The Great Lakes USA region has some of the best Christmas activities and celebrations in the USA, from the only national snow sculpting championship in the USA to the world’s largest collection of life-size nutcrackers!
- Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village – the birthplace of Henry Ford
At Historic Greenfield Village you can stroll down Main Street, brimming with holiday presents, food, and warm beverages, or take a ride on a historic Model T, carousel or horse-drawn wagon. Warm up in the historic homes as the village opens its doors to centuries of favourite family traditions. From the finest tinselled detail to the fireworks-filled sky that marks each evening’s finale, Greenfield Village is a great place to take all the family. https://www.thehenryford.org/
- Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo
Wild Lights is the Zoo’s annual event where guests will enjoy masterfully designed light displays and festive vignettes featuring millions of twinkling LED lights illuminating buildings, trees, sculptures and a walk-through light tunnel! This year features an Enchanted Forest featuring a stroll through an immersive forest of lights while listening to the sounds of the season! https://detroitzoo.org/press-
- Festivities kick off on the first Friday of December 2022 with the annual Mackinac Island Tree Lighting right downtown across from the Star Line ferry dock. You can join the islanders for Christmas carols and community cheer. Both Star Line, by ferry boat, and Great Lakes Air, by plane, provide transportation to Mackinac Island throughout the winter, weather permitting. Many people enjoy spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s on Mackinac Island where you can enjoy outdoor winter recreation, including cross-country skiing, hiking, fat tire biking, and snowmobiling. Several hotels remain open at times between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and some host guests all winter. https://www.
- Old World Christmas Market (Elkhart Lake, WI) Dec. 2-11: Reminiscent of the centuries old Christkindlesmarkt of Nüremberg, Germany, the 24th annual Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort offers the warmth and merriment of this Old-World tradition. Stroll the aisles of a grand heated tent bedecked with fragrant boughs of fresh evergreens and the tantalizing scents of roasted almonds and Nüremberg bratwurst. Browse for unique and specialty items among international and regional artisans. https://osthoff.com/old-world-
- Lake Geneva WinterFest (Lake Geneva, WI) Feb. 1-5 2023: As the only national snow sculpting championship in the United States, Winterfest welcomes the most talented and award-winning sculpting teams from across the country. Be here to witness these teams at work during an epic 72-hour competition where their artistry is put to the test in creating remarkable, larger-than-life snow sculptures. Enjoy an array of more wintery fun during Winterfest, including a downtown ice sculpture tour, s’mores and bonfires on the beach, a cocoa crawl, fire & ice bar, hovercraft rides and more for the whole family. https://www.visitlakegeneva.
- Ice skating in Millennium Park
Ice skating in Millennium Park is a cherished Chicago tradition. Each winter, the downtown park is home to two unique public ice rinks. You can glide along on the free skate rink nestled in the shadow of a Chicago icon — “The Bean” statue — and the lights of Michigan Avenue. Then take a spin along a ribbon of ice that winds past snow-capped pines and the glimmering Chicago skyline. http://maggiedaleypark.com/
- Light up the Lake at Navy Pier
Chicagoland’s largest indoor lights experience is back at Navy Pier for the holiday season. From November 25 2022 to January 7,2-23 you can experience the magic with interactive light displays, a whimsical skating rink, journeys through the Winter Wonderfest Forest, visits with Santa, and more. https://navypier.org/light-up-
- Holiday Lights Trail With 55 stops, including the five zoos, this year’s Ohio Holiday Lights Trail is the largest since its inception six years ago. Nearly all the attractions have at least 100,000 lights or more. Here are just a few of the displays on the trail:
The Kings Island Winterfest captures the spirit of the season with dazzling light displays, carriage rides, ice skating, parades and more. USA TODAY readers voted it one of the top theme park holiday events in 2021.
Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens presents “Deck the Hall: Gracious Gathering.” Outside, more than 1 million holiday lights illuminate the estate’s gardens and grounds. Inside, the decorated rooms of the Manor House are inspired by the theme of “gracious gatherings.”
The historic Clifton Mill will present “Legendary Lights,” voted one of the 10 best public holiday lights displays in USA TODAY’s 2020 and 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards. More than 4 million twinkling bulbs light up the mill, gorge, riverbanks, bridges and trees. The Instagram-worthy 100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights is particularly breath-taking. www.ohio.org
- Life-size Nutcracker Collection
The world’s largest collection of life-size nutcrackers will be on display in historic downtown Steubenville throughout the holiday season. The Steubenville Nutcracker Village, which is free and open to the public, features 200 nutcrackers, each one handcrafted at Nelson’s, a small, family-owned company in Steubenville. https://www.
- Winter Sports
Minnesota is home to a variety of winter activities – perfect for couples, friends or families to enjoy this chilly season. The state’s cross-country ski trails are perfect for beginners to experts and everyone in between. Another fun way to get around is fat biking on two-wheelers with tires designed to provide traction in snow. Groomed fat biking trails can be found at scenic destinations throughout the state, including 50 miles to explore at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Another unique opportunity for winter fun is dog sledding in the Boundary Waters. With options for both mushing the dogs yourself as well as riding in the sled, there are many ways to experience this once-in-a-lifetime activity. www.exploreminnesota.com
- Make Merry at Mall of America®
Festive fun abounds at the largest shopping and entertainment centre in North America where there is no sales tax on shoes and clothes! From visiting Santa and his elves in the Candy Cane Institute to having fun in Nickelodeon Universe. Enjoy 27 indoor rides and attractions for the whole family. Ride the Yule Log Chute, then come together for a nightly holiday light show. www.mallofamerica.com