The 7 Best Christmas Lights Detroit, Michigan

Big Bright Light Show in Rochester, Michigan

The holiday season is here, and one of my favorite holiday traditions is to see the colorful Christmas lights around town. Over the years, I have made a point to find the best Christmas light displays wherever I am staying, and in my hometown area, these are my favorites. Here are the best Christmas lights: Detroit, Michigan.

Big Bright Light Show in Rochester, Michigan

Where are the best Christmas Light Displays in Detroit?

Big, Bright Light Show – Rochester

Big Bright Light Show Display in Rochester

My favorite holiday Christmas Light Display is in Rochester, Michigan. The Big, Bright Light Show has a whopping 1.5 million colorful lights decorating every building on Main Street, making this one of the largest Christmas Light displays in Michigan. This small town makes the holidays merry for everyone who visits every year. It takes over a month to get every downtown Main Street building facade covered before the kick-off of the holiday season the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Frozen - Home Bakery Window Display

If you were wondering where the idea for this huge sparking light display came from, it was created using the previous Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a reference. And if the lights weren’t enough, you have to check out the holiday window displays. The stores go all out, creating magnificent window displays. Every year, the Home Bakery tends to win the Window Display contest, and it is no wonder they spend hundreds of hours making their masterpiece.

Beauty and the Beast - Home Bakery Window Display

Things to note when driving through downtown Rochester at night; traffic is heavy during the light show. Make sure to bring your patience when viewing the colorful lights.

Meadow Brook Winter Wonder Lights – Rochester Hills

Meadow Brook Hall

Meadowbrook Hall, a National Historic Landmark, is opening its gardens to the public to enjoy Winter Wonder Lights. Winter Wonder Lights is running nightly from November 24th through December 30th. This experience includes a self-guided outdoor event featuring colorful light and sound displays that the entire family will enjoy. There will also be opportunities to purchase glow-in-the-dark cotton candy, specialty drinks, and hot meals in the outdoor Chimney Tops Café. The Winter Wonder Lights experience tickets must be purchased in advance and include touring a portion of the house. I can’t wait to see this holiday display.

Pine Knob’s Magic of Lights – Clarkston

Pine Knob Magic of Lights

The Magic of Lights is a dazzling 1.5-mile route with over 2 million lights through Pine Knob’s parking lot. The light display route winds around many of your favorite holiday themes, including the Twelve Days of Christmas, Winter Wonderland, and the Night Before Christmas. There are even some modern displays of a Santa enjoying a holiday on a beach and the always present light tunnel.

The Magic of Lights is a short concentration of lights that will only take approximately 30 minutes. But in that short half-hour, expect much laughter, trying to remember the twelve days of Christmas song and reconnecting with your family and friends in the car ride while enjoying the colorful and glistening lights.

Deer at Pine Knob Magic of Lights

Things to note: Traffic is heavy on the weekends. The entrance is at 33 Bob Seger Drive at Pine Knob in Clarkston. The light show runs from November 17th to December 30th, daily from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday to Thursday, and stays open until 11 p.m. on the weekends. The advance ticket cost to enter the holiday light display varies whether you get a weekday pass or any day pass, but prices average $17.50 online and $25 at the gate. The price is per car, not per person, so pack up the car with the whole family to enjoy this spectacular Christmas Light display.

Glenlore Trails – Commerce Township

GlenLore Trails in Commerce Township

GlenLore Trails is a lesser-known light display that you must experience. Located in Commerce Township, GlenLore Trails is a 1-mile immersive night walk through an illuminated forest. Opened every Thursday to Sunday evening, your family can walk through a spectacular aurora display of lights and sounds, including dancers, musicians, and specialized concessions. You might want to keep returning as they continually update the one-hour interactive experience all year long. GlenLore Trails is at 3860 Newton Road.

