Fabulous Christmas Events You Can’t Miss – Shows, Parades, Christmas Lights & Santa

West Michigan Christmas Events

Twinkling lights, fresh snow, and the excitement in the air – If you are like me, you want to soak in as many of these holiday moments and Christmas events as you can.

We invite you to use this Christmas Events Guide to fill your December with the best Christmas activities: Christmas lights, holiday shopping, Christmas Parades, and lots of holiday cheer and family fun this holiday season.

It’s jam-packed with loads of Christmas things to do and holiday events that will help you create memories that will last for years to come.

Christmas Events & Activities Menu

Santa Events

Visiting Santa Claus

Seeing Santa and taking a photo with Santa is one of the most popular Christmas events!

Santa is, without a doubt, one of the most recognizable figures around the world. And every year he (sometimes it’s Santa and Mrs. Claus!) visits West Michigan children at many area locations.

Check out the Santa Sightings list for all the places you’ll find Grand Rapids Christmas events with Santa.

Christmas Events include visiting Santa
Santa at Flowerland

Nutcrackers, Christmas Plays & Holiday Concerts

Christmas Events that Take the Stage

Get off the screens and experience a live performance. Whether professional or students, there is nothing quite as magical.

Don’t miss the one-night only Hip Hop Nutcracker at DeVos Performance Hall.

Or go traditional and watch the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Revisit a tale as old as time when Beauty and the Beast comes to the Civic Theatre.

These and so many more are ready to dazzle us this holiday season.

Nutcracker Christmas Event in Grand Rapids Michigan
The Nutcracker

Christmas Parades


West Michigan loves holiday parades – including the Grand Rapids Gentex Santa Parade with Lowell’s own real Santa! This year, there are 16 holiday parades on our list!

Nighttime Christmas parades are all over this year. Hudsonville joins up with staples like Zeeland’s Magical Christmas Parade and Lowell’s Annual Nighttime Santa Parade.

Use our list to find a Christmas parade or holiday parade near you.

Lowell Nighttime Santa Parade

Holiday Tree Lightings


There’s nothing quite like standing outside, bundled up in your warmest winter clothes and clutching a mug filled with hot chocolate, eagerly anticipating the very first time the Christmas tree is lit with thousands of lights.

Luckily, there are several places around west Michigan with holiday tree lightings.

While some are stand-alone Christmas tree lightings, others really bring their A Game in conjunction with holiday parades.

You can re-live the magic again and again – all in one season.


Christmas Holiday Trains 


There is something magical about trains at Christmas time.

Polar Express look-alikes ride the rails throughout the state all month long – but snag your tickets as early as August to reserve your seats on some of them.

Watch the model train round the bends at Meijer Gardens or find the old “Breton Village train” at its new home at the Ford Museum.

Kids and adults alike look forward to these favorite West Michigan traditions every year.

Northern Star Railroad in Midland

Live Nativities


If you are looking for a fun way to visualize the Nativity scene, check out a live Nativity.

These scenes have real people reenacting the original Christmas scene including live animals. Some places include refreshments, live music, or a narrator retelling the Christmas story.

Is your church or group hosting a Live Nativity as well? Submit your event here to get featured in our events calendar and on this list.

Live Nativity at The Critter Barn in Zeeland

Free Christmas Events & Activities 


Cost doesn’t need to hold you back from Christmas fun.

Stroll through Candy Cane Lane in Sparta.

Be amazed by all the wreaths at the Festival of Wreaths in Muskegon.

Check out a downtown lit up and decorated for the holidays.

West Michigan is filled with opportunities for free Christmas fun.

Christmas Markets


Christmas markets are Michigan’s best kept secret – and they start well before December.

Head up to Manistee for Old Christmas Weekend.

Live it up in Frankenmuth at ‘ChristKindlMakt’ to get handmade gifts, spiced wine and a magical atmosphere — and all by Bronner’s.

Stay closer to home at Holland’s 26th Kerstmarkt for shopping, food and even dogsled demos.

Bundle up and hit the road to find the best Christmas markets in Michigan.

Kerstmarkt in Holland

One of a Kind Christmas Events

Looking for something a little different?

These Christmas events are not your usual celebration and are a fun way to get moving this season.

Frederik Meijer Gardens


Frederik Meijer Gardens is known for their many gorgeous displays and gardens. Their annual Christmas & Holiday Traditions exhibit is no exception.

Running just before Thanksgiving until early January, this exhibit showcases over 40 trees decorated in different themes of cultures around the world.

The Holiday Light Show returns for 2023. The 20-minute looping, interactive light show will happen outdoors in the Amphitheater. Catch it December 18-22 and 26-30, with light shows running every half hour, from 6–8 pm.

Tuesdays are really special when Santa visits and Dickens carolers serenade visitors.

Reindeer wait outside on Saturdays for pictures and maybe a nose rub.

No matter what day of the week you visit, awe-inspiring sights await.

Frederik Meijer Gardens Christmas Trees
Christmas Trees at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids

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