2008 Christmas & Winter Holidays Guide E-mail

-Concert & Symphony Events
-Theatre & Ballet
-Family Events & Exhibits
-Photos with Santa & Live Reindeer
-Outdoor Events & Ice Skating
-Christmas Lights & Tours
-Church and Religious Services
-Parties & Fundraisers
-Christmas Trees


Concert & Symphony Events

Mannheim Steamroller - 'The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis' will showcase the band's unique sound as part of an art & multimedia family production at Van Andel Arena November 23. Tickets are $30-$77.

Grand Rapids Latin American Christmas Concert - The VocalArt Singers of Grand Rapids will perform popular carols and music from the Renaissance and Baroque cathedrals of Latin America at St. Mary's Catholic Church on 1st St NW November 23. Tickets are $15 for adults, $30 for families.

John Berry - The country music artist returns to the Kalamazoo State Theatre November 29 at 7:30 p.m. as part of his 13th annual Christmas concert tour. Main floor tickets are $32; balcony tickets are $27.

Fifth Third Holiday Pops - The Grand Rapids Symphony performs the favorite annual holiday concert with the Symphony and Youth Choruses, a visit from Santa, the audience sing-along and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus finale. $18-$90.

December 4, 7:30 p.m.
December 5, 8:00 p.m.
December 6, 3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
December 7, 3:00 p.m.

Handel's Messiah - On December 5-6, The Calvin College Oratorio Society will celebrate its 89th year of performing Handel's Messiah. Usually taking place at DeVos Performance Hall, Calvin's Fine Arts Center will host the choral performance. Ticket prices are $18-$26 for adults, $9-$26 for students.

Three Men & a Tenor - The Michigan-based comedic vocal group will bring a high-energy pop and holiday music concert to the Van Singel Fine Arts Center in Byron Center December 5 & 6. Tickets to the family show are $27.50 for adults and $17.50 for students.

Irish Christmas in America - World-renowned Irish performing group Teada and special guest vocalist Cara Dillon bring their bestselling holiday tour to the Kalamazoo State Theatre December 5. Now in its fourth year, the show will feature music, dance and visuals. $27.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - The Schubert Male Chorus and The Grand Rapids Sweet Adelines present the holiday choral performance at the Northview High School Performing Arts Center December 5. Tickets: $17. $27.

A Very Merry Band Concert - Under the direction of conductor Barry Martin, the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band performs holiday favorites like 'O Holy Night' and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' at Grandville High School December 6. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students.

A Winter's Tune - WYCE and The Wealthy Theatre host the concert of new and traditional songs for the winter holiday season December 7. In addition to performances by Ralston Bowles, Sara Luneack, Chance Jones and more, visitors can bid on artwork, autographed CDs and musical instruments during the silent auction. General admission is $10 in advance.

Carols by Candlelight - A Christmas tradition in the Cheshire neighborhood for more than 50 years, the Dec. 7 program at 2nd Congregational United Church of Christ features the Chancel Choir, the Handbell choirs and the Children's choirs. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

King's Choraliers Concert - The King's Choraliers will celebrate the season in song at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes at 6 p.m. December 7.

Jim Brickman - The singer, songwriter, pianist and radio personality returns to West Michigan for his annual holiday tour, this time stopping at Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo December 11. Tickets start at $39.75.

Home for the Holidays - The joy and warmth of the season returns to the Frauenthal Theater in Muskegon when the West Shore Symphony teams up with Muskegon native and Broadway star Gilles Chiasson to lead the choir and audience in holiday favorites December 12 & 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $8-$37.

The Big E Christmas Spectacular - The State Theatre's favorite holiday tradition (and Elvis tribute) is back in Kalamazoo December 13. Catch The Big E with his band, entourage of bodyguards and plenty of scarves. $28 for reserved seating.

Handel's Messiah Sing-a-long - Join East Congregational Church on Giddings SE in a singing of the Messiah December 14 at 8pm. Join your voice with others from area choirs and celebrate the coming season of Christmas with area conductors, soloists and the Calvin Alumni Strings.

Tuba Christmas Grand Rapids - Instrumentalists who play tuba, sousaphone, baritone horn, or euphonium are invited to join the third annual event similar to a Messiah sing-a-long for low brass players at St. Cecilia's Music Center December 14. No cost or registration required.

