Best Cheap and Free Family December Events in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor

Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor are jam-packed with family fun for those on a budget all year round. Here are some of our favorite cheap and free family events happening in December.

best cheap and free events december

What are the best cheap and free family events happening this month? Looking for things to do with kids that won’t break the bank? We’ve got you covered.

Metro Parent is partnering with WDET 101.9 FM to offer southeast Michigan families a roundup of some of the best cheap (under $20 for a family of four) and free weekend events and activities each month. In December, we’ve found festive craft fairs, sensory-friendly Santa visits and huge holiday blow outs your kids are sure to love.

For the weekend of Nov. 30-Dec. 2

Holiday Extravaganza in Downtown Pontiac 

Dec. 1, 2018

This annual kicks off with a festival full of live animals and winter activities, including visits with Santa. A magnificent holiday parade happens at 11 a.m., too.

Detroit Urban Craft Fair 

Dec. 1-Dec. 2, 2018

  • Address: Detroit Masonic Temple, 500 Temple St., Detroit
  • Time: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
  • Contact and details: See the Metro Parent listing
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Featuring more than 100 handmade crafters and indie artists, this fair offers an opportunity for shoppers to find one-of-a-kind items and meet the creators. Only $1 admission on Saturday and Sunday. Kids 12 and under are free.

Sensory Friendly Santa at Oakland Mall 

Dec. 2 and 9, 2018

Santa and his elves take extra care to make sure they’re providing a safe, supportive and sensory-friendly environment for kids with special needs. Registration required. Note: the visit is free but the photos have a fee.

For the weekend of Dec. 7-9

Holiday Ice Festival in Downtown Ferndale 

Dec. 8, 2018

This annual fest celebrates the cold weather with ice sculptures, carving demonstrations and much more.

Hartland’s Polar Express Day in Hartland’s Historic Village 

Dec. 8, 2018

Find cookie decorating in the Chamber offices, hot cocoa at the Florence B. Dearing Museum, crafts at the Ore Creek Veterinary Clinic, larger-than-life games at Hartland United FC and much more.

Holiday Movies at the Redford Theatre 

Dec. 1, 7, 8, 9, 14 and 21-22, 2018

Address: 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit
Time: Showtimes vary
Contact and details: See the Metro Parent listing 

See Miracle on 34th Street (Dec. 1), Scrooged (Dec. 1), The Santa Clause (Dec. 7), Home Alone (Dec. 8), A Christmas Story (Dec. 8), A holiday mystery movie (Dec. 9), National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (Dec. 14) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec. 21-22). Tickets are $5 per person.

For the weekend of Dec. 14-16

Live Reindeer at the Dexter District Library 

Dec. 14, 2018

Swing by the library and say “hi” to the live reindeer and then head inside for reindeer crafts.

Belle Isle Holiday Stroll in Detroit 

Dec. 14, 2018

Enjoy the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Belle Isle Aquarium, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and all of the park’s other amenities free of charge. Note: an $11 recreation passport is required to enter all Michigan State Parks.

Weekend of Dec. 21-23

Santa Visit at the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville 

Dec. 22, 2018

Santa arrives in a private helicopter to visit with kids. Note: fees apply for parents that arrive after 11:30 a.m. Kids are free all day.

Holiday Markets at Eastern Market 

Dec. 23, 2018

Address: Eastern Market, 2934 Russell St., Detroit
Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily
Contact and details: See the Metro Parent listing 

This market features plenty of Michigan-made gift options including clothing, art, jewelry, beauty products, and more. Note: The market is also on Dec. 2, 9 and 16 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Dec. 18 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Weekend of Dec. 28-30

Free Days at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit 

Dec. 29-30, 2018

  • Address: Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R. St., Detroit
  • Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
  • Contact and details: See the Metro Parent listing 

Enjoy all of the museum’s 250 hands-on exhibits free of charge. Note: Parking near this museum runs about $7. This event also happens. Dec. 1 and 8-9. 

The Big, Bright Light Show at Downtown Rochester 

Now- Jan. 6, 2019 (ongoing)

Millions of lights line the buildings of downtown Rochester during this holiday spectacle, check out the shops, see lights. 11 different colors of LED lights — including a new color this year – candy cane. Wondering what color that is? You’ll have to check it out.

Wayne County Lightfest in Westland 

Now-Dec. 31, 2018 (ongoing)

  • Address: Merriman Hollow Park area
  • Time: 7-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 6-10 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays
  • Contact and details: See the Metro Parent listing

Bundle up, pack in and drive the family car through four miles of holiday light displays lining Hines Drive at the Wayne County Lightfest. This local tradition – and “the Midwest’s largest and longest light show” – is back for its 25th year Nov. Admission is $5 per vehicle.

Events are subject to change. Please be sure to verify dates and times before heading out – and if you’re looking for more cheap and free family events in November and beyond, visit the Metro Parent calendar