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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!

Family Holiday Events

Drive, bike, ride or run through two miles of lights, animated displays, lighted tunnels and more at the 21st annual Christmas Lite Show. November 21-December 31.

See how different countries and cultures celebrate the season at Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World. This annual Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park show features 400,000 colorful lights, strolling carolers and rooftop reindeer. November 20-January 6.

Board the Santa Train for a 90-minute ride with elves, a storytelling princess and the Jolly One himself. Saturdays & Sundays, November 24-December 23.

Watch the classic holiday movie Home Alone as the Grand Rapids Symphony plays the score live at DeVos Performance Hall. November 29. Or watch in your pjs at the Home Alone Pajama Party at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, December 5.

Get photos taken with Santa at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Rivertown Crossings Mall, Woodland Mall and Santa’s Cabin on the Riverwalk in Lowell.

See local communities put on their holiday finest at Tree Lighting Ceremonies in East Grand Rapids (November 23), Cannonsburg (November 26), Hudsonville (November 29) Eastown (November 29), Rockford (November 30) and Kentwood (December 7).

Line the streets to welcome Santa at Holiday Parades in Zeeland (November 27), Grandville (November 30), Lowell (December 1), Ada (December 1), Coopersville (December 7) and Wyoming-Kentwood (December 8).

Experience Light Up Downtown, a community party with tree lighting, reindeer, sled dogs, carols, ice skating, Santa Claus and other surprises. December 1.

Visit the iconic Breton Village Holiday Train Display in the lobby of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum – and take advantage of FREE museum admission every Sunday in December.  

Enjoy Breakfast with Santa at Indian Trails Camp. December 8.

Have a Hogwarts holiday at 20 Monroe Live’s annual Yule Ball – dress up as Harry Potter characters, enjoy entertainment from Harry & The Potters, and much more. December 8.

Purge your inner Grinch during the 2018 Whoville 5K, a fun and funny run/walk that starts out with a 200-yard kid’s run. Hot chocolate and Xmas cookies for all participants! December 9 at Riverside Park.

See a dazzling production of The Nutcracker, an annual and much-acclaimed holiday production by Grand Rapids Ballet. At DeVos Performance Hall December 14-16 & 21-23.

Marvel at amazing feats of acrobatic agility set to Christmas songs and classical favorites in Grand Rapids Symphony’s Cirque de Noel. At DeVos Performance Hall December 19-20.

Adult Holiday Fun

Take a breather from the holiday rush and take in a show with friends. May we suggest Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour (November 24), Jersey Boys (November 30-December 2) and Funny Girls Presents Adult Christmas: Losing the Magic (December 14-15).

Spend a Night at the North Pole at Wheelhouse Kitchen Cocktails offers complimentary holiday appetizers, drink specials, holiday activities and live entertainment. November 29.

Put on your best holiday gear and join the 2nd annual 12 Bars of Christmas Crawl – transportation provided! December 1.

Hop on the BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley for a five-hour tour of the area’s best holiday light displays – bring your own beverages! Select dates December 1-29.

Play Holiday Drag Bingo at Harmony Hall while you enjoy the brewery’s delicious tap selections and food. December 11.

Put on your ugliest holiday sweater and head to 20 Monroe Live for the “Old School” Holiday Party featuring The Dan Band – a celebration of the cult-favorite Will Ferrell film. December 22.


Shop 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.

Shop the Downtown Market seven days a week for foodie fixings and gift ideas – and find everything you need to deck the halls at the Market’s Christmas Tree & Décor Lot (November 17-December 16). Enjoy special offers, sample food and beverages, and visit Santa during Winter Wonderland at the Downtown Market, December 5.

Mark December 1 on your calendar to shop a quartet of local artisan markets: The 30th Annual Holiday Artists Market, Allendale Artisan and Craft Marketplace, Indie Flea at Wealthy Theatre and Rogue River Artisans Juried Fine Art & Craft Holiday Sale.

Shop local stores on special neighborhood celebration days: Ada Tinsel, Treats & Trolleys (November 30) Christmas in Caledonia (December 1), Lights on Creston (December 5) Uptown Holiday Shop Hop (December 6) and Monroe Center Holiday Open House (December 9).

Sounds of the Season

Local choral groups celebrate the season with songs of joyful noise: Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids (November 24-25), Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus (December 7), West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus (December 9), Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys (December 14-16).

Harry Connick Jr. comes to DeVos Performance Hall with his “A New Orleans Tradition Celebration … Holiday Edition” tour. November 26.

The 130-voice Calvin Oratorio Society presents Handel’s Messiah – 99-year Grand Rapids tradition! At Calvin College November 30-December 1.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Ghosts of Christmas Eve 2018 is another multi-sensory holiday extravaganza from the rock band. Two shows at Van Andel Arena December 2.

Melissa Etheridge – The Holiday Show showcases songs from the rock icon’s 2008 holiday album. At 20 Monroe Live December 5.

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Holiday Pops includes choral groups, a handbell ensemble, holiday melodies, classical favorites and a carol sing-along. At DeVos Performance Hall December 6-9.

Christian pop group For King & Country come to Van Andel with a Christmas tour. December 9.

Holiday Classics with Lance Luce features the internationally acclaimed organist playing seasonal tunes at Grand Rapids Public Museum. December 21-22.

New Year’s Celebrations

Grand Rapids rings in 2019 with celebrations for all ages. Click here for an always-updating list of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day diversions.

Winter Activities and Events

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