Pure Michigan January 2016 Events Roundup

January is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to start the New Year with everything happening throughout Pure Michigan in 2016. From winter festivals to snowshoeing (we hope!), the first month of the year is filled with events that everyone can enjoy. For a full list of events in Michigan, visit michigan.org/events.

Week of January 1-4

Shen Yun | Dance & Martial Arts Performance
January 1-3, Detroit
For 5,000 years, divine culture flourished in the land of China. Humanity’s treasure was nearly lost, but through breathtaking music and dance,Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture. Shen Yun brings the profound spirit of this lost civilization to life on stage with unrivaled artistic mastery. Every dance movement, every musical note, makes this a stunning visual and emotional experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Shoe Year Hike: Lantern Lit Ski and Snowshoe Event
January 2, Ludington
Start the New Year with a Shoe Year’s Hike at Ludington State Park. Cross country ski, snowshoe or hike the lantern lit trails to kick off your new year’s resolutions or just enjoy some outdoor fun with your family and friends. If you’re looking to participate, there are 40 pairs of snowshoes that will be lent out first-come, first-serve. Make sure you dress warmly in layers when attending! Along the trail, a campfire will be available where visitors can warm themselves and enjoy a hot beverage. The park will be hosting additional lantern lit ski and snowshoe events on January 9, 23, and February 6. 


21st Annual Downtown Bridal Show
January 3, Traverse City
Did you just get engaged? Attend this bridal show to help plan your wedding! Over 35 vendors will come together to showcase all things wedding at the City Opera House in Downtown Traverse City. A wedding fashion show will take place and admission to the event is free!

Week of January 4-11

Moscow Festival Ballet: Romeo & Juliet and The Sleeping Beauty
January 8, East Lansing
This renowned company from Moscow brings two of the most romantic Russian ballets to the stage. Romeo and Juliet is Shakespeare’s classic tale of young star-crossed lovers, featuring the music of Tchaikovsky and the choreography of Petipa. The evening also includes selections from another timeless classic, the fairytale The Sleeping Beauty, also set to music by Tchaikovsky. Both performances feature exquisite costumes and lush scenery in the grand ballet style. Founded by legendary dancer Sergei Radchenko, this acclaimed company features leading dancers from across Russia.

Plymouth Ice FestivalPLymouth ice fest
January 8-10
Downtown Plymouth is hosting the 34th annual Ice Festival! The Plymouth Ice Festival has a long-standing history of being the largest, free ice festival in Michigan and remains dedicated to the art of ice carving.

Winter Walking Tour with The Kalamazoo House
January 9
In partnership with The Kalamazoo House, the historic bed and breakfast built in 1878, guests can enjoy an overnight stay, a walking tour of three breweries and breakfast all in one stop. You can visit Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Gonzo’s Bigg Dogg Brewing Co. and Tibbs Brewing Co. where you can receive either a full pour or a series of samples at each stop. You can also learn more about Kalamazoo’s growing craft beer industry and its role in Michigan’s rise as one of the top beer destinations in the world.

22nd Annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off
January 9, Traverse City
The annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off in Traverse City brings together some of the area’s finest restaurants and their creative chili recipes for a spicy showdown. The restaurants will compete in a variety of categories including 1, 2 and 3 Alarm, White, Seafood, No Bean, Ethnic, and more. It should be a delicious time!

Winter Festival and Brunch
January 10, Hastings
Bring the family out to Pierce Cedar Creek Institute to enjoy the winter landscape! A number of winter-themed activities are scheduled throughout the day. Snowshoe rental, family-friendly crafts, and a warm fire will be available in the Visitor Center. Trails and the sledding hill will be open from dawn to dusk. The brunch program will feature “Stormy the Magician” performing illusions for the whole family. End the day fulfilling a New Year’s resolution by getting outside and enjoying a snowshoe hike and taking in the winter sights and sounds.

Week of January 11-18

Wine About Winter
January 15, Grand Haven
What better place to “wine” away those winter blues than at the annual Wine About Winter? Each January, a collection of businesses in Grand Haven’s Centertown and Downtown districts invite the public to sample wines and check out art from local artists. As guests sip on samples of Shiraz and Chardonnay, area artists offer talks about their works, all of which are displayed at the various venues as part of Wine About Winter. Tasting packages will be available for purchase in the fall 2015 at various Main Street Merchant locations. 


Fort Custer Recreation Area: Intro to Mushing
January 16, Augusta
Are you interested in learning about dog sledding? Members of the Southwest Michigan Husky Club are providing introductory classes that will go over several different outdoor activities owners can enjoy with their dogs including: Mushing, Skijoring, Bikejoring, and tandem snowshoeing with dogs.

Beer and Bluegrass | Concert
January 16, Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo State Theatre is teaming up with Short’s Brewing Company out of Bellaire, Michigan, to bring you a bluegrass event like no other! Mark your calendars and join them for “Beer and Bluegrass” at Kalamazoo State Theatre! They will be bringing you four musical performances from Grammy award winning Bluegrass artists such as the Del McCoury Band, Jeff Austin Band, Don Julin and the Billy Strings Trio. Short’s Brewing Company will be onsite for a total tap takeover, featuring their top seasonal brews.

Kalkaska Winterfest
January 16-17
Kalkaska Winterfest has been a Michigan classic since 1965. It is the largest sprint sled dog race in the northern lower 48 states. The race will be a qualifying race for the IFSS world championships in 2017. There will be sled dog racing from 10, 6, 4, 3 and 2 dog teams, along with skijoring. Other activities include IWPA dog weight pull, craft show, silent auction and food. Make sure to check it out!

North American International Auto Show
January 16-24, Detroit
With an anticipated 800,000 visitors from around the world, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit continues to be among the most prestigious auto shows in the world. See highlights from last year’s show here.

Week of January 18- 25

Saline Winterfest 2016
January 22-23
You have to come to Winterfest 2016! Why? Because everything about this exciting event will be different this year. They’ll have indoor and outdoor activities fun for the whole family, from kids to grandparents, from mild to wild! More details will be released as the event nears. 

Noquemanon Ski Marathon
January 22-24, Marquette
The Noquemanon Ski Marathon, locally referred to as “The Noque”, is a point-to-point cross-country ski race held in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the last weekend of January. Starting from Ishpeming and ending in Marquette, the race showcases the scenery and terrain characteristic of Upper Michigan. The variety of events include Classic Freestyle, Team Relay, Junior Noque, Adaptive Snowshoe, Snow bike, Skijor Long and Short Distances.

203rd Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of the River Raisin
January 23, Monroe
Join the many participants from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Canada as we remember the Battle of the River Raisin and Massacre that took place 203 years ago – January 22 & 23, 1813. The 203rd Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of the River Raisin will take place on Saturday January 23, 2016. There will be a tactical demonstration battleground, and commemoration ceremonies.

Bigfoot Snowshoe Racebigfoot snowrace
January 23, Traverse City
Come join the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race! The course is a super hilly off trail run with plenty of logs to jump and branches to duck. If there’s no snow, bring your trail shoes, the race goes on no matter what the conditions. Bigfoot is the Midwest qualifier for the National Championship Snowshoe race.

Winter Delights: A Festival of Wine, Food, and Music
January 30, Portage
Winter Delights will be an evening of wine tasting with the best regional wineries, delicious food, and live music by the LMC Jazz Combo. Admission includes 10 wine tastings, $10 in food samplings, commemorative festival glass, and entertainment. Designated driver tickets include festival glass, two non-alcoholic drinks, $10 in food samplings, and entertainment.

Week of January 25-31

Thrill On the Hill
January 29-30, Buchanan
Bring your family and come tubing on an 800-foot long hill. The City of Buchanan closes its main thoroughfare and invites you to use their tubes to fly down Front Street’s hill! The road is closed for tubing only and happens just once a year. There will be tubing fun, games, contests, great food and a winter-land playground for the youngsters. Frosty and Rudolph will show up to frolic with kids and grownup kids alike. It is sure to be a family-friendly time!

Pure Ludington BRRRewFestbrewfest
January 30
Back by popular demand, the second annual Pure Ludington BRRRewFest is bigger and better, with 30-plus brewers from throughout Michigan showcasing their best for an afternoon of brews, live music and more at Ludington’s new community garden. Tickets include a 5oz. commemorative sampling glass plus six drinks tokens for sampling.

