Light Up Downtown
Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids
5-7 p.m., free, downtowngr.org
Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. is kicking off the holiday season with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree (and all of downtown’s holiday lights) and opening the Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink. At 5 p.m., the Good Tidings Carol Company will kick off the night, followed by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Santa. Also look for food trucks, including Patty Matters, The Everyday Chef and Wife, Doughrunts and Ferris Coffee & Nut.
GR Ballet’s The Nutcracker
DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
The Nutcracker is the quintessential ballet program just about everywhere, and the Grand Rapids Ballet is no exception. Adapted for the stage from a story by Alexandre Dumas, this Tchaikovsky-scored show is essentially the Christmas version of Alice in Wonderland, following a young girl’s journey through a magical world with the titular Nutcracker, who saves her from the evil Mouse King.
UICA’s 29th Annual Holiday Artists Market
Steelcase Town Hall, 901 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids
10 a.m.-6 p.m., free, uica.org
The more unique a gift is, the more your recipient is sure to love it (excluding brand new cars), and there’s no better way to assure a gift’s singularity than buying from a local artist. The UICA is bringing dozens of regional artists together, selling jewelry, home goods, fine art, holiday cards, accessories and toys, alongside live music and local food and beverages.
12 Bars of Xmas Crawl
12-8 p.m., $30, xmasbarcrawl.com
What better way to get festive than with an unholy amount of booze? One ticket to this massive bar crawl gets you a 16 oz. Bad Santa cup, a commemorative Santa hat, cover to every bar, and access to drink specials, including $3 craft beer pints at Kuzzin’s Lounge, $2 mystery shots at Steel Cat and much more. And don’t worry, four busses will be running a route from bar to bar. Happy Holidays!
Noël, Noël, Joyeux Noël: A Celebration of French Music for the Holiday Season
Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids
7:30 p.m., gvsu.edu/fallarts
Grand Valley State University’s Fall Arts is celebrating this holiday season with a large symphony orchestra and a 90-member chorus performing all of France’s holiday hits — Guillaume Du Fay’s Magnificat, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria, and Minuit, Chrétiens (O Holy Night). Meanwhile Grand Valley dance majors will dance in the aisles.
Downtown Market, 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
4-7 p.m., free, downtownmarketgr.com
The Downtown Market will fill its halls with holiday magic, hosting carolers, special offers, food and beverage demos upstairs, Santa in the greenhouse, and the Holiday Artisan Market. All in all, it’s a great place to shop for gifts, or for yourself, while getting in the holiday spirit.
Breakfast with Santa
Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids
8:30 & 10 a.m., $30, grpm.org
If you’ve ever wanted to eat a holiday breakfast, visit a planetarium and sit on Santa’s lap in one day, this is your chance. This limited-availability event, broken into two sessions, includes a full breakfast, admission to the special Brain: The World Inside Your Head exhibit, time with Santa, and access to the rest of the museum for the entire day. You’ll also see a showing of the planetarium’s special show, Let It Snow, featuring classic Christmas music, animation, special effects and a stunning finale from Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Perrin Holiday Dinner
Perrin Brewing Co., 5910 Comstock Park Dr. NW, Comstock Park
7 p.m., $50, perrinbrewing.com
Beer dinners are one of the best ways to elevate your palette — not only are you taking the time to be intentional about your tasting, but you’ll be talked through the pairings of beer and food. This is Perrin’s last beer dinner of the year, and the dishes are heavily holiday-inspired, from a clear soup with fennel-and-sausage dumpling to a duck confit with wild rice pilaf, green beans, cranberry sauce and more. Buy your tickets ahead of time to ensure a spot.
20 Monroe Live, 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
6:30 p.m., $20, 20monroelive.com
A generation that grew up reading Harry Potter is finally old enough to drink, which means we should expect to see more and more events based on the world of The Boy Who Lived. This is Grand Rapids’ first Yule Ball, a magical event meant to recreate the same ball from Goblet of Fire. Our city’s version will have a photo booth, a magician, a horcrux hunt, trivia, a performance by Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, and more, all hosted by Dumbledore himself.
Twelve Days of Cocktails
Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails, 67 Ottawa Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Wheelhouse’s bar manager, Daren Palacios, is partnering with local distilleries to create a series of 12 unique craft cocktails just for the holiday season, and they’re only $8 each. And nestled within these 12 days is Brunch With Santa on Dec. 16 and 17. One visit gets you a delicious brunch buffet, a professional photo with Santa, cookie decorating, a visit from Grand Rapids Ballet dancers, activities for kids and more. Tickets are $29.95 for adults and $14.95 for the kids.
Grand Rapids Symphony’s Holiday Pops
DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
If you’ve never seen Santa conduct a professional orchestra, you’re missing out. Every year, the Grand Rapids Symphony puts on its hugely popular Holiday Pops show, featuring classics like Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Sleigh Ride, the Hallelujah Chorus and so many more. Conductor Bob Bernhardt, the symphony, two choruses, a handbell choir and vocalist Leon Williams all come together to make this show an instant holiday classic.
Mix & Mingle Holiday Party
Mendel Center, 1100 Yore Ave., Benton Harbor
5:30 p.m., $25, themendelcenter.com
If you’re tired of worrying about and planning your big holiday party, Mix & Mingle was designed just for you. Whether you’re a family, a business or just a group of friends, this event is meant to appeal to groups of all kinds with a lavish buffet, a cash bar, music, games and a few surprises throughout.
WYCE Bubble Bash 18
HOME at The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
5-8:30 p.m., $30, grcmc.org/wyce
Everyone’s favorite radio station (at least according to Revue’s Best of the West) and The Gilmore Collection are teaming to present yet another Bubble Bash, the holiday celebration that puts sparkling wines in the spotlight. This party acts as a fundraiser for WYCE. One ticket gets you access to more than 15 varieties of hard bubbly, plus a beautiful spread of food.
Learn to Luge Weekend
Muskegon Luge & Sports Complex, 462 Scenic Dr., Muskegon
There are not many places in the United States where you can learn to luge. In fact, there’s supposedly only four luge tracks in the entire country, and one of them is right here in Muskegon. This track was designed by an Olympic luger for novices, with speeds “only” reaching 30 mph. Head on out for a fully unique, two-and-a-half hour luging session, complete with lessons.