It’s hard to believe, but it’s already the start of the most wonderful time of the year! On Friday, November 20, head to Detroit’s Gathering Place, Campus Martius Park, for the official tree lighting and fun activities for the whole family from 5 p.m. – midnight.
A 12,000-lb, 60-ft Norway spruce sits atop the Woodward Fountain, decorated with ornaments, crowned with a star tree topper and wrapped in nearly 20,000 LED, energy efficient lights. Thanks to Egan Acres Tree Farm, the 50-year-old tree traveled about 200 miles from Manton, just outside Cadillac, Mich. to be a beacon for the heart of the city. The countdown will begin just before 8 p.m. Preferred rink side seating is available for a $10 donation and proceeds benefit Campus Martius Park.
You should definitely make your way downtown much earlier, as there are plenty of activities leading up to the main event and you can grab a bite to eat and a perfect spot to watch while everyone else is battling construction barrels in rush hour traffic!
The fun begins at 5 p.m. with Motown legends the Four Tops as the headlining entertainment, followed by performances from Detroit favorites Karen Newman, United Voices of Detroit, Michigan Opera Theatre’s Holiday Ensemble and Children’s Choir, Larry Lee & The Back In The Day Band, and a special performance from Make-A-Wish Michigan Wish Kid, Emily Sobeck.
World Champion and six-time U.S. National Champion skater Todd Eldredge, who trained and performed with the Detroit Skate Club, will hit the ice rink with the Dearborn Figure Skating Club’s synchronized skating team, the Crystallettes, the Arctic Figure Skating Club, the Creative Edge Ice Theatre and other skaters from the Detroit Skate Club. The rink opening party featuring 95.5 FM marks official open skating for the public at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for children and seniors and skate rental is $3.
The entertainment doesn’t end at the rink! The Showcase D’Holidays tent in Cadillac Square will feature live music from Dante LaSalle at 6 p.m. and the Killer Flamingos at 9 p.m. Horse and carriage rides amid sparkling city lights are $10 for individual tickets or $40 for private rides until midnight. Tickets can be purchased in Cadillac Square. Jolly old St. Nicholas will be inside 1 Campus Martius (formerly the Compuware building) so kids can take their picture with Santa and have a keepsake from the event. Photos are $5 for a digital copy, $7 for a print and $10 for both print and digital. Formal photo prints will be available for a fee or you can take your own with your camera or smartphone for free! Don’t forget to stop by the Kids Zone for fun activities, crafts, puppet shows, science experiments and more!
Hungry? Want to curl up with a cozy beverage or snack? The DTE Energy Foundation Tent will have free hot chocolate, and the Ikea Varming (Swedish for warming) Tent will offer free cinnamon rolls! Hudson Café will have food available for purchase inside the tent, or you can purchase items from a variety of food trucks stationed on Monroe. Enjoy tasty food and drink options at the Fountain Bistro and the Rink Side Bar with Atwater craft beers and a cozy Ikea seating area with heaters and panoramic views. At 9 p.m., grab some friends and roast marshmallow s’mores near the Arctic Zone by the rink!
Holiday shopping returns with Franklin-based Zieben Mare who has set up shop inside the First National Building. They offer a collection of fashion, home décor and gifts for all the special people on your list. Moosejaw has opened a temporary second location one block from its store on Woodward, featuring items guaranteed to be holiday favorites. Mark your calendars, because on November 24, Somerset’s CityLoft featuring goods from popular national brands will open in the 1001 Building on the ground floor in the former University of Phoenix space. In addition, the Detroit Shoppe (1520 Woodward), which offers amazing Detroit-themed gifts, will open to the public for the holiday season. They sell and support some of Detroit’s favorite brands and institutions, ranging from Better Made and Faygo to the DIA and Motown. All proceeds from The Detroit Shoppe benefit Detroit charities. Don’t forget to stop by nearby popular apparel stores like John Varvatos, Nojo Kicks and Hot Sam’s.
The party doesn’t stop on November 20! Live performances by area talent, local and national brews at two full-service bars, and a variety of food offerings can be had at the Showcase D’Holidays Tent every Friday and Saturday until December 19 from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. Free Fridays feature a new hot chocolate cocktail bar and small plate selections from Hudson Café available for purchase. On Saturdays, for a $10 admission fee, you can experience “A Taste of the D” which offers a rotating sampling of small plates and dessert sweets from Detroit restaurants, a commemorative holiday pint glass, and a personal holiday photo (ticket purchase required). Participating restaurants include Small Plates, HopCat, Atwater in the Park, Rattlesnake Club, Top of the Pontch, Golden Fleece, and more. Music performances include The Reeferman, Thornetta Davis, Stone Clover, Orbitsuns, Inohs Sivad, Sean Blackman’s In Transit, The Muggs, Howling Diablos, Corktown Popes, among others.
As you can see there’s plenty to enjoy in downtown Detroit this holiday season, and it all begins at 5 p.m. this Friday, so be sure to join us and bring your camera! Fire performers, stilt walkers, carolers and more will be on hand to entertain you! Show us your holiday spirit by using the following hashtags on your favorite social media sites!