5 Reasons to Experience a Traverse City Holiday!

You’ll never forget the festive charm of a Traverse City holiday. We’ve compiled a list of don’t-miss activities to help you celebrate the season!

Hooray for the holidays! If you’re looking to celebrate in classic small-town style, you’ll want to explore the wide range of holiday events in Traverse City, Michigan.

From delicious food and unique shopping to holiday entertainment for all ages, Traverse City has what you’re looking for.

Ready to join the fun? Here are five reasons to visit Traverse City during the most wonderful time of the year. 

Table view of diners in Traverse City
Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

An abundance of Thanksgiving feasts

Traverse City offers a vast array of dining options to make your Thanksgiving memorable and delicious. From bountiful buffets with traditional fixings to special multi-course menus, you can indulge in a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast that leaves you free to enjoy family time – not cooking. 

Looking for a delicious dinner and a Thanksgiving getaway? Book your stay at a Traverse City resort. Both Crystal Mountain Resort and Aerie Restaurant and Lounge at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offer Thanksgiving Day buffets. 

For a downtown Turkey Day dinner with a waterfront view, the Delamar and Park Place Hotel and Conference Center offers traditional Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings.

Santa Claus and small-town celebrations

The Downtown Traverse City Light Parade, Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting on Nov. 18 is a festive free event that kicks off the holiday season. Witness Santa lighting the giant tree on Front Street and a dazzling illuminated parade that gives new meaning to making the season bright! Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Santa with your Christmas wish list.

The Traverse City region is home to many tree-lighting celebrations, from Light Up Leland on Nov. 24 to the Frankfort Community Tree Lighting on Nov. 25 and Light Up Cedar on Nov. 26. The festive fun includes live reindeer, carol singing and writing letters to Santa. 

For a great meal and special time with St. Nick, Black Star Farms features Brunch with Santa on Dec. 2. This special event is set against the backdrop of Black Star’s charming inn and has plenty of kid-friendly menu items and Santa photo ops.

Also fun for families: the Holiday Trail, a tour through Crystal Mountain’s quaint resort village. Each trail stop offers festive activities, plus food, beverage and shopping, including Black Friday specials!

Christmas tree in Traverse City
Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

A holiday shopping extravaganza

The holiday shopping scene in Traverse City is a festive spot to find the perfect gift. Downtown boasts a picturesque streetscape adorned with twinkling holiday lights, historic Victorian storefronts and more than 150 unique shops, galleries and restaurants. 

Take advantage of special deals during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Ladies’ Night, and Men’s Night, offered by various downtown Traverse City shops. 

For that true holiday flavor, you won’t want to miss the Traverse City holiday bazaars. Two local favorites are the Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace on Nov. 24-25 and the Holly Berry Art & Crafts Fair on Nov. 25. You’ll find handmade goods and many unique items while enjoying seasonal treats. 

The Nutcracker and other Traverse City holiday performances

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with performances like The Nutcracker, brought to life by the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy Dance Division. Witness the classic Christmas tale live onstage at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, south of Traverse City. 

For entertainment based on local lore, check out The Christmas Schooner at The Old Town Playhouse, which runs from Nov. 26-Dec. 3. Based on a true story, this heartwarming holiday tale follows the adventures of a Michigan shipping captain who brings Christmas trees to homesick German-American families in turn-of-the-century Chicago. 

map of Traverse City Michigan
Image courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Exciting New Year’s Eve entertainment for all

Traverse City knows how to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style! From events for adults to family-friendly celebrations, Traverse City offers something for all ages to enjoy.

For a special couples-only evening, indulge in a New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner at Black Star Farms, a Traverse Wine Coast destination in Suttons Bay. You’ll enjoy a five-course meal, each plate expertly paired with delicious wines from the award-winning vineyards.

If you want a truly unique NYE experience, bring the whole family to the CherryT Ball Drop in downtown Traverse City. Organized by the National Cherry Festival, this beloved all-ages annual celebration features fireworks and live entertainment. The highlight: watch a 600-pound cherry drop from the sky at midnight! Funds raised from this “Party with a Purpose” benefit local charities.

For more information on Traverse City and its exciting holiday events, visit traversecity.com

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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