November things to do: Skating, celebrating, film, beads, reads, and holiday kickoffs

Spooky time 2023 is over — unless your neighbors are like mine and don’t immediately take down their decorations. The November calendar includes an author talk, ice skating, comedy, movie time, mansion tours, The Big Read, shopping, discussions about the Edmund Fitzgerald and Orphan Trains, a festival of trees, a Sparkle, the Santa Train, and tree lightings galore. This month offers various things to do in Allegan, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest.  

Week 1 (Nov. 1–12)

Disability Inclusion Lecture
Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 4 p.m.
Hope College Maas Center, 264 Columbia Ave., Holland
Cost: Free
Disability advocate Terry DeYoung will present the address, “Am I So Broken That I Need To Be Fixed? Disability, Faith, and Belonging." The lecture is presented by the college’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. To inquire about accessibility or if you need accommodations to participate in the event, email

Saugatuck Film Fest
Saugatuck Women’s Club, 303 Butler St., Saugatuck
Saturday, Nov. 4, 1-9 p.m.
Cost: $45
This second annual event promises an exploration of the frontier of filmmaking, closing out Art Coast’s year with an artistic flourish. Moviegoers will gather to recognize, promote, and celebrate independent films. Short and feature-length films, a prize-winning feature film, selections from Ox-Bow School of Art alumni, artist Q&A, awards, and more.

Open Ice Skating
Trinity Health Arena, 470 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Sunday, Nov. 5, 1-2:30 p.m.
Cost: $5
The city of Muskegon Parks and Recreation Department kicks off its open skating offering on the first Sunday of every month from November through March.
The Muskegon Parks & Recreation Department kicks off its open skating at Trinity Health Arena on Sunday, Nov. 5, and the first Sunday of the month through March.

Father and Son to discuss escape from Cambodian Killing Fields
Monday, Nov. 6, 6:30 pm. 
MCC Overbrook Theater, 221 S. Quarterline Road, Muskegon
Cost: Free
Learn about Mae Taing, a survivor of Cambodian’s Killing Fields and his perilous flight to freedom as a refugee. Mae will appear with his son, James, a documentary filmmaker, who captured his father's riveting story. Jame's documentary, "Ghost Mountain," will be shown followed by a Q and A with Mae.

2023 Immigrant Rights Summit
Port 393, 393 Cleveland Ave., Holland
Wednesday, Nov. 8, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $150 adults, $55 students
Join Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates and key immigrant/human rights advocates for a day-long learning experience geared toward helping advocates, professionals, and community members learn about making West Michigan more welcoming to immigrants and refugees. The summit will explore the challenges immigrants and refugees face, the resources available to this vulnerable community, and strategies for making West Michigan a more inclusive place.

Cups — Closing Reception and Gallery Talk
Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Thursday, Nov. 9, 6-8 p.m.
Cost: Free with museum admission
This invitational exhibition of unique handmade cups displays a wide array of creative expressions in ceramic from top ceramics artists from around the country. Cups from the exhibit will be available for purchase at this MMA event, which includes a talk with the guest curator who helped organize the exhibit. 
The Cups exhibit at the Muskegon Museum of Art is coming to an end on Thursday, Nov. 9, with a closing gallery talk. Also, many of the artwork cups will be available for sale.

Comedian Michael Palascak
Park Theatre, 248 S. River Ave., Holland
Thursday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.
Cost: $25
The comedian Michael Palascak — who grew up in Wabash, Indiana, began his career in Chicago and now resides in Los Angeles — has performed on both “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” His likability allows him to relate to his audiences in a real way, which sets up the huge laughs he gets from his sharp, personal material.  

Junie B. Jones The Musical Jr.
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Suite 200, Muskegon
Thursday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 11, noon 
Cost: $10
Muskegon Civic Theatre Performing Arts School presents this delightful play about Junie B.’s first day of first grade. A lot of things have changed  — new friends, trouble reading the blackboard, a kickball tournament, and a “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal” — and first grade has never been more exciting.

Dinner & Movie Night
Momentum Center, 401 N. Seventh St., Grand Haven
Friday, Nov. 10, dinner 5 p.m., movie 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
Join others in taking this opportunity to remember America’s first Thanksgiving and learn about indigenous and Native American cultures. Enjoy grilled burgers and hot dogs, followed by a showing of “The Education of Little Tree.” The film — rated PG and about 2 hours long — centers on an 8-year-old adopted by his Cherokee grandparents in 1930s Tennessee. 

