It can happen any time of day—during any activity. That punch to the gut, choking back the tears, as your…
Sure, we all want the Instagramable photo with Santa and the kids, but if you’re looking for a little more out of your visit than a quick photo, we’ve put together the top events where you can find Santa this season and truly make it a memorable experience for the whole family!
Holiday Nights @ Greenfield Village
Mingle with merrymakers amid the smells of roasting chestnuts and warm bonfires: the sounds of carolers, fiddlers and sleigh bells: and other yuletide activity during Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village. Every lantern-lit path takes you to a new winter wonder to discover. Strap on a pair of ice skates, send a shout-out to Santa and his magnificent reindeer, find your reflection in a handcrafted ornament and nestle into a horse-drawn wagon for a sing-along through Greenfield Village.
Dates: December 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 19-23 and 29-30
Times: 6:30pm – 10pm
Costs: $26 (General Admission), $19.50 (Youth 3-11), Free (2 and under)
Breakfast with Santa @ The Detroit Zoo
Get ready to have breakfast with your favorite holiday friends during the 14th annual Breakfast with Santa at the Detroit Zoo. The buffet-style waffle breakfast includes a special gift for each child, arts and crafts, photo opportunities and a visit from Santa.
Dates: December 2, 9 and 16
Times: Doors open at 8:15am, breakfast served at 8:30am
Costs: $35 for adults (15 and older) and $30 for children.
Holiday Splendor: Santa Sighting @ Cranbrook House & Gardens
Visit with Santa Claus in an enchanted setting when he stops by Cranbrook House the first Saturday in December. Children of all ages will be entertained with a scavenger hunt while waiting for their turn to see Santa. Families will also enjoy viewing a variety of wonderfully decorated trees and other holiday settings in the charming manor. To complete the holiday experience, each child will receive a free gift from Santa and his helpers before they leave!
Date: Sunday, December 2
Time: 9am – 12pm
Costs: $10 Children (under 10), $15 Adults
Winter Fun Festival @ Downtown Pontiac
The WinterFUN Festival is a great opportunity for families to come together to participate in several activities. There is a Gallery of Ice with live ice carving competition, a petting farm with adorable animals, live Santa reindeer, s’mores and much, much more. There is also a children’s WinterART Center that allows kids to participate in several different craft projects, get their face painted and much, much more. Don’t miss out … ALL EVENTS ARE FREE!!
Date: Saturday, December 2
Time: 8am – 10:30am (Parade after at 11am)
Ferndale Holiday Ice Festival
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means it’s time again for #DowntownFerndale’s annual Holiday Ice Festival! Come for plenty of traditional holiday-time activities for the whole family to enjoy. Experience downtown as it transforms into a winter wonderland with nearly 50 magnificent ice creations lining streets and FREE photos with Santa at North Pole.
Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 10am – 4pm
Black Santa Photo Experience @ Eastern Market
A unique event celebrating diversity and making spirits bright for metro Detroit kids. This free event will give local kids a chance to meet Santa and tell him what they want most for Christmas. Bring your own camera to take your child’s photo with Santa.
Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 10am – 2pm
Dinner with Santa @ The Detroit Zoo
Come celebrate the holiday season with a feast at the Detroit Zoo’s Dinner with Santa at Wild Lights. This event takes place in the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery during our spectacular holiday light display. The buffet-style dinner also includes a special gift for each child, arts and crafts, and a visit from Santa as well as admission to Wild Lights. Tickets are required for all children, regardless of age, as seating is limited.
Dates: December 15, 16 and 17
Costs: Members ($39 adults 15 and older, $34 children 14 and under), Non-members ($44 adults 15 and older, $39 children 14 and under)
Visit with Santa @ Campus Martius
All good little boys and girls will get to share their holiday wishes with Santa this year in the lobby at One Campus Martius! Take a free “Santa selfie” or have your photo taken by a local photographer.
Dates: November 18 – December 23
Times: Thursdays and Fridays (4pm-7pm), Saturdays and Sundays (12pm-7pm)
Wayne County Lightfest
Make sure that you stop at the Santa Shelter at the end of the Lightfest in the Warrendale Shelter to visit Santa and purchase some refreshments from November 17 – December 23.
Dates: November 17 – December 23
Times: Monday – Friday from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Henry Ford Museum
Christmas Time is Here, so come visit The Man with All the Toys in a mid-century modern photo-op inspired by the work of Charles and Ray Eames. While visiting Santa, discover a typical Christmas morning scene from the 1960s, complete with the latest toys and a sparkling aluminum Christmas tree. Bring your own camera to capture memories. Free with museum admission.
Dates: November 24 – December 24
Times: Mondays – Fridays 10am-4pm, Saturdays – Sundays 9:30am-5pm
Costs: Free with museum admission
Merry & Bright Nights @ Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
Walk through Eleanor and Edsel Ford’s historic home, all dressed up for the holidays. Soak in the beauty and history on a strolling holiday tour of the house. Outside, gather ’round a toasty fire and warm up with cocoa and s’mores (available for purchase). The kids can visit with Santa, and everyone is invited to take part in a scavenger hunt to earn a holiday treat.
Dates: Merry & Bright Nights are held Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Dec. 7-23.
Costs: $20 Adults, $12 Children (2-12), Free (under 2)
About Kerry Doman
Kerry Doman is the founder and CEO of LittleGuide Detroit and After 5 Detroit. She has lived downtown Detroit for 10+ years and still calls the city home with her husband and son. As a relatively new mom, she’s excited to explore downtown with her family and hopes you’ll enjoy doing the same!