The holidays in Ann Arbor kick off with lighting ceremonies, parades and shopping events, then continue throughout the season with themed classes, concerts, plays, screenings and more. To help you join the fun this year, we rounded up more than 25 events where you can shop local holiday gifts, meet Santa, enjoy carriage rides, and even get your blood pumping with a festive 5k!
November 16 – December 31 | Ann Arbor Art Center
Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Art Center
The Ann Arbor Art Center’s annual Holiday Art Shop gives you the opportunity to support a local organization and local artists when you’re shopping for gifts this season. Located in the gallery shop and open every day of the week, you’ll find one-of-a-kind creations and amazing art pieces.
Tree Lighting Festival | Ann Arbor
November 25, 5 – 6 p.m. | Kerrytown Market & Shops
Kerrytown kicks off the holiday season with the Tree Lighting Festival each year. Join them in the courtyard for caroling, lights and candle luminaries, and RSVP to the event on Facebook for updates.
November 27, 6 – 7 p.m. | KeyBank
The holidays in Saline begin November 27th right downtown in front of KeyBank. Additional fun includes tree decorating, hot cocoa, cookies and holiday sing-a-longs!
November 28 – December 24 | Zingerman’s Bakehouse
The most popular event from Zingerman’s Bakehouse is back for the 2018 holiday season! Fancy Schmancy Holiday Cookies teaches participants how to make the best cookie creations using whole grains, local ingredients and freshly milled flours. There are 70 classes through Christmas Eve and all the spots are currently sold out, but if you sign up for the waitlist, you may be able to snag an opening in the event of a cancellation.
Other holiday-themed events with Zingerman’s includes Holiday Sweet Breads, Buche de Noel and Ari’s Greatest Hits Of 2018, and all of these have multiple dates and classes.
November 30 – December 1 | Various locations
In Chelsea, the holiday kick-off lasts an entire weekend! The activities start with Santa lighting the Christmas tree at Pierce Park on Friday night and end with a holiday carol concert featuring singing groups from the churches of Chelsea on Sunday evening. Highlights throughout the weekend include Santa’s Workshop, gingerbread house decorating, the annual Light Parade, and more. To see the full activity schedule, click here.
November 30, 4 – 10 p.m. | Ann Arbor Farmers Market
Coinciding with Midnight Madness, Kerrytown KindleFest is Ann Arbor’s version of the German tradition Christkindlmarkt. In the same location as the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, you’ll find artisans, farmers and retailers selling their holiday wares plus traditional food like pretzels, bratwursts, roasted nuts, Glühwein (a mulled wine) and beer. You can shop Kerrytown retail businesses which will be open late then grab a spot around a fire pit for warmth and s’mores!
November 30, 6 p.m. – close | State Street District
During Main Street Ann Arbor’s Midnight Madness and Kerrytown Kindlefest, be sure to head over to State Street District, too! Businesses in the area will be offering amazing deals as they gear up for the holidays, including Bivouac, The M Den, The Original Cottage Inn and more.
November 30, 7 – 9 p.m. | Main Street Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Main Street Area Association
Just in time for holiday shopping season, downtown Ann Arbor businesses stay open late for one of our community’s favorite shopping events. Main Street Ann Arbor’s Midnight Madness includes holiday specials inside shops and restaurants, as well as visits by Santa Claus and Miss Washtenaw County as well as performances by various outdoor entertainers.
November 30 – December 1 | Downtown Manchester
An amazing hometown celebration every year, Manchester’s Christmas in the Village includes a Christmas parade, business decorating and tree decorating contests, carriage rides, a scavenger hunt, cookie sale, home tour, pop-up market, pajama movie party and more! Follow the team on Facebook for updates.
November 30 – December 2 | Concordia University
One of Ann Arbor’s favorite Christmas celebrations kicks off on November 30th this year. A Manor Christmas is another local Christkindlmarkt, featuring tours of the historic Earhart mansion decorated for Christmas by professional designers, a unique Festival of Trees, premium artificial pre-lit trees for sale and, of course, the European-style Christmas market. Tickets are between $5 and $7 and you can buy them online here.
Christmas at the Mansion | Dexter
November 30 – December 2 | Gordon Hall
Hosted by Dexter Area Historical Society, the 2018 Christmas at the Mansion events last all weekend and include a special event on Friday, tours of Gordon Hall on Saturday, and a special tea on Sunday. Whether you’re volunteering or just enjoying the attractions, you’re welcome at the Mansion this season!
