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A carriage rides around Campus Martius.
Michelle Gerard

Where to catch the holiday lights in metro Detroit

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A carriage rides around Campus Martius.
| Michelle Gerard

It’s that time of year again. Snow is falling, the sun is setting, and the holiday lights are shining.

Metro Detroit has some pretty impressive light displays that make for a great weekend stroll or drive. At most of these stops, there’s also more to do than just gaze at the multi-colored displays. Be it downtown or all the way in Rochester, you’ll often find shops or restaurants (or animals) that you can visit as well.

There’s also some special holiday markets, including ones downtown, that you may want to check out.

Happy Holidays!

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Campus Martius

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If you’re heading to Campus Martius, the tree is center stage. But there’s lights and festivities all around: The rink is set up for ice skating, the downtown markets in Cadillac Square are open with local vendors, and the Cadillac Lodge has food and drinks. The esplanade on Woodward has a tunnel of pine, and lights leading the way to Spirit Plaza. At night, make sure to look up at the Detroit Skybridge.

Beacon Park

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Right around the corner, the newer Beacon Park is trying to establish its own holiday lights tradition. In its third year, the park typically has interactive and sculptural displays you won’t see at other places. Run by DTE, there will be 125,000 LED lights installed.

Greenfield Village

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An immersive holiday experience—like everything else at Greenfield Village—awaits during “Holiday Nights.” Lantern-lit paths lead visitors to a number of different attractions, including roasting chestnuts, horse-drawn rides, fireworks, and an ice rink.

This nightly event takes place every Thursday through Sunday starting December 5. Tickets are $25.50 for adults, $19.25 for youth aged 5-11, and free for kids under 5 years old.

Detroit Zoo

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Gather up the kids for the annual Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo. During this nightly event, zoo is filled with over 5 million LED lights on a variety of sculptures and buildings. The zoo also has a Polar Express “4-D” experience. A winter rink is also open for skaters at the zoo.

Tickets should be purchased in advance here.

Lake Shore Road

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Every year, the homeowners along Lake Shore Road deck out their residences in glorious light displays that make for a spectacular drive along the coast.

While you’re there, take a holiday tour at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

Wayne County Lightfest

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If it’s too cold to venture outside, stay in the car and head to Westland for the spectacular Wayne County Lightfest. This trip down Hines Drive showcases dozens of fun displays for the holidays (our favorite is the abominable snowman). For the kids, the Santa Shelter is located at the end of the drive.

The cost for the light fest is $5 per car.

Livonia Lights

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The highlight of this display is music synchronized to a light show for hours every day. Typically taking place outside a home in Livnoia, the venue has moved this year.

Meadow Brook Hall

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Every year, this huge Tudor mansion on the campus of Oakland University gets filled with 50 Christmas trees lit up, both inside and out, for a self-guided walking tour.

It’s open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids under 17.

Rochester

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Check out the lights and get some shopping done while you’re there! The storefronts in Rochester are decked out with walls of color. The big, bright light show runs through January 5—with more dates later in January. The lights are on from 5-12 p.m., while most stores are open until 9 p.m.

Campus Martius

If you’re heading to Campus Martius, the tree is center stage. But there’s lights and festivities all around: The rink is set up for ice skating, the downtown markets in Cadillac Square are open with local vendors, and the Cadillac Lodge has food and drinks. The esplanade on Woodward has a tunnel of pine, and lights leading the way to Spirit Plaza. At night, make sure to look up at the Detroit Skybridge.

Beacon Park

Right around the corner, the newer Beacon Park is trying to establish its own holiday lights tradition. In its third year, the park typically has interactive and sculptural displays you won’t see at other places. Run by DTE, there will be 125,000 LED lights installed.

Greenfield Village

An immersive holiday experience—like everything else at Greenfield Village—awaits during “Holiday Nights.” Lantern-lit paths lead visitors to a number of different attractions, including roasting chestnuts, horse-drawn rides, fireworks, and an ice rink.

This nightly event takes place every Thursday through Sunday starting December 5. Tickets are $25.50 for adults, $19.25 for youth aged 5-11, and free for kids under 5 years old.

Detroit Zoo

Gather up the kids for the annual Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo. During this nightly event, zoo is filled with over 5 million LED lights on a variety of sculptures and buildings. The zoo also has a Polar Express “4-D” experience. A winter rink is also open for skaters at the zoo.

Tickets should be purchased in advance here.

Lake Shore Road

Every year, the homeowners along Lake Shore Road deck out their residences in glorious light displays that make for a spectacular drive along the coast.

While you’re there, take a holiday tour at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

Wayne County Lightfest

If it’s too cold to venture outside, stay in the car and head to Westland for the spectacular Wayne County Lightfest. This trip down Hines Drive showcases dozens of fun displays for the holidays (our favorite is the abominable snowman). For the kids, the Santa Shelter is located at the end of the drive.

The cost for the light fest is $5 per car.

Livonia Lights

The highlight of this display is music synchronized to a light show for hours every day. Typically taking place outside a home in Livnoia, the venue has moved this year.

Meadow Brook Hall

Every year, this huge Tudor mansion on the campus of Oakland University gets filled with 50 Christmas trees lit up, both inside and out, for a self-guided walking tour.

It’s open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids under 17.

Rochester

Check out the lights and get some shopping done while you’re there! The storefronts in Rochester are decked out with walls of color. The big, bright light show runs through January 5—with more dates later in January. The lights are on from 5-12 p.m., while most stores are open until 9 p.m.