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols - The newly reorganized Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys will present its traditional “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” concert at the Cathedral of St. Andrew December 15 at 7:00 p.m. The choral performance will have two to three carols interspersed between nine scripture lessons of Christmas. Free will offering; no tickets necessary.

An Irish Christmas Concert - Fenians Irish Pub in Conklin will present direct from Ireland traditional band Teada and special guest Karen Casey for an exclusive concert December 16 at 8 p.m. $30.

Christmas with Amy Grant & Vince Gill - The Grammy Award-winning husband and wife duo will perform two hours of cherished Christmas songs and standards backed by a 12-piece band at Van Andel Arena December 18. Tickets start at $26.50 and top out at $180.

Go Fish 'Christmas with a Capital ‘C’ Tour' - The Go Fish Group performs songs about the true meaning of Christmas at the Holland Civic Center December 19. Tickets to the family event are $13-$23

Blue Water Ramblers Christmas Concert - The traditional folk group from Michigan performs Christmas favorites with a touch of bluegrass as part of the Grand River Folk Arts Society 24th annual holiday event at The Wealthy Theatre December 20. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students.

Edelweiss Christmas Concert - The Edelweiss Choir performs their annual holiday concert with German and Austrian Christmas music and carols at St. Mary's on First St NW December 21.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Van Andel Arena's holiday tradition of hosting the rock orchestra's Christmas concert continues in 2008. The band will play two shows on December 23, one at 3 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m. Tickets are $41 & $51.

Theatre & Ballet

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular - The world-famous Radio City Rockettes will perform their dazzling Christmas event at Van Andel Arena November 19 & 20. The family-friendly show will have high-energy dance numbers, intricate sets and special effects, like Santa flying over the audience, enhanced by a giant LED screen. Tickets are $27.50-$64.50.

A Wonderful Life - The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre performs the play set in New York during the 1920s-1940s about George Bailey, who believes he's a failure at life. Feeling down during a crisis, Clarence, angel second-class, comes to his aide and shows him what life would be like if had never been born. Runs Wednesdays-Sundays, November 21-December 20. $16-$30 for tickets.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Created through dance set to familiar Christmas carols, the beloved traditional story performed by the C.A.R.E. Ballet comes alive on stage at Royce Auditorium November 28-30. The event includes an opportunity to visit with Santa and the cast on stage after the show. Adults $10, students $7.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - The humorous holiday tale about a couple struggling to put together a church Christmas pageant, while faced with the most inventively awful kids in history, is back at the Holland Civic Theatre. Runs November 29-December 13; admission 8.

The Nutcracker - For more than 30 years, the Grand Rapids Ballet has brought the Christmas classic to life with more than 100 dancers, including children and celebrities from the community. For 2008, the ballet returns to DeVos Performance Hall December 12-21 accompanied by the Grand Rapids Symphony. Tickets: $17-$53.

The Grinch - The Moving Company Dance Studio presents a new and energetic dance performance of The Grinch at the East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center December 13 at 3 p.m.

SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris - The Howmet Playhouse in Whitehall presents the one-man show by Andrew Zahrt based on best-selling author and NPR commentator David Sedaris' story of working as an adult elf at Macy's in New York City. Runs December 19 and 20; ticket prices to be announced. Contains adult language and is recommended for mature audiences.


Grand Rapids Jaycees Santa Parade - Dating back to the late 1800s, the Santa Parade will help kick off the Christmas season in Grand Rapids on November 22 at 10 a.m. The route will begin at Monroe Ave and Michigan Street, proceed down Monroe Center, turn west on Fulton and will end at Market & Weston. Approximately 12,000 people are expected to attend this year.

Coopersville Santa Parade - Celebrating its 28th anniversary December 5, the nighttime parade will have professional and amateur floats, decorated vehicles, fire trucks and Santa. After the parade, kids can visit with Santa and watch a performance at Centerstage Theater. Parade begins at 7 p.m.

Sinterklaas Eve - The traditional annual Dutch parade in downtown Holland welcomes Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) on his white horse surrounded by his mischievous Zwarte Piet helpers. Taking place December 6 at 7 p.m., the route will begin at the Holland Area Arts Council (150 E. 8th St) and then proceed to the Eighth Street Market Place.

