December things to do: Parades and presents, movies and music, shopping and Santa

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — or at least to FEEL like it — here in West Michigan. There’s a whole lotta stuff going on this month along the Lakeshore, including music, shopping, creative opportunities, parades, theater productions, and a movie screening for kids. There also are museum tours, writer workshops, book clubs, and a Roaring ’20s gala. December offers a wide variety of things to do in Allegan, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest.  

Week 1 (Dec. 1-10)

I AM Academy board members attend the 2022 Black Gala. This year’s event is set for Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Haworth Hotel in Holland.

Mona Shores Singing Christmas Tree
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Friday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Cost: $15-$18 (plus fees)
Known as America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree, this spectacular event returns for its 38th performance with more than 200 enthusiastic performing arts students singing and playing an eclectic mix of seasonal favorites from a wide variety of genres while standing in a 67-foot tree covered with over 25,000 lights.

Festival of Trees
Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Dec. 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-23, 26-29
Cost: $5 plus museum admission
Take a trip down memory lane with nostalgic holiday collections from vintage Christmas cards and ornaments to surfboards and nutcrackers, these displays will spark the jolliest memories of the past. This annual holiday tradition is bursting with activities, live music, an auction, a wreath raffle, and more.

Strolling Santa
Eighth Street, downtown Holland
Fridays, Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 6-8 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
If you’re heading to downtown Holland for a little holiday shopping this season, be sure to keep your eye out for the one and only Santa. The Big Man will be strolling Eighth Street to greet customers, pose for photographs, and bring a little magic to your holiday shopping experience.

Candlelight Tours
Felt Mansion, 6597 138 Ave., Holland 
Fridays, Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 6-8 p.m.
Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and students, children 10 and younger admitted free, $60 for family rate
Come out and explore with a hand-held candle. Enjoy the rare opportunity to see the mansion under the warm ambient glow of festive twinkle lights that bedazzle the Christmas trees and window garland. The website also details other Felt Mansion holiday events.

Holland City Council members Dave Hoekstra, Nicki Arendshorst and Jay Peters.

City Council Open House
Holland Civic Center, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 2, 8–10 a.m.
Cost: Free
This city of Holland gathering will honor three outgoing City Council members: Nicki Arendshorst, Dave Hoekstra, and Jay Peters. The three members combined served the residents of Holland for a total of 44 years. All Holland residents are welcome to enjoy refreshments, wish them well, and thank them for their dedication and service to the city.
Details: email

Outdoor Holiday Market at SCA
Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck
Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Enjoy a perfect day of artisan craft cocktails, Michigan-made wares, and cool tunes under the SCA lights. Stroll through the booths of local top-notch creatives featuring housewares and decor, hand-crafted wearables, treats for you and your pets, and more.

Holiday Celebration
Downtown Fennville
Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Head downtown to begin your holiday season with live reindeer, cookie decorating, visits with Santa, a holiday market, crafts, caroling, and more. Stay as it gets darker for the annual night parade and Christmas tree lighting.

White Lake Area Christmas Parade
Downtown Montague and Whitehall
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2-3 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
With more than 50 entries, the 70th annual parade is a great way to celebrate the holiday season with family, friends, and neighbors. Santa will make his entrance as the grand finale. 

Jingle Bell Parade and Tree Lighting
Downtown and Central Park, Grand Haven
Saturday, Dec. 2, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
This annual event, which weaves through downtown Grand Haven, is fun for the whole family. Watch for festively lit vehicles, and Santa and Mrs. Claus are slated to make an appearance.

Hackley and Hume Holiday Tours
Hackley and Hume Historic Site, 484 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Saturdays, Dec. 2, 9, 16, and 23; Tuesday, Dec. 26; Wednesday, Dec. 27; Thursday, Dec. 28, 3-7 p.m.
Cost: $5-$12
Join a walk-through tour of these historic homes decorated for the holidays throughout December. Visitors also may vote for the best-decorated room, adorned by community groups. Christmas trees and wreaths will be available for sale in the courtyard. 

Mystery of the Christmas Star
Carr-Fles Planetarium, 221 S. Quarterline Road, Muskegon
Tuesdays, Dec. 5 and 12, Thursdays, Dec. 7 and 14, 7 p.m.
Cost: Free
A holiday tradition returns with an investigation of the “star” that declared the birth of Jesus. 
Lego Club
Herrick North Branch, 155 Riley St., Holland
Wednesdays, starting Dec. 6, 4-5:30 p.m.
Cost: Free (ages 5 and older)
Drop in for a weekly build, continuing through Jan. 31. You provide the imagination, HDL North Branch provides the Legos.

Holiday Luminary Event
Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing, 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive
Friday, Dec. 8, 5–7 p.m.
Cost: Free
Ottawa County Parks and Recreation and Friends of Ottawa County Parks are hosting the park’s third annual luminary walk. Bring your family, your friends, and your neighbors, and take a stroll along a luminary-lined path, which is just under a quarter of a mile. The park and nature center have been transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. Hot cider, cocoa, and cookies will be available. 

‘A Christmas Carol’
Saugatuck Woman’s Club, 303 Butler St., Saugatuck
Dec. 8-17, show times vary
Cost: $20 for adults, $15 for students and children
The Saugatuck Village Players present the community’s 37th annual production of this classic holiday tale. In keeping with the message of the Charles Dickens story, proceeds from tickets and donations will benefit local charities dedicated to providing food, rent, heat, and other basic needs throughout the community. 

‘Celebrate the Season’ — Holland Symphony Orchestra
Dimnent Chapel, 277 College Ave., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 9, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $28 for adults, $5 for students
Gather your family and friends and join the HSO for its traditional annual holiday concerts, featuring Holland favorites Steven and Allison Martin. The event will include a variety of seasonal classics, including “On Christmas Day” and “The Snowman,” as well as “Sleigh Ride,” “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and favorite pieces from “The Nutcracker.” 
Details:, 616-796-6780

The Black Gala — Harlem Nights: I AM the Dream
Haworth Hotel, 225 College Ave., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 9, doors open at 7 p.m.
Cost: $135
Step back in time and experience the glamour and glitz of the Roaring Twenties. This highly anticipated annual event promises an unforgettable evening of entertainment, music, and dancing while raising funds for a great cause. So, don your finest attire and get ready to party like it’s 1923.

Victorian Christmas at the Cappon House 
Cappon House, 228 W. Ninth St., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 9, noon to 4 p.m. (purchase tickets at the visitor’s center/Cappon House carriage barn until 3:30 p.m. on the day of the program)
Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students, free for museum members and children 6 and younger 
Travel back 150 years to Christmas in the Victorian era at the 1874 home of Holland’s first mayor, Isaac Cappon, and his family. Visitors will enjoy the traditional decorations, learn about Victorian Christmas practices, and hear carols performed by the Holland Chorale’s Dickens Singers. You can also visit the Settlers House, built in 1867, and sip hot chocolate in the Cappon House’s cozy carriage barn. Also, a limited edition 2024 Cappon House 150th Anniversary Calendar will be available for a donation of $25 or more.

Week 2 (Dec. 11-17)
The West Michigan Symphony is slated to perform an evening of holiday movie favorites on Dec. 15 at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon.

Holland’s 2023 Social Justice Awards
Nomination deadline is Monday, Dec. 11
Cost: Free
Do you know an individual or an organization that exemplifies the virtues of social justice by promoting equal opportunity and access for all? If so, then now's the time to nominate them for the Holland Human Relations Commission's 2023 Social Justice Awards. The awards are given annually in the categories of Housing, Education, Employment, Government/Community Relations, Health Services, and Accessibility. There is also a Student/Youth category for students ages 13-19. Award recipients will be recognized at a ceremony in January.
Details: Social Justice Awards | Holland, MI

Holiday Open House at the Holland Museum
Holland Museum, 31 W. 10th St., Holland
Monday, Dec. 11, 4-7 p.m.
Cost: Free
This Free Second Monday event lets you start your ho-ho-holidays off right. See the history and Dutch galleries, and create cool toys and games in the Spark!Lab Smithsonian invention space. Participants can make a holiday ornament to take home, hear stories read by museum staff, and get some hot chocolate and a cookie. Santa will be visiting, so bring those lists and get your picture taken with him.

Build Your Own Holiday Centerpiece Workshop
Orchard View Community Education, 1765 Ada Ave., Muskegon
Monday, Dec. 11, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Cost: $45
Enjoy a night of creativity and fun making a centerpiece for your holiday table. All items are provided, so grab a friend and reserve your spot today.

STEAM Gingerbread Challenge
Herrick North Branch, 155 Riley St., Holland
Tuesday, Dec. 12, 4:30-5:30 p.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
Children ages 6-11 can take their graham cracker gingerbread building skills to the next level at this event. All materials provided. Work by yourself or as a team. Registration required.

Tickets Go On Sale — Three Dog Night
Holland Civic Center Place, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Friday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. (Concert date: Friday, March 8, 8 p.m.)
Cost: $64–$84
This legendary Grammy Award-nominated band, now in its fifth decade, released  numerous hits, including “Mama Told Me (Not To Come),” “Joy to the World,” “Black and White,” and “Shambala.” The band boasts  21 consecutive Top 40 hits, including three No. 1 singles, 11 Top 10s, 18 straight Top 20s, seven million-selling singles, and 12 straight RIAA Certified Gold LPs. The band’s continue to sell around the world. Don’t miss this dynamic show.
Home for the Holidays: Timeless Movie Memories
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Friday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $19-$68
Join the West Michigan Symphony for a fresh twist on its annual holiday tradition. Experience an evening of joyful family fun and hear your favorite music from beloved holiday movies, including “White Christmas,” “Miracle on 34th Street, “The Polar Express,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Frozen,” and more.

