Best Things to Do with Kids in Southeast Michigan This December

Planning your family fun for the month? Metro Parent has you covered with the best upcoming events in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

There’s always so many fun things to do with kids in southeast Michigan, so how is a busy parent supposed to keep track of it all? With our list of the best things to do this month, of course!

This December, we’ve found tons of holiday fun, including holiday displays and tree lightings, Hanukkah events, Kwanzaa events and holiday markets and craft fairs. Here is our curated list of the can’t-miss activities coming to metro Detroit and Ann Arbor in December 2022.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at our list and start advance prep for your next family outing.

Don’t see an event you love? Check out our online calendar for even more events and fun things to do this weekend. 

Macomb

Santa passes out goodies on the holiday express train ride
Photo credit: Anne Nicolazzo

Holiday Lights at the Farm at Wolcott Mill Metropark, Farm Center

Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 2022

Stroll through traditional holiday decorations and thousands of sparkling lights. Write your letter to Santa and visit him in his workshop in the Dairy Barn. Dress for the weather. Registration required.

Holiday Lighting Fest at Macomb Township Hall

Dec. 2, 2022

This annual event features caroling, the arrival of Santa and the Holiday Lighting display. Also, music, crafts, live reindeer, giveaways and more to enjoy.

Macomb Ballet Company Presents The Nutcracker at Macomb Center for the Performing Arts

Dec. 2-3, 2022

Clara meets the Snow Queen and tackles the enchanted forest during this colorful holiday performance. The Sweet Tea takes place on Dec. 3 at 11 a.m.

St. John Lutheran School Choir at Fraser Public Library

Dec. 2, 2022

Crowd around the fireplace at Fraser Library for a festive performance by the St. John Lutheran School choir. Hear holiday tunes, enjoy milk and cookies and make a fun ornament craft.

Winter Wonderland at Lake St. Clair Nature Center

Dec. 3, 2022

Create unique winter-themed keepsakes, get to know woodland critters, participate in winter activities and enjoy some hot cocoa by the fire. Dress for the weather. There will be lots of photo ops. Registration required.

Holiday Express Train Rides at Joy Park

Dec. 10, 2022

Take a ride on the Polar Express and hear the story read aloud. Plus, cookies, hot cocoa, Christmas carols and more. The train is enclosed but not heated; dress for the weather. Registration required.

Santa’s Jingle Bell Brunch at Marvin Blank Senior Center

Dec. 10, 2022

Grab a continental breakfast of fruit, pastries and juice. Then join Santa and other special guests for stories and songs. Make sure to bring your own camera. Pre-registration required.

Harbor Holiday Bazaar at MacRay Harbor

Dec. 11, 2022

Enjoy this holiday shopping event that features wreaths, woodwork, jewelry, candles, soap, cocoa bombs and other handmade items.

Santa Brunch at MacRay Harbor

Dec. 11, 18, 2022

Visit with Santa at MacRay Harbor. There will be brunch and crafts with Santa as well.

Breakfast with Santa at Ike’s Restaurant

Dec. 17, 2022

Visit with Santa Claus, including a full breakfast, face painting, crafts and more.

Breakfast with Santa at the Italian American Cultural Society and Banquet Center

Dec. 17, 2022

Join the Italian American Cultural Center for breakfast with Santa. It includes a pancake and French toast station, hash browns, eggs, sausage, coffee, tea, white milk, chocolate milk and orange juice.

Holiday Market at the Anton Art Center

Through Dec. 23, 2022 (Tuesdays-Saturdays)

Shop a variety of unique gifts and décor at the Anton Art Center crafted by Michigan artists.

Oakland

Scrooge and tiny Tim on stage
Photo courtesy of Sean Carter at Sean Carter Photography.

Cookies With Santa at Longacre House

Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2022

Children get a chance to impress Santa by decorating their own cookies. Make sure to bring your own camera. For ages 0-10. Pre-registration for children required.

A Christmas Carol at Meadow Brook Theatre

Dec. 2-4, 8-11, 15-24, 2022

A crabby old man learns the true meaning of Christmas once he is visited by three ghosts the night before Christmas.

Birmingham Winter Markt and Tree Lighting at Birmingham Shopping District

Dec. 2-4, 2022

Enjoy shopping from local vendors and artisans, holiday lights, ice sculptures, live entertainment and more at this market. The tree lighting takes place on Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. and features Santa Claus and carolers.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Troy City Hall

Dec. 2, 2022

This annual event includes the Troy High Colts Drumline, Athens High Concert and Treble Choirs, hot cocoa and Timbits from Tim Hortons Troy. Santa will be available for a visit following the Christmas Tree Lighting.

