Admittedly, Christmas activities seem to start earlier and earlier, but that's okay because they are fun and magical and distract us as we slip into a Michigan winter. There is plenty to do from now until the New Year, so take a step back in time, marvel at lighted displays and pet a reindeer. This list below consists of month-long displays/activities. There is a separate list for short-term holiday shows and concerts.
When: 11/18/12 through 11/25/12 (excluding Thanksgiving Day)
Where: Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, Dearborn
The annual fundraiser for the Children's Hospital of Michigan kicks off with a special preview of the professionally and locally-decorated trees on 11/17/12 from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The special night includes food, dancing, music and a silent auction. The trees continue on display for a week, along with gingerbread houses, a minature village, model trains, stockings and live entertainment.
When: December 1, 7-8, 14-16, 18-23, and 26-27, 2012 (6:30 PM - 10 PM)
Where: Greenfield Village, Dearborn
Stroll along lantern-lit streets to soak up the spirit of Christmas past at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights. In addition to food, shopping and live performances, there are carriage and Model-T rides, roving costumed characters, sing alongs, bonfires, an ice rink and Santa. Non-member adult admission is $20 (or $17 for members). Note: Greenfield Village hosts a Supper with Santa Package as part of Holiday Nights that includes a horse-drawn carriage ride and a holiday turkey dinner.
When: 11/19/12 and gradually lengthening weekends from 11/23/12 through 12/30/12
Where: Crossroads Village, Flint
The village and train are all lit up for the season. In addition to historic displays, food and shopping, the Opera House provides live entertainment, an elf and reindeer wander about, and Santa is available to lend an ear. Sullivan's Black Forest has a Christmas Buffet every Friday and Saturday (11/23 through 12/22). The Village is open for drive-thru visits on Mondays and December 24th.
When: 11/26/12 through 1/6/13
Where: Downtown Rochester
Downtown Rochester does the holidays right with the The Big, Bright Light Show, wherein each store front along Main Street (Rochester Road) literally gets its own color scheme of lights. The effect is magical and will light up your life -- or at least your shopping -- through New Year's Day.
Weekend mornings, 12/1, 12/2, 12/8 and 12/15/12, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery
The zoo hosts a Santa event in celebration of the holidays. Best of all, it includes a waffle-breakfast buffet. Kids will get a thrill when Santa's & friends (wildlife) visit. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $25 for children.
When: 11/15/12 through 12/31/12 (closed Christmas), 7-10 PM
Where: Hines Drive & Merriman, Westland
Wayne County Parks celebrates the holidays with an annual Lightfest consisting of over four miles of displays and over a million lights. Admission is $5 a car. Sledding and ice skating are also available within the park.