From the aisles of the world's largest Christmas store in one of TIME's "9 Most Christmassy Towns in America" to the heated tents of a traditional, European-style Christmas market, quaint candlewalks to city-wide lighting celebrations — there's no better place to spend the holiday season than Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region!
Climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage, grab a cup of hot cocoa and some fresh-roasted chestnuts, and treat yourself to the sweet, simple joys of a Pure Michigan Christmas!
Christmas & Holiday Traditions
Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland (Frankenmuth) The world's largest Christmas store, dripping in 50,000+ trims and gifts, 300+ decorated trees, and 6,000+ styles of ornaments! Time your trip to Santa Visits at Bronner's, have your purchases autographed by the artists themselves during special Bronner's ornament signing events, and save time for a memorable drive down 25 Christmas Lane, aglow with 100,000 twinkling lights — dusk ‘til midnight, each night of the year!
Midland Santa House (Midland) Home of the world's oldest Santa school, open seasonally for visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus — not to mention, their real-life reindeer (on select dates). Follow up this magical family photo op with a festive ride through Downtown Midland's decorated streets — all aboard the miniature, trackless Northern Star Train!
Nate & Mary Ida Doan Santa House (Bay City) Let little eyes peek in from the colorfully lighted front porch of this cozy cabin at Veteran's Memorial Park while they wait to see Santa and get a glimpse inside his workshop! Enjoy decorative displays of toys and lights and time your visit to special reindeer appearances, too.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides (Frankenmuth) Find Fantasy Carriage Company just south of Zehnder's Restaurant or Frankenmuth Carriage Company beneath the Glockenspiel Tower for the most festive way to tour one of TIME's "9 Most Christmassy Towns in America". Cozy up while you're whisked past streets and storefronts lined in holiday lights and lush greenery and tuck away the magical holiday memories for years to come!
Holiday Lunch & Dinner Shows (Frankenmuth) From Holiday Lunch Shows and Holiday Dinner Shows at Zehnder's of Frankenmuth to Matinee Dinner Shows at Bavarian Inn Restaurant, hear the sounds of the season while you dine on delicious, signature dishes at these two world-famous eateries.
Breakfast or Lunch with Santa & Mrs. Claus (Frankenmuth) Bring the kids to enjoy either Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus at Zehnder's of Frankenmuth or Lunch with Santa & Mrs. Claus at Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark, and they'll leave with joyful smiles and a small gift from Santa himself!
Holiday Festivals & Events
Zehnder's Holiday How To Classes (Frankenmuth, November) Hands-on holiday prep classes led by Zehnder's of Frankenmuth pros! Sip wine and sample hors d'oeuvres while you pick up insider tips in "Hosting a Holiday Party" or learn how to craft everything from a Christmas Yule Log dessert to homemade holiday pie dough. But, do hurry; these sought-after classes are known to sell out fast!
Holidays in the Heart of the City (Saginaw, November) City lighting ceremonies and holiday concerts, visits with Santa, free horse-drawn wagon rides and pony rides, 1,200+ luminaries lining the streets alongside food vendors, and fireworks over Ojibway Island to top it all off! Don't miss the next morning's 42nd Annual Christmas Parade — complete with marching bands, floats, and, of course, Santa.
Festival of Trees (Midland, November) Over 100 talented designers will bring their ornately decorated trees and wreaths to be raffled off to lucky winners. "Ooh" and "ahh" over your favorites while you shop the wares of local artisans and vendors!
Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk (Frankenmuth, November) Hot cocoa and cookies at Frankenmuth River Place Shops, followed by a candlelit stroll to the Frankenmuth Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum (German for "fir tree") and visits with Santa.
Santa's Arrival / Wenonah Park Tree Lighting (Bay City, November) See Santa as he arrives in Downtown Bay City's Wenonah Park, where you'll witness a holiday performance and massive tree lighting ceremony. (Last year's beauty was 35 feet tall and lit by 6,000+ bulbs!) Afterward, stop by the Nickless Family Community Pavilion's concession stand, where little ones can share their wish lists.
Santa's Village - The North Pole USA (Chesaning, November - December) 25,000-square-foot Christmas wonderland, 175+ beautifully trimmed trees, model train display, holiday carnival rides, Christmas-themed crafts, and visits with Santa himself!
Sundays in the City (Bay City, December) Magical holiday memories made throughout Downtown Bay City, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Strolling carolers, free horse-drawn carriage rides, and classic holiday films shown at the historic State Theatre.
Midland County Courthouse Lighting (Midland, December) A tradition since the 1930s, follow Santa and Mrs. Claus as they trek from The Tridge to the Midland County Courthouse and lead a countdown to the official lighting ceremony. Enjoy free hot cocoa and cookies, see holiday lights aglow, then head to the Santa House for its season opening and a special visit with the man in the big red suit!
Santa Train (Birch Run, December) Watch Santa pull into town aboard the Lake State Railway, ready to receive wish lists! Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while you join in caroling, then head to the gazebo to greet Santa and his live reindeer at this free family event.
Holiday at the Homestead (Midland, December) Settle in for a lamp-lit evening at Chippewa Nature Center's cozy Homestead log cabin to experience the simple joys of Christmas as they were in the 19th century. Warm up by the woodstove, help decorate the log cabin, and make a take-home ornament — all while you learn about the history of classic Christmas traditions.
Dow Gardens Christmas Walks (Midland, December) Stroll this snow-covered garden for all seasons — on paths softly illuminated by candlelight — and listen to live carolers along the way. Meet Santa's reindeer, sip hot cocoa in the historic barn, and warm up inside the conservatory, where you'll spot a towering poinsettia display.
Bridgeport Historical Village Pioneer Christmas (Bridgeport, December) Hear holiday stories at the School House, witness a live nativity scene at the Chapel, pet farm animals in the Village, and meet Santa at the Fire House as you celebrate Christmas the pioneer way!
Frankenmuth Christkindlmarkt (Frankenmuth) An outdoor, European-style holiday street market of toasty-warm tents filled with artisan wares. Shop everything from festive holiday decor to handcrafted gifts, greenery to garlands while you weave your way through one of TIME's "9 Most Christmassy Towns in America" and enjoy live musicians, carriage rides, and more.
Holiday Makers Markets (Multiple Cities) From The Great Lakes Market - Winter Market in Midland to Smetanka's Holiday Craft Show in Birch Run, shop seasonal gifts and goods at these festive Michigan holiday markets and more.
Christmas Concerts & Classic Holiday Films
Temple Theatre (Saginaw) From Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" to Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra's "Broadway Holiday on Washington Ave.", enjoy a variety of holiday performances inside this historic 1927 theatre.
For even more festive gatherings, check out our full calendar of upcoming holiday events in Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region!