Shop ‘Til You Drop
Downtown Holland businesses
Friday, Nov. 10, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
This is the kickoff of the holiday season throughout downtown Holland. Nearly 60 shops and restaurants will participate, offering special late-night discounts (savings details vary by business). Visitors are encouraged to stay up late and shop the night away.   

Sensory Saturday
Muskegon Museum of History & Science, 430 W. Clay Ave., Muskegon
Saturday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. to noon
Cost: Free (registration required)
Families whose children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or sensory disorders are invited to attend this special event. A variety of accommodations have been put into place to create an inclusive, welcoming, and safe place for the children and families. Families can visit the museum’s exhibits, work on a craft, and have the option to visit a quiet area to relax and unwind. Sensory bags with items such as noise-canceling headphones, visors, and fidget toys will also be available for families to check out. To register, contact Jennifer at or 231-724-5543.

Accommodations in place at the Muskegon Museum of History & Science create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive place for one and all.

Anishinaabe Beadwork Design Class
Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck
Saturday, Nov. 11, 1–3 p.m.
Cost: $65
Learn a brief history of Native American beadwork and design. Create your own beaded applique floral brooch using instructor-provided Anishinaabe/Metis designs. Students will learn the four-bead flat stitch, as well as a demonstration of the Picot edgework stitch that can be completed at home. All supplies will be provided, as well as take-home kits and informational packets for students to complete their projects on their own.

Week 2 (Nov. 13–19)

Free Popcorn and Movie Night
Momentum Center, 345 W. 14th St., Holland
Monday, Nov. 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free, donations welcome
Join others in taking this opportunity to learn about indigenous and Native American cultures. Munch on free popcorn as you enjoy "Education of Little Tree." The film — rated PG and about 2 hours long — centers on an 8-year-old adopted by his Cherokee grandparents in 1930s Tennessee.  

Yaa Gyasi — The NEA Lakeshore Big Read Author Event
Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, 221 Columbia Ave., Holland
Monday, Nov. 13, 7-8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
Told over the course of eight generations, “Homecoming” follows the descendants of two half-sisters — Effia and Esi — who were born in 18th-century Ghana. While Effia marries an Englishman and leads a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, Esi is captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery in America. The author will discuss her book and more during this Big Read Lakeshore event.

Yaa Gyasi, author of “Homegoing,” The NEA Lakeshore Big Read book, will speak during an event on Monday, Nov. 13, at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts in Holland.

‘Remembered: Historic Sites of Ottawa County’
Pillar Church, 57 E. 10th St., Holland
Monday, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
Join the Holland Area Historical Society as it presents a program by historian Dr. Wally Ewing, author of “Remembered: Historic Sites of Ottawa County.” Ewing will share research and bring to life the context and background of historical sites in Ottawa County through postcards and rare photos.

Annual Gathering — Celebrating Home
Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m.
Cost: Free (Registration encouraged)
The Community Foundation for Muskegon County is proud to partner with the Muskegon Area District Library for this year’s event, featuring the 2023 Impact Award recipient and a presentation provided by one of this year’s National Education Association Big Read authors, Jerry Craft. Craft will speak on his journey from a reluctant reader who was told that comics would “rot his brain” to a Newbery Medal-winning graphic novel creator. The gathering also will include free food, a cash bar, book sales, and more.

An Evening with Author Jerry Craft
Herrick District Library North Branch, 155 Riley St., Holland
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 6–7 p.m.
Cost: Free
Acclaimed author Jerry Craft visits the North Branch Library to tell you about his inspirational journey. His books will be available for purchase. This event is made possible in part by a grant from Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Warrior Lawyers
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 6 p.m. 
Muskegon Community College, Room 1300, 221 Quarterline Rd, Muskegon
Did you know that November is Native American Heritage Month? Join MCC for a screening of “Warrior Lawyers: Defenders of Sacred Justice," a PBS documentary followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Audrey Geyer. Hear stories of Michigan Native American Lawyers, Tribal Judges, and their colleagues who work with Native Nations, their citizens and mainstream institutions to achieve Sacred Justice.
Cost: Free

Orphan Trains: A History
(Virtual) Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free (registration required)
Genealogist and history hunter Megan Heyl will discuss orphan trains. Between 1853 and 1929 the orphan train movement, a supervised welfare program, transported about 250,000 orphaned and homeless children from crowded eastern U.S. cities to foster homes in the Midwest. A Zoom link for the presentation will be sent out to registrants on the day of the event.

Brad Mehldau Trio
Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, 221 Columbia Ave., Holland
Thursday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $28 adults, $23 seniors, $14 students
Hope College’s Great Performance Series presents Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. His forays into melding musical idioms, in trio (with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums) and solo settings, have seen brilliant reworkings of songs by The Beatles, Cole Porter, Radiohead, Nick Drake, and more. 