South Division Santa Claus Parade - The Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce hosts their second annual Santa Claus Parade December 6 at 10 a.m. The starting point is 33rd Street & Division Ave South and the parade will continue to 43rd Street.

Rockford Santa Parade - The annual parade will wind through the streets of downtown Rockford December 6 at 11 a.m. with Santa and Mrs. Claus appearing as the guests of honor.

Saugatuck Christmas Parade - Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves join the parade through the downtowns of Saugatuck and Douglas at 1 p.m. December 6.

Lowell Night-Time Christmas Parade - The annual Santa Parade begins at 6 p.m. sharp December 6 at the Lowell Fairgrounds and travels east on Main Street through downtown Lowell before ending at the First United Methodist Church.

Jingle Bell Parade - Also taking place December 6, the night-time parade through downtown Grand Haven begins at 6 p.m. and features lighted entries and Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Christmas tree lighting at Central Park with free hot chocolate will take place after the parade.

Family Events & Holiday Exhibits

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World - Starting November 19, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture park is transformed by 300,000 lights, horse-drawn carriages, strolling carolers and trees and displays representing more than 40 countries around the world. New for 2008 is a 50-piece Santa display from France. Admission: adults are $12, students and seniors are $9 and children are $4-$6.

The Splendor of a Victorian Christmas - On Tuesdays and Sundays beginning November 25, take a guided holiday tour of the lavishly decorated rooms inside the Voigt House Victorian Museum in Heritage Hill.

The Santa Train - Ride with Santa himself aboard the Coopersville & Marne Railway Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 29. Tickets include a chance to visit with Santa and the elves and kids can hear the story "The Polar Express" ready by the Princess. Adults $14.50; kids $11.50.

'Tis the Season - The planetarium show at the Grand Rapids Public Museum traces winter celebrations and customs back to their roots. Also learn possible astronomical explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. Runs daily at 2 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec 31. Cost: museum admission + $3.

Holiday Magic Laser Light Show - Dazzling laser light and special effects accompany favorite Christmas songs for the family sing-along. Runs Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. beginning Nov. 29, plus daily Dec. 22-31. $3 plus Grand Rapids Public Museum admission.

Christmas Happenings - The Coopersville Farm Museum is transformed by the holiday spirit December 3-20. Decorate Christmas cookies and make Christmas crafts on Candy Cane Lane or view the Annual Ginger Bread Display and Contest on December 5. Bring your pet between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. December 6 and have photos taken with Santa.

Christmas for the Animals - Visit the John Ball Zoo December 6 and receive free admission when you donate special items called animal enrichments used in animal care. Santa and his reindeer will visit during the day.

Gerald R. Ford Museum Holiday Open House - The annual favorite at the Ford Museum December 7 will feature a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday music and activities for children. Admission will be free from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Kentwood Tree Lighting - On December 10, the candy cane hunt begins inside at 6 p.m. at the Kentwood Activities Center on 48th Street, with the outdoor tree lighting following at 7. After the lighting, families can go back inside for live music and photos with Santa. Free admission.

Homestead Holidays - Enjoy a peaceful winter's evening at Blandford Nature Center December 13 with horse-drawn sleigh rides, hot chocolate, crafts and animal demonstrations. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for kids.

It's a Wonderful Life - The Wealthy Street Business Alliance and Cherry Hill present the free showing of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," at 6 p.m. December 13th at The Wealthy Theatre.

Holiday Film Festival - Get into the Holiday Spirit with family and friends in downtown Muskegon by watching a classic film in classic surroundings at the historic Frauenthal Theater. Scheduled movies include Toy Story, Muppets Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life. Admission is $3, or $2 if you bring a can of food that is donated to the Loaves and Fishes Pantry.

Photos with Santa & Live Reindeer

RiverTown Crossings Mall - Have photos taken with Santa in the center of RiverTown Mall in Grandville daily, 10a - 8p Mon.- Sat. & 10a-6 on Sundays, through December 24.

Woodland Mall - Woodland Mall will kick off Santa's arrival with a special light show and horse-drawn carriage parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus November 14 at 5:30 p.m. Take photos with Santa daily from November 14-December 24.

Centerpointe Mall - Santa arrives at Centerpointe Mall November 28 and will visit most mall hours (10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. on Sundays) until Christmas Eve.

