Cozying up on a carriage ride with hot cocoa in-hand or waiting in line for your little ones to share wish-lists with Santa — Grand Rapids is full of festive spots that make the season merry & bright!
So, whether you’re shopping an artisan holiday market or setting out in search of the best Christmas lights, you’ll love finding ways to make these magical Grand Rapids traditions your own!
Grand Rapids Holiday Traditions
Art Van Santa Parade Centennial (Nov. 23) See Santa ride through Downtown Grand Rapids and over the iconic Blue Bridge on a vintage, 1950s sleigh while the sound of live carolers and local marching bands fills the air. Get your photo snapped with Santa across the street from Rosa Parks Circle so you can remember this magical, 100-year-old Grand Rapids tradition forever!
A Very Merry Market Day (Nov. 23) Shop holiday gifts from over 45 artisans gathered inside Downtown Market Grand Rapids and sample seasonal treats from 20+ food vendors. On the way out, swing by the Downtown Market Christmas Tree & Decor Lot to find a fresh tree or wreath from local Lenderink Tree Farms!
Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions (Nov. 26 – Jan. 5) See 300,000 colorful lights aglow across 46 international trees and displays while you honor holiday cultures from around the globe at Frederik Meijer Gardens. Listen to strolling carolers, visit Santa, and have your little ones help you spot his rooftop reindeer!
Christmas Lite Show at Fifth Third Ballpark (Nov. 27 – Jan. 4) Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and head to West Michigan’s largest, animated, drive-thru light show — where almost 2 miles lined by more than a million holiday lights have made Christmas dreams come true for 22 years! Drive through from the comfort of your car or ride through on the Memory Lane Train, and time your visit to one of Santa’s special appearances.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 1) Hear the multi-platinum progressive rock group perform “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” at Van Andel Arena — set to all-new staging and special effects for an epic Christmas concert experience.
BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley (Dec. 4-28) See the Christmas Lite Show at Fifth Third Ballpark, residential lights displays around Grand Rapids, and Rosa Parks Circle’s 47-foot Christmas tree — all from a festive trolley where you can bring your own adult beverages on-board!
Wolverine Worldwide Holiday Pops (Dec. 5-8) Hear the Grand Rapids Symphony perform yuletide classics like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Sleigh Ride” during Grand Rapids’ favorite holiday music tradition.
31st Annual UICA Holiday Artists Market (Dec. 7) Shop handcrafted gifts by regional artists with a backdrop of live holiday music while you sample from local food and beverage vendors.
Grand Rapids Ballet Presents The Nutcracker 2019 (Dec. 13-15 & 20-22) Experience one of West Michigan’s favorite holiday traditions when The Nutcracker returns to DeVos Performance Hall, set to the sounds of the Grand Rapids Symphony.
Tree Lighting Ceremonies & Parades
Gaslight Village Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (Nov. 29) Take a carriage ride, snack on s’mores, and see Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their reindeer arrive — all leading up to this magical tree lighting.
Kentwood Tree Lighting & Holiday Light Parade (Dec. 5) Santa visits, live music, carriage rides, hot chocolate, and caroling — all paired with a holiday light parade and tree lighting ceremony.
Tinsel, Treats, and Trolleys 2019 (Dec. 6) Annual bridge lighting ceremony in Ada, complete with trolley rides, treats, caroling, and the all-new Santa’s Village.
Grandville Christmas Parade (Dec. 6) See live reindeer and a Christmas camel, take a ride on the Holiday Train, and stop for a photo op with Rudolph, Frosty, or the Grinch — and that’s just the pre-party! Afterward, line up along the parade route to see holiday floats cruise to festive tunes by the Grandville Marching Band.
Rockford Holiday Lighting Ceremony (Dec. 6) Head to the Dam Overlook in Peppler Park for this inviting holiday lighting ceremony — brought to life with Christmas carols by the Rockford Public Schools Choir — and be sure to take a free carriage ride, too!
76th Annual Rockford Santa Parade (Dec. 7) Watch this festive parade wind through Downtown Rockford, then enjoy everything from Santa visits to free hot chocolate and cookies — even children’s activities and free carriage rides!
Lowell Christmas Festivities (Dec. 7) Enjoy Christmas shopping all about town, a holiday art & craft show, Santa visits on the Riverwalk, and the annual Night-Time Santa Parade to top it off.
Christmas in Caledonia (Dec. 7) See the Santa Parade along Main Street, but stay for the tree lighting ceremony, Santa visits, Christmas caroling, and more.