Michigan is one of the best places to spend your Christmas holiday. The state’s pristine beauty and diverse cultures promise you a top-notch holiday experience. Here are some of the traditions you’ll get to experience in this wonderful region.

Kersmarkt and Sinterklaas eve

The state of Michigan has a strong traditional and cultural tie to Holland. During your travel to the region, you’ll witness the Dutch traditions on full display. This Dutch influence brings two Dutch traditions to the western part of Michigan, offering you an exceptional experience in the region.

Sinterklaas, a Dutch tradition celebrated annually on December 5th, is one of these traditions. The celebration kicks off with St. Nicholas arriving at Kersmarkt on horseback, dressed in a red cape and bishop’s hat. It is believed that St. Nicholas rewards well-behaved children from the past year and his counterpart punishes the naughty ones. In Michigan, St. Nicholas can be found in Centennial Park, where he greets the people and illuminates the Holland Christmas tree. After the celebration, you can explore the Dutch museum or return to Kersmarkt.

This festive period offers traditional foods and drinks that add to the atmosphere. You can also indulge in some holiday shopping, exploring the unique features that make Michigan a must-visit destination.

Muskegon Singing Christmas Tree

The Muskegon Singing Christmas Tree is an iconic and cherished tradition in the state of Michigan. When you travel to this area, you’ll have the opportunity to experience this unique tradition that has become an integral part of Michigan’s holiday celebrations.

This artistic chorus-styled performance features a 67-foot tall Christmas tree with individuals singing acapella, creating a beautiful, candlelit spectacle. The concept of a singing Christmas tree has garnered popularity across different states in the United States, including places like California.

The performance takes place in the first week of December and continues to be showcased throughout the Christmas season, offering a truly enchanting experience for all who attend.

Parade of Lights

The Parade of Lights is one of the most memorable and captivating activities that you can participate in when you travel to the region. This tradition has been in place for hundreds of years, adding to its cultural significance and charm.

This parade is a beloved and common tradition in the state of Michigan, annually attracting thousands of people to the region. The parade showcases some of the favorite family characters, including Grinch, Elsa, Olaf, and, of course, Santa Claus.

You’ll find different communities participating in this tradition throughout the state, each putting a great deal of effort into the parade’s preparation and execution. The combination of music, dancing, and the enchanting display of Christmas lights makes this parade a legendary event and a must-visit during your time in the region.

Wiglia and Szopka 

As mentioned earlier, Michigan is renowned for its cultural diversity, and aside from the Dutch traditions prominent in western Michigan, you’ll find a rich tapestry of Polish traditions in the region, especially in Hamtramck.

During the festive season, people from various parts of the state flock to Hamtramck, making it an ideal destination to immerse yourself in Polish traditions. One captivating Polish tradition you can experience here is Szopka, a competition held at the Polish center.

Szopka involves the decoration of nativity scenes with deep-rooted Polish origins dating back to the 13th century. These colorful models are crafted from paper, foil, and candy wrappers, showcasing intricate designs and artistry.

The competition’s judges evaluate the entries based on the level of decoration and the intricacy of the finished structures, making it a captivating experience for participants and visitors alike.

These nativity scenes are displayed at the Polish Art Center, offering you an opportunity to interact with people from different parts of the state and immerse yourself in local Polish culture.

Before leaving the center, you can acquire oplatki wafers and handmade straws, both reflecting ancient Polish ancestry and serving as essential components for a beautiful Polish Christmas.

Another cherished Polish tradition is Wiglia, a special meal consumed without meat. It’s a perfect time to engage with local people from various parts of the state and embrace the heartwarming spirit of Wiglia, which is deeply rooted in the celebration of family and the birth of Christ.

Holiday lights

Michigan boasts a unique and enchanting holiday tradition – holiday lights. One of the finest places to witness this magical spectacle is the zoo in the region.

The zoo’s holiday lights display is nothing short of breathtaking. It offers visitors a chance to experience the region’s most exquisite lighting. The atmosphere during this time is captivating, characterized by crisp, quiet, and brilliantly illuminated nights, creating an unforgettable experience.