Holiday Stroll at Canterbury Village

Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 22-23, 2022

Enjoy an amazing light show choreographed to classic holiday songs, hear the sounds of professional carolers and live Christmas performances.

Kris Kringle Market in Downtown Rochester

Dec. 2-3, 2022

  • Address: West Fourth Street between Walnut and Main streets, Rochester
  • Cost: Free admission

The event features one-of-a-kind shopping, specialty foods, fresh greens and wreaths and handcrafted gifts for the holiday.

Visits with Santa at The Village of Rochester Hills

Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-24, 2022

Bring your own camera to get your photo with Santa at The Village of Rochester Hills.

Wixom Tree Lighting Festival at Wixom Community Center

Dec. 2, 2022

Santa and his reindeer arrive just in time to light the city’s new giant tree. Find Christmas carols, pictures with Santa, crafts, horse and carriage rides, food and more.

Berkley Holiday Lights Parade in Downtown Berkley

Dec. 3, 2022

  • Address: Downtown Berkley area
  • Cost: Free

The annual parade takes place in downtown Berkley as it travels along 12 Mile Road from Bacon Street to City Hall.

Christmas Parade in Downtown Oxford

Dec. 3, 2022

  • Address: Downtown Oxford area
  • Cost: Free

This holiday tradition heads right through downtown Oxford. This year’s theme is old-fashioned Christmas. After the parade, meet Santa for photo ops in Centennial Park.

Holiday Extravaganza Parade in Downtown Pontiac

Dec. 3, 2022

  • Address: Downtown Pontiac area
  • Cost: Free

This annual event starts off with a winter fest with an ice carving competition, petting zoo, face painting, crafts for kids and more. Then, check out your favorite costumed characters, plus floats, balloons, marching bands, fire trucks and dancers in the parade.

Holly Dickens Festival in Village of Holly

Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 2022

Enjoy costumed characters, entertainment, vendors, the feel of a “Charles Dickens town” and shops open downtown. Children can send a postcard to Santa, enjoy a story time and coronation and knighting ceremony with Queen Victoria and more.

Light Up Shrine at National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica

Dec. 3, 2022

Families can come out to National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica for ‘Light Up Shrine.’ There will be a horse drawn carriage, a live animal nativity, hot chocolate bar and more.

Orion Lighted Christmas Parade in Downtown Lake Orion

Dec. 3, 2022

  • Address: Downtown Lake Orion area
  • Cost: Free

Check out the state’s largest lighted Christmas parade. This year’s theme is “Kids in Candyland” and encourages businesses downtown to light up and decorate their storefronts.

Chanu-Con! at Congregation Beth Shalom

Dec. 4, 2022

There will be children’s activities, delicious kosher food, raffles, vendors, live musical entertainment, yoga with Nature’s Playhouse, face painting, Chanukah Bingo, crafts, dreidels, and more.

Hometown Christmas Parade in Downtown Rochester

Dec. 4, 2022

  • Address: Downtown Rochester area
  • Cost: Free

This annual procession has Rochester dressed up in its holiday best.

Oh Deer, Santa’s Here! at Heritage Park

Dec. 7-8, 2022 

Families get a chance to visit and get photos with Santa in the historic Red Barn in Heritage Park. Make sure to bring your own camera. There will also be a campfire outside with hot cocoa and a self-guided winter scavenger hunt. Children must be accompanied by adult. Pre-registration required.

Nature Makerspace Experience at Farmington Hills Nature Center

Dec. 8, 2022 

Ages 6-12 can design, create and make using nature as the inspiration to solve real-world challenges. December’s theme is circuits. Pre-registration encouraged.

Milk and Cookies with Santa at Rochester Avon Recreation Authority

Dec. 9, 2022 

Visit with Santa and enjoy some milk and cookies. Take a holiday craft and coloring pages with you. Only children attending need to be registered.

Rock Around The Hawk at The Hawk – Farmington Hills Community Center

Dec. 9, 2022 

Rock Around the Hawk is a free drop-in program for little ones, ages 18 months to 5 years, with a caregiver. This event offers sensory-friendly components. Each month, they’ll celebrate a different famous music festival from all around the world. December’s theme is Toasty Man.   

Lunch with Santa at Lakeshore Park

Dec. 10, 2022 

Enjoy visiting with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus along with a lunch, music, crafts and more at this event. Pre-registration required.

