Downtown Kalamazoo Shines Brighter than Ever this Holiday Season + Parade, Trolley, Santa, Shopping and Events Not to Miss

Family visiting Santa downtown Kalamazoo

Light Up Your Holiday Season in Downtown Kalamazoo

Twinkling holiday lights. Snow on the ground. Hot chocolate. Candy canes. Cozy PJs. Carols. Gingerbread houses. In my opinion, the holidays are simply the very best time of the year

There is so much magic and wonder and they are even better and brighter in Downtown Kalamazoo. Downtown Kalamazoo has a full list of FREE events to complete your family’s holiday bucket list.

Shopping, Holiday Parade, Santa, Holly Jolly Trolley and more. Oh, and did we mention they’re all free?

Girl visit Santa Kalamazoo Christmas

Save the Date for the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade on November 16

The holiday season kicks off in Downtown Kalamazoo with the 2019 Kalamazoo Holiday Parade, sponsored by Maple Hill Auto.

This amazing 90-minute parade has been putting smiles on kids’ faces for 57 years and attracts up to 20,000 spectators. This year, the highlight of the parade is sure to be the five GIANT balloons: Rudolph, Santa, Thanksgiving Turkey, Butterscotch the Elf, and Kermey the Elf. And if that’s not enough, this year there will be seven new novelty characters from Frozen, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, and Princess Sofia, who your kids will be sure to love.

Grab your coat, hat, and mittens and head downtown on Saturday, November 16, 2019. The parade starts at 11:00 AM with plenty of family-friendly activities happening in the afternoon. For parade map route and parking information visit HERE.

Downtown Kalamazoo Christmas Parade

But Wait, There’s More… Attend the Parade Post Party

Downtown Kalamazoo is hosting an epic post-parade party from Noon-4:00 PM on November 16. The family will love-

  • cookie decorating at Market on Michigan Avenue
  • hot chocolate samples at Cherri’s Chocol’Art
  • holiday painting with Blacks Arts & Cultural Center at The Epic Center
  • live music and family concerts at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum

No holiday parade post-party would be complete without a visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. (Shhh, we heard reindeer will make an appearance, too, at WOODTV8.)

The Tree Lighting Ceremony Features Santa Himself

Next, head downtown on Friday, November 29 for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM. Not only will you get to see the lights light up your child’s face, but Santa Claus will be in attendance and available for visitors from 6:20 PM -7:30 PM.

Small Business Saturday and Window Decorating

After the tree is up and brightly lit, it will officially be time to jump-start your holiday shopping. Come downtown on Saturday, November 30 for Small Business Saturday to find unique gifts for all your loved ones.  Check out this list for all your shopping options. 

Don’t forget to explore all the stunningly decorated windows. 35+ downtown businesses will be participating in the Window Decorating Contest by transforming their windows and storefronts into winter wonderlands for your enjoyment. The theme this year? Children’s Literature. Vote for your favorite. Simply scan the QR code on your favorite window.

Visit Santa’s Workshop

If your child didn’t get a chance to meet Santa at the Tree Lighting Ceremony, worry not.

Bring your family to Santa’s Workshop, located at the Epic Center at 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. Even better, while visiting with the man in red, children can color and write letters to Santa. The weekends will have even more fun lined up with live music on Fridays, cookie decorating on Saturdays, and holiday crafts on Sundays. 

Our family visited the Downtown Kalamazoo Santa Workshop last December and it was the highlight of our holiday season. Only a few blocks walk and parking was a breeze.

Girl visiting Santa Workshop Kalamazoo Holiday

My breath was taken away by how bright and cheerful the Epic Center was decorated. With the festive decor, my five-year-old daughter literally thought we were at the north pole.

The line to see Santa was less than 10 minutes and Santa was so kind to my tentative two-year-old son. After telling Santa the items on their wish list, there was a big area for the kids to color and write a letter to the big man himself.  No crazy expensive picture package and we were free to snap as many of our own pictures as we wanted. 

Celebrate diversity – bring the kids for black Santa time on Sundays in December.

Tired Feet? Hop Aboard the Holly Jolly Trolly

While you’re downtown visiting Santa’s Workshop, be sure to hitch a ride on the Holly Jolly Trolly. Hop aboard this beautiful old-fashioned trolley and see all the festive holiday lights and decorations throughout downtown. Complete hours of operation and details on all eight of their locations and stops.

Tip: Be sure to have the kids run through the big candy canes located in Bronson Park. I love seeing my kids’ faces as they sprint under them with the twinkling Christmas lights.

Kids waving Trolley Downtown Kalamazoo - Holiday Parade

Have you Always Wanted to be an Elf? Volunteer to Help Santa!

Looking for a fun new way to enjoy holiday magic and give back to the community? Consider volunteering for the Holiday Parade or Santa’s Workshop – Details and Sign up HERE

The holiday season is magical in so many ways. Experience all the FREE magic and wonder by heading Downtown for all their holiday events to light up your holiday season.

162 E. Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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