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Winter Activities in Grand Rapids

Whether you love to play in the snow or you prefer to stay warm and cozy, Grand Rapids is the winter destination of your dreams. From skiing and snowshoeing to stage shows and festivals, Grand Rapids has you covered … indoors and out. Check this page often, we’ll keep adding new events and activities as they’re announced – including the downtown Grand Rapids Santa Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony, ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle and New Year’s festivities. We’re here to help you plan your fun calendar all the way through February 2024!

Holiday Events

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The Christkindl Markt at the Downtown Market is inspired by the world-famous Christmas street markets that originated in Germany in the late Middle Ages and spread to other countries. The Downtown Market is transforming its outdoor space into a European-style Christmas Village lined with artisan…

Holiday Magic

Grand Rapids has a new way to get into the holiday spirit! The Christkindl Markt at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is a European-style Christmas Village lined with artisan gift and food vendors, live holiday entertainment and festive family fun. It’s bound to become another one of your family’s favorite winter traditions. Nov. 17-Dec. 23.

Grand Rapids Symphony presents Handel’s Messiah by Candlelight, a performance of the masterwork with lighting that evokes the original 1742 Dublin premiere. At DeVos Performance Hall Nov. 17-18.

The University of Michigan Health-West: Christmas & Holiday Traditions exhibition returns to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with 300,000 lights, 42 international displays, carolers, live reindeer, outdoor experiences and more. New lighting technology makes indoor spaces even more dazzling. Nov. 21 - Jan.7.

The Christmas Lite Show at LMCU Ballpark is a drive-thru experience featuring animated displays, lighted tunnels and more than one million colorful lights over a two-mile course. Board the Memory Lane Train to see the show from a different perspective. Nov. 22-Dec. 31. Get a sneak traffic-free peek of the Christmas Lite Show on a Winter Wonder Walk (Nov. 11) or Reindeer Bike Ride (Nov. 12).

A capella group Straight No Chaser brings their Sleighin’ It Tour to DeVos Performance Hall Nov. 25.

Tradition with a twist: Hip Hop Nutcracker smashes Tchaikovsky’s timeless music together with hip hop dance and innovative visuals for a modern take on the beloved holiday classic. At DeVos Performance Hall Nov. 26.

Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland is an all-new production blending the grace and athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with a musical mix of timeless seasonal favorites. At Forest Hills Fine Arts Center Nov. 26.

A Drag Queen Christmas brings your favorite queens to DeVos Performance Hall with special guest Todrick Hall. VIP Meet & Greet tickets are available. Nov. 28.

Cirque Dreams: Holidaze features a world-renowned cast of performers accompanied by an ensemble of aerial circus acts, sleight-of-hand jugglers, fun-loving skippers, breath-catching acrobatics and much more. At DeVos Performance Hall Nov. 30.

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at downtown’s Rosa Parks Circle takes place the evening of Dec. 1, complete with seasonal activities and attractions.

The Grand Rapids Symphony presents Elf in Concert, a giant screen-showing of the holiday film accompanied by a life performance of the movie’s score. At DeVos Performance Hall Dec. 1 & 2.

Electric violinist Lindsey Stirling comes to Van Andel Arena with her Snow Waltz Tour, sharing a selection of holiday classics and original songs in her distinctive style. Dec. 5.

Grand Rapids Ballet brings its acclaimed production of The Nutcracker to DeVos Performance Hall Dec. 8-10 & 15-17. Kids can meet characters from the production at Clara’s Nutcracker Party on Sunday, Dec. 10.

The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show comes to St Cecilia Music Center with their gospel-music approach to holiday standards. Dec. 5.

Sparkle! is this year’s Christmas cabaret show at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, featuring dinner, drinks and performance by an a capella group from the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club. Dec. 7.

Fountain Street Church hosts Candlelight: Holiday Special featuring “The Nutcracker” and More, a live, multi-sensory musical experience under the gentle glow of candlelight. Dec. 16.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis rolls into DeVos Performance Hall with the music that revolutionized the sound of the holidays. Dec. 19.

The University of Michigan Health – West Holiday Pops is a long-standing tradition uniting the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, the Grand Rapids Youth Chorus, Embellish Handbell Ensemble, and frequent GRS soloist Shayna Steele for glorious renditions of seasonal favorites. At DeVos Performance Hall Dec. 21-23.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to Van Andel Arena for its annual holiday visit the day after Christmas: Tuesday, Dec. 26. The Ghosts of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More celebrates 20+ years of America’s rock holiday sensation.

Meet Santa

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Bring your kids to see Santa in the picture-perfect, whimsically illustrated Mimi’s Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Nov. 21 & 28, and Dec. 5, 12 & 19.