Shopping Jam
Downtown Holland
Saturday, Dec. 16, 8-10 a.m.
Cost: Free to attend
The early bird gets the deals at this annual event. Set your alarm clock, and grab your morning brew, because this is one holiday savings event you won't want to miss. Participating businesses will open their doors early, offering 30% off at least one item from 8-9 a.m. and 25% off at least one item from 9-10 a.m. Whether you're just starting your holiday shopping or need one more gift to finish your nice list, this is one sale you won't want to miss. 

Movie Morning: ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Herrick North Branch, 155 Riley St., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 16, 10 a.m. to noon
Cost: Free
Put on some comfy clothes, bring a pillow and a blanket, and settle in for a showing of the 1991 animated “tale as old as time.” 

Brian Kilmeade Live
Holland Civic Center Place, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 16, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Cost: $33-$53
The “Fox & Friends” co-host and bestselling author brings his well-known humor and commentary to West Michigan. He will tackle some of the day’s hottest political topics, share exclusive stories from his own path to success, and conduct an extended Q&A session. Buy tickets here.

Week 3 (Dec. 18-24)

Bring out your creativity at the Holiday Candle Workshop, set for Monday, Dec. 18, at Orchard View Community Education in Muskegon.

Holiday Candle Workshop
Orchard View Community Education, 1765 Ada Ave., Muskegon
Monday, Dec. 18, 5:30-7 p.m.
Cost: $42
Spend a festive evening creating your very own winter- or holiday-themed candle. Participants will get an overview of the candle-making process and guided step-by-step instructions throughout the process.

Writers’ Workshop
Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland
Tuesday, Dec. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
Whatever you’re working on — poem, novel, essay, cover letter, anything — drop by to read other writers’ work, give and receive feedback and help strengthen your craft. 

Tankards  & Tomes: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club
Tulip City Brewstillery, 430 W. 17th St., Holland
Wednesday, Dec. 20, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Join in the discussion of a variety of science fiction and fantasy books that can be enjoyed by the genre’s avid readers as well as those interested in testing the proverbial waters. Feel free to bring some of your favorite sci-fi and fantasy books to recommend. Books for the following month will be chosen by the group and will be available to pick up at either Herrick District Library location — Main Branch, 300 S. River Ave, Holland; North Branch, 155 Riley St., Holland 

Riddle Hunt
Muskegon Museum of History and Science, 430 W. Clay Ave., Muskegon
Saturday, Dec. 23, 1-3 p.m.
Cost: Free with the price of admission (free for Muskegon County residents and $5 for non-residents)
Let’s stimulate our brains with some riddles. Piece together clues in each sentence to identify different animals found in the museum’s habitat gallery.

Week 4 (Dec. 25-31)

Ring in the new year and support a great cause at the same time. STARFARM will perform at this ’80s-themed bash, set for Sunday, Dec. 31, at Holland’s Civic Center Place.

Civil Rights Road Trip
Grand Haven to Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee
Monday–Wednesday, April 22–24, registration discount available only through Sunday, Dec. 31
Cost: $999–$1,450
The Momentum Center invites residents to widen their horizons. Travel by bus on this cultural immersion trip to learn about our nation's history of civil rights and slavery. Limited to 25 participants. Details: Civil Rights Road Trip — Momentum Center

Noon Year’s Eve
Holland Civic Center Place, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 30, 10:30 a.m. to noon
Cost: Free
If you don’t want to stay awake until midnight to ring in 2024, join Herrick District Library as its staff counts down to noon instead. There will be party hats, dancing, stories, and maybe a couple of surprises for the little ones. 

New Year’s Eve Party
Holland Civic Center Place, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Sunday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. to midnight; doors open at 7 p.m.
Cost: $75 general admission, $150 VIP (includes beverage package)
Ring in the new year at an ’80s-themed party featuring cover band STARFARM. Ticket price includes appetizers, dancing, a cash bar, a DJ, and a champagne toast at midnight. Proceeds benefit Mackenzie’s House, which helps end homelessness for young people who age out of the foster system. Formalwear is encouraged but not required.

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Display
Western Avenue, downtown Muskegon
Sunday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. to 12:01 a.m.
Cost: Free
Help Lakeshore Legacy Project ring in the new year. During this event, there will be a hat, glove, and coat drive, so bring something warm to donate to those less fortunate. The celebration, in front of the Vandyke Mortgage Center, will feature DJs providing music throughout the evening. Rad Dad's Tequila Bar and Legends Bar & Grill will stay open after the ball drops for those who wish to purchase drinks and food. 

New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Coral Gables, 220 Water St., Saugatuck
Sunday, Dec. 31, midnight
Cost: Free to attend
Head over to this restaurant and resort for live music, food, and a spectacular fireworks display over Kalamazoo Lake. 


Grand Haven




Need suggestions for specific destinations or activities, check out these tourism resources for details:
Holland Area Visitors Bureau
Grand Haven CVB
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Saugatuck CVB
Allegan County Parks & Recreation

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Read more articles by Melody Wilson.