Snacks with Santa at Kensington Metropark, Farm Center 

Dec. 10-11, 17-18, 2022 

Visit with Santa by the Christmas tree, sing carols, eat snacks and enjoy a horse-drawn hayride or sleigh ride. Registration required.

Storytime with Santa at The Community House

Dec. 10, 2022 

Hear a story read by Santa, make a holiday memory craft and explore the hot chocolate stations. Please bring a gently used book to donate to ReadingX Detroit. For ages 0-10. Pre-registration is required.

Super Bounce Days at The Hawk – Farmington Hills Community Center

Dec. 11, 2022 

Once a month on special mornings and afternoons staff members set up the inflatable bouncers in the gym to make an arena of fun! Kids will enjoy the big bouncer, bouncer obstacle course and giant inflatable slide. 

Breakfast with Santa at Paradise Park

Dec. 17, 2022 

Enjoy breakfast and laser tag with Santa. There will also be great photo opportunities. The breakfast buffet includes pancakes, eggs, doughnuts, sausage, juice, coffee and tea. There will also be coloring and crafts.

Brunch with Santa at Union 212

Dec. 18, 2022 

Make sure to bring your own camera to get pictures with Santa Claus during a brunch event at Union 212.

Ceramic Workshops: Penguins at The Hawk – Farmington Hills Community Center

Dec. 18, 2022 

The Hawk Ceramics Studio Lab offers monthly themed youth workshops for kids ages 6-8 and 9-12. December’s theme is Penguins. All supplies are included in the registration fee.

S. Open Brass Band Championships at the Clarkston High School Performing Arts Center

Dec. 18, 2022 

Enjoy this annual invitational contest for traditional brass bands from around the nation. Eight bands perform throughout the day.

Holiday Walk at Meadow Brook Hall

Through Dec. 23, 2022 

Take a walk around the historic house and grounds to see more than 50 decorated trees including a 10-foot tree made entirely out of poinsettias.

All Aboard! Model Railroad Exhibit at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm

Through Dec. 30, 2022 

The Stoney Creek Model Railroad Club shows off train displays that are fun for the whole family. Scavenger hunt, too. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 is the Old-Fashioned Christmas event.

Winter Wonder Lights at Meadow Brook Hall

Through Dec. 30, 2022

Check out Meadow Brook’s Winter Wonder Lights and see an interactive light experience. Visitors can explore the National Historic Landmark at its most festive time. There will be seasonal beverages, bonfires, selfie stations and more.

Magic of Lights at Pine Knob Music Theatre

Through Dec. 31, 2022

Drive through this holiday themed light display with different characters and themes using the latest LED technology and digital animations.

New Year’s Eve Family Bash at Paradise Park

Dec. 31, 2022 

Come out to Paradise Park to enjoy a pizza buffet, unlimited soda, balloon drop, coloring contest, laser tag and more.

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak 

Through Jan. 8, 2023 (select days)

The Detroit Zoo is aglow with millions of LED lights on the zoo’s trees, buildings and more.

The Big, Bright Light Show in Downtown Rochester

Through Jan. 21, 2023

  • Address: Downtown Rochester area
  • Cost: Free

Downtown Rochester is decked in 1.5 million lights, brightening up buildings every evening.

SUE: The T. rex Experience at Cranbrook Institute of Science

Through April 30, 2023

  • Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
  • Cost: $10/non-member adults, $9/members, $8/non-member children ages 2-12 and seniors, free/enhanced members and children under 2. (Non-members must pay general admission, too)

This traveling exhibit comes from the Field Museum in Chicago and features an exact cast of SUE’s skeleton, measuring in at 40 feet from snout to tail and 13 feet tall at the hip.

Washtenaw

Photo credit: Gordon Hall/Dexter Area Historical Society

A Christmas Story at The Encore Musical Theatre Company

Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 2022

Check out the musical, A Christmas Story, based on the 1983 classic. It’s directed by Dan Cooney and at The Encore. 

Downtown Winter Wonderland 2022 at Saline Main Street

Dec. 2-3, 2022

Enjoy a weekend of music, caroling, cute animals, a campfire and reindeer games in downtown Saline. 

Kerrytown District KindleFest at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Dec. 2, 2022

This annual holiday market features a variety of local and regional artisan set-ups, toys and gifts for sale, kids activities, live music, fire pits and more. 

