It won’t be long before you’re feeling the merriment of it all… and searching for spots to really melt into the magic of the holiday season! Whether you’re looking to bundle up with hot cocoa in-hand to sing Christmas carols, or you’d prefer staying warm inside while meeting with Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus, there’s a destination that will make your wishes come true in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay!
Read on to discover where you can pet Rudolph and the other reindeer, sample “chestnuts roasted over an open fire”, step foot inside The North Pole USA — and, of course, marvel at the twinkling holiday lights that only come once a year!
Holidays in the Heart of the City
Kick off the Christmas season amidst more than 1,200 luminaries at Holidays in the Heart of the City, and for free! Gather in the “heart” of Saginaw, but this holiday extravaganza is neighborhood-wide:
- 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., November 22, 2019
- 5:45 p.m., City Lighting Ceremonies at the Water Treatment Plant (don’t miss this luminescent experience)
- Santa & Mrs. Claus at the Gazebo, reindeer, pony rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides
- Holiday Market at the Andersen Enrichment Center
- Christmas cookies & cocoa at Holy Cross Lutheran Church (and those chestnuts roasted over an open fire, yum!)
Don’t miss the live nativity at Montague Inn, fireworks over Ojibway Island – or the next morning’s 42nd Annual Christmas Parade with marching bands, floats, and Santa!
The Freeland Lights Show
Think thermoses filled with hot cocoa for the road and everyone piled into the vehicle, singing Christmas classics together the whole way! Make it a point to enjoy the magical dancing lights for free from the comfort of your warm car at The Freeland Lights Show!
- December 1 – 31, every day regardless of weather
- Starts at 5:30 p.m., last show begins at 10 p.m.
- Each show lasts about 12 minutes with a three-minute break between; approximate show times are 5:30, 5:45, 6 p.m., etc.
- Tune your radio to 93.9 FM and watch the fantastic light show “dance” along with the Christmas music!
- (Psst! Have visitors in town for Thanksgiving & looking for something fun to do? The “preliminary” show often runs the Friday following Thanksgiving, too. Enjoy!)
Holiday Lights in the City
Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk: Make your way from 6 – 9 p.m. on November 29 to the free Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk; Santa will be in the Chamber Pavilion from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Take a candlelit stroll, too, from the River Place Shops to the Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum, the German word for “fir tree”.
Santa's Arrival / Wenonah Park Tree Lighting: On November 29, from 7 – 10 p.m. and for free, take part in Downtown Bay City’s wondrous Wenonah Park Tree Lighting ceremony. Don’t miss Santa’s Arrival at 7 p.m., the special performance, or bringing your “good little boys and girls” to the Nickless Family Community Pavilion afterward to talk wish-lists with Santa!
Midland County Courthouse Lighting: See the man in the big red suit’s arrival at 7 p.m. on December 3 at the Midland County Courthouse — after he travels with Mrs. Claus through the community, beginning at the Tridge! Enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, lights aglow, and the opening of the Santa House, all absolutely free!
Holiday Lights at Santa's Home
Depending on which neck of the North Pole you’re in, you can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus all throughout the Great Lakes Bay (and see fabulous holiday lights displays while you do):
Nate & Mary Ida Doan Santa House: Meet Santa in his workshop inside a cozy cabin at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Bay City. Time your visit here to also enjoy special reindeer appearances! Open the first Saturday after Thanksgiving through December 22, admission is free.
Midland Santa House: Its roof is slanted for reindeer take-offs and elves are busy inside. Be sure to bring your camera; Santa is happy to pose for a picture free of cost! Open the Tuesday after Thanksgiving & throughout the season, Santa’s reindeer make occasional visits here, too. Afterward, you can board the miniature, trackless Northern Star Train for a ride through Downtown Midland to get a glimpse of even more holiday lights and decorated storefronts!
Santa’s Village – The North Pole USA: Visit Santa in Chesaning from November 30 – December 22 inside a heated, magical, 25,000-square-foot Christmas wonderland! Ride the Kris Kringle Carousel, zoom the giant slide and other rides, and marvel at the model train display along with 175+ decorated trees!
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland: Open 361 days a year, of course Santa frequents the world’s largest Christmas store! Enjoy shopping from more than 50,000 trims and gifts after your Santa Visit at Bronner's, and come back after dusk for a drive down 25 Christmas Lane, illuminated by over 100,000 twinkling lights each night of the year!
This season, may you enjoy every Christmas cookie, cup o’ cocoa, and merry & bright memory made amidst the holiday lights in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay!