December Along the Lakeshore: Enjoy theater productions, holiday shopping, and see Santa

December marks the peak of the holiday season as many plan to gather with loved ones. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah — or any of the 14 religious holidays that occur between late November and mid-January — or just want to get out of the house from time to time, the Lakeshore is the place to be in December. Options include a planetarium show, stage productions, parades, pictures with Santa, a 69-foot singing tree, and so much more. There are also plenty of opportunities to pick up that perfect gift. Enjoy the month with family and friends in Allegan, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest. 

Week 1 (Dec. 1-10)
Mona Shores High School Choir Presents America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree. (Derek Wong)

‘Mystery of the Christmas Star’
Carr-Fles Planetarium, 221 S. Quarterline Road, Room 135, Muskegon
Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dec. 1-15, 7 p.m. 
Cost: Free
Planetarium Show at Muskegon Community College. A holiday favorite returns to Carr-Fles Planetarium. "Mystery of the Christmas Star" This 35-minute program investigates possible dates for the sighting of the "star" that declared Jesus’ birth. Free and no reservations are needed. Suitable for ages 8 and up.

“Inspecting Carol”
Beardsley Theater, Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon 
Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 1-3, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m.
Cost: $27
Get your holiday cheer on with this hilarious, madcap comedy presented by Muskegon Civic Theatre. It's a farcical behind-the-scenes look at when all goes wrong in a community theater company's attempt to mount its annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” Complicating the effort are prima donna performers, cast love affairs, and a surprise visit by an inspector from the funding arts foundation. This laugh-out-loud spoof makes for a night at the theatre that is anything but show business as usual. 

Mona Shores High School Choir Presents “America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree”
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Thursday-Friday, Dec. 1-2, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 3, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. 
Cost: $15-$18
Over 200 enthusiastic performing arts students sing and play 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. It is simply spectacular. Performances take place amidst the backdrop of the opulent Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, located in downtown Muskegon, Michigan.

Sinterklaas Eve 
Eighth Street Market Place, Holland
Friday, Dec. 2, 6-8 p.m. 
Cost: Free to attend
Children are invited to celebrate Sinterklaas, the Dutch St. Nicholas, with a lantern-lit procession at the Holland Civic Center Place as part of this traditional Dutch event. Families should meet at 6:00 p.m. at the Eighth Street Market Place outside of the Civic Center to receive a free paper lantern while supplies last. Sinterklaas will welcome families at 6:20 p.m., then lead a traditional procession around the block, ending at the Warming Hut at the Holiday Kerstmarkt. There, Sinterklaas will greet families and pose for photographs until 8 p.m.

Strolling Santa 
Downtown Holland 
Fridays, Dec. 2-23, 6-8 p.m. 
Heading to Downtown Holland to do a little holiday shopping this season? Be sure to keep your eye out for Santa Claus himself. Downtown Holland’s very own Santa Claus will be strolling 8th Street every Friday night in December to greet customers, pose for photographs, and bring a little magic to your holiday shopping experience. Be sure to say hello if you spot Santa out doing a little local shopping of his own. 

Magic at the Mill 
Windmill Island Gardens, Holland
Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 2-17, 5-7 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. 
Cost: Tickets (non-refundable) must be purchased in advance: $10 adults ages 16 and older; $5 children ages 3-15; children 2 and younger admitted free
Introducing Magic at the Mill, the first-ever holiday event at Windmill Island Gardens. Featuring a “tulip field” of 1,000 LED blossoms displaying a synchronized light and music show, the windmill and park grounds will be lit up, and attractions such as the carousel, street organ, and shops will be open. There will also be an opportunity for children to greet Sinterklaas (the Dutch predecessor of Santa Claus), along with snacks and beverages available for purchase. Magic at the Mill will be a family-friendly experience fun for all ages. 

Fennville Holiday Events
Downtown Fennville
Saturday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Come share some holiday magic in downtown Fennville on Dec. 2. Throughout the day, there will be a pancake brunch, book sale, open play and crafts, live reindeer, holiday lights parade, tree-lighting ceremony, Santa meet-and-greet, and much, much more. Santa will be at the Book Warehouse from 1-4 p.m.

Hackley Hume Historic Home Holiday Tours
Hackley Hume Historic Site, 430 W. Clay Ave., Muskegon
Saturdays, Dec. 3 and 10, 17, 3-7 p.m.; Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 27-28, 3-7 p.m.
Cost: $12 adults, $10 adults 65+, $5 children 3-12, children younger than 3 admitted free
Experience the Hackley and Hume homes decorated beautifully for the holidays. These lumber-baron mansions in the Queen Anne style will be decked out with period-appropriate artifacts, ornaments, and more. Admission includes both grand houses and the barn situated between.