White Lake Area Holiday Walk — Tree Lightings
Montague and Whitehall
Friday, Nov. 17, 2–8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend
What better way to bring in the holidays than with this 30th annual event? Walk along the streets of Montague and Whitehall, enjoying holiday open houses at dozens of participating businesses. To see Santa and witness the Friday, Nov. 17, tree-lighting ceremonies, gather at 5 p.m. at the Artisan Market Village, 8641 Water St., Montague (tree-lighting at 5:30 p.m.) or gather at 6 p.m. at North Mears Promenade (tree-lighting at 6:30 p.m.). Children are invited to put their homemade or store-bought ornament on the community tree of their choice, and free hot cocoa will be available at both. Also on Friday, Nov. 17, free carriage rides along the streets of Montague and Whitehall will be available 5-8 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 18, free trolley rides to businesses in both communities will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Light Night Holiday Shopping Open House
Grand Haven Main Street businesses, shops, and eateries
Friday, Nov. 17, 5–8 p.m.
Cost: Free
This annual event kicks off the Grand Haven holiday shopping season. The event includes free reusable shopping bags (while supplies last), lighting of trees, lamp posts and holiday trees in downtown and centertown lit up for the season, special deals, and the Social District will be open so shoppers can wander and sip their adult beverages purchased at participating locations. Bring the family.

Gingerbread House Building
Greater Muskegon Woman’s Club, 280 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Friday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. (adults only); Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 19, 2 p.m.
Cost: $15 per house ($20 for a to-go kit)
Gather your friends and family to get your holiday season decor started right. Everything you need to build the gingerbread house will be supplied.

Allendale Artisan and Craft Marketplace
Allendale High School, 10760 68th Ave., Allendale
Saturday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Free
Come and do some holiday shopping with more than 125 vendors of various items. Come hungry; Patty Matters Food Truck will be in attendance as well.

Turkey Trot
Wick’s Park Bar & Grille, 449 Water St., Saugatuck
Saturday, Nov. 18, packet pickup at 10 a.m., 5K at 11 a.m.
Cost: $10–$50
Bring your dog, your kids, and your friends for this fun run in support of the community, the Saugatuck Douglas Rotary, and the 2024 Saugatuck Venetian Fest. Registration for the fun race through downtown Saugatuck includes one drink ticket and a finishers’ medal. Dress in your tutu, turkey costume, feathers, and onesies because there will be a prize for the funniest, most-spirited attire. A Kids Turkey Dash will start at 10:45; pre-registration is $12 for the kids’ race, and same-day registration is $15.

Learn about Filipino culture
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2-4 p.m. 
Muskegon Area District Library, Norton Shores Branch, 705 Seminole Rd, Norton Shores
Cost: Free
See an enriching cultural experience, featuring Filipino heritage and traditions. Explore a diverse range of exhibits and presentations that celebrate the rich tapestry of Filipino culture.
Please RSVP by Monday, November 13 to Contessa Alexander at

Gather your kids, your friends, and your neighbors for this Saturday, Nov. 18, fun event starting at Wick’s Park Bar & Grille, featuring prizes and a Kids Turkey Dash.
Week 3 (Nov. 20–26)

Gales of November: The Edmund Fitzgerald
North Muskegon Library, 1522 Ruddiman Drive, North Muskegon
Monday, Nov. 20, 6–7 p.m.
Cost: Free (registration required)
At this all-ages MADL event, discover the story of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes freighter that sank during a storm on Lake Superior in 1975, as well as two vessels that were traveling nearby. 

Rediscover the story of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank during a storm in November 1975. Register today for this all-ages event at North Muskegon Library on Monday, Nov. 20.

Festival of Trees and Auction
Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Wednesday, Nov. 22, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free
Take a trip down memory lane with nostalgic vintage holiday collections this holiday season. From iconic Christmas cards and ornaments to a cast collection of nutcrackers and glowing blow molds, these displays will spark all the jolliest memories of the past. Due to popular demand, the festival will continue through Dec. 30. Holiday decor items sold through the auction will be available for pickup Dec. 13-14.

Zeeland Turkey Trot 8K
Downtown Zeeland
Thursday, Nov. 23, 8 a.m.
Cost: $40 until Nov. 10, $45 after
This ninth annual event will start in the middle of downtown Zeeland and take trotters through the city’s beautiful streets and neighborhoods. Proceeds will go to Harbor Humane Society. Register by Nov. 10 to ensure you receive a race shirt. Packet pickup: Where: TBD When: 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, and 6:45-7:45 Thursday, Nov. 23.

