December & January: Make a Date with the State

People, places and events to explore in Michigan. Enjoy the season and the fun, from outdoor celebrations to dramatic and stirring performances indoors.
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iStock Sledding Photo

Wildly Winter! Ice-carving festivals, candlelight walks, holiday gatherings, all are fun. Rent a pair of snowshoes. Go for a lantern-lit winter hike or ski. There are concerts and theater performances all over the state. It’s a great time to make snow angels and toboggan with the kids. Go cross-country skiing. Try ice fishing at Tip-Up Town if you dare.


Nov 30-Dec. 7

Ever wonder what Christmas was like for a lighthouse keeper? Christmas at the Lighthouse in Northport highlights the Grand Traverse Lighthouse keepers from 1858-80 and their traditions. Each room in the lighthouse at Leelanau State Park features decorations in the traditional time period and showcases the keepers’ heritages. On Dec. 7, come out for a modern-day Santa’s Workshop open 3-6 p.m. and enjoy cookie decorating, crafting an ornament, games, campfire, hot cocoa bar and more. Learn about the lighthouse’s only female keeper and the history of the Christmas tree ship Rouse Simmons that sank in Lake Michigan in 1912. michigan.gov/dnr

iStock Lighthouse


Dec. 6-8, 13-14

Escape from the hustle of the holiday season and indulge in homemade cookies during the West Michigan B&B Cookie Tour. Stretching from Whitehall to Bear Lake, nine inns host private tours for those in search of delectable holiday treats, recipes and respite. Get a peek inside each bed-and-breakfast and see them all decked out for the holidays, plus sample or take home each innkeeper’s tastefully decorated creations. A limited number of tour-only tickets are available Dec. 1 or guarantee a spot by reserving an overnight stay at a participating B&B. ludingtonbedandbreakfast.comiStock Cookies


Jan. 17-19

Billed the UP North Music Festival: Music from the other end of 41, this special weekend of concerts features works by the Upper Peninsula Composers Collective at Rozsa Center’s McArdle Theatre in Houghton. On Jan. 18-19, Pulse New Music Ensemble from Miami, Florida, heads way north to present a concert of music by living composers. Enjoy a weekend of new music, featuring concerts, workshops and master classes. mtu.edu/rozsa

iStock Orchestra


Jan. 22-26 

For five days in January, northeast Michigan is treated to some of the most impressive Great Lakes and oceanic films from around the world. The Thunder Bay International Film Festival in Alpena is an annual fundraiser for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It’s worth the drive for inspiring and educational film screenings, social events, educational activities and opportunities to meet filmmakers. thunderbayfriends.org

iStock Theater


Jan. 22-27 

Celebrating 29 years of winter fun, Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth hosts one of the top snow-sculpting events in North America. Admire an impressive display of larger-than-life snow and ice sculptures created by professional ice and snow carvers from around the globe. Other festivities include the National Collegiate Ice Carving Championship and the High School Snow Sculpting Competition, warming tent, entertainment, children’s activities and fireworks. zehnders.com

iStock Ice Sculpture


Excursions legend

Explore these collective Michigan area websites for more regional events and details.

Blue Water Area bluewater.org

Detroit Metro CVB visitdetroit.com

Great Lakes Bay Region gogreat.com

Harbor Country harborcountry.org

Pure Michigan michigan.org

Southwest Michigan Tourist Council swmichigan.org 

Upper Peninsula Tourism & Recreation Association uptravel.com 

West Michigan Tourist Association wmta.org


Do you have an event for our calendar?
Calendar items may be submitted to excursions@geminipub.com two months prior to publication of the intended issue. Michigan BLUE is a bi-monthly magazine.

*Photography courtesy iStock


“Glide to the Music and Lights”, by Kim Schneider.

Glide to the Music and Lights

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