Colorful Trees at GlenLore Trails

Campus Martius Park – Detroit

Christmas Tree at Campus Martius Park – Detroit
Photo Credit: Mike Mazurek

You can find Campus Martius Park at the heart of the city of Detroit. Bring the family to view the colorfully lit 65-foot-tall Norway Spruce this holiday. The Christmas Tree lighting ceremony happens on Nov. 17th at 7 p.m. And while you are downtown, take a spin on the skating rink or ride in the horse-drawn carriages to have a bigger holiday experience. While skating on the rink with the dramatic Detroit skyline and Christmas tree in the background, you might be surprised to share the rink with some amazing athletes. The world’s best Olympic and US champion athletes perform and skate here annually. You could encounter gold-medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White and US champions Mirai Nagasu, Ashley Wagner, Jeremy Abbott, and Karen Chen. Wouldn’t that make a fantastic holiday memory?!

Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights – Royal Oak

Detroit Zoo's Wild Lights

The Detroit Zoo is a fantastic place to see Christmas lights in Detroit. The Wild Lights offers a magical display of lights and sounds that the whole family will enjoy. The Wild Lights adventure starts after the Zoo closes on select weeknights and the weekends starting November 24th from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; until January 7th. On Fridays and Saturdays, it stays open until 10:30 p.m. It takes approximately an hour to complete the Wild Lights loop, which is only in the front half of the zoo, but they have added an Enchanted Forest trail for this year.

Detroit Zoo's Wild Lights

Wild Lights has five million lights covering buildings, trees, and over 280 amazing animal sculptures. When you walk into the zoo, the first light display you see is the Butterfly Garden. The bright, colorful butterflies are scattered around the garden with their wings fluttering. You might even see a few flying in the trees.

Detroit Zoo's Wild Lights Butterfly Garden

As you head to the zoo’s central area, more trees will be decoratively lit, and you will start to see animal sculptures based on areas of the zoo. You will see animal groupings such as reptiles, rhinos, camels, elephants, polar bears, flamingos, camels, and woodland creatures. The last animals grouped in the loop are the underwater animals. Besides the animal sculptures, there are timed musical areas with sticks that change color to the music and even musical trees further in the zoo. Note: There will be no access to see animals during the event.

Lion at Detroit Zoo's Wild Lights

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo is a marvelous family fun-filled evening out with Christmas tunes, animal sculptures lit up, cozy places to stop in and warm up with a snack, and more Christmas lights than you know where to look. Come and see the explosion of colors while singing your favorite holiday songs, all at the magical Wild Lights!

Wayne County Lightfest

Wayne County Lightfest

The Wayne County Lightfest is the longest light display in Michigan, celebrating its 30th year in 2023. During a four-mile stretch through Hines Park, you can drive through 50 animated Christmas and Holiday displays showcasing over 100,000 lights. If you want to capture the magic, have video capability turned on your phone as you drive past the ringing bells, moving trains, and elves moving packages.

Castle at Wayne County Lightfest

Things to know before you go: Before you enter Lightfest, you will be in two lanes of traffic in which there are small light displays on both sides of the road. Once you go through the entrance, it will combine into one. You are not supposed to stop or pull over to take photos of the display. Make sure to keep your car moving. Don’t be the one who doesn’t follow the rules and gets out to take a selfie in front of the castle.

Time Tunnel at Wayne County Lightfest

The entrance to the light display is at 7651 N. Merriman Rd., between Ann Arbor Trail and Warren Ave in Westland. The light show turns on Wednesday through Sunday, starting November 16th from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. until December 24th. The cost to enter the light display on Hines Drive is $5 Cash. It takes about an hour and a half to get through the Midwest’s largest drive-through Christmas light trail.


Heather at Big, Bright Light Show

With all the hectic busyness of the holidays, taking the time to slow down and appreciate the simpler things by enjoying Christmas light displays is something you and your entire family can do. Some might like to drive around neighborhoods and admire the Clark Griswold creativity on display; however, I love seeing the larger Christmas light displays around Detroit. Have you been to any of these? Which ones are your favorite?

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Further Reading

If you are traveling for the holidays, check out these posts for extra travel inspiration:

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