Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! Here's our list of holiday-related events happening around Grand Rapids this November and December, 2013:


Theatre, Ballet, Symphony & Live Music

It's a Wonderful Life - Master Arts Theatre performs the classic saga about George Bailey and his guardian angel. Play runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays November 21-December 14 (except Thanksgiving). Tickets: $14-$16.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Performed by the C.A.R.E. Ballet, the beloved story set to traditional Christmas music comes alive on stage through dance at St. Cecilia Music Center November 29-December 1. After the performances, visit with Santa and the cast.

Sounds of Christmas - For 2013, The Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids moves to the Cathedral of St. Andrew and has expanded to three performances total on November 30 & December 1. Here classic carols along with special work commissioned just for these concerts.

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 5-8; tickets start at $18.

Mona Shores Singing Christmas Tree - The 67-foot tall tree on stage at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon is America's tallest and features 25,000 lights and 300 singers accompanied by the award-winning 50-piece orchestra from Mona Shores High School. Performances are December 5-7 at 7 p.m.

Festival of Lights - Calvary Church's all-new production for 2013, 'Christmas at Hollington Hall', is a musical journey with a 100+ voice choir, a dramatic cast and more than 200,000 twinkling lights. Tickets are $6-$7; performances are set for December 6-8 and 13-15.

HarkUp 2013: Soul'd Out - The frest and upbeat musical re-tells the story of Christmas through song with a 100+ member choir, featured vocalists, dancers and a 20-piece big band. Performance days are December 6-8 at GRCH's DeVos Center for Arts & Worship.

Holiday Reflections - The Lakeshore Community Chorus will perform a wide range of holiday favorites at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts December 8. The 45-member adult chorus will also be joined by middle school and high school ensembles. Tickets: $18 for adults, $8 for kids.

The Nutcracker - For more than 3 decades, the Grand Rapids Ballet Company has brought the Christmas classic to life with dazzling choreography, sets and costumes, along with 100 dancers, including children and celebrities from the community. The Ballet returns to DeVos Performance Hall accompanied by the Grand Rapids Symphony December 13-15 & 20-22. Tickets: $20+.

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 & 20 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in downtown GR. Free.

The Promise - The Lakeshore holiday tradition weaves together contemporary ballet, music, scripture, 88 dancers and 280 costumes to tell the Christmas story at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland December 13-14 & 20-21.

Schubert Male Chorus Annual Christmas Concert - The Grand Rapids choral group founded in 1883 will perform their annual holiday concert with the theme "Christmas With the Poppas and Mommas" December 14 at the EGR High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $18.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The symphonic rock group best known for progressive interpretations of favorite Christmas carols returns to Van Andel Arena with rock opera "The Lost Christmas Eve" Dec 15 at 3 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $33.

A Christmas Celebration in Carols and Anthems - Visit Central Reformed Church in Heritage Hill December 15 to sing your favorite Christmas carols and anthems. Select pieces will be performed by the handbell and adult choirs.

Cirque de Noel - Back with fresh new acts for 2013, experience the magic of Christmas and the wonder of Cirque at DeVos Hall as the Grand Rapids Symphony performs holiday favorites while aerialists and acrobats fly overhead. December 17-19. .

Edelweiss Christmas Concert - The Edelweiss Choir performs their annual holiday concert with German and Austrian Christmas music, authentic costumes and traditional carols December 22 at St. Mary's on First St NW.

Storybook Christmas - Daybreak Church in Hudsonville presents a brand new Christmas show Dec 22-24 with music, dancing, treats, sweets and holiday cheer. Admission is free.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze - Broadway Grand Rapids presents the Cirque holiday show that features an international cast, gingerbread men flipping in air, ice sculptors, spinning penguins, giant candy canes and 30-foot towering soldiers. Runs December 26-29.


Art Van Santa Parade - Presented by the Grand Rapids Jaycees Saturday, November 23 at 9 a.m., the parade has been the traditional holiday season kick-off for the region for more than 100 years. See nearly 100 entries and floats, and a visit from Santa Claus. The route for 2013 will start at the corner of Michigan and Monroe, travel south on Monroe past Rosa Parks Circle, and end at Market and Weston.

Hudsonville Holiday Parade - Celebrate the holiday season with the 20th annual parade November 23 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.

Coopersville Santa Parade - One of Michigan's original nighttime parades returns Friday, December 6 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. Free.

Sinterklaas Eve - Presented in true Dutch folk tradition, the annual procession in downtown Holland welcomes Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) on his white horse surrounded by his mischievous Zwarte Piet helpers. At 7 p.m., the route begins at the 8th Street Market Place and will end at the gazebo in Centennial Park.

Wyoming-Kentwood Santa Parade - The South Kent chamber hosts its annual Santa Claus Parade December 7 at 10 a.m. The starting point is 34th Street & South Division, and the parade will continue south along Division to Chase Bank. Santa will be available for photos after.

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.

Rockford Santa Parade - See more than 60 floats, along with fire trucks, bands, and of course Santa himself, at Rockford's annual parade December 7 at 11 a.m. After the parade, Santa will take photos with kids and hear their wishlists.

Saugatuck Christmas Parade - The annual parade that includes the local high school band, the Peppermint Stick Brigade and the Snow Shovel Brigade returns December 7 at 1 p.m.

Jingle Bell Parade - The annual nighttime parade in downtown Grand Haven steps off at 6 p.m. December 7 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 - "Old Fashioned Christmas" is the theme of this year's parade with heads down Main Street at 6 p.m. December 7. The parade begins at the Lowell Fairgrounds and travels east on Main to the First United Methodist Church.