January 30, Muskegon
The Greater Muskegon Jaycees “Snowfest” is happening in downtown Muskegon. Enjoy many events such as the Battle of the Bowls, Kidsfest, Snow Volleyball, Cornhole, Broomball and much more! 

Winter Snow Party
January 30, Portage
The Winter Snow Party is a great opportunity to enjoy time with your family and friends, all while embracing the white wonders of Michigan outdoors. There will be many activities to enjoy such as sledding and a snowman building contest! Build, decorate and bring your own cardboard sled and build and dress up the biggest and fanciest snowman. Prizes will be awarded for best in show for both contests as well as the fastest cardboard sled! When you need a warm respite from the activities enjoy a bonfire with hot chocolate and coffee available for purchase. 

What January events are you looking forward to most? 

7 Michigan Light Displays that Will Leave a Twinkle in Your Eyes

The holidays are an extremely busy time of year with all of the parties, shopping and preparations. If you need a break from the hectic nature of the holiday season to take in the scenery, be sure to visit one of these seven great Michigan light displays and possibly create a new family tradition! 

Wayne County Lightfest - Westland

The Wayne County Lightfest in Westland is the largest and longest drive-through holiday light show in the Midwest as it features more than 47 giant animated holiday-themed displays. Lightfest is open through December 31, but be sure to mark your calendars for December 15 for Toy night where you can bring a new, unwrapped toy in lieu of the entrance fee. Visitors enter Lightfest at Hines Drive and Merriman Road in Westland and exit onto Warren Avenue near Telegraph Road in Dearborn Heights. When you’ve reached the end, don’t forget to stop for a visit to Santa’s Workshop, at Warrendale Park. Santa will be there until Dec. 23 and children can bring their wish lists for Santa and drop them off in the giant mailbox.

Christmas at Crossroads Holiday Magic – Flint

Bundle up and come visit during this special time when thousands of lights sparkle like tiny stars throughout the Crossroads Village. You’ll find villagers making vintage crafts, shops full of great gifts and the beloved Huckleberry Railroad waiting to take you on a festive nighttime ride.  Hurry and buy your tickets now as some times are already sold out. Your whole family will love this holiday celebration that goes through December 30.


The Big, Bright Light Show - Rochester

Brighten your holidays in downtown Rochester with The Big, Bright Light Show, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The buildings in downtown Rochester will be covered with more than 1 million points of glimmering holiday light. It will be lit every evening until January 3. As a bonus, the lights will be aglow every weekend in January through the Fire & Ice Festival. Be sure to check out the wonderful Rochester businesses while you gaze at the city’s lit-up beauty.

nite lites

Nite Lites - Jackson

The 2015 season is the 20th year for Nite Lites in Jackson! One of Michigan’s largest Christmas light displays, this animated drive-through display is over one mile long! Each year the Jackson County Fairgrounds are filled with dancing lights featuring scenes with reindeer, Santa Claus and the Nativity among the millions of lights. Winter Wonderland–inside the American 1 Events Center each weekend in December–features many kid-friendly activities. Get your photo taken with Santa Claus himself, watch a holiday puppet show, or take a ride on the kid’s holiday train. Real live reindeer will be stopping by for a special visit on three nights only so plan your visit now.

Christmas Lite Show - Grand Rapids

Through January 2, you can enjoy Michigan’s largest Christmas light show! The Christmas Lite show uses more than 40 animated displays that stretch almost two miles. Now in its 19th year, Christmas Lite Show is a family tradition for thousands of folks in the Grand Rapids area and beyond.

detroit zoo

Wild Lights – Royal Oak

This list wouldn’t be complete without the Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo! Experience the magic of the Detroit Zoo in winter as you take in the lights and the sights and enjoy holiday entertainment and activities for guests of all ages. More than five million LED lights will illuminate trees, buildings and more than 100 animal sculptures throughout the front of the Zoo until December 31. Advance ticket purchase is advised as many nights might sell out. New this year, a fun activity to check out is the Polar Plunge, a 22-foot-tall, 150-foot-long slide.


