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 The annual Birmingham Winter Markt features outdoor festivities for the whole family, including a chance to pet live reindeer.

The annual Birmingham Winter Markt features outdoor festivities for the whole family, including a chance to pet live reindeer.

Photo provided by Marianne Gamboa, from the city of Birmingham

Here comes Santa Claus, right down Woodward Ave.

Community to host annual holiday events

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 2, 2019

 The Cranbrook House will host two holiday yoga sessions on Thursday, Dec. 5.

The Cranbrook House will host two holiday yoga sessions on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Photo provided by Eric Franchy, of Cranbrook House and Gardens


BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Hopefully, by now you’ve just about polished off the leftovers from Thanksgiving and you’re ready to move on, as they say, to the most wonderful time of the year.

There’s no shortage of holiday hurrahs to enjoy in the Eagle’s coverage area. From community concerts and the annual Christmas tree lighting to Cranbrook’s decorative splendor and the ever-important visit with Santa Claus himself, here are the ways to celebrate the season with the rest of the community.

Birmingham tree lighting
With the flick of a switch, city officials and Mr. Claus himself will kick off the holiday season at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, with live caroling and the lighting of the city’s 41-foot-tall tree in downtown’s Shain Park, just behind Birmingham City Hall. More than 45,000 LED lights will glow as Birmingham Mayor Pierre Boutros leads fellow city commissioners and a crowd of residents in ushering in the holidays and opening the annual Winter Markt festival in the park.

Birmingham Winter Markt
Following the tree lighting ceremony, guests can enjoy the first night of the city’s outdoor winter holiday market, a take on the centuries-old European tradition of illuminated outdoor Christmas festivities.

European food and drinks will be available to purchase, along with holiday greens and creations from more than 65 artisans that could make for a perfect one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one.

Between the booths of fresh Michigan-grown greenery, holiday crafts and décor, jewelry and treats, guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of the season, including strolling carolers, ice sculptures, live reindeer and marshmallow roasting stations.

Don’t worry if the forecast calls for flakes, because organizers said they’ve made sure there are plenty of spots to warm up.

“We work to make sure that there is something for everyone: crafts, reindeer to pet, a strolling princess and Santa for kids, great gift shopping and beer and gluhwein for the adults, and live entertainment,” said Jaimi Brook, the operations and events manager for the Birmingham Shopping District. “We will have warming stations and fire pits to help keep warm and for marshmallow roasting and making s’mores.”

New to this year’s event is an ornament giveaway, according to Birmingham Shopping District Executive Director Ingrid Tighe. Around 300 shoppers will be the lucky recipients of an ornament that will include a voucher for a free gift from a downtown Birmingham merchant.

The Winter Markt will take place 4-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, in Shain Park, behind City Hall, in downtown Birmingham.

Birmingham Santa House and carriage rides
The tree lighting and Winter Markt are also the first weekend for two Birmingham favorites: the Santa House and horse-drawn carriage rides.

Kids can get some face time with the big man inside the idyllic “home” that sits under the pavilion in Shain Park. Then the whole family can take in views of the city in a carriage ride around downtown. Riders board at the corner of Henrietta and Merrill streets, and rides are complimentary — offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Both activities are offered on weekends throughout December and on Christmas Eve. For a full schedule, visit

Holiday concerts at The Community House
Visitors are invited to bask in the beautiful sounds of the season with three performances throughout December at the downtown venue.

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Horn Quartet will perform: Mark Abbot, Karl Pituch, Scott Strong and Johanna Yarborough.

The following week, Dec. 11, will feature the Baldwin Ensemble, with Andrew Wu, Jaqueline Hanson and Andrea Yun.

The series will wrap up Dec. 18 with the Christa Grix Jazz Harp Trio, with Kurt Krahnke and Brendan Mullen.

All performances will begin at 7 p.m. and will include a dessert reception and cash bar. Tickets cost $40 each or $100 for the entire series. To reserve tickets, call The Community House at (248) 644-5832 or visit

The Community House is located at 380 S. Bates St. in downtown Birmingham.

‘A Peek at Christmas Past’ at the Birmingham Museum
Visitors to the downtown historical museum can get a dose of yuletide nostalgia during December. Curators have created a display of antique Christmas décor, keepsakes, photos of holidays gone by and more local memories.

The exhibit reaches back to the earliest settlers of Birmingham with sleigh bells belonging to the John West Hunter family, and moves through the Victorian period with a World War I-era Christmas tree, antique toys and ornaments, and vintage postcards.

You might work up a Kris Kringle-sized appetite, though, as you take in photos from a Christmas in 1960 celebrated in the famed Hunter House restaurant. A display of antique cookie boards from a private collection dates back almost 200 years and highlights the global traditions baked into our celebrations.

“Making these holiday dessert treats was a huge undertaking. First, the specialty dough was mixed and had to cure for about 24 hours so it was the right texture,” Birmingham Museum staffer Donna Casaceli said in a prepared statement. “Then it was pressed by the boards into traditional, highly detailed forms. After baking, the cookies were laboriously ‘painted’ with dyed icings and sugars to create true works of art. It’s the basis for our modern Christmas cookie.”

To find out more, including museum hours, visit or call (248) 530-1928.

The Birmingham Museum is located at 556 W. Maple Road in downtown Birmingham.

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center Holiday Shop
The BBAC’s annual pop-up shopping experience will open its 39th year Dec. 5, giving visitors the chance to purchase one-of-a-kind, locally created items.

Jewelry, ceramics, soaps, candles, décor, handmade ornaments and, of course, prints, paintings and tiles will be available in the shop, which is open to the public during the gallery’s normal hours.

“Take a step into the wonderment of the Holiday Shop, where close to 190 artists share their ‘gifts’ for the perfect holiday season. The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center will fulfill all your needs,” BBAC President and CEO Annie Van Gelderen said in an email.

For more information, visit or call (248) 644-0866.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center is located at 1516 S. Cranbrook Road in Birmingham.

Holiday Splendor at Cranbrook House
For decades, the public has been welcomed into the historic Cranbrook House for one special weekend to see the landmark adorned for the holiday season.

This year’s Holiday Splendor event will be held the first weekend in December, with several ways for visitors to enjoy the elaborate tree and table displays spread throughout the estate.

To kick off the weekend, 60-minute yoga sessions will be held at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5. Each session will be limited to 15 guests for an intimate class hosted by Citizen Yoga by the light of the Christmas trees. With tickets, guests can get exclusive evening access to the Holiday Splendor exhibits, early access to the gift shop, and complimentary tea and hot chocolate.

General admission to the exhibit will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; and noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Along with unique holiday décor creations from various local organizations and individual volunteers, visitors can enjoy a gold Lionel train and, for the younger set, a visit and a photo op with Santa on Saturday and Sunday in the estate’s library.

“We are so grateful for our volunteers, exhibitors and visitors who make this wonderful holiday event possible,” Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary Chair and Holiday Splendor Co-Chair Catherine Turnbull said in an email. “It’s a perfect way to begin the holiday season while giving back to a local treasure, and from Santa to shopping, there is something fun to do for all ages.”

Tickets to Holiday Splendor cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Admission to see Santa costs $15 for adults and $10 for children under 10. Yoga admission costs $35.

Yoga and Santa reservations are required in advance. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (248) 645-3149.

Cranbrook House is located at 380 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Hills.