During your visit, consider bringing your family to the zoo to explore this memorable holiday tradition. There are various fun activities to engage in, ensuring you and your children have an exceptional experience. Don’t miss the opportunity to create cherished memories during your holiday trip to Michigan.

Finnish saunas

The state of Michigan is home to a Finnish community, and a visit to this region promises a unique experience where you can explore their rich cultural tradition – Finnish saunas.

Finnish culture is deeply rooted in the area, and one of the oldest Finnish traditions is the Christmas sauna. It’s common to find many homes in the Upper Peninsula equipped with saunas. The significance of Christmas saunas in the region lies in their association with purity. They offer individuals the opportunity to cleanse their minds and bodies, leaving behind the difficulties and problems of the past year, and entering the Christmas season with a refreshed spirit.

Exploring these Finnish saunas in Michigan is an exceptional experience. It’s a chance to partake in a tradition that has been cherished by the local Finnish community, offering not only relaxation but also a profound connection to the cultural heritage of the area.

Menorah in the D and Hannukah

Michigan is a state known for its vibrant cultural diversity, with various communities calling it home. Among these communities are Jews, and a significant celebration that you’ll encounter in this region is Hannukah. Hannukah is a holiday that symbolizes the optimism of a brighter future compared to the past, with the Menorah serving as a beacon of goodness amid challenges.

During your travels in Michigan, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with people from different parts of the United States who converge in the state for these celebrations. Detroit, in particular, is a hub for Hannukah festivities within the local Jewish community.

Hannukah is a time for the Jewish community in the region to express gratitude for the miracle of light. One of the remarkable traditions that has developed in Michigan is the Menorah in the D. This tradition centers around a massive 26-foot menorah installed in the heart of Detroit. The Menorah in the D has seamlessly become an integral part of Hannukah celebrations, ensuring that your time in the region is both enjoyable and culturally enriching.

Enjoy Noel Night

One of the top Christmas traditions you’ll discover during your visit to Michigan is Noel Night. This event boasts a rich lineup of performers who are among the best attractions in the region, offering activities that promise an exceptional experience.

  • Cultural Diversity: Noel Night showcases an array of culturally diverse music and an abundance of talent. During your travels, you’ll be captivated by the exceptional musical performances, making your holiday in the state truly memorable.
  • Horse-Drawn Carriages: To enhance your experience, you can include a horse-drawn carriage ride, adding a touch of enchantment to your holiday.
  • Educational Institutions: Several institutions, such as Wayne State University and the Detroit Historical Museum, play an active role in encouraging and hosting these activities, contributing to the event’s richness and vibrancy.
  • Family-Friendly: Noel Night is a family-friendly event, ensuring that your young ones will create lasting memories in the region. It’s an all-around fun experience that offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Participate in Mitzvah Day

This Christmas tradition has become more common in the state of Michigan as the Jewish and Muslim communities come together throughout the Detroit region to prepare meals, deliver toys to children, and play games with the senior community in the region.

The community usually serves meals to the homeless and the less fortunate in society, making it a time of love, Christmas cheer, and joy in the region. Christians, who usually volunteer during other days, take the day off to celebrate the Christmas period with their friends and family. It is a tradition that brings people from different parts of the world together.

Antique experience at Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island offers a unique cultural experience, rich in diversity, and promises a memorable visit. The island is a treasure trove of common traditions and exudes a tranquil atmosphere, making it an ideal holiday destination.

A daily ferry departs from the mainland to the island, providing a convenient means to explore and partake in local traditions. Additionally, a buggy and horse route ensures an immersive experience, allowing you to explore the various areas on the island. Don’t miss this opportunity to delve into the rich cultural tapestry of Mackinac Island.

Christmas bright light show

In Rochester, Michigan, you can experience the state’s largest annual light display during the Christmas season. The bright light show features various groups performing musical acts and singing, making it a vibrant and captivating public event that draws thousands of visitors from different parts of the state.

Don’t miss this dazzling holiday spectacle during your visit to the region.


Here are other US states where you can celebrate Christmas as well:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.