Christmas at the Mansion – a Family Tradition at Gordon Hall

Dec. 3, 2022

Visit this wonderful historic home and enjoy the beautiful holiday decorations themed, Not a Creature was Stirring. Explore the Christmas Village Collection, a magical display of Milt Campbell’s huge collection of Department 56 villages. Visit with Santa Claus to get your picture taken and make and take gingerbread houses. 

Holiday Bazaar at Dexter Area Museum

Dec. 3, 2022

This annual shopping event features many handcrafted Christmas gifts, decorating items, winter hats, and beautiful kitchen accessories that make wonderful gifts. 

Holiday Parade in Downtown Saline

Dec. 3, 2022

The 47th annual holiday parade has lots of lights, music and entertainment including a visit by Santa. This year’s theme is Christmas Around the World.

Hometown Holiday Light Parade in Chelsea

Dec. 3, 2022

This annual parade runs along Main Street in Chelsea from Old US 12 to Jackson Street. 

Milan Area Chamber Annual Christmas Parade: A Storybook Christmas in Downtown Milan

Dec. 3, 2022

Line up for floats, music and performances and stick around for a visit with Santa Claus at this holiday parade. Santa arrives on Thomas the Train at the end of the parade. 

Tree Lighting Ceremony and Glow Hike at Hudson Mills Metropark, Activity Center

Dec. 3, 2022

Don some glow apparel and hike the nature trail on a Glow Walk afterwards. The night ends inside by the fire with hot cocoa and campfire treats.

Donuts & Selfies w/ Santa at Smokehouse 52 BBQ

Dec. 10, 2022

The garage doors outside Smokehouse 52 BBQ will be open so that Santa can interact and take photos with the kids. Doughnuts will be available while supplies last. 

The Christmas Village Collection – Open House at Gordon Hall

Dec. 10, 17, 28, 2022

Visit this historic home in Dexter and enjoy the beautiful holiday decorations themed Not a Creature was Stirring. 

The Nutcracker with a Twist at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre 

Dec. 16-18, 2022

See local dancers and students for a new take on a beloved holiday classic with diverse dance styles.

Wayne

Photo credit: A Charlie Brown Christmas Live

Story Time with Mr. Jim at Caroline Kennedy Library

Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2022

Caroline Kennedy Library offers simple stories, music, crafts, bubbles and fun for little ones and their caregivers every Thursday. Recommended for ages 2-3, but all ages are welcome.

Baby Shark Live!: The Christmas Show at the Fox Theatre 

Dec. 2, 2022

Join Baby Shark and Pinkfong for a new adventure. This limited show will delight audiences with Santa Claus, holiday classics and more.

Detroit Urban Craft Fair at Masonic Temple

Dec. 2-4, 2022

  • Address: 500 Temple St., Detroit
  • Cost: $10/Friday night, $5/Saturday 10 a.m.-noon and Sunday 11 a.m.-noon, $2/Saturday 2-7 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. Sunday, free/children 12 and under noon-close Saturday-Sunday   

This 17th annual event features more than 100 handmade crafters and indie artists, offering an opportunity for shoppers to find one-of-a-kind items and meet the creators.

Seaway Chorale and Orchestra presents “Joy To The World” at Flat Rock Community Auditorium

Dec. 2-3, 2022

The Seaway Chorale and Orchestra performs “Joy To The World” for its 45th year. The group also sings many holiday favorites and debuting two new songs. 

Christmas Parade in Downtown Trenton

Dec. 3, 2022

  • Address: Downtown Trenton area
  • Cost: Free

Families can head to Downtown Trenton to see the annual Christmas Parade. The parade begins on West Jefferson Avenue. 

Cookies with Santa at Ford House

Dec. 3, 6-7, 10, 13-14, 17, 2022

Bring your kids to the Ford House to meet with Santa. Make sure to bring your camera and a letter for the big guy if they choose. Santa will send each child home with one of his favorite sweet treats. Space is limited, so purchase your tickets in advance. 

Drop-In Studio: Holiday Cards at Ford House

Dec. 3, 2022

Create a holiday card for your family and friends at this drop-in event. All supplies will be provided. 

Holiday Movies at the Redford Theatre

Dec. 3, 9-11, 16-17, 2022

See holiday classic movies including The Polar Express and The Nightmare Before Christmas (Dec. 3) and White Christmas (Dec. 9-10). There’s even a holiday mystery movie (Dec. 11). 

Saturday Storytime at 27th Letter Books

Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 2022

Join for a weekly story offering, made bilingual in Spanish & English, then stay to explore the book themes through art studio time or an interactive activity. 

