It’s a scene that plays out in towns big and small this time of year: Shoppers strolling in the open air as strings of lights twinkle overhead and soft music plays in the background. As the holiday season approaches, communities across Michigan are embracing the centuries-old European tradition of Christmas markets, bringing warmth and festive joy to communities across the state.
These markets not only offer a range of homemade and handcrafted fare, but an opportunity to revel in the sights and sounds of the holidays. Here's a guide to Christmas markets that will enchant visitors with their unique offerings.
Christmas Markets in Southeast Michigan
Detroit's holiday spirit is on full display with the Downtown Detroit Markets. This charming holiday market is In the heart of Cadillac Square and Campus Martius Park. Adding to the atmosphere is the open-air Cadillac Lodge, a toasty spot filled with fireplaces, games, and warm winter treats. After shopping, take a spin around the ice skating rink at Campus Martius Park under the lights of a 60-foot, Michigan-grown Norwegian spruce
Eastern Market, a Detroit staple, transforms into a winter wonderland during its holiday markets. Tuesday markets offer fresh produce, meats, and baked goods, while Sunday markets showcase Michigan-made gifts, holiday treats, and Christmas trees. Christmas tree vendors are set up in the parking lot outside of Shed 5 seven days a week starting around Thanksgiving. The market is free and open to all ages.
During the Christmas season, Canterbury Village is decked out in twinkling lights, Santa Clauses and nativity scenes. A seven-minute light show is choreographed to classic holiday songs, and professional carolers and live Christmas performances can be found throughout the season as well. Visitors will find gift options such as boutique clothing and accessories, artisan jewelry, gourmet foods, Michigan Made designed items, uniquely made items, and much more from the small businesses.
Ann Arbor's Kerrytown District hosts KindleFest on the first Friday of December. The traditional market features local artisans, farmers, and retailers selling holiday wares. Enjoy pretzels, bratwursts, roasted nuts, mulled wine, and beer while browsing. The event coincides with Kerrytown's Midnight Madness, offering an evening of shopping, dining, and festive entertainment.
Rochester, home to the Big Bright Light Show, turns into a picturesque holiday experience. Surrounded by over a million lights, the Rochester Kris Kringle Market is an open-air Christmas market featuring handcrafted gifts, specialty foods, fresh greens and wreaths, and other holiday wonders.
Christmas Markets in Mid-Michigan
Nine-foot tall Santa Clauses and a giant snowman guard the entrances to the world's largest Christmas store. Thousands of colored lights twinkle inside and out while Christmas tunes play from opening until closing. Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland has over 6,000 different Christmas tree ornaments, including personalized ones for medics, service veterans, sports fans, foodies, and many more. Throughout the store, Christmas greetings in over 70 languages greet the customers.
Frankenmuth is also home to the seasonal Frankenmuth Christkindlmarkt, which is modeled after the traditional outdoor markets in the city’s German sister city of Gunzenhausen. The Frankenmuth Farmers Market transforms its outdoor pavilion into a mini-Christmas village with dozens of booths lit by warm white lights.
Christmas Markets in West Michigan
Holland's Kerstmarkt brings a touch of Europe to West Michigan, featuring wooden booths reminiscent of old-world markets. Visitors can explore a variety of goods, from holly bushes and pine wreaths to jewelry and wooden toys. In 2022, the event made the USA Today Readers Choice Poll of the 10 best holiday markets, according to organizers.
New this year, the Christkindl Markt is Grand Rapids Downtown Market’s version of a traditional European Christmas market. The holiday market sits outside the Market in an enclosed market shed which has been turned into a Bavarian-style beverage hall serving Glühwein, beer, hot chocolate, and hot cider. Wooden community tables fill this hall for dining and beverage enjoyment. More than 30 wooden stalls line both sides of the market shed housing local, regional, national, and international artisan gift and food vendors. The market, illuminated with festive lighting and decorations, hosts daily holiday entertainment, curling, children’s activities, s’more roasting fireplaces, private chalet spaces, and festive family fun.