Holiday Kerstmarkt 
Eighth Street Market Place, Holland
Fridays, Dec. 2, 9, and 16, 3-8 p.m.; Saturdays, Dec. 3, 10, and 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Shop for hand-crafted gifts, fresh greenery, holiday décor, and baked goods from local artisans housed in wooden booths at this European-inspired outdoor market at the Eighth Street Market Place outside the Holland Civic Center. The Holiday Kerstmarkt also features live music performances, food trucks, dog sled demonstrations, and more.

‘Clickity Clack Ho Ho Ho’ — West Michigan Symphony
The Block, 360 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Saturday, Dec. 3, noon
Cost: $10 adults, $5 children
What would the holidays be without the West Michigan Symphony Orchestra brass quintet reindeer performing great music for this holiday show? Based on the book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, “Click Clack Ho Ho Ho” takes us to Farmer Brown’s barn to find out what the animals are up to for Christmas. Crazy things happen at this show, so be on the lookout. 1-hour concert designed for kids ages 3-8. Children of all ages require a ticket for entry.

69th annual White Lake Area Christmas Parade
Downtown Whitehall and Montague
Saturday, Dec. 3, 2 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Santa’s coming to town. He will be at the annual Christmas Parade in downtown Montague and Whitehall. The American Legion and VFW will lead the event, along with generous event sponsor Shepherd & Shepherd Law. With over 50 entries, this parade is a very special slice of “small-town America” and a great way to celebrate this holiday season with family, friends, and neighbors. With the help of our Santa Sponsor, Lighthouse Title Co., Santa will make his entrance as the grand finale.

Photos with Santa at Pigeon Hill
Brewers Lounge at Pigeon Hill, 895 4th St., Muskegon
Saturday, Dec. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Get your picture taken with Santa at The Brewer’s Lounge at Pigeon Hill. You will be on his “nice” list if you bring a donation for their Toys for Tots and Canned Food Drive.

Eat Green. Stay Active. Live Well.
Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing, 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive
Sunday, Dec. 4, 3-4:30 p.m. 
Cost: Registration required, $35 class fee: ages 18+
Rediscover healthy eating and the outdoors at its best. Explore nutritious ways to indulge in fresh fall favorites and discover the top seasonal superstars to power up your plate to make your meals greener, more interesting, and more delicious. Tour the park afterward as participants can enjoy a free, fun, leisurely paced guided walk.
Details (page 7):

‘A Christmas Carol’
Saugatuck Woman’s Club, 303 Butler St., Saugatuck
Fridays, Dec. 9 and 16, 8 p.m.; Saturdays; Dec. 10 and 17, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays, Dec. 11 and 17, 7 p.m.
Cost: $20 adults, $15 students and children
The Saugatuck Village Players will be performing its 2022 production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" this December at the Saugatuck Woman's Club.

Ruth and Max Bloomquist Concert: Changing of the Seasons
The Playhouse of White Lake, 304 N. Mears Ave., Whitehall
Saturday, Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Cost: $20
Returning to the Playhouse stage after more than two years, Ruth and Max Bloomquist have not let the grass grow under their feet. Faithful followers have enjoyed weekly online concerts and, recently, live concerts by this incredible duo. Ruth has been busy working on writing more than 30 new songs during the past couple of years and is excited to share some of them with you. This special concert will feature both old favorites, some holiday tunes, and new music, as well.

Holidays Around the World
Holland Museum, 31 West 10th St, Holland.
Saturday, Dec 10, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Cost: The event is included with the museum admission fee
A family program of the Holland Museum with art activities, stories, and history games to explore these celebrations: Defender of Ukraine Day, Jul (Norwegian Christmas holiday), Kaledos (Lithuanian Christmas holiday), St. Andrews Day (Scotland, with the Holland Celtic Society), Christmas visit with Black Santa (with ACEH), Las Posadas (The Inn, Latin American holiday with LAUP), and Dia de Reyes (Day of the Three Wise Kings, with LAUP). 


Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Centertown
Momentum Center for Social Engagement, 714 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven
Saturday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
Would you and your family like to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus? How about taking a close-up look at some of the mighty reindeer who guide his sleigh? Well, you can do just that on Saturday in Grand Haven’s Centertown district. Kids of all ages can have their photos taken with Santa and receive a special gift. More than two dozen Centertown merchants and businesses are working overtime preparing for Santa’s visit by participating in the “Elf in the Window” Scavenger Hunt. To play, pick up a game card from Centertown merchants. Then, write the names of all the elves found in Centertown windows on your game card. Turn in your card at any Centertown location to be eligible for the grand prize lottery drawing!

