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Detroit’s holiday season begins with tree lighting Nov. 18 in Campus Martius

CMP4 Photo Courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love … may your dreams come true.” 

Well, it is that time of year again, and the holiday festivities at Campus Martius Park should make you fall in love with Detroit and help your dreams of fun come true.

It all starts with lighting the 60-foot Michigan-grown, Norway Spruce Christmas tree at Campus Martius on Friday, Nov. 18. The tree is a gift to the city from the DTE Energy Foundation.

tree lighting

The tree-lighting festivities begin at 5 p.m. and include The Salvation Army Family Fun Tent, photos with Santa, and horse-drawn carriage rides. The Salvation Army will light its giant Red Kettle at 6 p.m. followed by the entertainment show at 6:15 p.m. Detroit’s Christmas tree will be lit just before 8 p.m.

That same night The Rink opens with a live music mix from 9 p.m. – midnight. There will also be complimentary hot chocolate at the DTE Energy Foundation tent and cinnamon rolls in the IKEA warming tent.  Around the rink, there are fire pits to keep guests warm, and you can even make s’mores as you are entertained by a variety of unique street performers. The Rink is open until March 5.

There will be entertainment from four-time Grammy Award winner Aaron Neville and Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

The event is free to the public.

In case you can’t make it down, the 13th Annual Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony and Show will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on WXYZ TV 7 from 7 to 8 p.m.

“Amid all the glistening lights across downtown, the Campus Martius Park district continues to be the epicenter for Detroit’s holiday magic and seasonal activity to come alive,” says Robert Gregory, president, Detroit 300 Conservancy. “Throughout the winter and into March, visitors can enjoy outdoor activities, all kinds of entertainment, and eclectic dining with Detroit’s trendy restaurant scene, and especially with the new Parc restaurant bringing dishes influenced by the city’s vast cultural communities to the rink’s side.”

The Parc, which opens on Monday, Nov. 21, features “redefined Detroit Cuisine” with a menu of Midwestern comfort foods inspired by Detroit’s cultural diversity.

The fun continues with the Quicken Loans Season of Winter Magic. Here are some highlights:

  • The Rink at Campus Martius Park – With Detroit’s skyline as a backdrop, the ice provides a skating experience for 14 weeks and is open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Skate rental: $3; Admission: $8, adults; $7, children 12 and under and seniors 50 and up. Open daily Friday, November 18 through Sunday, March 5. Broomball takes place Monday and Tuesday nights, January 3 through February 28. The rink is open through March 5.


  • Rinkside Dining & Drinks – Campus Martius Park’s restaurant – Parc – features refined expressions of traditional Midwestern comfort foods and seasonally-inspired cocktails, it rounds out the current offerings of the Rink Side Bar, which features cocktails, Atwater craft beers and more in a cozy indoor/outdoor heated seating area provided by IKEA with panoramic views, and the family friendly Arctic Zone concessions. Parc will be open Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (lunch hours begin in December); Rink Side Bar is open Wednesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Arctic Zone is open during rink hours.
  • NEW Winter Magic Weekends – Holiday drink tastings feature fresh and festive twists on classic cocktails, the best Michigan wines, craft beers and spirits mixed by some of Detroit’s best mixologists – plus beverages from around the globe. Events are Very Vodka Wonderland, Merry Mixology, Southern Spirits, Feliz Navidad and Home for the Holidays and include entertainment by the area’s most popular DJs and bands, a variety of food available for purchase from in demand Detroit establishments, a selfie station, and a keepsake commemorative glass. Fridays and Saturdays, November 19 through December 17, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Admission tickets available at for $20. This a 21+ event.  
  • Kidz Zone – Reinvented this year, there will be fun and games for children and the young at heart in the giant heated tent at Cadillac Square. Michigan Science Center Invention Table, arts and crafts, Minute to Win It competitions, short films including holiday classics and cartoons, Kidz drink specials for purchase, and more will entertain and delight. Free admission. Sundays, November 20 through December 18 from noon to 4 p.m. 


  • Horse-drawn Carriage Rides Nostalgic rides through the beautifully decorated streets of downtown Detroit. Weekends, Friday, November 18 through Friday, December 30 (excluding December 25), Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight, Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets available at Cadillac Square.
  • Street Performances – Fire performers, stilt walkers, carolers, musicians and more will entertain and add holiday magic throughout the Campus Martius Park district. Friday through Sunday, November 18 through January 1(excluding December 25 and 31) and Monday through Thursday December 26 – December 29. 
  • Holiday drink tastings  Drinks inside of a 10,000-square foot heated structure with clear views of the Campus Martius Park Christmas tree, along with Cadillac Square’s favorite food trucks returning for the winter season weekend events.
  • Santa Visits Everyone can share their holiday wishes with Santa and take a free “Santa selfie” or have a photo taken by a local photographer for a fee. Visit Santa at One Campus Martius. November 18 – December 23 (including Thanksgiving Day), Thursdays and Fridays, 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. Special hours for the Tree Lighting on November 18 are 5 to 7 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m., and on Thanksgiving, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“This year’s Winter Magic season takes everything that makes it a hallmark series of events each holiday season and adds new experiences for everyone from the first-time visitor to the dedicated patron,” says John Marcicky, Quicken Loans Director of Placemaking. “The new Winter Magic Weekends will provide a distinct nightlife experience each weekend – with rotating themes, cocktails and entertainment – complementing the booming retail and culinary scene in the city.”

– Photos courtesy of Downtown Detroit Partnership

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