Crowds gather around a 21-foot Christmas tree on Main Street to sing carols during a past Caroling in the City in downtown Rochester.

Crowds gather around a 21-foot Christmas tree on Main Street to sing carols during a past Caroling in the City in downtown Rochester.

Photo provided by the Rochester Downtown Development Authority

Downtown events help foster a holly jolly holiday

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published December 6, 2023


ROCHESTER — Downtown Rochester continues to spread cheer this month with holiday events to complement the city’s popular Big, Bright Light Show.

Rochester Downtown Development Authority Director Kristi Trevarrow said downtown Rochester has become one of metro Detroit’s Christmas destinations over the years.

Arguably the city’s most popular holiday event is the Big, Bright Light Show — which lights up downtown storefronts with more than 1 million multicolored Christmas lights and brings over 1 million people into town.

This year’s event made its debut during Lagniappe Nov. 20, but it continues to run nightly 5 p.m.-midnight through Jan. 21.

In addition to the light show, there are many other holiday-themed events the community can enjoy downtown this month.

The city’s fourth annual Neighborhood Light Fight extends the Big, Bright Light Show into the neighborhoods, allowing the public to vote for their favorite street through Dec. 10.

“We now have five teams this year — the most we’ve ever had — including our returning champions, Alice in Winterland. We also have Lights on Ludlow, Holidays on Helen, Wesley Wonderland, Rudolph’s Helpers on First Street,” Trevarrow said.

The community is invited to check out the five displays and text a code to the number on their favorite street’s yard signs to cast a vote in their favor. The winning street receives $500 in food for a summer block party. Lights on Ludlow took first in 2020 and 2021, with Alice in Wonderland winning the light fight last year.

The winning street will be announced onstage during the city’s Caroling in the City event, which will be held 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Trevarrow said the event has more holiday spirit than you can shake a candy cane at — including Christmas choir performances, strolling carolers, an ugly sweater contest and a community sing around a giant Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street.

“Caroling is fun because Main Street will be closed, so it’s fun to walk around and get your photo with the Big Bright Light Show and really get your family into the holiday spirit before Christmas,” said Jenna O’Dell, downtown Rochester events coordinator.

“We bring a 21-foot Christmas tree and drop it in the middle of Main Street for people to take photos with and sing carols around,” Trevarrow added.

People can gather at the Rochester Fire Department 5-8 p.m. Dec. 14 for the second annual Pancakes and PJs event. Attendees, many dressed in pajamas, will enjoy a Grinch-themed pancake dinner cooked and provided by Rochester firefighters, a kids craft and a holiday-themed photo spot. Tickets cost $15 each, and advance reservations are required online at the Rochester DDA website by Dec. 12. Each one-hour reservation block has limited seating, and proceeds from the event benefit The Big, Bright Light Show.

“This is another opportunity to do a fun, family fundraiser … and all the proceeds benefit the Big, Bright Light Show,” Trevarrow said.

Downtown visitors and guests can also check out the second annual Snowman Stroll, which is on display along Main Street, from Second Street to University, through Dec. 31. The public art event features 12 5-foot fiberglass snowmen designed by local artists and sponsored by local businesses.

For more information, visit or call the Rochester DDA at (248) 656-0060.