Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! Here's our list of holiday-related events happening around Grand Rapids this November and December, 2014:


Theatre, Ballet, Symphony & Live Music

Sanders Family Christmas - Performed by Master Arts Theatre, the second installment of the "Smoke on the Mountain" trilogy features toe-tapping bluegrass and Southern Gospel comedy set to the backdrop of the dawn of World War II. Runs Fridays through Sundays, November 21-December 14.

Elf the Musical - Broadway Grand Rapids presents the hilarious new classic Christmas tale featuring Buddy the Elf, made famous by the film staring Will Ferrell. This family friendly stage adaptation has been described as "Splashy, Peppy, Sugar-Sprinkled Holiday Entertainment" by the New York Times. Opens November 28.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - The CARE Conservatory of Ballet returns to St. Cecilia Music Center for the holiday tradition that features mischievous mice, dancing stockings and Santa with his sleigh set to familiar Christmas music. Runs November 28-30.

Sounds of Christmas - The Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids will be joined by the New Horizons Wind Ensemble to sing classic carols of the holiday at the Cathedral of St. Andrew November 28 & 30.

Nestle Gerber Holiday Pops - It wouldn't be Christmas in Grand Rapids without the Symphony performing its favorite holiday music sing-along at DeVos Performance Hall. The Symphony will be joined on stage by the Symphony Chorus and Santa will make a special visit. Runs December 4-7; tickets start at $18, $5 for full-time students.

Mona Shores Singing Christmas Tree - Now in its 30th year, the 67-foot tall tree on stage at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon is America's tallest and features 25,000 lights and 240 singers accompanied by the award-winning 50-piece orchestra from Mona Shores High School. Performances are December 4-6.

Festival of Lights - Calvary Church's annual Christmas production will feature the classic story of The Christmas Carol with new staging, a 100+ voice choir, a dramatic cast and more than 200,000 twinkling lights. Tickets: $6-$7.

HarkUp 2014: Start a Fire - The upbeat musical re-tells the story of Christmas through song and dance with a 100+ member choir, featured vocalists, dancers and a 20-piece big band. Performance days are December 5, 6 & 7 at GRCH's DeVos Center for Arts & Worship.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The symphonic rock group best known for progressive interpretations of favorite Christmas carols is back again at Van Andel Arena December 7 with "The Christmas Attic." Performance times: 3 & 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $34.

The Nutcracker - The Grand Rapids Ballet Company presents this completely re-invented production that will showcase the creative vision of 'Polar Express' author Chris Van Allsburg and set designs by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee. Opens December 12 at DeVos Hall; tickets start at about $23.

Lessons and Carols - The Grand Rapids Choir of Men & Boys will once again present its Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols based on the King James version of the Bible December 13, 14 & 19 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in downtown GR. Free admission.

Schubert Male Chorus Annual Christmas Concert - The Grand Rapids choral group founded in 1883 will perform their annual holiday concert with the theme "Home for the Holidays" December 13 at the EGR High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $18 in advance

Gaither Christmas Homecoming - Multi-Grammy Award winner Bill Gaither presents the holiday spectacular December 13 at Van Andel Arena with the very best in Christian music and special guest vocalists and groups. Tickets: $23.50 and up.

Edelweiss Christmas Concert - Joined by Ein Prosit Band, the Edelweiss Choir performs their annual holiday concert with German and Austrian Christmas music, authentic costumes and traditional carols December 21 at St. Mary's on First NW.


Art Van Santa Parade - Presented by the Grand Rapids Jaycees Saturday, November 22 at 9 a.m., the parade has been the traditional holiday season kick-off for the region for more than 100 years. This year's theme is "The Songs and Sounds of Christmas" and Monroe Avenue will be filled with the sweet sounds of local marching bands, carolers and local performers.

Hudsonville Holiday Parade - Celebrate the holiday season with the 21st annual parade November 22 at 10 a.m. The route begins at Highland Drive & 32nd Avenue and ends at the fire station on Central Blvd. Hot beverages, snacks, and fun activities will follow.

Zeeland's Magical Christmas Parade - Step back in time in Zeeland December 1 for the heartwarming lighted evening parade that will have creative entries, marching bands and the grand finale with Santa Claus.

Coopersville Santa Parade - One of Michigan's original nighttime parades, celebrating 34 years, returns Friday, December 5 at 7 p.m. (immediately following the tree lighting) in downtown Coopersville. See dozens of professional floats, decorated vehicles, fire trucks and a visit from Santa Claus.

Rockford Santa Parade - See more than 60 floats, along with fire trucks, bands, and of course Santa himself, at Rockford's annual parade December 6 at 10 a.m. After the parade, Santa will take photos with kids and hear their wishlists.

Wyoming-Kentwood Santa Parade - The South Kent chamber hosts its annual Santa Claus Parade December 6 at 10 a.m. The starting point is 34th Street & South Division, and the parade will continue south along Division to Chase Bank. Afterward, Santa will be available for photos .

Middleville Christmas Parade - The annual holiday parade steps off at 10:30 a.m. at McFall Elementary before heading east on Main to Church Street.

Saugatuck Whoville Christmas Parade - Dress up as your favorite Whoville character and join Saugatuck's festive parade that kicks off at 1 p.m. December 6.

Jingle Bell Parade - The annual nighttime parade in downtown Grand Haven steps off at 6 p.m. December 6 and winds along Washington and Harbor Drive before ending at Central Park for the lighting of the community tree with Santa & Mrs. Claus.

