2023 Christmas Activities in Downtown Kalamazoo: Holly Jolly Trolley, Santa Visits, Holiday Parade, Photo Ops + Shopping

Holly Jolly Trolley Downtown Kalamazoo

Experience Holiday Magic in Downtown Kalamazoo

After packing away 50 skeletons from SkeleTour, Kalamazoo is ready to wow local families with its holiday décor and beloved, annual Christmas events.

Take a stroll downtown this holiday season and you’ll find beautifully decorated storefront windows, twinkly lights, a very jolly Santa and rides on the Holly Jolly Trolley.

Read on for the best things to do this festive season plus special events, photo ops and more in our awesome city:

Downtown Kalamazoo Shopping

12 Things to Do in Downtown Kalamazoo at Christmastime

Downtown Kalamazoo has a lot to offer, especially during the holidays.

With decorations galore, plenty of restaurants and shopping, and free rides on the Holly Jolly Trolley to see Santa, it’s hard to know where to start.

We recommend you start here: use this list to maximize your merriment during the holiday season in Kalamazoo.


1 – Visit Santa’s Workshop

City Centre
125 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo MI 49007

Where is Santa?
Santa and his workshop have moved into City Centre for 2023. Santa’s Workshop is located in the former Bronson Health Club venue. Enter through the City Centre Farmer’s Alley entrance or through the Kalamazoo Mall entrance and walking to the back of the building.

Santa will be ready for visitors starting November 25, 2023. No appointments are necessary.

Kids who visit Santa’s Workshop will receive the following during their FREE visit:
• Decorating shopping bags
• Santa letter kit

Santa will have several mailboxes throughout downtown for children to mail their letters.

Again this year, families can also visit with Black Santa who will be at the workshop on Thursdays and Sundays.

When You Can Visit Santa
Nov 25 – Dec 24, 2023

• Thursday + Friday: 4:30 PM – 8PM
• Saturday: 11AM – 6PM
• Sunday: 12PM – 4PM

Downtown Kalamazoo Santa
No appointments are needed to visit Santa downtown
Downtown Kalamazoo Christmas
Santa’s Workshop welcomes families with festive decor
📷: Downtown Kalamazoo Santa

2 – Ride the Holly Jolly Trolley

Holiday shopping downtown is more fun with a free ride on the Holly Jolly Trolley.

The trolley will run through downtown Kalamazoo from November 30 through December 24, 2023 with bonus service days of November 24, 25 and and on December 31 for New Year’s Eve.

Route Schedule
The trolley runs on the top and bottom of the hour, starting at City Hall (241 W. South Street). The 20-25 minute service features eight trolley stops downtown.

When You Can Ride the Trolley
Nov 24 (5PM – 9PM)
Nov 25 (11AM – 8PM)
Dec 31 (12PM – 4PM)

Nov 30 – Dec 24, 2023 (Thursday – Sunday)
• Thursday + Friday: 5PM – 9PM
• Saturday: 11AM – 8PM
• Sunday: 12PM – 4PM

Catch a free ride on the Holly Jolly Trolley this holiday season
Downtown Kalamazoo Holly Jolly Trolley
The trolley gets dressed up for the holidays, both inside and out
Holly Jolly Trolley
📷: Downtown Kalamazoo Santa

3 – Buy Downtown Dollars as Gifts

Have someone who is hard to shop for? Downtown Dollars can be used in over 50 locations downtown and are good for five years.

Downtown Dollars is a local currency program that keeps spending within Downtown Kalamazoo: think of them like a gift certificate that you can use for all of the super cool places downtown.

Downtown Dollars can be used at downtown shops, salons, and restaurants, and can even be emailed to gift recipients.

Need store suggestions? We have plenty in the Kalamazoo Holiday Shopping Guide.

Downtown Dollars
Downtown Dollars can be printed or used directly from your phone

4 – Visit Gingerbread Wonderland

Downtown Kalamazoo Shops

Downtown Kalamazoo’s storefronts get decorated for the holidays too. See all of the festive decor as you are transported into a delicious, gingerbread getaway.

Pop City Popcorn Gingerbread Wonderland
📷: Pop City Popcorn‘s 2023 Window (artist: Amy L Geischen)

5 – Ooh and Ahh over the Twinkling Lights

Downtown Kalamazoo

Take advantage of early sunsets in the winter and schedule some of your holiday shopping after the skies darken and streets illuminate in sparkling lights.

6 – Stroll Down Candy Cane Lane in Bronson Park

Bronson Park
200 S Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

While you can’t eat these candy canes, they are a fantastic photo op for families each year.

Candy Cane Lane

7 – Indulge your Merry Taste Buds with a Monster Shake or Hot Chocolate

Cherri’s Chocol’art
101 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Known for its decadent chocolate, a seasonal Monster Shake from Cherri’s Chocol’art lives up to its name in both size and creativity.

Pictured is the Holly Jolly Monster Shake. This seasonal favorite includes vanilla ice cream, buttercream, frosting, sprinkles, whipped cream, peppermint bark, Christmas tree cake and cotton candy.

Prefer a warm beverage? Try their from-scratch hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.

📷: Cherri’s Chocol’art

8 – Score Nostalgic & Ultra Cool Toys at Uncle Buddy’s Toy Stash

Uncle Buddy’s Toy Stash
125 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Uncle Buddy’s Toy Stash is a must-see for toy enthusiasts of all ages: lava lamps, sock monkeys, Lite-Brites, Melissa & Doug toys, stuffies and more are all in one shop.

In a time when true toy stores are hard to find, Uncle Buddy’s delivers in spades. Find this cool shop on the mall downtown.

Uncle Buddys Toy Stash Kalamazoo Shopping
📷: Uncle Buddy’s Toy Stash

9 – Take a Photo with the Giant Santa

North Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

The big guy in statue form is definitely worthy of an annual photo; find him on the North Kalamazoo Mall.

10 – Shop Small Business Saturday

November 25, 2023 is Small Business Saturday in Downtown Kalamazoo and a fantastic time to visit your favorite shops.

And while the 25th is listed as the “official” day to shop local, Downtown Kalamazoo marks *every* Saturday in December as Small Business Saturdays as well.

Look for special promotions and in-store specials at your favorite, locally-owned stores.

Downtown Kalamazoo Mall

11 – Attend the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade

Bundle up and grab a seat for the 61st annual Holiday Parade in Kalamazoo. The Maple Hill Holiday Parade starts Saturday, November 18 at 11:00 AM.

12 – Turn the Lights On at Bronson Park at the Tree Lighting Ceremony

Bronson Park Tree Lighting Ceremony

Come see the City of Kalamazoo’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, November 24, 2023, in Bronson Park.

Festivities start at 5:00 PM, with the lighting of the park at approximately 6:00 PM.

Tree Lighting Bronson Park Kalamazoo

NEW for 2023: Free Parking Downtown

Starting November 24, public ramps will now offer 90 minutes of complimentary parking in downtown Kalamazoo.

After 90 minutes, fees are $1.75 for the first hour and $1 every half hour thereafter, ensuring a maximum fee of $10.

📷: Downtown Kalamazoo

Does your family have any downtown Kalamazoo holiday traditions?

Comment below and share your holiday fun!

About The Author

1 thought on “2023 Christmas Activities in Downtown Kalamazoo: Holly Jolly Trolley, Santa Visits, Holiday Parade, Photo Ops + Shopping”

Comments are closed.