Annual Community Tree Lighting
Wicks Park, Water Street, Saugatuck
Friday, Nov. 24, 4:30-6 p.m. Tree lighting at 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
Gather with friends, family, and community members to enjoy the annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony, which will take place in tandem with lighting the star on Mt. Baldhead. There will be caroling, and of course, Santa will be around.  

Saugatuck hosts its annual tree-lighting event on Friday, Nov. 24, at Wicks Park. The Douglas tree lighting is set for Saturday, Nov. 25, at Beery Field.

Spring Lake Sparkle
Downtown Spring Lake
Saturday, Nov. 25, through Monday, Jan. 1, all day
Cost: Free
More than 400,000 multicolored lights and displays will light up the trees and businesses in Spring Lake's downtown corridor. At various times, offerings will include meet-and-greets with Santa, food, drink, and photo ops. Come out and enjoy the holiday spirit in all its glory!

Wander through downtown on Saturday, Nov. 25, for the kickoff of Spring Lake Sparkle, featuring trees, lampposts, and businesses adorned with thousands of lights.

Family Movie Morning
Herrick District Library North Branch, 155 Riley St., Holland
Saturday, Nov. 25, 10 a.m.-noon
Cost: Free
Put on your comfy clothes, bring a pillow and blanket, and settle in for a showing of “The Princess and the Frog.”

Santa Train
Coopersville and Marne Railway, 311 E. Danforth St., Coopersville
Saturday, Nov. 25, 1-2:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 26, 1-2:30 p.m. and 3-4:30 p.m.
Additional dates (see website for times): Weekends in December
Cost: $30–$65, $26 wheelchair seats, free for children younger than 1 with no seat assignment
Perhaps the most popular theme train of the year is the Santa Train. Early ticket purchase is recommended for family group seat selection. Santa makes extra stops to ride the train for each departure, and the Story Princess will read to children in each coach while Santa visits the other coaches. Elves will escort each child to see Santa individually so parents can take pictures.

Downtown Muskegon Holiday Tree Lighting
Hackley Park, 350 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Saturday, Nov. 25, 5:30-8 p.m.
Cost: Free
Gather your family, friends, and neighbors for an evening of community, fun, and holiday magic as the city kicks off the holiday season. The event will include stunning holiday lights and decorations, Santa, carolers, a holiday-themed train, hot cocoa, and fresh-baked cookies. 

Douglas Tree Lighting
Beery Field, Corner of East Center and North Main streets, Douglas
Saturday, Nov. 25, 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
Head downtown and kickstart your holiday spirit with the village’s annual tree-lighting ceremony.

Week 4 (Nov. 27–31)

Downtown Holland Parade of Lights — Sinterklaas
Eighth Street, Holland
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 6:30-8 p.m.
Cost: Free
Sinterklaas makes his first appearance of the season in downtown Holland, escorted by more than 75 floats, trucks, antique cars, walkers, and marching bands … all decked out from top to bottom in thousands of sparkling lights. This brightly lit holiday procession, which kicks off at Eighth Street and Columbia Avenue and continues to Eighth Street Market Place — home of the Holiday Kerstmarkt — is fun for the entire family and a holiday tradition for the entire community. Sinterklaas takes time at the Kerstmarkt to pose in photos with kids and teach them about his tradition. He might even have a special gift for the good girls and boys of Holland.

It’s that time of year again, when twinkling lights abound and Santa arrives with floats, trucks, and bands. Don’t miss the Parade of Lights on Tuesday, Nov. 28, in Downtown Holland.

Learn How Electronics Work
Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free (Registration is required)
In the third class in this HDL series — Understanding Modern Electronics Building an Audio Amplifier — participants will put their knowledge to use when they build a complete audio amplifier. A parent or guardian must accompany registrants younger than 18.

Felt Mansion Self-Guided Christmas Tours
Felt Mansion, 6597 138th Ave., Laketown Township
Thursday, Nov. 30, 4-8 p.m. (also Dec. 7, 14, 21)
Cost: $20 adults, $17 seniors/students, free children 10 and younger; $50 family rate
There are no frills, just walk through at your leisure and see the mansion all decked out in holiday bliss. The mansion features three sprawling floors, an impressive foyer, a formal dining room, a library housing original books, intricate mahogany woodwork, original hardwood floors, art-deco-style colorful tile, and various family bedrooms and bathrooms. 

Go at your own pace as you walk through the historic Felt Mansion. Self-guided tours begin Thursday, Nov. 30, and continue into December at the estate.

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.