The Nutcracker Ballet with Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra at Ford Community & Performing Arts Center

Dec. 3-4, 2022

The Nutcracker returns to the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. The entire family is sure to enjoy this timeless Yuletide fantasy, which features the accompaniment of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra.

A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Fox Theatre

Dec. 4, 2022

Celebrate the timeless television classic as the whole family joins Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts characters in their journey to uncover the true meaning of Christmas.

Live the Nativity! at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Dec. 4, 2022

Enjoy Nativity story participation, a petting zoo, photo ops, songs, warming treats and more. Kids can come dressed like a shepherd or an angel.

Wayne County Lightfest at Merriman Hollow Park

Dec. 7-11, 14-18, 21-24, 2022

A magical four-mile stretch of Hines Park, displaying nearly 50 animated themed displays and more than 100,000 lights.

Lights, Trails and Seasonal Tales at Lake Erie Metropark, Marshlands Museum

Dec. 9, 2022

Meet a variety of Christmas-themed character around the luminated nature trail. Pre-registration is required. For ages 8 and up.

Dearborn Holiday Choral Festival at Ford Community & Performing Arts Center

Dec. 10, 2022

See “The Many Moods of Christmas” as its accompanied by the Dearborn Symphony at Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet at the Fox Theatre

Dec. 11, 2022

The show is celebrating its 30th Anniversary tour. Re-live your fondest childhood dreams, overflowing with larger-than-life puppets, breath-taking acrobatics and dazzling costumes.

Home Alone in Concert at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center

Dec. 14, 2022

Enjoy a screening of the holiday classic accompanied by music performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“‘Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil at the Fox Theatre

Dec. 15-24, 26, 2022

Cirque du Soleil puts their spin on the beloved Christmas classic. Join a curious little girl named Isabella as she is taken to an upside-down, inside-out world.

Snacks with Santa at Richardson Center

Dec. 17, 2022

Visit with Santa and enjoy a special holiday treat. There will also be crafts to make and take. Pre-registration required. No walk-ins allowed.

Holiday Markets at Eastern Market

Through Dec. 18, 2022

The Tuesday market dates are primarily focused on food vendors and are a perfect place to find ingredients for your holiday meals. The Sunday dates feature plenty of Michigan-made gift options including clothing, art, jewelry, beauty products and more. For all ages.

Motor City Brass Band “Sounds of the Season” at Ford Community & Performing Arts Center

Dec. 18, 2022

Motor City Brass Band presents “Sounds of the Season” to welcome the holiday season with an afternoon of brass band music.

See The D on Wheels Holiday Edition at Huntington Place 

Dec. 18, 2022 

Experience the best of the Motor City aboard this comfy motorcoach for this four-hour tour of Detroit’s fantastic architecture, river walk, amazing history, beautiful public art, shop local ideas and more.

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle at Lighthouse ArtSpace Detroit

Through Dec. 31, 2022

Enjoy this immersive event about the most beloved family holiday tale, The Nutcracker. You’ll see immersive projections and special effects, meet a life-sized Nutcracker, have photo ops and more.

Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Through Jan. 1, 2023

Come out to The Gallery by General Motors at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation to see a costume exhibition presented by the Walt Disney Archives. It incorporates more than 70 original pieces, including ball gowns, military uniforms, sorcerers’ capes, tiaras and glass slippers

Immersive King Tut at Lighthouse ArtSpace Detroit

Through Jan. 2, 2023

Immersive King Tut uses stunning visuals to tell the story of the Amduat that was depicted on the tombs of pharaohs.

“Level Up” at the Michigan Science Center

Through Jan. 3, 2023

Check out this 8,000-square-foot interactive installation that demonstrates the acquired skills behind video and analog games. The traveling exhibit, Electric Playhouse Travels, will be with it for a limited time.

Light Up Beacon Park 

Through Jan. 16, 2023

Children of all ages can enjoy this annual event as it transforms Beacon Park into a winter wonderland. It features a light display with more than 125,000 LED lights, holiday music and more.

Van Gogh in America at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Through Jan. 22, 2023

Van Gogh in America is the first exhibition dedicated to the introduction and early reception of Vincent van Gogh’s art in the United States. The exhibition displays 68 works by Van Gogh.

Van Gogh’s Artistic Roots: The Hague School and French Realism at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Through Jan. 30, 2023

The exhibit is in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Van Gogh in America. This installation presents a selection of paintings and works on paper by Dutch and French realist artists, all of whom were contemporaries of Vincent van Gogh.

This post is updated monthly.

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