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:
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
Radisson Plaza Hotel
100 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Santa and his workshop are back in the Radisson Plaza Hotel in 2022.
Santa will be ready for visitors starting November 26, 2022. No appointments are necessary.
Kids who visit Santa’s Workshop will receive the following during their FREE visit:
• Photo with Santa
• Santa letter kit
• Holiday craft 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 26 – Dec 24, 2022
• Thursday + Friday: 4PM – 8PM
• Saturday: 11AM – 6PM
• Sunday: 12PM – 4PM
2 – Ride the Holly Jolly Trolley
Holiday shopping downtown is more fun with a ride on the Holly Jolly Trolley.
The trolley will run through downtown Kalamazoo from November 25 through December 24, 2022 and and on December 31 for New Year’s Eve.
Trolley Stops (with sponsors)
1. City Hall
2. Kalamazoo Mall (Discover Kalamazoo)
3. S. Kalamazoo Mall (Irving S. Gilmore)
4. Bates Alley (Consumers Energy)
5. E. Michigan Ave (Bimbo’s Pizza)
6. Water street by Beer Exchange (Mercantile)
7. Radisson Hotel – sponsored by Santa’s Workshop
8. Museum – sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum
9. Kalamazoo Avenue
When You Can Ride the Trolley
Nov 25-27, 2022
Dec 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-24, 31, 2022
• Thursday + Friday: 5PM – 9PM
• Saturday: 11AM – 8PM
• Sunday: 12PM – 4PM
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 50+ downtown shops, salons, and restaurants, and can even be emailed to gift recipients.
Need store suggestions? We have plenty in the Kalamazoo Shopping Guide.
4 – See the Decorated Shop Windows
Downtown Kalamazoo’s storefronts get decorated for the holidays too.
While there is no official contest in 2022, many businesses will still have their windows painted for the season.
5 – Ooh and Ahh over the Twinkling Lights
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.
7 – Indulge your Merry Taste Buds with a Monster Shake or Hot Chocolate
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 2021’s seasonal Monster shake with 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.
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.
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 26, 2022 is Small Business Saturday in Downtown Kalamazoo and a fantastic time to visit your favorite shops.
And while the 26th 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.
11 – Attend the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade
Bundle up and grab a seat for the 60th annual Holiday Parade in Kalamazoo. The Maple Hill Holiday Parade starts Saturday, November 19 at 11:00 AM.
12 – Turn the Lights On at Bronson Park at the Tree Lighting Ceremony
Come see the City of Kalamazoo’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, November 25, 2022, in Bronson Park.
Festivities start at 5:00 PM, with the lighting of the park at approximately 6:00 PM.
Where to Park in Downtown Kalamazoo
Don’t let parking downtown dissuade you from enjoying the festivities!
With more than 400 free 90-minute on-street parking spaces, paid parking garages and lots, Downtown Kalamazoo has ample space for your car.
On-street metered spots are also available, ranging from $1.75/hour to $3/day, and are FREE after 5:00 PM on weekdays, all day Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.
Does your family have any downtown Kalamazoo holiday traditions?
Comment below and share your holiday fun!