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11 Ways You Can Celebrate the Holidays in the Ann Arbor Area This Year

The seasonal jingles, festive displays and jolly atmosphere in the Ann Arbor area can only mean one thing—the holidays are officially upon us! This time of year, the Ann Arbor area is buzzing with exciting things to do, from holiday festivals to gift shopping at some of the area’s many local businesses.  

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to all the festivities happening in the area this season, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a list of some of our favorite holiday season must-dos across Southeast Michigan, from catching a ride on a Santa train to shopping for a fresh Christmas tree at a local tree farm. Have a happy holiday season!  


Send a letter to Santa 

When you’re a kid, there’s nothing better than writing a letter to Santa and actually receiving a response in the mail! This year, your children can write their letters and drop them off at the special express mailbox in front of Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub on South Main. Santa guarantees a reply to all letters that include a return address! This special mailbox will be up from November 29th through December 14th, 2021.  


Head downtown for Midnight and Moonlight Madness 

Midnight Madness Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Main Street Ann Arbor

As two of our favorite holiday events of the year, Midnight and Moonlight Madness are both great opportunities to get a little holiday shopping done at local businesses. Both are happening in the evening on December 3rd, with Midnight Madness on Main Street and Moonlight Madness on State Street—both featuring live entertainment, local artists, retail sales, restaurant specials, holiday cheer and more! 


Shop gifts from local businesses 

We love shopping local for our holiday gifts! And because Ann Arbor is packed full of fantastic small businesses, artists and makers, it’s pretty easy to find high-quality, handcrafted gifts for your loved ones. We have a list of some “Totally Ann Arbor Gift Ideas” that includes things like coffee from RoosRoast and macarons from Le Bon Macaron and everything in between. Click here to read it and to start shopping!  


Or at one of the many regional holiday craft markets 

If you’re still searching for local gifts, the many holiday craft markets in the area have you covered! Don’t miss the Ann Arbor Holiday Art Fair at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds on December 4th and 5th; the Handcrafters Tinsel & Treasures Market on Main Street in Northville on December 10th; the Tiny Expo Indie Art & Craft Fair at the Ann Arbor District Library on December 11thor the First Annual Ypsilanti Holiday Extravaganza at 100 Market Place in Ypsi on December 18th and 19th! 


Go shopping for a Christmas tree 

Christmas Trees in Ann Arbor

Whether you’re the type of person who loves decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving or someone who likes to wait until 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, it’s never too late to pick up a fresh Christmas tree from a local Ann Arbor tree farm or nursery! We just happen to have a handy list of our favorite places to buy a freshly cut Christmas tree in the Southeast Michigan area—which includes an interactive map. You can read it here. 


Head to Brooklyn for Nite Lights 

While Brooklyn is about a 45-minute drive from Ann Arbor, we promise that the spectacular light show, Nite Lights, is well worth it! Held annually at the Michigan International Speedway, Nite Lights is a drive through Christmas light show that uses thousands of lights to create a one-of-a-kind light display set to music you can listen to in your car. The cost is $25 per car, Sunday through Thursday and $30 per car on Friday and Saturday. You can visit any day of the week from November 25th through December 31st, even on Christmas Day!  


Celebrate Chanukah at the Bais Chabad Torah Center 

If you’ll be celebrating Chanukah this year, don’t miss Chanukah Wonderland at the Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield! This very popular event will be held outdoors in a heated tent, featuring a game truck, Lego Menorahs, a holiday boutique, a dreidel mascot, Judah the Mac, a dreidel bounce house, deep fried latkes, an olive press and much more. Admission costs $5. You can learn more by visiting their website 


Enjoy festive hits at Holiday Pops 

Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

One of Ann Arbor’s most beloved holiday traditions returns to Hill Auditorium on December 10th! Kick off the holidays with some festive revelry as the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra takes the stage to perform a sleigh-full of holiday classics. Click here to purchase your tickets. 

This December, hop on the train in Tecumseh and enjoy a ride to meet Santa himself in Clinton on the Southern Michigan Railroad. This deliberately small event is purposely under booked so you don’t have to scramble to find a seat, deal with long lines and will have as much time as you want to meet with Santa. Click here to learn more and to purchase your tickets!  


Take a holiday themed class at the Ann Arbor Art Center 

Our destination for creativity in Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Art Center is a fantastic place to learn a new skill—no matter how old you are! They offer both in-person and virtual classes for all ages, including several holiday-themed ones you don’t want to miss. Learn how to paint cozy cocoa mugs; craft clay dreidelspaint a winter landscapeblock-print your own holiday cardsor create your own holiday gifts to give out to loved ones. Anything is possible when it comes to AAAC classes. Click here to explore their upcoming winter calendar!   


Catch a holiday movie at the Michigan Theater 

Celebrate the Holidays in Ann Arbor

Catch your favorite holiday classics on the big screen this season! The Michigan Theater will be hosting showings of Love Actually, A Christmas Story, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life and Frozen throughout December, kicking off after Moonlight and Midnight Madness on December 3rdClick here to see their calendar and tpurchase your tickets.  


Happy Holidays!  

From all of us at Reinhart Realtors, we hope you have a fantastic holiday season! What are you planning to do to celebrate the holidays in Ann Arbor? Let us know in the comments below!  

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