Holiday Fun in Oakland County
Story by Brandon Alger
Despite the unseasonably warm early-November weather we’ve had it will soon be December. Snow is already in the forecast and all the little downtowns and event spaces in Metro Detroit will begin to look different.
While I strongly encourage a visit to Campus Martius to see the tree, go skating, and shop at the outdoor winter market in Downtown Detroit, it is fun to see some of the local events closer to home too. Here are some you can find in Oakland County:
Weekend or one-night Events:
Winter, Wine & Whimsy! - Nov. 17-18; 5-9 pm and Nov. 19 Noon-9 pm.
- 12 Mile Crossing, Novi - This newer event is in only its second year as the City of Novi helps sponsor a holiday market in late-November. Thursday kicks off with a “Ladies Night Out” and Friday follows with a free matinee movie for seniors, White Christmas. Later that evening, expect a visit from Rudolph and Santa’s elves. Saturday is a full day of holiday events including vendors, live music, and face painting.
Holiday Magic Marketplace - December 1; 4-9 pm.
- Royal Oak Farmers Market - The Holiday Magic Marketplace returns for its 23rd year of free cookies and live entertainment. Over 60 vendors will be present with holiday gifts and decorations, and in the evening the Community Tree is lit and guests will be greeted with a visit from Santa.
Huron Valley Christmas Open House - December 1; 6-9 pm.
- Downtown Milford - Visit Santa, go for a carriage ride, enjoy holiday caroling during Milford’s annual Christmas Open House. Many of Milford’s downtown stores and restaurants will be running Christmas specials, so enjoy the historic vibe of Downtown Milford.
Holiday Extravaganza - December 3; festival from 8:30-10:30am, parade from 11am-1pm.
- Downtown Pontiac - Sponsored by Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Waterford, and White Lake, the festivities kick off with the WinterFUN festival that includes ice carving, s’mores, and a petting zoo. This runs until late-morning when the parade through downtown Pontiac begins at 11. The parade runs down Saginaw Street, beginning at Cesar E. Chavez Ave and ending at the Pontiac City Square.
Berkley Holiday Lights Parade - December 3; 5:30 pm
- Downtown Berkley - The Berkley Holiday Lights parade runs along 12 Mile Road from Bacon (the street, not the food) to Coolidge and includes floats, high school bands, local displays, and ends with Santa arriving at City Hall where kids can visit him. Restaurants and stores in Berkley’s downtown will be open for shopping before and after the parade. If you live in town, be sure to catch Santa as he drives every street in Berkley to wave to the kids, on Dec 1-2.
Chanu-Con - December 4; 1-5 pm.
- Beth Shalom - 14601 Lincoln, Oak Park - This will be the 7th annual Chanu-Con festival hosted by Beth Shalom and will include Kosher food, children’s activities, a tin can raffle, live music, and vendors with gift ideas. Admission is free.
Clarkston Holiday Lights Parade - December 10th; 6-7 pm
- Downtown Clarkston - The Clarkston Holiday Lights parade runs through Downtown Clarkston from Waldon Road and Main Street to Miller Road. It begins at 6 pm and you can enjoy the small-town feel of Clarkston in this community-volunteer organized parade.
Ongoing Seasonal Events:
Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village - Fridays through Sundays, November 25 through December 18, and December 22-23.
- Canterbury Village, Lake Orion - Canterbury Village transforms into a “winter wonderland” in this family-friendly, outdoor event. There is a choreographed light show, professional carolers, and holiday favorite characters around to entertain guests. While kids will certainly make memories, adults can also enjoy a variety of beers, hard citers and wine near fire pits. Tickets are available online at $15 per person, and parking is $5 per vehicle.
Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo - November 19 - January 8, every night from 5:00-9:00 pm weekdays, 5:00-10:30 on weekends.
- Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak; huge animal and habitat displays line the front half of the Detroit Zoo every night as holiday music plays and families explore the always-growing event. If you’ve not been since its first couple years, it is 100% worth checking out again. Rumor has it, you may even get to see the elusive Detroit Zoo beavers, who as crepuscular animals, will be aware and active in the evening!
Rochester Big, Bright Light Show - November 23 - January 3, nightly at sundown.
- Downtown Rochester - Experience Downtown Rochester dining and shopping as the Big Bright Light Show covers the fronts of all buildings with over 1.5 million points of light! The show begins every night at 5 pm and lasts all season long. I enjoy going up here to check out Rochester Mills brewery for dinner and a drink, before getting some holiday shopping done.
Pine Knob’s Magic of Lights - November 18 - December 31, every night at 5:30.
- Pine Knob, Independence Township - This drive-thru display of Christmas lights takes place at Pine Knob as their parking lot transforms into an enormous, animated LED display of everything from traditional holiday scenes to pop-culture characters, including a 32-foot tall Barbie. Tickets are $5 less when purchased in advance, and can be found online for $20-25 per vehicle.
Outdoor Sports of Oakland County - Any time, any park.
- Metro Detroit has an impressive network of trails. It may lack mountains, but most of us realize downhill skiing is overrated once we break that first limb. Cross-country skiing can be just as fun, and the winter wildlife here is great. If skiing isn’t your thing, try snowshoeing or even hiking! Whether you’re at Independence Oaks, Addison Oaks, or want to stay a bit closer at Heritage Park in Farmington or Stage Nature Center in Troy. If you’re not a fan of winter or cold, this probably sounds crazy, but give it a try, and afterward head to a local coffee shop for hot cocoa or a latte.
Oakland County certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to holiday lights, parades, and events. It’s easy to be grumpy about the snow and cold, but I find it’s a lot more satisfying to embrace the winter. It’s going to be here whether you like it or not, so why not enjoy it? Look around locally and make a new holiday season tradition or two!
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