5 festive ways to engage with Detroit for a more magical season

Mint Artist Guild and Hudson's Holidays at the Detroit Historical Museum

A self-portrait by Alexis Bagley.Through education, enrichment and opportunity, the Mint Artist Guild helps Detroit youth to grow their artistic talents and pursue creative careers while contributing to local communities. Since 2016, the guild has gifted many original paintings and art pieces to beautify the walls of nonprofits across the city. Now, for the first time, Mint artists are showcasing their artwork at a Detroit museum. 

The Paint with Generosity exhibit features work from fifteen artists ages 14 to 22 who participated in Mint’s Summer Jobs program this year. In addition to the 25 Paint Detroit with Generosity paintings, all artists will have their self-portraits on display. The exhibit also provides an opportunity for guests to recommend a favorite local nonprofit to receive a Mint painting. 

The exhibit is on display now through Jan. 2. Learn more about Mint's journey here

Hudson’s Holidays

The Detroit Historical Museum is bringing back the excitement of Detroit’s most iconic department store. Hudson’s Holidays features pop-up exhibitions throughout the museum showcasing vintage toys, fashions, decor and building artifacts. Come and learn what made visiting the 25-story establishment an unforgettable experience for generations of Detroiters.

Free Sundays in December 1-5 p.m. include self-guided Hudson history hunts, drop-in guided tour, live DJ performance, take-home Hudson's recipe cards, refreshments in The Streets of Old Detroit sponsored by Germack, and free gift wrapping in the museum shop. 

A “Detroiter” membership is available at no cost to residents of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. The museum is currently open Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Visit The Detroit Historical Museum to plan your visit.

Swinging Bells at Beacon Park

A free interactive light installation in Downtown Detroit welcomes families to swing by and experience the motion, music, and colorful glow of five extraordinary bells. Guests will enjoy playing on the brilliant larger-than-life display and activating each bell’s unique song. While visiting the park of 125,000 LED lights, don’t forget to check out the Children’s Tree, and make a reservation for refreshments in a heated chalet at nearby Lumen Detroit. 

Australian-based art studio Amigo & Amigo created the holiday “Swinging Bells” installation with a goal to bring communities together and to highlight the importance of being “playful, engaging and inclusive.”

Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Curated and programmed by the Downtown Detroit Partnership and Sponsored by the DTE Beacon Park Foundation.
Beacon Park is located at 1903 Grand River Ave, Detroit.

Detroit Youth Choir: A Holiday with You 

From second place on America's Got Talent to a 2021 Stellar Award (Gospel Music Awards) for ‘best youth program,’there’s just no stopping the Detroit Youth Choir (DYC).

The choir recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. If you haven’t seen their 2020 performance of “Glory,” John Legend and Common’s Oscar Award-winning song, performed in Detroit at the height of the pandemic and amid racial reckoning, pause right now and go watch it. These young people have a lot to say.

This month, DYC will be hosting their Holiday Concert for the first time since 2019, and will be joined by NBC’s The Voice star Zania Alake’ for the two-night extravaganza. Saturday’s performance will also be the organization’s first live recording concert. From favorite holiday classics to joyful Christmas hymns, this is your time to hit pause and take in the wonder. 

Friday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 18 at 6 p.m., doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets $25

Aired Out Quilts Exhibition Grand Opening and Art Gallery Fundraiser

A quilt for Dwan Dandridge, by April Anue Shipp.Step away from the hustle and bustle of the season to support local arts and celebrate stories of individuals who help make up the fabric of this city.  Live Coal Gallery presents “Aired Out Quilts,” inspired by the oral histories of eight Detroiters and one Highland Park resident “who have lived in neighborhoods that are distinct, in transition, enduring, or on the edge of abandonment.”

From these stories, two local quilters created nine contemporary freedom quilts that were “aired out” and hung at homes in these neighborhoods to “serve as roadmaps to Detroit’s future.” The Exhibition and gallery fundraiser includes the display of all nine quilts, artwork for sale, a silent auction, the Live Coal Arts Mobile’s Lego Mosaic Quilts exhibit, an open gift shop and live music. Following this exhibition, the project, funded by the Knight Foundation and the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, will culminate in a documentary film and a printed book. 

Live Coal's mission is to transform lives and neighborhoods through art, community development and education. Their four initiatives include the Live Coal Collective, the Live Coal Arts Mobile, The RED, and Detroit rePatched. 
December 16, 3-9 p.m., with special programming at 6 p.m. 

The RED is located inside the Andy Art Center at 3000 Fenkell Street, Detroit.
View the trailer for the project here.

Winter at Valade Park - Holly Jolly Riverfront

A festive outdoor weekend with something for the whole family? Here’s your stop. The Holly Jolly Riverfront at Valade Park will feature live music and carolers, free photo-ops with Santa, wreath making, ice sculptures, and a kids’ dance party. 

This holiday weekend extravaganza will be held Dec. 10-12, but Valade Park is your go-to riverfront hang for the season. From large outdoor fires, marshmallow roasters, and seasonal drinks, to synthetic curling, sledding (free sleds available when it snows), and free programming, it’s the perfect spot to spend an afternoon or evening.  

Geisha Girls Sushi and Smokey G’s Smokehouse are open at the park Wednesday through Sunday, 12-8 p.m.

See the full Holly Jolly Riverfront schedule here

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Read more articles by Sarah Williams.

Sarah Williams is a freelance writer and photojournalist based in metro Detroit. Her work focuses on individuals and nonprofit organizations investing in their communities through arts and culture, holistic healthcare, education and neighborhood revitalization. Follow her on Instagram @sarahwilliamstoryteller