December Along the Lakeshore: Sparkle, Sinterklaas, and shopping

People say it’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s certainly true in West Michigan. December marks the peak of the holiday season as many make plans to gather with loved ones for Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. The Lakeshore is packed with many activities, including parades, Sparkle, and Sinterklaas. There’s even a hip-hop-inspired art exhibit and plenty of opportunities to pick up that perfect gift. There are lots of ways to 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. 


Festival of Wreaths Downtown Muskegon Wreath Walk
Downtown Muskegon
Through Dec. 5
Free
Take a “wreath walk” and view designer wreaths provided by the Muskegon Museum of Art. The MMA  will also present a gallery display of decor during the walk. Walking guide maps are available at the MMA store and participating businesses. The designer wreaths and decor items at the Muskegon Museum of Art are available for bid in an online auction. 
Details: https://muskegonartmuseum.org/festival-of-trees/ 

Spring Lake residents Patrick Roggenbau and Robert Lopez at the Spring Lake Sparkle.
Spring Lake Sparkle
Downtown Spring Lake
Through Jan. 3, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 6-9 p.m.
Free
Check out this new community event. More than 120,000 multicolored lights set the trees lining Savidge Street between Division and Buchanan streets aglow. The buildings along Savidge are glowing as well.
Details: Spring Lake Sparkle 2021 


Hip-Hop-Inspired Art Exhibit
Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Through Feb. 20 (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Mondays); $10/adults; $8/seniors (65+); $6/students (17+, school I.D. required)
You won’t want to miss Jewelry Box, a 1980s hip-hop fashion-inspired exhibition by Detroit-area multimedia artist and metalsmith Tiff Massey, the first Black woman to earn an MFA in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art. The award-winning artist’s work has been featured in the U.S. and abroad. 
Details: bit.ly/MMA-hip-hop-inspired-exhibit


Evening Walk at Pigeon Creek Park
12524 Stanton St., West Olive
Dec. 2, 7-8 p.m. 
Free
Evening walks are a great way to ease into winter. Meet an Ottawa County Parks naturalist at the Pigeon Creek Kiosk (near the parking lot) for an easy-paced walk on lit trails, and you’ll learn more about the Ottawa County Parks. (Walks continue until the snow falls, at which time the trails are closed to hikers but open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.)
Details: miottawa.org/parks/pigeoncreek.htm

Experience a traditional Dutch Christmas Market without ever leaving the country.
Holiday Kerstmarkt
Holland Civic Center Place (8th Street Market Place), 150 W. 8th St.
Dec. 3 & 10, 3-8 p.m.
Dec. 4 & 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free
Experience a traditional Dutch Christmas Market without ever leaving the country.
Located at the 8th Street Market Place, you’ll find hand-crafted artisan gifts, artisan demonstrations, holiday items, and delicious food. It’s a true holiday treat that you won’t want to miss.
Details: downtownholland.com/events/2021/holiday-kerstmarkt/


Sinterklaas Eve
Holland Civic Center Place (8th Street Market Place), 150 W. 8th St.
Dec. 3, 6:30-8 p.m.
Free
Meet Sinterklaas, the benevolent Dutch St. Nicholas, and his helpers at the Holiday Kerstmarkt in downtown Holland. Kids can pick up a pre-made lantern and traditional Dutch treats outside the Civic Center and then join Sinterklaas for a short procession through the Kerstmarkt.  Following the procession, pictures will be taken with Sinterklaas in the warming hut. Lanterns and treat bags are limited to the first 300 children.  
Details: https://www.holland.org/sinterklaas-eve


Hackley Hume Historic Home Holiday Tours
484 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon
Dec. 4, 11, 18, 28 and 29, 2-7 p.m.
$15/adults (13-64); $12/seniors (65 and older); $5/youth (3-12); free (0-2); group rates for 20+: $12
Love old mansions and holiday decor? Then check out the Hackley and Hume lumber baron homes, beautifully decorated for the holidays with period-appropriate artifacts and ornaments. 
Details: lakeshoremuseum.org/event/holiday-tours-6/2021-12-04/


Themed Walk — Skeletons in the Aster Family Closet
Upper Macatawa Natural Area, 1300 84th Ave., Zeeland 
Dec. 4, 10-11 a.m.
Stroll through a winter meadow and learn to identify members of the Aster family, whose "skeletons" remain standing through winter. 
Details: Upper Macatawa Natural Area - Ottawa County, Michigan (miottawa.org)

Kids and adults alike can visit with Sinterklaas, hear his story, construct a clock, build structures with Lincoln Logs, and tour the museum.
Sinterklaas comes to the Dekker Huis Museum
37 E. Main St., Zeeland
Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to noon
Free
Kids and adults alike can visit with Sinterklaas, hear his story, construct a clock, build structures with Lincoln Logs, and tour the museum.
Details: Sinterklaas comes to the Dekker Huis Museum

Don your best Whootville or Christmas attire and be part of Saugatuck’s annual Christmas Parade.
Whootville Christmas Parade

Downtown Saugatuck
Dec. 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (12:30 p.m. parade line-up at Wicks Park on Water Street; 1 p.m. parade begins)
Free
Don your best Whootville or Christmas attire and be part of Saugatuck’s annual Christmas Parade. Don’t feel like dressing up? Watch from the sidewalk as the parade winds its way in a big loop around downtown, and then join in the fun for the Candy Cane Game. (See website for information.)
Details: Annual Whootville Christmas Parade


