Ring in the season with these December events and holiday happenings across Northern Michigan. 

Santa Claus is Coming to Traverse City // December 1, 3, 8, 10

Santa will be visiting the neighborhoods of Traverse City in early December. In partnership with the Traverse City Firefighters, the DDA plans to safely spread cheer since Santa will not have a house downtown this year. Wear a mask and keep socially distanced while welcoming Santa and his Firefighter Elves as they ride on an Antique Fire Engine. Firefighters will be collecting letters for Santa along the route. See maps here for exact routes and times. If Santa doesn’t pass your home, feel free to park in a lot along a route.

Dennos Museum Mini Holiday Artist Market // December 1–23

Consider shopping local and supporting art this holiday season. For the first time, you can shop the Dennos Museum holiday market online. Visit the store website to meet the talented artists and to shop their wares beginning December 1 from the comfort of your home. Find unique holiday cards, fair-trade ornaments, 2021 calendars and endless art-inspired gifts.

Jingle Boyne // Thru December 11

Spend at least $10 at any Boyne Chamber Member Businesses November 1–December 11. Turn in your receipts to the Chamber office by December 11. A minimum of 12 receipts is required to be eligible for the 12 Days of Christmas prize drawings held daily from December 11–12.

Virtual Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace // Thru December 18

The 2020 Marketplace has gone virtual! Shop from 15+ artisans who will offer their goods online, available November 7–December 18.

16th Annual Sparkle in the Park // Thru December 31

The annual Sparkle in the Park holiday event in Bear Lake will feature more than 80,000 lights this year, and visitors will see more Christmas displays than ever before. Not only is Hopkins Park Campground full, but the US-31 corridor and village homes and businesses will also be an explosion of color. Due to COVID-19, they will not be offering visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, free tailgate chili or horse-drawn carriage rides. Open nightly from 5–10 p.m. Admission fee is whatever you’d like to give. Donation boxes are available near Toyland Bear Lake for those who wish to make a contribution to help pay the electric bill and buy new materials for next year.

2020 Northern Home & Cottage Virtual Home Tour // Thru December 31

The Northern Home & Cottage Tour that you love is going virtual for 2020! Explore eight of Up North’s most stunning residences from the comfort of your own home through virtual video documentaries by MyNorth’s partner, Eagle Eye Video Production. This donation-only event benefits Child and Family Services of Northwest Michigan. Special thanks to our presenting partner, Golden-Fowler Home Furnishings. (Here’s a sneak peek of the eight homes!)

Charlevoix Circle Market // Thru Jan. 2

A festive shopping experience featuring more than 30 local artists and makers. Browse a curated selection of handmade gifts through Jan. 2.

An Evening with Albert Woodfox // December 3

Woodfox’s book “Solitary” is the extraordinary saga of a man who, despite spending four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he didn’t commit, inspired fellow prisoners with his humanity. The free virtual Zoom event is hosted by Traverse City’s National Writers Series.

Farmland 5k & Free for All Bike // December 4–6

Traverse City Track Club has created a unique hybrid virtual race to avoid crowds during the pandemic. Run or bike the 12-mile course at a time that’s convenient for you December 4-6.

Jeff Daniels Live Virtual Concert // December 11

A virtual and live concert will be presented by Jeff Daniels on Friday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m. He will be performing for you, the Manistee community and supporters of the Ramsdell Theatre. The live stream link is $15.

Hometown Christmas in St. Ignace // December 11

The tree lighting and socially distanced visit with Santa (be sure to bring your letter to Santa!) will take place after the parade. The parade starts at 6 p.m. beginning on Marquette Street and ending at Spring Street. Schedule and activities are subject to change based on pandemic conditions.

Walking in a Window Wonderland // December 11–13

Pair this Traverse City event with the Strolling Light Parade to celebrate downtown shops. More than 20 businesses will have hidden “loose bulbs” in their store windows. Find all of them and enter to win a Downtown Shopping Spree. A map of participating locations will be shared soon on the Downtown TC website and Facebook.

22nd Annual Trinity Lutheran Christmas Cookies – Curbside // December 12

This year Traverse City’s Trinity Lutheran Church cookie ladies are preparing their popular variety pack full of traditional favorites. Order as many packs as you want for $22 each, including 28 festive cookies. Order now through December 9 and pick up on December 12 from 10 a.m. to noon at Trinity.

Drive Through Santa Visits & Christmas Brunch To-Go // December 12

For the first time, the Inn at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay will welcome families for a drive-through visit with Santa. From the safety of open car windows, children can share their wish lists with Santa, who will be seated on his front porch wearing a face shield. While secret lists are being shared with the jolly man in red, guests can pop their trunk for Santa’s elves to load brunch into the car to enjoy safely at home with family.

Traditionally, the multi-generational brunch has been held in the large banquet room of the Inn, accompanied by Santa. This year, the Christmas brunch will be served to go. The menu includes Christmas quiche, Elf on the Shelf pancakes, applewood smoked bacon, Yuletide casserole, fresh fruit and optional sparkling juice or sparkling wine. Santa’s visit and Christmas brunch pick up will be from 9 a.m.–12 p.m.

Downtown Traverse City Strolling Light Parade // December 12

To safely spread out crowds, Downtown TC is doing the light parade differently this year. Twelve locations across downtown will be partnering with 12 different nonprofits to create light displays representing the 12 days of Christmas. This event will run from 5–9 p.m. More information, including the map of locations and nonprofits selected, will be shared soon on the Downtown TC website and Facebook.

Livestream: Interlochen Arts Academy ‘Sounds of the Season’ // December 15

Grab your favorite holiday treats and join Interlochen Arts Academy for a free seasonal showcase of artwork and performances by students and faculty from all of the Academy’s artistic disciplines. Seasonal music, dance, theatre, visual art and more will be woven together into an uplifting “holiday postcard.” “Sounds of the Season” will be live-streamed at live.interlochen.org and on Facebook.

French Holiday Wine Dinner // December 17

Ooo la la! Celebrate the holidays in Petoskey with Palette Bistro’s annual French Holiday Wine Dinner. Mike Zagaroli, Vintage Wines, will present world-renowned Delas wines of the Rhone, perfectly paired with Chef de Cuisine Daniel Travis’ five-course menu, featuring baked brie, pork belly, roasted lamb and more!

Winter Wine Walk // December 19

This wonderful outdoor event in Gaylord features a beautiful winter walk on Otsego Resort’s manicured snowshoe path from the historical River Cabin to the beaver dam where a roaring bonfire awaits. Enjoy three different wine tasting stations, light fare and a scenic hike along the river. 

Black Star Farms Arcturos Dining Series – New Year’s Eve // December 31

New Year’s Eve 2020 promises to be one to remember at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. The events and culinary team will present a very special multi-course, wine-paired dining experience for you and your loved ones hosted in our luxurious Inn. Formal attire suggested, black-tie optional.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner