Thanks to Greg Philby, Editor-in-Chief Midwest Living magazine, for this guest blog post about the holiday season at Greenfield village.
A couple of things occurred to me as my family and I clutched tightly together. One: I should’ve worn gloves. Two: This was a fantastic way to spend a holiday. We were huddled in the December dusk during the Holiday Nights festival at Greenfield Village, part of iconic Henry Ford in Dearborn. Behind us, in the Main Street district of the Village, on the Town Hall steps, a choir softly sang carols. Ahead of us, across the village green and above the Martha-Mary Chapel, fireworks thudded and glittered like holiday lights. And we felt warm.
It’s not always so chilly when you visit a historic Midwest site, but it’s always refreshing. Maybe the sentimentality of the season made the heritage even more poignant, from the breezy ride in a chattering Model T to the reverie when standing inside Henry Ford’s boyhood home.
Even my daughters, then almost teenagers, concur: Of our Christmas gifts, this family trip, scrunched into a hectic schedule, is what we remember most. It’s the type of trip you should try, too. But bring gloves.
Planning Your Trip
Greenfield Village is an 88-acre living-history extravaganza, part of The Henry Ford complex just west of Detroit in the old Ford Company town of Dearborn. During the special Greenfield Village Holiday Nights, held several weekend evenings in December, hundreds of visitors walk among the shops and historic homes. Street musicians standing beneath a gas lamp play “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
Long-ago Christmas sounds echo: a Model T bleats “ahh-OO-gah“ on the horn. A carousel plays its songs while grinning kids whirl by on carved zebras and circus horses. Children also love horse-drawn wagon rides.
At the 1831 Eagle Tavern, an original stagecoach stop moved from Clinton, Michigan, candles on the tabletops, provide the only light in the dining room, a soft glow. Dishes created from 19th-century recipes, perhaps pork-and-apple stew, are whisked to the tables.
At about 9:15 p.m., the diners file outside to join a crowd already gathering for the evening-ending ceremonies in front of the town hall. They join in a spirited round of Christmas carols, setting the stage for a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.“ And finally, exploding fireworks bejewel the sky above the steeple of the graceful old Martha-Mary Chapel.
The Henry Ford is open every day year round from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Holiday Nights are from 6:30 to 10 p.m. on December 4–5, 11–12, 18–23 and 26–27 this year. Admission to Holiday Nights is $17 for adults (over age 12) and $15 for children; Eagle Tavern dining package available for an additional fee. Daytime admission to Greenfield Village, open on weekends this winter, is $22 for adults, $16 for children. Admission to The Henry Ford Museum is $15 for adults, $11 for children. The Henry Ford also offers special one-day packages that includes admission to both attractions.
Greg Philby has been the Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Living magazine since 2007, a 925,000 circulation bimonthly lifestyle magazine that celebrates travel, food, home and life in the 12-state region. Midwest Living also publishes Michigan Travel Ideas, the official Pure Michigan Travel Guide.