Grand Rapids Christmas Events you Can’t Miss – The Mega Guide to Holiday Things to Do

Biermacher Christmas trees truck Hunt

2021’s Grand Rapids Christmas Events & Activities

Well, 2021 didn’t go as well as we’d hoped it would – yet another year for the memory books.

Some Grand Rapids Christmas events have returned, while others are still canceled (looking forward to 2022, GR Santa Parade!).

And while many of us are “over” virtual experiences, it was kinda nice to not have to bundle up and worry about road conditions in order to visit Santa last year. Are virtual Santa visits here to stay?

Christmas in Grand Rapids is magical, for kids and parents alike.  The twinkling lights, fresh snow, and the excitement in the air all make this a memorable time of year. If you are like me, you want to soak in as many of these holiday moments as you can.

Let’s celebrate surviving another 12 months of this pandemic and hope we can finally put it behind us in 2022!

This mega Holiday Family Fun Guide is your #1 resource for all things HOLIDAY this season. We’ll give you loads of ideas on places to go and things to do to celebrate Christmas in Grand Rapids with the whole family.


  • Featured Holiday Happenings
  • Santa Events
  • Christmas Lights
  • Christmas Tree Farms
  • Holiday Plays & Concerts
  • Tree Lightings
  • Christmas Trains
  • Christmas Parades
  • Sleigh Rides
  • Live Nativities
  • Gift Ideas
  • Free Christmas Events
  • More Seasonal Fun

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Santa Events

Visiting Santa Claus

Santa is, without a doubt, one of the most recognizable figures around the world. And every year he 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.

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Click to find Santa Events

Christmas Lights

Take in Spectacular Christmas Light Displays

This one is a favorite Christmas activity every season. All you need is a car and maybe some warm jammies and cocoa in a thermos as you go on a light-spotting adventure.

And we’ve made it easy with a handy map of all the best-lit houses and downtowns around!

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Click here to find Christmas Lights

Christmas Tree Farms

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Cut your own real Christmas Tree this year!

Or watch someone else cut it for you?

At any rate, heading out into the cool, hopefully, snowy wilds of Grand Rapids is a fun way to pick the perfect tree.

Christmas Tree Farms button
Click here to find Christmas Tree Farms

Nutcrackers, Christmas Plays & Holiday Concerts

NUTCRACKERS, CHRISTMAS PLAYS AND HOLIDAY CONCERTS

Celebrate Christmas in Grand Rapids with the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Nutcracker, back on stage for 2021. Or head to the Civic Theatre to see.

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

Every Christmas Story Ever Told...(and then some!)

Three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung.

GR Symphony: Holiday Pops

A Grand Rapids tradition continues! Our annual Holiday Pops will ring in the season with song.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

In this hilarious Christmas tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids - probably the most inventively awful kids in history.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told...(and then some!)

Three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung.

GR Symphony: Holiday Pops

A Grand Rapids tradition continues! Our annual Holiday Pops will ring in the season with song.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

In this hilarious Christmas tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids - probably the most inventively awful kids in history.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told...(and then some!)

Three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung.

GR Symphony: Holiday Pops

A Grand Rapids tradition continues! Our annual Holiday Pops will ring in the season with song.

GR Symphony: Holiday Pops

A Grand Rapids tradition continues! Our annual Holiday Pops will ring in the season with song.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

In this hilarious Christmas tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids - probably the most inventively awful kids in history.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

In this hilarious Christmas tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids - probably the most inventively awful kids in history.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told...(and then some!)

Three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung.

GR Symphony: Holiday Pops

A Grand Rapids tradition continues! Our annual Holiday Pops will ring in the season with song.

Christmas with Selah

Join us in celebrating a night of Christmas worship with Selah.

West Michigan Symphony: Home for the Holidays

Ms. Cheung and our cast of young choristers will charm your whole family in this concert of holiday favorites.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

Holland Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert: Home for the Holidays

Helen Welch will join the HSO for a festive concert featuring seasonal light classics, traditional carols and holiday pops.

