Christmas in Detroit: Holiday Festivities at Campus Martius Park
There are certain places known as holiday destinations. With their beautiful Christmas markets, places like New York City and Vienna, Austria are holiday travel hot spots. But there’s another city vying to put itself on the map of fantastic holiday destinations. Detroit! Making a vibrant comeback, the city of Detroit is becoming an exciting place to visit all year long- but it’s especially wonderful around the holiday season and each year the holiday displays downtown just keep getting bigger and better. From the giant tree towering over the Campus Martius ice rink to the numerous pop-up markets, igloos, and holiday lounges- Detroit is simply bursting with holiday cheer and cozy places to celebrate with family and friends. Come check out what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in Detroit!
If you’re visiting the city of Detroit, chance are you’re going to rent a car. While Uber and Lyft abound, we don’t have a great public transportation system that connects the city to the suburbs and that’s not a mistake. In the Motor City- it’s best to get around by car!
I’ve got to be honest, the only thing one could consider frustrating about our evening trip downtown to check out the holiday festivities this year was the parking. When we first started exploring Detroit with our boys seven years ago, the city was still a ghost town. Practically empty even on the weekends, we could park literally anywhere we pleased. Now it’s gosh darn difficult to find a place to park- which would be frustrating except that we know it means the city is thriving! Between the new chic hotels, the fantastic shopping on Woodward, and the holiday festivities- the streets are packed with people enjoying Detroit. It’s quite an exciting sight- even if it means we had to park a ways away.
If you want to avoid parking in the heart of the city, consider parking farther out and taking the new Q Line into the festivities. While the Q Line is limited to certain locations within the city, it does reach all of the main hot spots- including Campus Martius Park- making it a great option within the city limits.
Cadillac Square Marketplace
We started our evening at the Cadillac Square Marketplace just across from Campus Martius Park. The marketplace is full of beautiful rustic holiday decorations and bright with white Christmas lights criss-crossing their way between rows of tiny little glass pop-up shops. The little shops are absolutely adorable, adorned with lights and jingle bells and full of a wide variety of made-in-Detroit items that epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit of Detroit.
The Cadillac Lounge
At the end of the marketplace sits the Cadillac Lounge, a giant tent transformed into a stunning winter wonderland. With plenty of seating, the lounge continues with the rustic holiday theme. Old ice skates, vintage snow sleds, and nearly a dozen frosted Christmas trees line the lodge. There is plenty of seating- and not just any seating- warm, cozy seating that makes you want to snuggle up to the one you love! Brown leather couches are piled high with pillows and blankets. Large tables are stocked with old fashioned wooden board game boards- chess, Scrabble and giant Jenga blocks. Our boys settled into a little cove decorated with a tiny Christmas tree and cozy plaid pillows for a couple of games of chess while they sipped their hot cocoa from the bar.
The bar also serves alcohol for the adult crowd, but the one thing you’ll want to be sure to order is the s’mores kit! Each kit contains a giant marshmallows, wooden skewer, Hershey’s chocolate and graham cracker. In the back of the lounge you can head outside to the large open pit fires to roast your marshmallows and make your s’mores! There’s plenty of outdoor seating- tall red stools line the fire pits while long wooden tables sit under canopies lined with twinkling white lights.
Campus Martius Park
After our boys had finished three games of chess and their roasted marshhallows, we headed back outside- through the marketplace and over towards Campus Martius Park to see the giant 60 foot Christmas tree and ice rink. Every tree in the park is wrapped from top to bottom in white sparkly lights, with the giant tree standing in the middle of the park adorned in colored lights and ornaments. Even on a weekday, the line for the ice rink was wrapped around the park and the rink was packed. Though it was freezing, it warmed my heart to see Detroit so busy and full of life!
The Campus Martius Ice Rink is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 11pm, Friday from 11am to midnight, Saturday 10am to midnight and Sunday 12pm to 10pm. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 12. You can bring your own skates or rent skates right next to the rink for $5 a pair!
Enchanted holiday carriage rides are also available on Fridays and Saturdays from mid-November through Christmas. Carriages run from 6pm until midnight, taking off from the Woodwards Esplanade, directly south of Campus Martius Park. Rides are 15 to 20 minutes long and cost $10 person or $40 for a private group. A carriage ride is a great way to see all that is exciting and new in the city of Detroit as well as all of the holiday lights beyond Campus Martius Park.
The Spirit of Detroit
Before heading home we took a quick drive towards Woodward Avenue where there is another small holiday pop-up… a galley of giant swings line the walk way leading to the igloo domes set up in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue. The domes are brightly lit with Christmas lights and inside you’ll find more board games for a cozy place to hang out and warm up. It’s a short walk from Campus Martius Park, but a nice cozy place to get away from some of the crowds while still enjoying the ambiance of the holiday festivities. And there’s just something about those old fashioned board games! They gently coax you to put your phone down and enjoy a simple kind of fun with friends and family!
While we only had a few hours to explore, we could have easily spend an entire day downtown enjoying the holiday markets and festivities. Our boys are eager to head back this weekend for one more afternoon of chess and cocoa before Santa packs his sleigh and heads off into the starry night on Christmas Eve!
So if you’re looking for a weekend holiday getaway, it’s time to consider the city of Detroit. The city is putting itself back on the map in remarkable ways- and Christmas in Detroit is becoming something quite special! Every time we head into the city the energy is simply electric and each and every year the holiday festivities grow bigger and brighter. If there’s one thing I can say about Detroit, it’s that I’m pretty certain it’s this…