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

Biermacher Christmas trees truck Hunt

2021’s Grand Rapids Christmas Events & Activities

Well, 2021 is 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!).

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.

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, including Christmas events, to celebrate Christmas in Grand Rapids with the whole family.


Critter Barn mega holiday fun guide 2021

9275 Adams Street Zeeland, MI 49464

Are you looking for some Winter fun?

The Critter Barn will be open during December with a Live Nativity and the spirit of Christmas throughout the farm.

Farm visits continue through January, February and March.

We’re open Tuesday through Saturday. Please check our website for season details.

Admission is $5 for guests ages 3 and up, $25 per Family of the same household. Groups of 15 or more are welcome, but please call ahead.

Please note: all activities are at 9275 Adams Street in Zeeland. We hope to move to our new farm later in 2022.

Since 1990, Critter Barn in Zeeland has hosted school field trips, classes, and open hours for visiting. Our 3-acre farm is home to goats, sheep, cows, pigs, rabbits, cats, chickens, and more!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

“After watching the Live Nativity, my granddaughter asked, 'Is Bethlehem a real place?' What a joy to share with Louise...the whole Christmas story is true.”
- Grandpa R, Fennville, MI

Fowling Warehouse

6797 Cascade Rd SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Looking for a fun and unique holiday adventure this year? Get in out of the cold and go Fowling!

This original football bowling pin game is taking Grand Rapids by storm.

Reserve a private time for up to 10 people for 2 hours for $120 per lane. OR Unlimited walk-in Open Play for $10 / person. Winners stay, losers call next on another lane.

Bring in your own food or have it delivered. No outside beverages, but enjoy our pop, juices, and bottled water - plus two 45 ft long fully stocked bars.

With 45,000 sq ft, there is plenty of room to play, socialize, and celebrate!

Santa Events

Visiting Santa Claus

Seeing 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 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.

santa events button

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!

Or, take the road trip a bit further and enjoy these Drive Thru Christmas Light Shows all around Michigan.

christmas lights button

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

Nutcrackers, Christmas Plays & Holiday Concerts

NUTCRACKERS, CHRISTMAS PLAYS & 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 The Sound of Music.

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

Grand Rapids Symphony: Home for the Holidays

Hastings Performing Arts Center
520 W. South Street, Hastings, MI 49058
November 18, 2021

Come Home for the Holidays with the Grand Rapids Symphony and celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas. Tickets- $10 Details

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Master Arts Theatre
75 77th St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49548
November 18, 2021 – December 4, 2021

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. DETAILS

Every Christmas Story Every Told… (and then some!)

Frauenthal Center Beardsley Theater
425 W Western Ave STE 200, Muskegon, MI 49440
November 19, 2021 – December 5, 2021

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. Details

The Sound of Music

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
30 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
November 19, 2021 – December 19, 2021

Live on stage! A timeless story, iconic music, and memorable characters come together in this Civic Theatre holiday tradition for the whole family. Tickets

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

DeVos Performance Hall
303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
November 22, 2021

Celebrate the holiday season singing along to holiday tunes with live theater!
The most famous reindeer of them all from the longest-running and highest-rated holiday television special will fly into Grand Rapids this November.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical christmas events

CARE Ballet Presents: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

East Grand Rapids High School Performing Arts Center 2211 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
November 26, 2021 – November 28, 2021

One hour long. This original ballet, based on Clement C. Moore’s familiar poem and set to traditional holiday music, has become a Thanksgiving Weekend tradition in Grand Rapids. Even the youngest members of your family will enjoy this show! DETAILS

Broadway Grand Rapids Presents: 35th Anniversary Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

DeVos Performance Hall
303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
November 29, 2021

Join the celebration as Mannheim Steamroller makes history again – Celebrating 35 years of holiday. DETAILS

Singing Christmas Tree

Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts
425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon, MI  49440
December 1, 2021 – December 4, 2021

The giant tree holds 240 of the 275 singers that are in the Mona Shores High School Choir (the remainder sing
from a position below the Tree). The choir is joined by our 50 member Mona Shores High School Orchestra. All the singers make up a 67 feet tall Christmas tree. DETAILS

GR Symphony: Holiday Pops

DeVos Performance Hall
303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
December 2, 2021 – December 5, 2021

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

Grand Rapids Symphony Holiday Pops
Grand Rapids Symphony Holiday Pops – 2017

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Winter Tour

Van Andel Arena
130 West Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
December 5, 2021

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra announced its highly-anticipated Winter Tour 2021, returning with the unforgettable show that started it all, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.” The tour stops at Van Andel Arena for two shows on Sunday, December 5th at 3:00 PM and 7:30 PM. DETAILS

Christmas with Selah

Ridge Point Community Church
340 104th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
December 9, 2021

A night of Christmas worship with Selah. DETAILS

West Michigan Symphony: Home for the Holidays

Frauenthal Center
425 W Western Ave STE 200, Muskegon, MI 49440
December 10, 2021

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

GR Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

DeVos Performance Hall
303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
December 10 – 12, 2021
December 17 – 19, 2021

Join Clara as she journeys through the Land of the Sweets, guided by the Sugar Plum Fairy where she is dazzled by swirling snowflakes and waltzing flowers. Grand Rapids Ballet dancers perform enchanting choreography by Val Caniparoli in front of wonderfully imagined sets for The Nutcracker! DETAILS

Holland Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert: Home for the Holidays

Dimnent Chapel at Hope College
277 College Ave., Holland, MI 49423
December 11 – 12, 2021

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

West Michigan Youth Ballet Proudly Presents The Nutcracker

Forest Hills Fine Arts Center
600 Forest Hills Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
December 11 – 12, 2021

It’s Christmas Eve, and Clara is thrilled to receive an intriguing present from her godfather. DETAILS

Michigan Ballet Academy Presents The Nutcracker

Jenison Center for the Arts
8375 20th Ave, Jenison, MI 49428
December 17 – 19, 2021

The Michigan Ballet Academy proudly presents The Nutcracker! This unique and beautiful production will bring holiday cheer to the entire family. Join Clara in her enchanting adventure with feisty mice, dancing bonbons, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the brave Nutcracker prince!