Westshore Mall - Visit Santa and his reindeer at the mall on James Street in Holland December 5, 12, & 19 from 5-8 p.m.

Live Reindeer at Meijer Gardens - The reindeer return to Frederick Meijer Gardens on December 6, 13 & 20 from 1-4 p.m. as part of the Christmas & Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibit. Visiting the reindeer is included with general admission: $12 for adults, $4-$6 for kids.

Pet Photos with Santa - Bring your pet to Woodland Mall for a special photo op with Santa December 7 from 7p.m. - 9 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from the photos will benefit a local animal-related charity.

Bellwether Harbor's Holiday Open House - Have your pet's photo taken with Santa at the Bellwether animal adoption center in Fremont December 6 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. There will also be a microchipping clinic, Wishing Tree and holiday bake sale.

Christmas Lights & Tours

Nite Lites Christmas Light Display - Celebrating its 11th year in 2008, Nite Lites transforms Fifth Third Ball Park into a mile-long Winter Wonderland of spectacular displays that feature countless lights. Open daily 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. November 21-January 3. $10/car.

Outdoor Events, Festivals and Ice Skating

Gerald R. Ford Museum Outdoor Tree Lighting - The Ford Museum lights up the Grand River November 20 at 7 p.m. with the lighting of its annual display of trees. A sing-along, refreshments and free admission will be included in the festivities.

Uptown Holiday Shop Hop - Celebrate the season and support local businesses on Grand Rapids' southeast side December 4 from 4-9 p.m. In-store promotions, holiday carolers, and free Trolley rides between four business districts will add to the festive spirit. Free.

GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting - The third annual lighting of a 35-foot Douglas fir tree on the Wege Plaza in front of the Grand Rapids Art Museum will take place December 5 at 5:00 p.m. A choir and other entertainment will be on hand. Free.

Downtown Grand Rapids Festive Christmas Evening - The 'Get Your Joy On' event at Rosa Parks Circle kicks off at 4 p.m. December 5 and the schedule includes horse-drawn trolley rides to local shops and businesses, the lighting of the GRAM Christmas Tree, the official opening of the downtown ice skating rink and live music. Free.

Holiday Artists' Market - The UICA celebrates 20 years of hosting the unique sale which features one-of-a-kind works of art created by some of the most gifted artists in the region. Enjoy free admission and parking, beverages, snacks, and a children’s workshop. Open December 5 & 6.

Christmas in Lowell - On December 6, downtown Lowell will host family Christmas and holiday events including an ice sculpture competition, craftmaking, Victorian Christmas Tea at the museum, visits and photos with Santa and the night-time Christmas parade.

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle - Beginning the evening of December 5, Rosa Parks Circle will be open daily for ice skating (except holidays). Admission is $1 and skates rentals are free with ID.

Urban Lights - On December 12, businesses along South Division will open their doors to sell unique gifts from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. The holiday shopping event will also have live entertainment a gallery/studio art hop and customized luminary window displays.

Dates and times for ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle to be announced.

Church Services & Religious Events

Festival of Lights: A Christmas Carol - Taking place December 5-7 and 12-14, the classic Dickens tale is performed as a musical drama in celebration of the Savior at Calvary Church with over 200,000 lights, a 150-voice choir and a 50-piece orchestra, plus cast members. Tickets are $6-$7.

Hark Up - The DeVos Center for Arts & Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School is the site of the unique and fresh contemporary Christmas event for the whole family. It's an eclectic mix of Christmas music, media, drama, dance and audience fun. Takes place December 5-6 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $14/adult, 8$/children.

A Service of Lessons and Carols - On December 7, enjoy a traditional Christmas service of nine lessons and carols sung by the adult choir of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on N Division Ave.


GRYP Holiday Party & Charity Event - Grand Rapids Young Professionals will celebrate the holidays with a party at Rockwell's to collect toys and monetary donations for DeVos Children's Hospital. Admission is either an unwrapped toy or a $5 donation at the door. Everyone will be entered into a drawing for door prizes and receive complimentary appetizers.

Christmas Trees

AFresh Christmas Tree Company - Get Michigan grown trees and wreaths delivered to your door.

Bosch's Countryview Nursery - Located just west of Allendale; open Mondays-Saturdays beginning mid-to-late November.

Last Updated 12/05/2008
Published 11/07/2008