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The Holiday Season in Grand Rapids

Unwrap the season in Grand Rapids – where the holiday spirit is as warm as our fabled hospitality. Join in on our beloved local traditions, indulge in fine food and drink, shop for everyone on your list and revel in the joy of family and friends!

Winter in the City

Find fun things to do in Grand Rapids during the winter!

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Family Holiday Events

Get into the holiday spirit at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre production of Elf The Musical, based on the beloved movie, Nov. 22 - Dec. 22.

Join in the festivities of the Art Van Santa Parade – celebrating its 100th anniversary Nov. 23!

Experience Cirque Dreams Holidaze, an electrifying stage spectacular, at Forest Hills Fine Arts Center Nov. 24.

See how different cultures and countries celebrate the season at Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions – a dazzling Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park event. Nov. 26 - Jan. 5.

Drive through the Christmas Lite Show – it’s nearly two miles long and features more than one million lights plus animated displays, lighted tunnels and more. Nov. 27 - Jan. 4.

Soak up some small-town holiday charm at these community events:

  • East Grand Rapids Tree Lighting Ceremony, Nov. 29
  • Zeeland’s Magical Christmas Parade, Dec. 2
  • Grandville Tree Lighting, Dec. 2
  • Kentwood Tree Lighting and Holiday Light Parade, Dec. 5
  • Rockford Holiday Lighting Ceremony, Dec. 6
  • Coopersville Nighttime Christmas Parade, Dec. 6
  • Grandville Christmas Parade, Dec. 6
  • Rockford Santa Parade, Dec. 7
  • Ada Santa Parade, Dec. 7
  • Christmas in Caledonia, Dec. 7
  • Grand Haven Jingle Bell Parade, Dec. 7
  • Lowell Christmas Festivities, Dec. 7
  • Wyoming-Kentwood Santa Parade, Dec. 14

Board the Santa Train for a 90-minute ride with elves, a storytelling princess and the Jolly One himself. Saturdays & Sundays, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22.

Greet Santa and his reindeer, see the iconic holiday train exhibit and enjoy seasonal music at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Holiday Open House, Dec. 1.

Attend the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Rosa Parks Circle for an early evening of holiday enchantment Dec. 6.

Don your best pjs for a pajama party screening of The Polar Express movie at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Dec. 14.

Enjoy Breakfast with Santa at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (Dec. 14), Visits with Santa at the Downtown Market (Dec. 14-15) and photos with Santa at Rivertown Crossings Mall (Nov. 16 - Dec. 24) and Woodland Mall (Nov. 9 - Dec. 24).

See a dazzling production of The Nutcracker, an annual and much-acclaimed holiday production by Grand Rapids Ballet, Dec. 13-15 & 20-22. Make the occasion even more special by attending Clara’s Nutcracker Party (Dec. 15).

Marvel at amazing feats of acrobatic agility set to Christmas songs and classical favorites in Grand Rapids Symphony’s Cirque de Noel, Dec. 18-19.

Adult Holiday Fun

Take a holiday cooking class at the Downtown Market: Pie Crust to be Thankful For (Nov. 26-27) Stollen (Dec. 7) and Holly Jolly Cookies (Dec. 8, 14, 15, 21).

Hop on the BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley for a three-hour tour of the area’s best holiday light displays – bring your own beverages! Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 29 - Dec. 28.

Attend the Downtown Market’s German Christmas Market for authentic street foods and adult beverages, Dec. 6.

Join Grimsby Hollow Meadery for the Yuletide Medieval Fantasy Fest – delicious food & drink, storytelling, live music and a wizard duel gift exchange, Dec. 14.

Laugh yourself silly at The Brunch Before Christmas, a live drag show at The B.O.B. Dec. 15.

Beat the post-Christmas blues at 20 Monroe Live’s 3rd Annual Yule Ball Dinner and Concert – enjoy live music from The Accidentals and Tonks & The Aurors, plus lots of activities, vendors, live animals, photo ops and more. Dec. 28.


Visit dozens of stores in one place at Breton Village Shopping Center, Rivertown Crossings Mall, Woodland Mall, Tanger Outlet Mall and the Ada, East Grand Rapids, Lowell, Rockford and Uptown shopping districts.

Check out new stores opened this year – including Von Maur, Paddle North, REI, Urban Outfitters and Williams-Sonoma at Woodland Mall; Land’s End and Carhartt in the Shops at CenterPoint; and Boyne Country Sports and Madewell at Breton Village Shopping Center.

Shop for artisan gifts during A Very Merry Market Day (Nov. 23) and Winter Wonderland (Dec. 4) at the Downtown Market.

Find everything you need to deck the halls at the Downtown Market’s Christmas Tree & Décor Lot (Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, Nov. 23 - Dec. 15).

Head to the LowellArts Holiday Artists Market for giftable artwork and other handmade items from 50+ local artists. Nov. 14 - Dec. 23.

Mark your calendar for artisan markets and neighborhood shopping celebrations:

  • HSB Holiday Craft Show, Nov. 23
  • Allendale Artisan Craft & Marketplace, Nov. 30
  • Uptown Holiday Shop Hop, Dec. 5
  • Ada Tinsel, Treats and Trolleys, Dec. 6
  • December Faire Flea at Wealthy Theatre, Dec. 7
  • Grand Rapids Toy Show, Dec. 7
  • Merry Market Craft and Vendor Fair, Dec. 7
  • Rogue River Artisans Juried Fine Arts & Crafts Show & Sale, Dec. 7
  • Holiday Textiles Art Market, Dec. 13-14
  • Holiday Pop-Up Market & Live Artist Demos, Dec. 14

Pick up gourmet gifts (and holiday fixin’s) along the Grand Rapids Food Trail, gifts for beer lovers on the Beer City Ale Trail and gifts from local brands at GrandRapidsStore.com.

Sounds of the Season

Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to Van Andel Arena with an all-new staging of its classic “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” show. Dec. 1.

Beloved Songs of the Season are performed by a brass choir, majestic organ and the Grand Valley State University Arts Chorale at Fountain Street Church, Dec. 2.
Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith return to Van Andel Arena with a Christmas show – Grand Rapids is one of just seven cities they’re playing this season. Dec. 5.

The Calvin University Oratorio Society presents its annual Christmas season performance of Handel’s Messiah – for the 100th year! Dec. 6-7.

Local choral groups celebrate the season with songs of joyful noise:

  • Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids presents Sounds of Christmas (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) and a Messiah Sing-A-Long (Dec. 15)
  • Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus Annual Winter Concert, Dec. 6-7
  • West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus Holiday Concert, Dec. 8
  • Grand Rapids Choir of Men & Boys’ Christmas Lessons & Carols, Dec. 8 &13-15
  • The Schubert Male Chorus presents A Family Christmas Celebration, Dec. 14
  • Grand Rapids Sweet Adelines’ Winter Wonderland Holiday Show, Dec. 14
  • Edelweiss Choir and Ein Prosit Christmas Concert, Dec. 15

 Jane Lynch’s A Swingin’ Little Christmas brings the actress, comedienne and game-show host to 20 Monroe Live Dec. 17.

Grand Rapids Symphony makes the season bright for music lovers:

  • Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops, Dec. 5-8
  • Old National Bank Cirque de Soleil, Dec. 18-19

New Year’s Celebrations

Grand Rapids rings in 2020 with events for all ages – including the return of the Grand Rapids Ball Drop. Find more New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Ideas here.

Winter Activities and Events

Looking for way to enjoy the winter months in Grand Rapids, in and out of doors? Click here for suggestions!