Sip and Shop Artisan and Craft Market 
Fenn Valley Vineyards, 6130 122nd Ave., Fennville
Saturday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
The fifth annual Sip and Shop Artisan and Craft Market is a great way to discover unique and handmade gifts. Guests are encouraged to sip on a glass of wine or cider while perusing the local wares. Fenn Valley Vineyards has selected 20 local vendors to offer a wide variety of items created here in West Michigan. In addition to one-of-a-kind gifts, specials on wine and cider will be available during the event. 

Week 2 (Dec. 11-17)

Holiday Luminary Event

Festival of Wreaths
Downtown Muskegon
Through Sunday, Dec. 11
Cost: Free to attend
The Muskegon Museum of Art has partnered with Downtown Muskegon businesses and organizations to display wreaths (designed by local artists and designers) in their windows. Bid on the designer wreaths during the event, with proceeds from wreath sponsorships and auction purchases contributing toward Muskegon Museum of Art programs.

Holiday PRIDE Night
Out On The Lakeshore (OOTL) Community Center, 451 Columbia, Holland.
Monday, Dec 12, 7 pm
Cost: $10 donation requested
Variety of activities for all ages, including tie-dying, propagating succulents, and decorating cookies. RSVP required, at

Tuned into Nature
Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing, 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive
Sunday, Dec. 14, 9:30-10:30 a.m. 
Cost: $5
Kids ages 2-4 can bring their favorite grownups to sing songs, dance, and learn about nature together. We’ll spend time making and moving to music based on the nature theme and go outside for a walk to explore it outdoors. Children must be accompanied.
Details (page 7):

West Michigan Symphony: Home for the Holidays
Frauenthal Theater, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Friday, Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $19-$66
West Michigan native, pianist, and consummate performer Rich Ridenour puts a fresh twist on this annual holiday tradition. Features seasonal favorites, a soprano soloist, two youth choirs, and the song-fest sing-a-long. A night of joyful, heartwarming, pure family fun. Rich Ridenour: pianist and conductor Amy Mahoney: soprano WMS Children's Choir Grand Haven High School Choir.

Praytell: “It’s Almost Christmas”
Beardsley Theater at Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Friday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m.
Cost: $18
Praytell, the duo project of Jon and Valerie Guerra, is returning again to Beardsley Theater to host their annual Michigan Christmas concert. From classic Christmas songs to heartwarming originals, Praytell’s holiday music has quickly become a staple in homes around the globe. This year, they will release Volume III of their “It’s Almost Christmas” collection. Join Praytell in Michigan for a warm evening of peace, joy, and holiday cheer.

“The Nutcracker”
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Saturday, Dec. 17, 3 p.m. (doors open at 2:15 p.m.)
Cost: $23 adults, $12 children
Join Clara and her magical friends as the West Michigan Youth Ballet brings “The Nutcracker” to the beautiful Frauenthal Theater for a family holiday experience to remember. The West Michigan Youth Ballet is comprised of young dancers from the West Michigan area. Don’t miss this holiday tradition.

Shopping Jam 
Downtown Holland
Saturday, Dec. 17, 8-10 a.m. 
Cost: Free to attend
The early bird gets the deals at the annual Downtown Holland Shopping Jam. Set your alarm and grab a cup of hot coffee because this is one holiday savings event you won't want to miss. As part of the Shopping Jam, participating businesses will open their doors early, offering 30% off at least one item 8-9 a.m. and 25% off at least one item 9-10 a.m. Discount details vary, so please see participating businesses for specific savings details. It’s the perfect opportunity to “wrap up” your holiday shopping while enjoying amazing discounts.

Week 3 (Dec. 18-24)

‘Glow in the Park — Merry Bassmas’

“White Christmas” — Free Family Movie Days
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Sunday, Dec. 18, 3 p.m. (doors open at 2:15 p.m.)
Cost: Free
The Frauenthal Center invites everyone to their family-friendly entertainment series featuring free family movies inside the beautiful and historic Frauenthal Theater. This month's movie is “White Christmas.” The 1954 holiday classic about World War II vets-turned-entertainers who scheme to help a retired general with his strapped New England inn by putting on a big musical show with the help of their army buddies and a singing sister act.

Free Popcorn & Movie: Encanto
Holland Momentum Center, 345 West 14th St, Holland
Monday, Dec 19, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; donations welcomed.
Enjoy free popcorn and the film, Encanto. The film is about the Madrigal family who lives in the Encanto, "a charmed place in the mountains of Colombia. Their child Mirabel discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger." The film will be shown in Spanish with English subtitles. 

‘Glow in the Park — Merry Bassmas’
Friday, Dec. 23, 7 p.m.
Cost: $15-$20
Back again for the fourth year in a row, West Mitten Media's flagship production, “Glow in the Park — Merry Bassmas,” comes to the Park Theatre in Holland. Drawing talented artists from Grand Rapids and Holland, this event is sure to please bassheads of all backgrounds. In the spirit of giving during the holiday season, bring an unwrapped children’s gift and get $5 off your ticket.

Christmas Eve at the Frauenthal
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Friday, Dec. 23: 7–8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 24: 2–3 p.m. and 4–5 p.m.
Cost: Free
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Christmas Eve at the historic Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon. At each service, hosted by Port City Church, enjoy your favorite Christmas songs led by some of the Lakeshore’s most inspirational musicians and listen to a message that will draw you into the Christmas story like never before. This non-ticketed event is free and open to everyone in the community. Attendees will also be able to enjoy the newly created Muskegon GLOW downtown Christmas lights display, presented by the Lakeshore Legacy Project.

Tacky Sweaters and Tinsel
Wonderland Distilling,1989 Lakeshore Drive, Muskegon
Friday, Dec. 23, 7 -10 p.m.
Cost: No admission fee
Wonderland Distilling, Muskegon’s award-winning cocktail bar, is hosting Tacky Sweater and Tinsel. Guests to wear their ugliest sweaters or other gaudy seasonal attire to kick off the weekend of Christmas. The event will feature live music, festive cocktails, and of course, ugly sweaters. The owner of the worst sweater will win a small present from the distillery, along with 12 months of bragging rights.

Week 4 (Dec. 25-31)


New Year’s Eve Masquerade Party
Holland Civic Center Place, 150 W. Eighth St., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. to 12:01 a.m.
Cost: $100
Put on your mask (not that one) and bid 2022 farewell in style at Downtown Holland’s premier New Year's Eve event. Featuring drinks, appetizers, Champagne, dancing and more, the party will include a live band, DJ and other entertainment. Proceeds from this event will benefit Mackenzie's House, a program of Grant Me Hope to prevent homelessness of aged-out foster girls.
New Year’s Eve Dance
Ferrysburg City Hall, 17290 Roosevelt Road, Spring Lake
Saturday, Dec. 31, 7-10:15 p.m.
Cost: $5, free to members
The West Michigan Bootscooters, a family-oriented Western dance club, is hosting a New Year’s Eve dance at Ferrysburg City Hall. 

Supper Club: New Year’s Eve Spanish Tapas
Galleria, 447 Washington Ave., Holland
Saturday, Dec. 31, 6:30-10 p.m.
Cost: $79
From the iconic Tortilla Española to spicy patatas bravas and Pa amb tomàquet (grilled bread with tomato), all of the "usual suspects" at a traditional tapas table will definitely be making an appearance at the Galleria on New Year’s Eve. But don't worry, there will be plenty of surprises on the menu, too. Your ticket includes enough tapas to fill your panza (belly), and some traditional Spanish cocktails and wines to pair for several perfect bites.

Trolls Glow and Roll New Year's Eve Party
Jumpin' Jupiter Skate Center, 1775 Evanston Ave., Muskegon
Saturday, Dec. 31, 1:30-4 p.m.
Cost: $10; skate rental $4, roller blade rental $5, premium rental $6
Calling all trolls. Put your hair in the air and get ready to find your happy place. Join Jumpin’ Jupiter Skate Center for the Troll Glow Roll New Year’s Eve Party. Get ready to rock, glow, troll and roll out the fun with you in 2022.

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
Washington Avenue, Grand Haven
Saturday, Dec. 31, 11 p.m. to midnight
Cost: Free
Celebrate the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 by watching the ball drop in downtown Grand Haven. Gather along Washington Avenue and 1st Street in downtown before the stroke of midnight. All ages welcome. Stay for the fireworks after the ball drop.

New Year’s Eve Party
Pub 111, 111 W. Colby St., Whitehall
Saturday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. 
Cost: $50 and up
Enjoy New Year’s Eve with live music and good food at Pub 111. Entertainment for the night is Witchcraft Lemonade, a hard/modern rock band performing a mixture of their originals and rock covers from the 1970s-present.

New Year’s Eve at Muskegon Yacht Club 
Muskegon Yacht Club, 3198 Edgewater St., Muskegon
Saturday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. 
Cost: $5
Party at the Muskegon Yacht Club this New Year's Eve with music from Bar Code Band for a Roaring ‘20s theme party. MYC will be open to the public for the event. Dress in your best ‘20s attire and prepare to have a night of glitz and glam.

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