Visit The Santa House at LMCU Ballpark for photos, hot cocoa and a letters to Santa drop-off location. Friday, Saturday & Sunday from Nov. 24-Dec. 23, plus Wednesday Dec. 20.

Get up close and personal with Santa and his reindeer at Flowerland Wyoming (Nov. 18), Flowerland Kentwood (Nov. 25) and Flowerland Comstock Park (Dec. 2).

All aboard The Santa Train on the Coopersville & Marne Railway for a 90-minute ride with the Big Guy and Christmas-themed tales from a storytelling princess. Saturdays & Sundays from Nov. 25-Dec. 23.

The Wyoming-Kentwood Santa Parade travels one mile on South Division Ave., roughly from Supermercado Mexico to Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille. Line the route to see floats and Santa Dec. 9.

Seasonal Shopping

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Local Gifts to Give from Grand Rapids

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Seasonal Shopping

Find something for everyone on your list at Breton Village Shopping Center, RiverTown Crossings Mall, Tanger Outlet Mall, Woodland Mall and the Ada, East Grand Rapids, Lowell, Rockford and Uptown shopping districts. Be sure to come back for all the post-holiday sales!

Pick up gifts for beer lovers at Beer City USA breweries and the online GrandRapidsStore.com.

Visit Gift Shops at Local Attractions for distinctive gifts unique to Grand Rapids.

Trying to entice friends and family to visit you in Grand Rapids? Give them the gift of Culture Pass GR – it’s a three-day pass granting them access to many of the area’s top cultural attractions.

Browse the 20+ artisan food vendors at Grand Rapids Downtown Market for all your holiday meal fixings – fine meats and seafood, baked goods, sweets and more.

Check out this list of 60+ specialty stores for one-of-a-kind treasures you won’t find anywhere else and shop local consignment stores for great deals on gently used fashions, furniture and more.

Shop for men’s gifts, food treats, home and holiday décor, hand-crafted jewelry, toys and more at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Gift Show Nov. 4.

Attend the Christmas Preview Party at Flowerland Comstock Park or Flowerland Kentwood for a first look at the garden center’s 2023 collection of live and realistic trees, ornaments, décor and more. Nov. 10. The fun continues with a Christmas Open House Weekend at the store’s Comstock Park, Kentwood and Wyoming locations, Nov. 11-12.

Mark your calendar for artisan markets and neighborhood shopping celebrations:

Holiday Food & Drink

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A Couple Drinking Craft Beer at Dusk Outside
Cheers to Craft Beer, Friends, and Great Food

Indoor and outdoor dining is available throughout the area.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Season’s Eatings (& Drinkings)

It’s such a busy season, be sure to take time to relax and let someone else do the cooking (and brewing and distilling) once in a while. Browse our restaurant, brewery, cidery, coffee shop and distillery lists for something that’s sure to hit the spot.

Enjoy a delicious meal in the Grand Outdoors – or, at least, a heated enclosure offering a clear view of the outdoors. Dozens of local restaurants and breweries have created outdoor dining spaces that will keep you comfortable even in winter.

Share some holiday cheer with friends at eight of 40+ local breweries and earn a FREE Beer City Brewsader® t-shirt. (It makes a great gift, but you’ll probably want to keep it for yourself.) Prefer something lighter (and warmer)? Check out these Warm Drinks for Cold Days in Grand Rapids.

Get the Flights of Flavor pass to find the city’s best food & drink pairings – ideal for sharing with friends and family in this festive season. Check in with the pass to earn t-shirts, caps, cutting boards and more. (They’d make perfect gifts, but you’ll probably want to keep them for yourself).

Visit the Downtown Refreshment Area to view holiday lights and decorations while enjoying drinks and food from participating vendors. Other Refreshment Areas around the region offer similar opportunities.

Need some wine and/or champagne for the holidays (or any day)? Grand Rapids has some great wine shops and wine bars.

Attend the 16th Annual Wine, Beer & Food Festival at DeVos Place to sample more than 1,200 wines, beers, ciders and spirits from around the world plus delicious food from the area’s finest restaurants. Nov. 16-18.

Show Stoppers

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Really Big Shows

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre presents Disney’s Beauty & the Beast: The Musical, live on stage for 27 performances from Nov. 17 - Dec. 17. The Nov 22 show features a Relaxed Environment for children and adults who find standard theatre performances overwhelming or unpleasant, and the Nov. 25 show features American Sign Language interpreters and audio descriptions.

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, featuring the singer’s top hits, comes to DeVos Performance Hall courtesy of Broadway Grand Rapids. Nov. 17-23.

Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids presents Oil and Sugar, a Michigan-based thriller of a play about trust as power, art as disclosure, and how processed souls are poised for mutual destruction. Dec. 7-10 & 14-16.

BUGS at the Grand Rapids Public Museum invites all ages to enter the world of insects, marvel at their talents and witness them in action.

Forest of Dreams: Contemporary Tree Sculpture offers unexpected visions of these remarkable organisms through the work of 15 exceptional artists. At Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park through Feb. 25, 2024.

Two exhibits at the Grand Rapids Art Museum offers two very different conceptions of art: Underneath Everything: Humility and Grandeur in Contemporary Ceramics (through Jan. 14) and Uncharted Ways Through: Maps and the Image (opens Dec. 16).

Laugh yourself warm at a winter comedy show:

Live Music

Dobro master and 15-time GRAMMY winner Jerry Douglas comes to St. Cecilia Music Center Nov. 16.

Opera Grand Rapids presents a Chorus Concert at Fountain Street Church, featuring some of the canon’s most beloved opera choruses and a few contemporary pieces. Nov. 16.

Van Andel Arena hosts The Jonas Brothers Nov. 21 and The 1975 Nov. 22.

GLC Live at 20 Monroe brings Carly Pearce (Nov 17), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (Nov. 24) and Meshuggah (Dec. 3) to town.

Check out the winter schedules at The Intersection, Midtown and The Pyramid Scheme for more concerts across a variety of genres.

Winter Sports

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Snowshoeing has been around for almost as long as civilizations have interacted with deep snow. Historians believe snowshoeing traces its roots back…

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One of the great thing about Grand Rapids is the city’s close proximity to wildlife, nature, and beautiful outdoor scenes. You can easily find…

Cheer on the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team at Van Andel Arena – they play 36 home games from October 13 through April 21.

The Grand Rapids Gold basketball team opens the 2023-2024 season at home in Van Andel Arena Nov. 12 – and plays 23 more home games through March 30.

Get out and explore the Grand Outdoors. Hike the trails at Blandford Nature Center and area parks to savor every shift of the season, as snow comes and goes and comes again.

Explore the area’s best snowshoe trails and cross-country skiing trails – and find out where to rent or buy equipment – for a scenic, at-your-own-pace workout.

If downhill skiing is your sport, you can tackle 21 runs at Cannonsburg Ski Area, just 20 minutes from downtown. Bittersweet Ski Resort (20 runs) and Mulligan’s Hollow (six runs) are 30 minutes or so away. All three offer excellent cross-country trails, as do numerous close-by parks and nature areas.

Cannonsburg is also a favorite with snowboarders, thanks to a terrain park filled with 80+ jibs and jumps. Bittersweet and Mulligan’s Hollow are also popular snowboarding spots.

Want to take the kids sledding? Our favorite fun (and free) sledding locations include Richmond Park, Belknap Park, Johnson Park and Cascade Township Park.

If you love fat tire biking, you’ll love the groomed trails at Cannonsburg Ski Area, Indian Trails Fat Bike Park and the Merrell Trail in Rockford.

Ice fishing is a major pastime here – grab your auger and head to one our many inland lakes and river bayous.

  • 5 min story

From the heart of downtown to the coast of Lake Michigan, the Grand Rapids area offers all sorts of opportunities for cold-weather play. Some of our favorite winter pastimes require specialized gear in addition to warm coats, hats and gloves. If you don’t own gear – or you don’t…

Kids Stuff

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The Wild Kratts, Live 2.0! comes to the stage at DeVos Performance Hall for another electrifying adventure with the Kratt brothers. Nov. 19.

Bring your preschoolers to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for Wintertime Walks – these outdoor discovery walks let young ones investigate the Children’s Garden in new ways. Tuesdays & Wednesdays from Nov. 28-Dec. 27.

Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum brings the popular PBS KIDs TV series to life at Grand Rapids Children Museum. Through Jan. 14.

The holiday hustle and bustle can be a challenge for young ones with sensory needs. Sensory-friendly experiences at Blandford Nature Center, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Museum can help them feel more comfortable and included.

Find things to do with kids and teens in Grand Rapids, this season and throughout the year.

World of Winter

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January 12 - March 10, 2024

Experience and enjoy winter in a whole new way during the World of Winter Festival in downtown Grand Rapids. See 20+ large-scale outdoor art installations and 50+ amazing ice sculptures, enjoy musical performances, play games, stroll the city and more  – all FREE! Jan. 12 - March 10.

Save on Attractions with Our Culture Pass

Receive admission into many cultural attractions around Grand Rapids as well as additional exclusive discounts with our $20.00 Culture Pass.