Light up your holidays in Downtown Kalamazoo
Light up your holidays in Downtown Kalamazoo with a festive slate of free events scheduled all season long. The downtown holiday season features Santa’s Workshop, Small Business Saturday, the Holly Jolly Trolley, Moonlight Madness, and more!
Fun for the family
Join in on this annual event scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, November 24 in Bronson Park. Help light up Bronson Park and kick off the holiday season! Festivities include live music, crafts, hot chocolate, visits with Santa, reindeer, and other holiday fun. The Tree Lighting Ceremony is always free and everyone is welcome to join the fun.
Experience the enchantment of Moonlight Madness in Downtown Kalamazoo on December 15th! Join us for a captivating late-night shopping adventure where the streets come alive with festive lights and holiday cheer. After indulging in a delicious dinner, take a stroll through the illuminated streets, basking in the warmth of the season. Savor a comforting warm beverage as you explore the charming shops, each offering enticing specials and delightful surprises. With the shops staying open until eleven and possibly even later, it’s the perfect opportunity to find unique gifts and revel in the holiday spirit. Don’t miss this magical evening of community, shopping, and seasonal joy!’
Santa’s Workshop, will open Saturday, November 25 in the City Centre building just beyond the City Centre Deli (in the former Bronson Health Club, enter from Farmer’s Alley or the Kalamazoo Mall). This magical place filled with little animated elves and twinkling lights is sure to delight all ages!
Thanks to the support of our sponsors and supporters, Santa will see visitors from near and far on Thursdays and Fridays from 4:30 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m. Santa’s Workshop will be open Saturday, November 25 but will be closed Sunday, November 26. Regular hours will start on Thursday, November 30.
In the spirit of ensuring Santa reflects the vibrant diversity of our community, Santa’s Workshop welcomes Black Santa every Thursday and Sunday.
Special activities are featured along with decorating shopping bags, writing letters to Santa, and of course, visiting as long as you want with Santa. The Workshop is a perfect space for families to attend with no rush to leave within the stated hours.
Other activities surround the Santa’s Workshop experience including the Holly Jolly Trolley, featured by Drive and Shine, and many other great retail events hosted by Downtown Kalamazoo Shops.
The Workshop, originally called Santa’s Village was started at The Gilmore Department Store, and still today some of the trees and decorations are part of the displays. The Sleigh and Tin Soldiers are also part of the allure and tradition that makes this place a special holiday tradition. The animated elves were created by David Hamberger and are around 30 years old. Not all of the elves are still working, but some are and they offer a bit of nostalgia for families that have made Santa’s Workshop their tradition over the years.
Getting around downtown
Thanks to the support of Drive and Shine together with Discover Kalamazoo and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the wonderful tradition of riding the trolley will continue again in 2023. The trolley service is free and runs at the top and bottom of the hour, starting at City Hall (241 W. South Street). The trolley follows and 20-25 minute service featuring 8 trolley stops where people can get on and off enjoying the service as a way to explore downtown.
The trolley will run starting November 30 through December 24: Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m.
Special hours include November 24 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., November 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 8 p.m., and December 31 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. All trolley rides are free. The trolley service starts and finishes at City Hall, 241 W. South Street.
The trolley route follows a route that is based on the following stops. The actual map is available upon request and at the following locations:
- City Hall – 241 South Street, sponsored by Drive & Shine
- Main Mall – Kalamazoo Mall – 202 S. Kalamazoo Mall – sponsored by City Centre Deli
- Epic Center (across from) – 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall -sponsored by Discover Kalamazoo
- Bates Alley – 120 Portage Street
- District 211 Building– 211 E Water Street-sponsored by Mercantile Bank
- Radisson Hotel intersection – 200 N Kalamazoo Mall
- Kalamazoo Valley Museum – 230 N. Rose Street -sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum
- Parks Trade Center – 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave – sponsored by PlazaCorp
Support local businesses this holiday season
Join the nationwide movement to shop local on Small Business Saturday – November 25. And for Downtown Kalamazoo, Small Business Saturday doesn’t end on November 25 – every Saturday in December is “Small Business Saturday.” That means even more chances to snag the perfect holiday gift – all while supporting local.