Lowell Night-time Parade - "Christmas Around the World" is the theme of this year's parade with heads down Main Street at 6 p.m. December 6. The parade begins at the Lowell Fairgrounds and travels east on Main to the First United Methodist Church.

Family Events, Shopping & Holiday Exhibits

Beneath the Wreath - The popular juried annual holiday event at the St. Nicholas Cultural Center on East Paris showcases dozens of selected vendors selling ornaments, clothing, food and gifts. Tickets are $5 with proceeds benefiting the Junior League of Grand Rapids. Runs Nov 14-16.

Christmas Through Lowell - More than 300 artists and crafters will showcase gifts, handmade works and fine art set up in more than 50 churches, homes and retailers in Lowell November 14, 15 & 16. Admission is free.

Ford Museum Outdoor Tree Lighting - On November 17, the Gerald R. Ford Museum will light up the Grand River at 7 p.m. with its annual display of trees and twinkling lights. A sing-along and announcement of the 2014 Community Tree Awards will follow.

GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting - The Grand Rapids Art Museum Tree Lighting will be on Thursday, November 20 at 6 p.m. this year. After the tree is lit, guests can get a first look at 'Re-Envisioning The Nutcracker', GRAM's complimentary exhibition to the Grand Rapids Ballet's new production of The Nutcracker featuring original designs by Chris Van Allsburg.

Festival of Trees - The Muskegon Museum of Art hosts its annual fundraising event daily November 20-30 (closed Thanksgiving) that features a holiday panorama with themed trees, seasonal decor, and a gingerbread village and model train station. All event proceeds will benefit the Museum.

Grand Haven Light Night - Starting at 5 p.m. November 22, an eye-catching display of holiday lights are turned on in downtown Grand Haven for the first time in the season. Enjoy hot chocolate, freshly roasted nuts and Christmas songs at the free event.

Yule Run, I'll Walk - On November 22, get a sneak preview on foot of the Christmas Lite Show at Fifth Third Ballpark before it opens to the general public. The timed walk is open to families and pets; $25 for adults, $20 for youth.

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World - Frederik Meijer Gardens is transformed November 25-January 4 by thousands of lights, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, the Polar Express-inspired Railway Garden and more than 40 international tree displays. Admission is $12 for adults and $4-$6 for kids; carriage rides are extra.

Gaslight Village Tree Lighting Ceremony - East Grand Rapids lights the Gaslight Village holiday tree at 6:30 p.m. November 28, plus Santa & Mrs. Claus will visit, and attendees can see live reindeer and take a ride on a horse drawn carriage.

The Santa Train - Ride with Santa himself aboard the vintage cars of the Coopersville & Marne Railway Saturdays and Sundays, November 29-December 21. Tickets include a chance to visit with Santa and the elves and kids can hear "The Polar Express" read aloud by the story-telling Princess. Adults $15.50; kids (2-12) $13.50.

Uptown Shop Hop - On December 4, celebrate the season and support local businesses in Grand Rapids' Eastown, East Hills, Wealthy Street and East Fulton neighborhoods from 4-10 p.m. Ride the free shuttles and hop from store to store while enjoying carolers, in-store promotions and entertainment.

Rockford Holiday Lighting Ceremony - Set for December 5 this year, the choirs from Rockford High School will sing carols before thousands of lights are switched on through the downtown area.

Christmas for the Animals - On December 6, zookeepers from John Ball Zoo invite residents to bring gifts from the zoo's wishlist to the animals. Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; free admission with donation.

UICA Holiday Artists' Market - Moving to Steelcase's Town Hall space on 44th St SE, the market will have more room to shop for beautifully crafted gifts and goods from dozens of regional artists, including jewelry, home goods and fine art. Open December 6 & 7; admission is free.

Winter Wonderland - On December 10, the Downtown Market will host an evening of shopping, carolers and free food demonstrations, along with cookies and crafts for the kids.

Photos with Santa & Live Reindeer

Woodland Mall - Have your photo taken with Santa now through December 24 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10a-9p on Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

RiverTown Crossings Mall - Have photos taken with Santa at RiverTown Crossings in Grandville November 15 through Christmas Eve. Mall hours vary through the holiday season; check listing for specific hours.

Meijer Gardens - Santa will stop by Meijer Gardens from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesdays, November 25-December 23. Visiting Santa is included with general admission tickets.

Lowell Showboat - Visit with Santa on the magical Lowell Showboat while enjoy cookies and hot cocoa beginning December 6.

Christmas Lights & Tours

Nite Lites Christmas Light Display - See the parking lots at Fifth Third Ballpark transformed into a lighted mile-long winter wonderland November 26-January 4. Open daily 6-10 p.m. (including holidays); price per regular vehicle is $15.

Outdoor Events, Festivals and Ice Skating

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle opens on the evening of December 5, 2014 (weather permitting).

Church Services & Religious Events

Brookside CRC Living Nativity - The church on Kalamazoo and 36th will host their annual living nativity presentation with actors, music and animals December 12-14 at 7p, 7:30p and 8p each evening. Kid's crafts, hot chocolate & cookies served inside. Free


Ways to Give Back

Angel Tree Toy Drive details:

Christmas Trees

Bosch's Countryview Nursery - Located just west of Allendale, Bosch's has u-pick and u-cut Christmas Trees, horse-drawn wagon rides and visits from Santa on the weekends. Season starts November 27.

Vormittag Tree Farm - About 4 miles west of Standale, the family farm has both cut-your-own or precut spruces, pines and firs, along with wreaths and tree stands.

Last Updated 11/13/2014
Published 11/13/2014