Detroit Tree Lighting Aerial - Opportunity Detroit Blog

The Must-Have Guide to Detroit’s 14th Annual Tree Lighting Festivities

Every year, Detroit’s tree lighting ceremony gets better and better, and with new activities and shopping options, the tree and the festivities will have you saying, “It’s lit!”

Presented by the DTE Energy Foundation, the 14th annual tree lighting event will be held Friday, November 17, from 5:00 p.m.— Midnight. With an anticipated crowd of more than 40,000, we’ve put together the must-have guide for everything you need to know to make the most of this magical evening in the D, using some of the season’s most popular songs.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

5:00 p.m.: Family fun festivities kick off in Campus Martius Park, with the Warming Tent and The Salvation Army Family Fun Tent featuring cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate and more. Get a head start on the after-work crowd by getting a photo with Santa, riding on a horse-drawn carriage and taking in all of the twinkling lights around the park before the main festivities begin!

6:30 p.m.: The Salvation Army lights their famous giant Red Kettle, featuring 26,000 lights, as they kick off a new season of giving with a goal of raising $7.85 million to provide meals and shelter for those in our local area who need it most.

O Tannenbaum!

7:55 p.m.-ish: A few minutes before 8:00 p.m., be sure to gather ‘round the rink because the centerpiece of the night will feature a Michigan-grown, 60-ft Norwegian Spruce decked out in gleaming ornaments and more than 19,000 multi-colored LED lights!

Skating Clubs Perform at the Rink - Opportunity Detroit Blog

Do You Hear What I Hear?

7:00 p.m.: This year, there will be a larger main stage on Monroe, and a state-of-the-art sound system plus an LED video wall for a more immersive experience! Check out local favorites like Grammy-nominated R&B star, KEM, Detroit’s own Queen of the Blues, Thornetta Davis, the Metropolitan Detroit Chorale, Detroit Concert Choir, Casali Holiday Dancers and Kevin, a 16-year old vocalist and a Make-A-Wish Michigan Wish Kid.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

7:00 p.m.: Before the tree is officially lit, enjoy performances on the ice rink from U.S. Olympic medalist and four-time U.S. Figure Skating Champion, Jeremy Abbott, as well as the Detroit Skating Club and University of Michigan Skating Club.

9:00 p.m. – Midnight: Channel 955 will host The Rink Opening Party with Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas performing as the public enjoys the first sights, sounds and spins in the heart of the city. At 10:00 p.m., the popular radio station will provide a live music mix! Adults are $8, children (12 & under) and seniors (50 & older) are $7. You can bring your own skates or rent a pair for $4.

Sleigh Ride

See the city in a different way by taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to see the festive lights and decor of downtown Detroit’s main thoroughfares. Rides are $10 per person or $40 for a private ride. Tickets are available in Campus Martius and rides will be available until December 23 (closed on Thanksgiving).

Visiting Santa - Opportunity Detroit Blog

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

5:00-7:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.: Boys and girls of all ages will get to share their holiday wishlist with Santa in the lobby of the One Campus Martius building. Take a free selfie with Santa, or have your photo taken by a local photographer for a fee. Santa will be visiting frequently through December 23: Thursdays & Fridays 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (But Thanksgiving Day is 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and Black Friday is Noon – 6:00 p.m.) Saturdays & Sundays Noon – 7:00 p.m.  

Marshmallow World

Stay cozy and full with goodies to warm you up, available for purchase throughout the park. From hot chocolate and adult beverages to food trucks and desserts, snack options for the whole family can be found.

The Gift

The Holiday Markets, brought to you by the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Bedrock and Quicken Loans, features a fun new way to shop for gifts this holiday season with three spaces: 1001 Woodward, Cadillac Square and Capitol Park. The shops will stay open through January 7, 2018, but will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Hours are Monday–Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Fridays & Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sundays Noon – 5:00 p.m.

1001 Woodward Vendors:


Cadillac Square Vendors:


Capitol Park Vendors:


Woodward Avenue Holiday Shopping - Opportunity Detroit Blog

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Detroit’s new Beacon Park is throwing a holiday party too! It’s the first time in tree lighting history that the celebration is spread to nearby parks! Warm up by the fire pits, take selfies with Santa, and find craft beer, wine, spirits and food available for purchase. Enjoy the soulful voice of Thornetta Davis with two live shows at 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and scope out the amazing interactive light installations by Quartier des spectacles, Montreal. Free shuttles between Beacon Park and Campus Martius Park will be running every 15 minutes from 4:30 p.m. – Midnight. If you don’t think you’ll make it to Campus Martius in time, a live stream of the tree lighting ceremony will be inside the heated Winter Lodge tent.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

In Michigan, we believe there are only two seasons: Winter and Construction. You will likely experience both on Friday, so be prepared with warm layers, coats, hats and gloves. With some street closures and construction barrels (yay for progress!) it’s important to give yourself time to find a parking spot and make your way to the festivities. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our post for the best places to park downtown. And don’t forget, every 15 minutes, free shuttles will run between Campus Martius Park and Beacon Park.

Bring your friends and family and join us in the heart of the city on November 17! Share your favorite moments of the evening by using #DetroitTreeLighting.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hello! Great write up on all the activities going on downtown Detroit during and after the tree lighting. Hoping that someday Opportunity Detroit will partner with Detroit Department of Transportation and SMART to promote bus transit in and out of Detroit as it becomes more and more popular of a destination. Yes, we are the motor city and yes, autonomous cars are coming but cars take up valuable real estate and congest the roads, making it unsafe for pedestrians. You have a valuable resource starting on January 1st. SMART will begin running regional buses which will run every 15 minutes (5am-8pm) and every 30 minutes after that on Gratiot (Chesterfield to downtown), Woodward (Pontiac/Somerset to downtown) and Michigan Ave (DTW airport to downtown) 7 days a week. They will circle the financial district of Jefferson/Larned/Washington and Randolph, the foot of downtown. With your help and promotion this could be huge for the region.

    1. Hey David! Mass transit is definitely an important topic of discussion in the city of Detroit! We’ll be sure to reach out for information concerning Detroit Department of Transportation and SMART in the future for more information and possible blog posts. Thanks! – Allison

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