Meet Santa at Pahl’s Country Store in Buckley. Plus, more holiday events across the North ranging from local plays and concerts to holiday fun at local ski resorts

Stop By Pahl’s Country Store | Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays through Christmas

Located in Buckley,  Pahl’s Country Store has long been a destination for family fun and merrymaking, starting with a fall pumpkin patch in 1999 and expanding to include a corn maze, hayrides, pumpkin doughnuts, friendly goats and, come December, Santa. Visits with the jolly fellow have become a tradition during the past five years, and start with a tractor-pulled hayride through a snowy forest to Santa’s cabin. There, families can warm up by the bonfire, roast marshmallows and have a cup of cocoa. Christmas trees and wreaths are also for sale. “Our goal is to have a ‘non-mall’-type Santa visit, and allow kids to see Santa without an audience,” says co-owner Holly Pahl. It’s all a part of a larger vision to provide a family-friendly, affordable outdoor venue for generations to come.

The Santa Experience starts the day after Thanksgiving, open on Fridays (4–7 p.m.), Saturdays and Sundays (12–7 p.m.) until Christmas.

Family christmas bonfire

Photo by Dave Weidner

Inside Santa's house

Photo by Dave Weidner

Holiday Hayride

Photo by Dave Weidner

Northern Michigan Ski Resort Holiday Fun

A Merry Little Christmas Party | December 11 at Shanty Creek Resort
Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire hosts a holiday dinner and dancing— individuals, couples and groups of any size are welcome, including small businesses or just friends. The event includes hors d’oeuvres, prime rib, dessert, a cash bar and dancing with entertainment by FeelGood, a Chicago- based tribute band that plays hits from the ’60s to today.

Holidays at the Highlands | December 17 to 31 at Boyne Highlands
It’s completely accurate to call Boyne Highlands a winter wonderland. The Harbor Springs ski resort is twinkling with lights this time of year, and there are crafts, games, bonfires, treats, a tree lighting, Christmas dinner and more festivities for guests during the holiday season. Tip: Don’t miss The Enchanted Trail, a two-mile walk along a beautifully lit trail, open on select dates including Dec. 10–12, 16–19 and 23–31.

Christmas Eve Dinner with Santa | December 24 at Boyne Mountain
Dine with Father Christmas himself at Stein Ericksen’s. Located in Boyne Mountain’s Clock Tower Lodge, the Boyne Falls restaurant overlooks the resort’s snowy slopes and ice-skating rink. The menu includes savory delights like smoked whitefish and salmon displays, carved prime rib and walnut-crust pork loin, along with candied sweet potatoes and a selection of pies, cakes and pastries. Reservations are highly recommended. Call 231.549.6854.

Santa this way sign

Photo by Otsego Resort

Local Holiday Concerts & Plays

Elf the Musical | December 3 to 11 at NMU
Based on the hilarious and much-loved movie, this musical adaptation presented by Northern Michigan University at Forest Roberts Theatre in Marquette will put you in the holiday spirit.

WSCC Holiday Rock Spectacular | December 10 in Ludington
Get ready for a high-energy evening at Radiant Church in Ludington featuring guitarist Lou Musa from the Verve Pipe, Craig Avery and Kevin Depree from the Grand Rapids-based band, Brenna, along with special appearances from Groove 101, Edgar Struble and many more area favorites.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year | December 14 at NMC
The NMC Concert Band performs Christmas and Hanukkah favorites at Traverse City’s Milliken Auditorium. “Sleigh Ride,” “Dreidel Dance” and “Christmas with Mozart” are just a few of the selections. Learn more about this event and purchase tickets on the MyNorth Tickets website.

Messiah | December 16 & 17 in Bay Harbor
The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra presents Handel’s “Messiah” at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Bay Harbor. German composer, George Frideric Handel wrote “Messiah,” an English language oratorio, in 1741. It remains a holiday favorite 280 years later. Learn more about Messiah and grab your tickets on the MyNorth Tickets site.

Santa this way sign

Photo by Dave Weidner

Small Town Cheer at Northern Michigan Holiday Events

Deck the Halls: A Mason County Decorating Contest | December 1 to 27
Back by popular demand, Mason County residents may enter the Chamber’s decorating contest, and a map will be published so you can take a tour of the lights.

Petoskey Holiday Open House | December 3
Merchants open their doors to offer warm greetings and the streets are filled with merry entertainment during this annual shopping event. Learn more about the Petoskey Holiday Open House.

Annual West Michigan B&B Christmas Cookie Tour | December 3 to 5
This is your chance to see beautiful inns in Ludington and West Michigan decked out for the holidays, sample cookies and shop products on display from local merchants. Learn all about the 2021 Christmas Cookie Tour. 

Extreevaganza | December 3 at Otsego Resort
This night of giving hosted by the Otsego Community Foundation at Otsego Resort features live and silent auctions, raffles, music, a cash bar and an after-party. Learn all about the 2021 Extreevaganza at Otsego Resort.

Cheboygan Parade of Lights | December 4
Bring the whole family to enjoy! Learn all about the light parade on the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce website.

Bellaire Light Up the Night & Soup Cook-Off | December 4
Take part in downtown Bellaire’s annual Soup Cook-Off, light parade and tree lighting. Learn more about this holiday event on the Bellaire Chamber website.

Harbor Springs Merchants Holiday Open House | December 4
An evening filled with shopping and treats, plus special music by the talented Petoskey High School Steel Drum Band.

Charlevoix Merchant Open House | December 4
Merchants will have entertainment, samples, refreshments, special sales, raffles and more.

Traverse City Ladies’ Night & Men’s Night | December 9 and 16
These popular annual events are the perfect time to finish up your shopping at downtown stores, plus enjoy specials and refreshments.

Christmas Lights

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner