Noel Night rings in holidays with expanded hours Saturday

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Noel Night, Midtown Detroit's December revel, returns for its 46th year Saturday with 120 participating venues and new, expanded hours -- from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Take in the sights and sounds of the season as Noel Night takes over Detroit’s cultural center. Buses and carriages will shuttle revelers to 22 participating venues.

The completely free winter festival, which last year drew almost 75,000, will for the first time expand into the day in part to spread out crowds -- the thinking being that was part of what contributed to last year's shooting, which injured four teens near the Michigan Science Center. 

The gunfire, insists Susan Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc. which organizes the event, wasn't the only reason for this year's shift. 

"We’re also trying to adjust to other issues people complain about," she said Tuesday, summarizing past gripes like this:

"I got stuck in my car for an hour, I couldn't find anywhere to park, and how do you expect me to do all this in five hours?" 

This year, the Detroit Institute of Arts, other museums and the College for Creative Studies will offer their Noel Night programming from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 

The additional venues -- bars, shops, restaurants, churches and galleries, from the Sugar Hill Clay Studio to the Majestic Theater Complex -- will host their programming in the evening hours as in years past, some closing at 8 p.m., and others at 10 p.m.

"Ideally," Mosey said, "you can do the big institutions at a leisurely pace in the day with plenty of time for their music, art and theatrical events, and then have an easy stroll through the CCS student art sale."

She added, "Afterward you can eat at all these new restaurants and bars, and do the other venues at night." 

Programming to look forward to includes Live Animals of the Nativity in front of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Christmas Karaoke at the Detroit School of Arts, the folk pop of Kuinka  at the Garden Theater, and a screening of the kids' classic "Paddle to the Sea" at the Detroit Film Theatre at 2 p.m. 

Midtown will be bursting with Santa photo opps, including at the Busted Bra Shop, Cass Community United Methodist Church, the Detroit Historical Museum, Filson, the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, Mosaic Midtown Church, Nest and the Park Shelton lobby, among other places. 

Stacy and Solomon Irby of Southfield on Cass Avenue during the 45th Annual Noel Night in Midtown Detroit in 2017.

No Noel Night would be complete without the Salvation Army Brass Band Sing-Along, which this year will happen at the Noel Night Bandstand at the southwest corner of Cass and Prentis.

Check the complete program for times. 

Inevitably, some will be disappointed that the museums will not be open at night this year, which Mosey acknowledges. 

"All the big institutions wanted to keep to their daytime hours," she said, noting that staying open late was a cost and staffing burden for them. 

"There’s going to be a learning curve this year, and people don't like change," Mosey said. "We'll have to evaluate afterwards whether this year's approach made sense. It's all sort of experimental."

(313) 222-6021 

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy


Noel Night

11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday 

(Participating museums open and free only from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Midtown Detroit

For complete list of programs & map, visit