November 30 – December 30 | Theatre NOVA
Each year, Theatre Nova puts on a new holiday-themed play for the holidays. Created by the same team behind The Year Without a Panto Claus and Sugar Plum Panto, this year’s production is a mash-up of musical comedy, slapstick, vaudeville and fun. See all the showtimes and buy your tickets here.
December 1, 5 – 11 p.m. | Various locations
Image courtesy of Just Curious, LLC via Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels
Hosted by Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, the annual Holiday Home Tour explores some of the most historic homes in our community and is the unofficial kick-off to the holidays in Ypsi. The 2018 event includes an inside look at five homes in our community and is followed by the Afterglow Reception, complete with local drinks, appetizers and desserts, live music and a silent auction. Get more information and purchase your tickets here.
Holiday Bazaar at the Museum | Dexter
December 1 | Dexter Area Museum
Hosted by Dexter Area Historical Society during the same weekend as Christmas at the Mansion, you’re invited to the annual Holiday Bazaar at the Museum. There, you can shop handcrafted holiday decorations, wreaths, unique gifts, hand-knit apparel, toys, gifts for pets, and the Guild’s signature scrubbies. And be sure to grab something from the bake sale!
December 1, 5:30 – 9 p.m. | Downtown Saline
Saline’s holiday fun continues after the tree lighting on November 27th with the 43rd Annual Christmas Parade. The parade itself includes more than 100 floats, animals, dancers, musicians and even a hot air balloon. Guests can also see Santa himself in Downtown Saline!
December 6 – 8 | The Ark
This holiday show has been an Ann Arbor tradition since it began in 2007. Now, each year in December, The Ragbirds present a collaborative musical production suitable for the whole family. In 2018, Erin Zindle—known by her stage name, EBird—is joining the fun for four shows of vocals, fiddles, horns, bagpipes, guitars and instruments from all over the world.
December 7, 5:30 – 11:30 p.m. | Marriott Ann Arbor Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest
This concert and holiday party invites you to an elegant setting complete with a gourmet dinner buffet, open bar and live entertainment from Your Generation in Concert. Different price packages include dinner and the concert, the concert only, band meet and greets, and more. Get all the info here.
December 8, 4 p.m. | Monument Park
Photo courtesy of Robert Bowden Photography via RF Events – Holiday Hustle 5K & 1 Mile
This one-mile fun run and 5k in Dexter has become one of our favorite family traditions in the area. The hilly dash through the community allows participants to take in the neighborhood light displays and run in festive costume and lights, too! Five dollars from each registration will be donated to local charities and race day participants can bring non-perishable food items to receive free raffle tickets.
For more events, all year long, check out the RF Events race calendar.
December 8, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. | Busch’s Shopping Center
Treasure Trail to Santa invites kids and their families to visit Santa and take photos, explore the Busch’s Shopping Center, enjoy treats and free carriage rides, and more. Admission is free, but be sure to dress for the weather!
December 9, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. | Hudson Mills Metropark Activity Center
The two Santa Central events at Hudson Mills Metropark allow you and your family to meet Santa and take photos with your own camera. Then, you can all enjoy a hayride and make seasonal crafts to take home. For pre-registration information, click here.
December 8 – 9 | Riverside Arts Center
Photo courtesy of Heather Nash Photography via DIYpsi; art by Diosa de la Luna
DIYpsi is a handmade art fair that takes place in Ypsilanti’s business districts once each summer and once each winter. Their holiday market this year will feature 90 vendors at Riverside Arts Center. Come to shop local and enjoy the community’s favorite indie art fair!
December 10, 8 p.m. | The Ark
It’s been several years since The Weepies played in Ann Arbor, and they’re returning this holiday season for a festive acoustic show a The Ark! Get more details and buy your tickets here.
December 14, 8 – 10 p.m. | Hill Auditorium
This Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra tradition returns to Hill Auditorium on December 14th. The community’s favorite choruses will come together with orchestral instruments to present all our favorite classical and pop melodies of the season. And Santa may even make an appearance!
December 15, 6:30 p.m. | Michigan Theater
Presented by the Academy of Russian Classical Ballet and the Michigan Classical Ballet, The Nutcracker is coming to Michigan Theater this holiday season. The live show will feature some of Michigan’s best ballet students alongside international professional ballet dancers as guest artists.
December 23, 2 p.m. | Michigan Theater
Part of the world-renowned National Theatre Live series, The Bolshoi Theater’s production of The Nutcracker will be screened at the Michigan Theater right before Christmas this year. Join the fun for two full hours or professional performance and festive fun on screen.