Hastings Christmas Parade - December 7; details to be announced

Family Events, Shopping & Holiday Exhibits

Sleigh Bells and Holly - From November 7 through December 21, the LowellArts! gallery at 149 S. Hudson will have over 40 artists selling fine arts and gift items including pottery, photographs, ornaments, glass work, textiles, baskets, metalwork and more. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Beneath the Tree - Private homes in Alger Heights, East Grand Rapids and Grandville will be opened up to feature the artwork of more than 100 local artists. The holiday sale runs Friday and Saturday, Nov 8-9; tickets are $8 for the whole tour.

Meijer Gardens Holiday Gift Show - Find unique items for the home, jewelry, accessories, gifts for gardeners, toys and much more at Meijer Gardens' annual gift show with 30+ vendors November 9. Admission is free.

Holiday Sale at Kendall - At Kendall College of Art & Design's annual sale, find ornaments, ceramics, handmade books, cards and more November 11-14.

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 15-17.

Christmas Through Lowell - More than 300 artists and crafters will showcase gifts, handmade works and fine art Friday, Saturday and Sunday set up in more than 50 churches, homes and retailers in Lowell. Admission is free.

Grand Haven Light Night - Starting at 5 p.m. November 15, the holiday lights are turned on in downtown Grand Haven for the first time in the season. Participating shops will host open houses, luminaries will line the streets and there will be free hot cocoa.

Rockford Holiday Lighting Ceremony - Following performances by the Rockford High School Brass Ensemble and choirs, the countdown begins to the lighting of the trees, lamp posts and the dam. Begins at 5:30 p.m. November 19.

Ford Museum Outdoor Tree Lighting - On November 20, 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, refreshments and free admission to the museum will be included in the festivities.

Festival of Trees - The Muskegon Museum of Art hosts its annual fundraising event November 21 through December 1 (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.

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; $15.

Holiday Carnival at Metro Health - The Christmas event at Metro Hospital in Wyoming November 22 will have a tree lighting, kid-friendly games, photos with Santa, cookies and more. Funds raised will will benefit Metro Health's Child Life Program.

Santa's Workshop - After the Art Van Santa Parade Nov 23, head over to the Grand Rapids Public Library's Main Branch for holiday stories, crafts and cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus. Free.

Holiday Kerstmarkt - This open-air European Christmas Market at the Eighth Street Market Place in downtown Holland features sixteen vendors offering unique handcrafted gifts, authentic Dutch holiday treats, fresh greenery, ornaments and more Fridays and Saturdays, November 23-December 14 (times vary).

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World - Frederik Meijer Gardens is transformed November 26-January 5 by thousands of lights, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, the Polar Express-inspired Railway Garden and more than 42 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 29, 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 30-December 22. 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 5, 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.

GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting - Look on as the giant evergreen placed outside of the Grand Rapids Art Museum is officially lit for the season at 5:30 p.m. December 6. Afterwards, enjoy free carriage rides, explore the art galleries or ice skate at Rosa Parks Circle.

UICA Holiday Artists' Market - Stop by the UICA December 6 & 7 for the 25th annual holiday sale and find one-of-a-kind works by some of the region's most exciting artists. Enjoy free admission, local food and beverage vendors and craft stations for kids and adults.

Christmas for the Animals - On December 7, Zookeepers from John Ball Zoo invite residents to bring gifts from the zoo's wishlist to the animals while visiting Santa and the reindeer. Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; free.

Christmas in Fallasburg - The Fallasburg Historical Society will host the annual Christmas party at the old Fallasburg Schoolhouse on December 7 with a bonfire, dinner, drinks and a live band. $20 donation.

Of Christmas Past - Historic Charlton Park in Hastings is the setting for the turn-of-the-century Victorian Christmas December 14 & 15. Visitors can try their hand at making candles and crafts, tour the village and sample traditional holiday fare. $5 for adults, $3 for kids.

Clara's Nutcracker Party - The popular annual family event hosted by the Grand Rapids Ballet Company features brunch, photos with Clara and other characters from the production and a reading of The Nutcracker before the 2 p.m. performance at DeVos Hall on December 15.

The Whoville 5K - Dress up like a Who from Whoville and head to Riverside Park December 15 featuring a 5k run, 5k walk, kid's fun run and a sweet finish in Whoville, featuring hot chocolate and chocolate fountain goodies for runners.

Photos with Santa & Live Reindeer

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

RiverTown Crossings Mall - Have photos taken with Santa at RiverTown Crossings in Grandville November 16 - December 24. Mall hours vary through the holiday season.

Meijer Gardens - Santa will visit Meijer Gardens from 3-8 p.m. on Tuesdays, November 26-December 17. Visiting Santa is included with general admission tickets.

Lowell Showboat - Visit with Santa on the magical Lowell Showboat while enjoy cookies and hot cocoa. Dates and times in December vary.

Christmas Lights & Tours

Nite Lites Christmas Light Display - Back again at Fifth Third Ball Park, see the parking lots transformed into a lighted mile-long winter wonderland November 23-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 6, 2013 (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 13-15 at 7p, 7:30p and 8p each evening.


GRYP Holiday Unwind - Network with the Grand Rapids Young Professionals at San Chez Bistro December 5 while enjoy tapas samples and the chance to support a local charity.

GRBarcrawl's Annual Santa Crawl - Hop on the GRBarcrawl bus December 21 for a holiday-themed trip to undisclosed bars around downtown Grand Rapids and enjoy no cover charges, VIP service and drink specials throughout the night.

Ways to Give Back

Angel Tree Toy Drive details:

Catholic Charities West Michigan's Toy Drive - During the week of Dec 9, drop off toys in downtown Grand Rapids and Muskegon that will go to more than 800 kids around West Michigan. Click the link to see the list of what's needed.

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.

Last Updated 11/21/2013
Published 11/08/2013