Light up the Soo - Sault Sainte Marie

Visit the Tower of History this holiday season and experience the lights of Sault Sainte Marie from 210 feet in the air. Businesses, homes, and area attractions will be decked out in festive lights for your viewing pleasure. Celebrate this wonderful time of year by creating a new family tradition with a trip to the top of the Tower. This light display will start on December 18 and go through December 31.

Which light displays will you be visiting this holiday season?

Seven Michigan Holiday Movies Worth a Watch

Photo by Heather McFarland, Garland Resort

Photo by Heather McFarland, Garland Resort

With the holidays just around the corner, what could be better than an evening spent curled up on the couch with a steaming mug of hot cocoa and some classic holiday flicks?

If a cozy night in is on your agenda in the coming weeks, give this list of holiday movies with ties to Michigan a look. Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan shares seven Michigan holiday films worth a watch this season. 

The Polar Express
Written by Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg and prominently featuring the city and noted businesses like Herpolsheimer’s downtown department store, this classic movie celebrated its 10th year in 2014.

Polar_expressThe star of the show is the Pere Marquette 1225, a steam locomotive which was recently restored and put back in operation in 2013 at the Steam Railroad Institute in Owosso. Seasonal excursions aboard the “North Pole Express” are extremely popular with families, selling out in advance of the holiday season.

One of the animated elves was played by actor Ed Gale, who graduated from Plainwell High School in the 1980s. (Ed also appeared in “Call Me Claus” and “Santa, Jr.”).

The world premiere of The Polar Express was held in 2004 at Celebration Cinema IMAX in Grand Rapids, with an elaborate post viewing party at DeVos Place downtown. Actor Peter Scolari (who played the “lonely boy” Billy) and Van Allsburg were both in attendance for the festivities, along with Santa Claus (of course).

Filmed in the Berrien County town of Three Oaks, this 1989 film starred Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman and young Rebecca Harrell—an eight year old farm girl who discovers one of Santa’s reindeer has fallen from a downtown decoration and come to life. She later nurses the wounded reindeer, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas, while inspiring the community with her spirit. Prancer celebrates its 25th anniversary this year!

The Santa Clause (I, II and III)
SantaClause2All starring Tim Allen, who was raised in southeast Michigan, attended Western Michigan University, has owned several homes around the state and is the voice of the Pure Michigan TV and radio ads. The movie itself is actually set in Chicago.

The trilogy was first introduced 20 years ago in 1994 (followed by sequels in 2004 and 2006), the story follows the life of Scott Calvin—who inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas eve and magically finds himself taking over the role of the big guy himself.

Sequel #1 shows Scott Calvin settling well into his role as Santa, but a new twist may bring his reign to an end if he doesn’t find a Mrs. Claus before Christmas Eve. Sequel #2—The Escape Claus follows Santa and Mrs. (Carol) Claus and the pending arrival of their first child together, as well as a plot by Jack Frost to take over the helm at the North Pole.

The Christmas Bunny
Filmed entirely in Michigan, this is the story of a lonely foster child who finds a lost, injured rabbit in the woods on Christmas Eve. The animal is nursed back to health by the eccentric “Bunny Lady” (played by Florence Henderson), who runs a rabbit rescue in an old barn behind her Michigan farmhouse.

The movie was filmed during a snowy February and March, 2010 in several West Michigan rural towns—including Lowell, Alto, Wyoming and Zeeland. It was directed by Grand Rapids native Tom Seidman (Ordinary People, Dead Poets Society), and was his first movie filmed in West Michigan.

Silver Bells
SilverBellsProduced in association with the Salvation Army and filmed in Manistee, Grand Rapids and Ludington, this 2013 film stars Bruce Boxleitner (Scarecrow & Mrs. King, Babylon 5).

According to a production release, the holiday story revolves around a hyper-competitive feather and overly win-driven sportscaster who goes too far and must perform community service as a bell ringer. Through his work with the Salvation Army, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas. The charity played a pivotal role throughout the film as the family volunteers with the organization in various ways.

Michigan filmmaker Harold Cronk directed the project and 10 West Studios lead the prost production efforts to keep the entire project in Michigan, qualifying it for state film incentives.

Do you know any other holiday favorites that have ties to Michigan? 

Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan and former board member of the West Michigan Film Video Alliance.