68th annual Christmas Parade
Downtown Whitehall and Montague
Dec. 4, 2-3 p.m.
Free
Looking for a slice of small-town Americana this holiday season? Head to the Whitehall area, where you can experience the magic of Christmas at the annual Christmas Parade. The parade begins at Whitehall City Hall, crosses the causeway, and ends at Montague City Hall. 
Details: White Lake Area Chamber & Visitors Bureau


WinterFest at the Felt Mansion
6597 138th Ave., Holland
Dec. 4, 2-4 p.m. 
Free
Have your picture taken with Santa & Mrs. Claus, go on a Mansion Scavenger Hunt, take a horse-and-wagon ride around the estate grounds, and have your face painted before enjoying delicious holiday cupcakes.
Details: feltmansion.org/eventcalendar/winterfest

Find the perfect holiday gifts by shopping at this Annual Outdoor Holiday Market in Saugatuck.



Outdoor Holiday Market
Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck
Dec. 4, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free; food and beverages available for purchase
Find the perfect holiday gifts by shopping at this Annual Outdoor Holiday Market. With 40 vendors to choose from you’re sure to find something for everyone. And better yet, you can enjoy special holiday food and beverages from local vendors while enjoying your favorite Christmas tunes.
Details: Saugatuck Center for the Arts


Jingle Bell Parade
Downtown Grand Haven
Dec. 4, 6-8 p.m.
Free
What could be more festive than a Jingle Bell Parade that ends with a Christmas tree-lighting? This fun-filled holiday event starts on Franklin Street and ends at Central Park for the lighting of the community Christmas tree.
Details: grandhavenchamber.org/play/jingle-bell-parade/
 

Ottawa County Parks Story Walks
Free
Dec. 6-12 story: Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter (hosted by Loutit District Library), Rosy Mound Natural Area, 13925 Lakeshore Ave., Grand Haven
Dec. 6-19 story: Rabbit’s Gift (hosted by Herrick District Library), Paw Paw West Park, 1099 Paw Paw Drive, Holland
Grab the kids on a nice day and go on a “Story Walk.” Pages from a featured book are posted along a path for your family to read together. 
Details: news.miottawa.org/autumn-storywalks/


Meet an Ottawa County Parks naturalist at Pigeon Creek Kiosk for an easy-paced evening walk on lit trails.

Family Hike
Hemlock Crossing County Park, 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive
Dec. 10, 5-7 p.m.
Free
Join in the fun along the meadow trail, illuminated by LED candlelight, and then enjoy warm beverages and make an easy craft. The entire event takes place outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather. (The Nature Center restrooms will remain open.) 
Details: facebook.com/events/s/winter-family-event-at-hemlock/613759073307622/


Victorian Christmas Tours
Cappon House, 228 W. 9th St., Holland
Dec. 11, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Admission: $7/adults, $5/seniors, $3/students, children 6 and younger admitted free. Masks required.
Tour the Victorian-era home of Holland’s first mayor and learn about age-old holiday traditions and the Cappon family. Enjoy hot chocolate and a Victorian-themed craft activity.
Details: Holland Museum Victorian Christmas


Holidays Around the World
Holland Museum, 31 W. 10th St., Holland
Dec. 11, 1- 4 p.m.
Admission: $7/adult, $6/senior, $4/student, children 6 and younger admitted free. Masks required.
Explore holiday traditions around the world — Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Mashujaa Day, Diwali, Las Posadas, and Dia de Los Tres Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) — through stories and family-friendly activities. The Holland Chorale will entertain with carols. 
Details: Holland Museum Holidays Around the World

Finish your holiday shopping at this fabulous market with 55 makers.
Merchants and Makers Very Merry Holiday Market

Trillium Events, 17246 VanWagoner Road, Spring Lake 
Dec. 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (VIP shopping, 11 a.m. to noon, $10); (noon to 5 p.m., $3, kids free)
Finish your holiday shopping at this fabulous market with 55 makers. Music by Plain Jane Glory; food available.
Details: Merchants and Makers Very Merry Market 


Holland Chorale 
First Reformed Church, 630 State St., Holland
Dec. 12, 3 p.m.
After a two-year hiatus, the Holland Chorale returns with a live concert, ‘Tis the Season, featuring favorites of the season, selections from Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, a new work by Kyle Pederson, and much more. Members of the West Michigan Children’s Choir will be the Chorale’s special guests. Tickets are available at hollandchorale.org or via email at tickets@hollandchorale.org.  


Downtown Shopping Jam
Downtown Holland
Dec. 18, 8-10 a.m.
Are you still looking for that perfect gift? Roll out of bed and head to downtown Holland (in your pajamas, if you like) for early-morning shopping; the earlier you shop, the more you save. (Participating shops and restaurants will offer 30% off at least one item from 8-9, and 25% off at least one item from 9-10.
Details: downtownholland.com/events/2021/shopping-jam/


New Year’s Eve Party of the Year
Coral Gables, 220 Water St., Saugatuck
Dec. 31, dinner to close (2 a.m.)
Ring in the New Year with a special dinner package, dancing, party favors, and karaoke, plus fireworks at midnight.    
Details: saugatuck.com/events-listings/new-year-s-eve-party-of-the-year/

If you are looking for more information on specific destinations or activities, check out these tourism resources:
visitgrandhaven.com
holland.org
visitmuskegon.org
saugatuck.com
whitelake.org 
Allegan County Parks & Recreation
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

Read more articles by Sally Laukitis.