They light up the night and lift our hearts. Make your winter getaway fabulously festive with stops at these annual Northern Michigan Christmas light displays.

Boss Family Christmas Display, Charlevoix

If this seems more Hallmark Christmas than tourist attraction, know this home on Pearl Avenue is a bit of both come December. The angels in the story are both the mother who started the tradition (some years writing the names of every neighborhood child somewhere in the holiday light display) and the family members who have kept her legacy going for 41 years and counting. The Boss family lights up their neighborhood near Mt. McSauba (a fun stop for sledding and snowshoeing) with indoor and outdoor displays of Christmas trees and characters kids (and adults) love. Watch for opening day updates on Facebook.

Herman Holidays, Suttons Bay

Head to the end of Murray Court to wave at Santa and Mrs. Claus, sign a guestbook of Santa’s friends and wander past puppies, penguins and dancing bears. Warm up afterward in downtown Suttons Bay by the indoor fires at VI Grill or outdoor fire pits at Hop Lot Brewing Co. Follow the Herman Holiday’s page on Facebook for updates.

Beautiful Winter Sleigh Rides in Northern Michigan

Sparkle in the Park, Bear Lake

At first, you might think it’s a mirage when you round the bend on US 31 into the village of Bear Lake. It’s thousands of lights reflecting onto the lake. Drive through Sparkle in the Park at Hopkins Park November 30 to January 1, with windows down to hear the music (the lights flash with the beat!). Free opening-night festivities include chili, hot chocolate, a Santa visit and carolers.

Central Neighborhood, Traverse City

Victorian beauties drip with icicle lights, nutcrackers guard elegant entryways and sleighs parked in front yards look right at home. Wander between Sixth and Eleventh streets, from Union to Division, and find the city’s finest glowing gingerbread houses. Or join the TC Rides to See the Lights event, sponsored by Norte on December 18, and ride bikes, make friends and sing carols along the way (food donations being accepted during the ride for the Jubilee House’s outreach to the homeless).

The Carters’ Christmas Lights, Marquette

The friendly owners greet you with a candy cane and often individually guide you across their lawn decked with climbing polar bears, the Grinch in jail, even Santas on a teeter-totter. The Carters spends an entire month, with the help of family and friends, putting together a yard so visit-worthy that many people have made The Carters’ Christmas Lights an annual tradition.

Kim Schneider is a long-time travel writer specializing in Michigan adventures, food and wine. The Midwest Travel Journalist Association has named her Mark Twain Travel Writer of the Year, and she’s the author of the recently published book, 100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die. kimschneider.net

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