Holland Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert: Home for the Holidays

Helen Welch will join the HSO for a festive concert featuring seasonal light classics, traditional carols and holiday pops.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Share the joy of the season as we rejoice in our return to the stage for the city’s favorite holiday tradition.

The Nutcracker Tea

Join the characters from "The Nutcracker" for a very special meet-and-greet tea party!

GR Symphony Presents Cirque De Noel

Experience this captivating evening of gravitational feats while enjoying exciting classical and seasonal musical selections performed by your GR Symphony.

GR Symphony Presents Cirque De Noel

Experience this captivating evening of gravitational feats while enjoying exciting classical and seasonal musical selections performed by your GR Symphony.

Holiday Tree Lightings

HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTINGS

There’s nothing quite like standing outside, bundled up in your warmest winter clothes, and eagerly anticipating the very first time the Christmas tree is lit for the season.

Luckily for us, there are several places around west Michigan with holiday tree lightings. You can re-live the magic again and again – all in one season.

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Hudsonville

Free kids activities, photos with Santa, complimentary snacks and beverages (while supplies last), horse and carriage rides throughout Hudsonville’s Downtown, and more! The Tree will be lit at 6pm.

Christmas Trains

CHRISTMAS TRAINS

Chugga-chugga CHOO – CHOO!

Whether it’s watching a model one circle beneath the tree or going for a real ride, trains and Christmas just go together.

Visit our list to find all the places where you see or ride trains this Christmas season.

Christmas Tree Farm button
Click here to find Christmas Tree Farms

Christmas Parades

CHRISTMAS PARADES AND HOLIDAY PARADES

While some parades are still on hiatus this year (we miss you, GR Santa Parade!), others are back, ready to help you usher in the season.

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

Allendale Rotary Club's Holiday Lights "Drive-thru" Parade

A reverse parade where the community will drive their vehicles around to see the lights and floats.

Annual Whootville Christmas Parade + Santa's Workshop

Parade starts at 1pm beginning at Wicks Park. Santa will be making a special appearance! Santa's Workshop (11am-4pm)- photo opportunities with Santa plus kids craft projects, tree decorating, music, refreshments and more!

Sleigh Rides

Go on a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

A horse-drawn sleigh ride is probably the ultimate old-fashioned holiday experience. Here’s where you can jingle all the way around West Michigan.

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Christmas Events: Live Nativities

Many families include a Nativity Set as part of their Christmas decorations, and in my family, it is also kind of an “active” part in our Advent traditions. We station the animals around an empty manger on one end of the house, and place Mary, Joseph, and the donkey on the other end. 

As the weeks of Advent go by, the Holy Family makes a (careful) trek across the house and ends up next to the manger by Christmas Eve. A designated child gets to put Baby Jesus in the manger Christmas morning before the presents are opened.

In a small way, this helps us to visualize the coming of Christmas and builds excitement as my kids see the figures get closer to their designation. 

If you are looking for a fun way to really 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.

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Christmas Gift Ideas

Giving kids an experience for Christmas instead of piles of toys is an idea that’s been taking off with parents. Honing your gift-buying down to just a couple of really meaningful gifts means that you have to be very intentional about which gifts you choose.

Our list of over 50 holiday gift experience ideas for Grand Rapids families lays it all out for you so you can see what’s available and choose the perfect gift for each person in your family – including over a dozen local makers eager to help with your gift-giving.

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Free Christmas Events & Activities 

Free Christmas fun around Grand Rapids.

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Seasonal Fun

If you are trying to make each day count this holiday season, this section is for you.

If you are looking for something free and right in your neighborhood, check out your local library! Many branches hold different (and usually free) events to help you fully enjoy the holiday season.

1) December Activities Around GR

With Santa sightings, festive productions, things to do out in the snow or warm and snug indoors, there is a whole host of happenings to keep you going this December.

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2) Winter Break Ideas

Drive around town to look for festive light displays, learn about Christmas traditions around the world at Meijer Gardens, go snowshoeing, play laser tag, watch a show. We have dozens of ideas for ways to help fill your winter break!

3) Muskegon Winter Sports Complex

Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is the place to go for all kinds of fun in the snow. Families can ice skate through the woods, ride the luge, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, and more.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the season, we hope it is full of joy and light.

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