Holiday fun begins with light shows, theater and music

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News


The holidays have arrived. 

Along with the meal-planning and battling crowded stores, we're supposed to be having fun, so get into the merry and bright spirit with one of these annual — or brand new — local events from downtown Detroit to the 'burbs.

Comerica Bank employees with the Clownie balloon in the America's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2015.

America's Thanksgiving Day Parade: A holiday tradition in Detroit since the 1920s, this annual procession down Woodward includes local and national celebrities, larger-than-life balloons and floats, dancers, marching bands and more. The parade kicks off from the corner of Kirby and Woodward at 8:45 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. It's televised locally on WDIV-TV and broadcast on 760 WJR. 

Wayne County Lightfest at Merriman Hollow Park: It’s the 25th anniversary of this family-friendly light show tradition. Cruise through this festive path of holiday lights. Friday through Dec. 23 the Santa Shelter will be open with refreshments and a chance for a photo with the big jolly guy. The season kick off is 6 p.m. Thursday with music and fireworks. Hours are 7-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 6-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun. through Dec. 31. 7651 Merriman, Westland. (734) 261-1990.

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo: While the lights are something to see – five million of them in all, covering buildings, trees and animal-shaped sculptures – this holiday tradition also includes ice carving, chorale performances, a wildlife photography exhibit and the “Polar Express 4-D Experience.” Fri.-Sun., Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 20-23 and 26-31. $11 and up. 8450 W. 10 Mile, Royal Oak.

“Grandma Got Run Over By the QLine” at Go Comedy! Improv Theatre: Indulge in a bit of locally-sourced, holiday-themed humor with Go Comedy’s latest sketch show production. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. this week and Thurs.-Sat. through Dec. 22. $20. 261 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale. (248) 327-0575. 

“Elf the Musical” at  the Fox Theatre: The Broadway musical based on the 2003 Will Ferrell hit, “Elf” returns to the stage of the Fox Theatre with the tale of a human child who is raised as one of Santa’s toy-making elves. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m., 3 and 8 p.m. Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun. $39 and up. 2211 Woodward, Detroit. (313) 471-7000.

"A Christmas Carol" at Meadow Brook Theatre: A regional tradition for 37 years, this production returns for its holiday season run. Thomas D. Mahard returns in his role as Ebenezer Scrooge for the 33rd year. Runs through Dec. 23. $23. Wilson Hall, Room 207, Rochester Hills. (248) 377-3300.

Holly Dickens Festival: This long-running celebration of Charles Dickens' Christmastime spans three weekends and includes an interactive version of "A Christmas Carol," games and contests, horse-drawn carriage rides and other quaint fun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. and noon-5 p.m. Sun., plus Dec. 1-2 and 8-9. 300 East St., Holly. (248) 431-1894 or 

Shelby Township native Sophie Miklosovic performs in "The Nutcracker."

“The Nutcracker” at the Detroit Opera House: Presented by the Michigan Opera Theatre, this returning show features more than 60 local children. BalletMet's production includes the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Peter Stafford Wilson. The matinee shows have extra events like live reindeer, ice cream and photos with Santa or the Nutcracker. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sat. and 2:30 p.m. Sun. $34-$115. 1526 Broadway, Detroit. (313) 237-7464. Also: The Macomb Ballet Company is performing "The Nutcracker" Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts. 

Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village: A Historic look at yuletide fun with roasted chestnuts, ice skating, cooking demos, live reindeer and carolers, plus a fireworks display at the end of each evening. 6:30-10 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 13-16, 18-23 and 26-27. $28, $25.25 seniors, $21 ages 5-11. 20900 Oakwood, Dearborn. (313) 982-6001 or 

Detroit Urban Craft Fair at Masonic Temple: More than 100 indie crafters, makers and artists will sell their wares at this 13th annual shopping event. It’s one of Metro Detroit’s largest and most popular events for not-mass-produced gifts and unique finds. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 2. $10 admission on Nov. 30, $1 on Dec. 1-2. Free for 12 and younger. 500 Temple, Detroit. Also: Detroit Potter's Market has a plethora of handmade goods for sale, Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Southfield Pavilion. 

Noel Night in Midtown Detroit: More than 120 venues throughout Midtown Detroit open their doors for holiday revelers with live performances, shopping, eating, drinking and other cheer. This year Noel Night is split up with daytime events 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Cultural Center and nightlife 5-10 p.m. in the Midtown District. Dec. 1. Midtown Detroit. (313) 420-6000 or

Handel's "Messiah" at Fort Street Presbyterian Church: It's the 40th anniversary of the Fort Street Chorale and Chamber Orchestra's performance of this classical holiday opus. 3 p.m. Dec. 1-2. $25. 631 W. Fort, Detroit. (313) 961-4533 or Also: "Too Hot to Handel," Rackham Choir's jazz and gospel version of the holiday classic, at Detroit Opera House Dec. 1.

Royal Oak Holiday Glow in Downtown Royal Oak: Billed as a traditional holiday event, this new attraction in downtown Royal Oak will have horse-drawn carriage rides, live reindeer, caroling and hot air balloons. Kids can write letters to Santa Claus or get munching on the Cookie Crawl, a business-to-business romp through Royal Oak where walkers collect freshly-baked holiday cookies in a decorative tin. Crawl is 1-6 p.m. Dec. 8 and tickets are $25. Wagon and carriage rides are $8-$40 and can be purchased in advance at

"Home for the Holidays" at Orchestra Hall: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs carols and classic songs of the season, and expect an appearance from Santa Claus, too. 10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 21, 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 22 and 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 23. $32 and up. 3711 Woodward, Detroit. (313) 576-5111 or 

Look for more holiday events at throughout the season.

Twitter: @melodybaetens