-looping talents of Keller Williams. See the show at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts during Manistee’s Old Christmas Weekend.

ADVENTURES IN ACRYLICS WITH CHARLES MURPHY | December 7

Spend the day working with professional artist, illustrator and award-winning art educator Charles R. Murphy in the Cottage Gallery at Twisted Fish in Elk Rapids. During this workshop, you will explore creative techniques using acrylic paints to depict winter themes in Northern Michigan.

NMC CONCERT BAND PRESENTS “A WINTER WONDERLAND” | December 10

Enjoy “A Winter Wonderland” in Traverse City featuring the NMC Concert Band, directed by Pat Brumbaugh.

SHORT’S BREWERY BEER DINNER | December 10

Join The Cooks’ House for an evening of fine food and beer with Short’s Brewing Co.

FRENCH STUFFED CHRISTMAS WINE DINNER | December 12

Join Palette Bistro in Petoskey for a classic French-themed evening to celebrate the holiday season with special guest Travis Tache, who recently received Advanced Sommelier Certification and has a wealth of knowledge about French wine. (View the special menu here.

LIVE IN THE YURT: THE TRUE FALSETTOS | December 13

The True Falsettos are a swing duo featuring Joe Wilson and Kevin Gills. Embracing the hot jazz and swing styles of the ’30s and ’40s, Joe and Kevin play some of the liveliest, most danceable music around. In addition to original tunes, the duo plays the songs of the Nat King Cole trio, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Fats Waller, Jimmie Lunceford, Louis Jordan and more. See the duo live in Traverse City at The Little Fleet. 

TIPSY TROLLEY BAR CRAWL – CHRISTMAS LIGHT EDITION | December 14

Dress warmly and hop on the trolley in St. Ignace to see all the fabulous holiday light displays along the route at participating businesses and residences. You can start at any time as the trolley will continue the route all evening long. Stops include Kewadin Casino, The Club at Breakers, The Driftwood, B.C. Pizza, Village Inn and Fred’s Pub.

FROST, A WINTER SHOW OF DANCE | December 14

Design Dance Company is thrilled to present its second yearly performance of Frost, a Winter Showcase of Dance and continue to represent a unique opportunity for art and community-focused dance education in Traverse City. Performances at 2 and 7 p.m.

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA AND HIS REINDEER | December 15

Head to Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City for a kid-inspired breakfast buffet with Santa, his reindeer and the Great Wolf Lodge characters. Santa will read one of his self-authored books, followed by visits and photos. Music, live reindeer, balloon animals and more during the event.

HANDEL’S MESSIAH | December 19 & 20

A Christmastime favorite! The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra and Chorus is proud to present the annual Messiah concert in Bay Harbor at Great Lakes Center for the Arts. Lead by Libor Ondras, the GLCO performs with dazzling vocal solos, instrumental fireworks and splendid choral writing, making this show one of the most beloved holiday traditions.

BRUNCH WITH SANTA | December 21

Get into the holiday spirit and bring the family to Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay for a special brunch with Santa. The festive Inn will be the backdrop for this strolling family-friendly brunch, including a fun pancake bar that will delight your little ones. Santa will arrive for those priceless photo opportunities and to hear Christmas wishlists.

EDGAR STRUBLE PRESENTS: A NASHVILLE FAMILY CHRISTMAS | December 21 

A holiday musical event for the entire family! Ludington’s hometown musical hero Edgar Struble has outdone himself assembling a powerhouse of many of the nation’s best country musicians, including the musical director and musicians from the Grand Ole Opry band. The country music extravaganza featuring traditional and contemporary holiday favorites, guest appearances, treats and pictures with Santa will be held at Peterson Auditorium at West Shore Community College. Shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

LIVE IN THE YURT: SETH BERNARD | December 23

Born and raised on Earthwork Farm in rural Northern Michigan, Seth Bernard was brought up in the folk and farmstead culture with an enriching integrative experience of the arts, agriculture and community. Seth has traveled the world and blanketed the US as a magnetic performer and uplifting cultural worker and is equally at home fronting a large electrified ensemble as he is holding a crowd with nothing but an acoustic guitar. See him in Traverse City for an intimate show at The Little Fleet.

BLACK STAR FARMS NEW YEAR’S EVE WINE DINNER | December 31

New Year’s Eve 2019 promises to be one to remember at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. The talented and inspired culinary team will present a very special multi-course, wine-paired dining experience for you and your loved ones in the luxurious Inn.

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ | December 31

“If you’re blue and don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits?” Come dance to the jazz beat of “Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers” at The Ramsdell in Manistee. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and libations. Tophats and tiaras encouraged. Entry includes party favors, noise makers and a champagne toast at midnight. 

NEW YEAR’S EVE AT GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT AND SPA | December 31

Ring in 2020 at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The Midnight in the Mitten celebration honors decades of Michigan agriculture with an eight-course strolling dinner and Michigan beverage pairing stations. Music from the Blue Water Kings will help you dance the night away as we lead up to the champagne toast at midnight. Party favors and a cash bar will also be available. The party is open to guests and the public and takes place in the all-new Governors’ Hall, which will feature classic silver and black décor.

SIPS AND GIGGLES COMEDY SHOW FEATURING ANDREW NORELLI | December 31

This event at Traverse City’s Old Town Playhouse is pairing Leelanau Peninsula wines with nationally touring stand up comedians. Andrew Norelli has made numerous appearances on late-night shows, including “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where he was booked by Jimmy himself who said “because of how few slots we have available you have to be an A++ comedian to get booked on my show, and Andrew is.”

NEW YEAR’S EVE BASH WITH THE LAVENDER LIONS IN PETOSKEY | December 31

Dress in your best roaring ’20s garb to celebrate the start of a new decade with The Lavender Lions at City Park Grill. The cover charge includes a champagne toast and party favors. “The Lavender Lions draw from many different genres including jazz, classical music, folk, rock and more to create an eclectic sound.” –Sean Miller, Petoskey News Review

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