Michigan Ballet Academy will be joined by the talented Girls Choral Academy during the magical Snow Scene. There will also be a Nutcracker Tea on Sunday, December 19 at 1:00 pm at the Jenison Center For the Arts (tickets required.)
DETAILS

GR Symphony Presents Cirque De Noel

DeVos Performance Hall
303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
December 21 – 22, 2021

Satisfy all your senses at Cirque de Noël! Cirque de la Symphonie amazes audiences with the skills of acrobats, aerialists, contortionists, jugglers and strongmen! Experience this captivating evening of gravitational feats while enjoying exciting classical and seasonal musical selections performed by your Grand Rapids Symphony. DETAILS

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.

Christmas Trains

CHRISTMAS TRAINS

There is something magical about trains at Christmas time. Kids and adults alike look forward to these favorite West Michigan traditions every year. Here’s where you can find holiday train fun this year.

Michigan Christmas Trains

Railway Garden at Meijer Gardens – Christmas & Holiday Traditions

Frederik Meijer Gardens
1000 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
November 23, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Model trains and trolleys run through an incredible miniature Grand Rapids village that spans several indoor gardens.
Each village piece is crafted from natural materials, and features many popular Grand Rapids area buildings and spaces.

meijer-gardens-holiday-train-garden
Holiday Railway Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Holiday Train Show – Zeeland

November 19, 2021 – December 18, 2021
Howard Miller Community Center
14 South Church St, Zeeland, MI 49464


The Holland Modular Railroad Club, fondly called ‘a traveling railroad club,’ takes their train all over West Michigan.

This holiday season, their holiday themed models return to the Howard Miller Community Center in Zeeland.

“Breton Village Train” at the Gerald R. Ford Museum

November 22, 2021 – January 2, 2022
Gerald R. Ford Museum
303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI  49504


For nearly thirty years a whimsical miniature train display brought families and train enthusiasts alike to the Breton Village Mall each holiday season.

Since the remodel of Breton Village, their famed train has found a new home at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

The train now has nods to President Ford’s life such as South High School, Bill’s Place Diner, the Quonset Hut used in his congressional campaign, and even a miniature version of the iconic statue that greets visitors outside of the Museum.

The train set was created and maintained by Herb DeVries and his family, who poured endless hours of their time and talent into the display, simply because it brought joy to others.

FREE for children (17 and under) and $8.00 for adults. All tickets must be purchased in advance.

Santa Train 2021

Coopersville & Marne Railway
306 Main St, Coopersville, MI 49404

November 27, 2021 – December 19, 2021

Elves will escort the children to sit with Santa. All children get a present, even the shy ones! The story-telling Princess will read Christmas-themed books to the children in each of the decorated railcars.

All of the train cars are comfortably heated and each has a restroom on board. Online tickets must be purchased in advance. Masks requested. 90 minutes.

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.

2017 Cedar Springs Kris Kringle Parade & Tree Lighting Ceremony
2017 Cedar Springs Kris Kringle Parade & Tree Lighting Ceremony

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.

Christmas Sleigh Rides button
Click here to find sleigh rides

Live Nativities

Many families include a Nativity Set as part of their Christmas decorations.

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.

Drive-Thru Star of Wonder – Live Nativity

Fri – Sun, Dec 3 – 5, 2021 – 6-9 pm
CranHill Camp – 14444 17 Mile Rd, Rodney, MI 49342

This drive-thru LIVE nativity is complete with actors, animals, lights, and narration. Free, open to the public. After driving through the live nativity performance, you are welcome to join us at the Barn Store! The Barn Store will be open for ice cream, snacks, and gifts.

Fellinlove Farm’s Mini Nativity

Sat & Sun Dec 11 & 12, 2021 – 4-6 pm
Sat & Sun Dec 18 & 19, 2021 – 4-6 pm
Fellinlove Farm – 6364 144th Ave, Holland, MI 49423

Come Celebrate the Birth of Jesus through a Live MINI Nativity! Live animals, nature trail, hot cocoa & more! $5 suggested donation.

2021 Bethlehem Experience & Live Nativity

Friday, Dec 10 from 6-8pm,
Saturday, Dec 11 from 5-8pm
Sunday, Dec 12 from 5-7pm.
Jenison Bible Church, 6360 14th Ave, Hudsonville, MI 49426

We are so excited to be able to provide this event for our community after a year off last year!

When you arrive, you will be able to visit Bethlehem and experience a market and more.

When you leave Bethlehem, you will be directed to a waiting area with crafts and activities for the kids while you wait for your group’s time to head outside for the Live Nativity.

The Live Nativity is outside and includes an animal petting area as well where kids can see and pet some animals.

When your outside tour is over, you are welcomed back inside for refreshments and to warm up.

Christmas Gift Ideas

Our list of 50+ holiday gift experience ideas for West MI 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.

We’ve also included a list of places where you can shop locally. And yes, there are some cool toy ideas, too.

Christmas gift ideas button

Free Christmas Events & Activities 

Cost doesn’t need to hold you back from Christmas fun. West Michigan is filled with opportunities for free Christmas fun.

free christmas button

More 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.

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!

Winter Sports to Try

The holidays mark the beginning of the snowy season in Grand Rapids, and the time when winter sports start up.

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.

1 thought on “Fabulous Christmas Events You Can’t Miss – Shows, Parades, Christmas Lights & Santa”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *