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

Biermacher Christmas trees truck Hunt

2020’s Grand Rapids Christmas Events & Activities

2020 has been a year for the memory books for sure. We don’t know what Christmas will look like this year, but West Michigan is going to make the most of it.

Some Grand Rapids Christmas events have been canceled (Christmas at Deer Tracks Junction, we will miss you), while others have been reimagined.

And while many of us are “over” virtual experiences, the idea of the kids getting a virtual visit from Santa sounds pretty rad. Timid kids may be less shy about a Santa who calls them up via zoom, and doesn’t it just feel more special when Santa calls you direct?

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 finally closing the door on 2020 and hope for great new things in 2021!

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.

Table of Contents

Christmas Performances »
Traditions: Santa, Light Displays, Christmas Trees, Sleigh Rides »
Grand Rapids Gift Guide »
Winter Break Ideas & December Things to Do »

Featured Holiday Happenings

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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.

This year Santa visits will be different because if Santa gets coronavirus, present delivery will be in jeopardy!

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


Christmas Lights

Take in Spectacular Christmas Light Displays

This one will be a favorite socially distanced activity this 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!

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 Farm button

Nutcrackers, Christmas Plays & Holiday Concerts

Grand Rapids Christmas Events: Ballets, Choirs, and Performances

Although the holidays can be amazing, they can also be exhausting. Sometimes just sitting and relaxing is one of the best ways to enjoy the season. And if you can be entertained all the while, I call that a win-win.

Celebrate Christmas in Grand Rapids with the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Nutcracker, going virtual for 2020. Or head to the Civic Theatre to see A Christmas Carol, their first show on stage since March 12.

These are a just couple of the many performances this holiday season.

Holiday Tree Lightings

Christmas Trains

Christmas Parades

Sleigh Rides

Go on a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

Giddy up, giddy up, let’s go!

This is probably the ultimate old-fashioned holiday experience. Here’s where you can jingle all the way around Grand Rapids.

Christmas Nativities

Christmas Gift Ideas

Holiday Gift Ideas & Experiences

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.

Grand Rapids Holiday Traditions

Every family has their own Christmas and holiday traditions, whether it’s visiting Santa, chopping down a Christmas tree or lighting the Menorah. Here are some places you can celebrate favorite Christmas traditions.

5) Celebrate Sinterklaas, a Regional Tradition 

Sinterklaas makes his way to West Michigan every December via the area’s strong Dutch heritage, and this year, we think you can ditch Elf on the Shelf for this fun, easy tradition.

While Americans celebrate Christmas on December 24 & 25, our friends in the Netherlands celebrate on December 5 & 6. This gives West Michigan families the chance to have Christmas fun TWICE each year.

The aptly named lakeshore town Holland even has an annual Sinterklaas celebration.


Something Fun to Do With Kids All Season Long

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.

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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