Take your holiday celebration outside this season with festive events

 Rochester’s Big, Bright Light Show will illuminate the city’s downtown through the beginning of the new year.

Rochester’s Big, Bright Light Show will illuminate the city’s downtown through the beginning of the new year.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published December 6, 2017

 Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights wraps up each night with a Christmas singalong and fireworks display.

Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights wraps up each night with a Christmas singalong and fireworks display.

Photo provided by Halie Keith, of The Henry Ford

 The Detroit Zoo’s annual Wild Lights event features light sculptures and displays with more than 5 million eco-friendly LED lights.

The Detroit Zoo’s annual Wild Lights event features light sculptures and displays with more than 5 million eco-friendly LED lights.

File photo provided by the Detroit Zoo

 Grab a ride around Greenfield Village in a historic Model T during the park’s annual Holiday Nights festival, running weekends through the new year.

Grab a ride around Greenfield Village in a historic Model T during the park’s annual Holiday Nights festival, running weekends through the new year.

Photo provided by Halie Keith, of The Henry Ford

METRO DETROIT — Holiday revelry isn’t reserved for the end of the month. Certainly not when there are exciting festivities happening all throughout December that are sure to put the whole family in the spirit.

The calendar of holiday events happening across metro Detroit is packed. Many programs have already kicked off and will run through the new year.

 

Wild Lights
Like Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo. Last month, the zoo began to welcome guests on weekends and select weekdays near Christmas to see more than 5 million LED lights illuminating trees, buildings and more than 230 animal sculptures throughout the front half of the zoo. 

As you can imagine, creating such an elaborate display every year takes a lot of planning and long days wrestling with strands of eco-friendly lights.

“Certainly, the lights start going out in August, and they’re visible throughout the fall, but nothing should look like the holidays until after (the Halloween event) ZooBoo is over,” said Steven Greening, technical supervisor for the Detroit Zoo. “Then it’s a mad dash to get well over 200 light sculptures, miles of garland, all the wreaths and other items into place to tie the whole project together. In about three weeks, we get it together.”

The cost to see the display ranges from $10 to $16, depending on the age of the guest and the night of the visit, with an additional $7 per car for parking. It’s recommended that visitors check for ticket availability online at DetroitZoo.org. Wild Lights will be held Dec. 8-10, 15-17, 20-23 and 26-31. The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road in Royal Oak.

 

Big, Bright Light Show
Not far away, another city is shining bright with holiday lights. Main Street in downtown Rochester celebrates the season every year with its Big, Bright Light Show. Started 12 years ago, the largest event of the year in the city brings people from around the area to see all of the buildings downtown adorned from top to bottom with more than 1.5 million lights. 

The switch was flipped late last month. Main Street will be illuminated from South Bridge to University Drive every night beginning at 5 p.m. through Jan. 8. There’s no cost to see the display.

If downtown attractions pique your interest, you’ll be excited to see what’s waiting for you in downtown Detroit during the Winter in Detroit programming. 

 

Campus Martius Park
Like in years past, the Rink at Campus Martius Park will welcome guests who are steady on their feet — and even those who need some help from the rail — to ice skate in the heart of the city below the giant Detroit Christmas tree. Skate rental costs $4, and admission to the rink costs $8 for adults and $7 for seniors and children under 12 every day, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Don’t worry. If skating isn’t your strong suit, there’s still plenty to do. Enjoy s’mores and a cocktail rinkside or at one of the farming stations; or thaw out in the Cadillac Square Lodge, a heated tent with views of the tree and the city skyline, and a selection of Michigan beers and wines amidst cozy leather couches and blankets.

Families can shop at the pop-up markets in Cadillac Square and Capitol Park. Local retailers will be selling an assortment of gifts, from jewelry to clothing — even toboggans and yoga classes — daily through the season. Pick out the perfect tannenbaum at the Christmas tree farm, or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn carriage for $10 per person Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in Cadillac Square.

“Downtown Detroit is simply magnificent this winter season,” Robert Gregory, chief planning and public spaces officer for the Downtown Detroit Partnership, said in a prepared statement. “The city’s historic skyline in tandem with the exquisite holiday décor, free programming and entertainment make it a warm and welcoming place for all to gather.”

 

Menorah in the D
Metro Detroit’s Jewish community will celebrate the Festival of Lights beginning on the first night of Hanukkah at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12 during the seventh annual Menorah in the D. 

That’s when The Shul —Chabad Lubavitch, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit, will offer live entertainment, a variety of kosher foods, and lots of games, crafts and other activities.

“The menorah being placed in the heart of the city of Detroit is a reminder to us all that we should continually work to illuminate the world around us,” Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, spiritual director and founder of The Shul of West Bloomfield, said in an email. “It’s an honor to be able to share the warmth and joy of Hanukkah with all the Jewish families throughout southeastern Michigan and the community at large.”

The highlight of the night is, of course, the lighting of the larger-than-life menorah with city dignitaries and a few celebrity appearances. The free event will take place in downtown’s Campus Martius Park. More information can be found at MenorahInTheD.com.

 

Greenfield Village Holiday Nights
If you want to create a family tradition that’s, well, steeped in tradition as old as the city itself, bundle up and head over to The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village for its annual Holiday Nights celebration. 

Guests can slip back in time and see 300 years of unique holiday history brought to life with costumed carolers, authentically decorated homes, warm bonfires and roasted chestnuts around the 80-acre park.

After you’ve enjoyed old-fashioned ice skating, artisan demonstrations, horse-drawn carriage rides and a spin around the lantern-lit grounds in a Model T, you can join the rest of the crowd at the end of the night for a singalong and fireworks finale.

Guests who frequent the popular event can look forward to a new attraction this year: a re-created dinner that took place in December 1880 in Thomas Edison’s lab, where the New York City alderman and inventor developed the world’s first practical electrical distribution system. Not to mention, Edison’s organ, located on the second floor of the lab, will be brought to life once again for the celebration.

General admission costs $26, with discounts for seniors and children under 11 years old. To buy tickets or learn more, visit TheHenryFord.org. Greenfield Village is located at 20900 Oakwood Blvd. in Dearborn.