Holiday light tours enthrall everyone from the youngest to the oldest merrymaker. Detroit is aglow this 2009 holiday season. Don’t miss these holiday light displays: Wayne County Lightfest; The Big, Bright Light Show; and Livonia Lights. Each of these holiday light venues can be viewed from the comfort of your vehicle – and they are all either free or inexpensive, making them budget-friendly entertainment as well.
Wayne County Lightfest
Nov. 19 to Dec. 31
Closed Christmas Day
Open daily, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Imagine four and a half miles of road decorated with huge animated holiday displays and lit by almost a million lights and you have the Wayne County Lightfest. Lightfest is the largest holiday light display in the Midwest. To begin your holiday light drive, turn onto Hines Drive from Merriman, which is two and a half miles south of I-96 in Westland. The drive is open from Nov. 19 to Dec. 31, and closed on Christmas Day. Beginning at 5:15 p.m., Hines Drive is closed to through traffic, so you and other visitors can enjoy uninterrupted viewing of the lights, which are turned on at 7 p.m. and remain on until 10 p.m. A donation of $5 per vehicle is requested to defray the cost of the Lightfest display. Grand Haven resident Rose Perrier, mother of four, says, “We’ve hunted down lots of light displays, but this is the first year for Lightfest. It’s worth the drive to Westland to see this one.”
The Big, Bright Light Show in Downtown Rochester
Nov. 30 to Jan. 3
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (for most stores)
Downtown Rochester, 27 miles north of metro Detroit, is the meeting place for folksy and funky. Trendy coffee bars housed in historic buildings rub shoulders with long-established merchants. For this light show, they are all covered – from sidewalk to roof – with single-color lights. Next door to a neon-blue bakery, a hair salon gleams hot pink, followed by the bank decked out in royal purple. Rochester looks like a life-sized Candyland game. Literally every inch of every building on the main street is lit, from the south bridge to Romeo Road. Besides the downtown merchants’ holiday lights, you’ll find the Snowflake Spectacular on Water Street and the magnificent Tree of Lights at Depot Station. About The Big, Bright Light Show, Perrier adds, “While we’re over in the Detroit area, I don’t want the kids to miss seeing this one. Where else can you find such reasonable holiday entertainment for the whole family?”
Dec. 1 to Dec. 31
Sunday through Thursday, 5:15 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5:15 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, 5:15 p.m. to midnight
The Howse family has created a special Christmas gift at 34836 Bridge St. in Livonia for the people of Michigan who are struggling in a weak economy: a 25,000-light animated holiday display set to the music of 88.5 FM. Celebrate the joy of the nativity with this Christmas event. Cars may view the huge display of lights as they “dance” to the rhythm of the music. The lights remain lit until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until midnight on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. By tuning your vehicle’s radio to 88.5 FM, you can enjoy this musical light spectacular. Lauren Strabbing Mitchell, another mother of four, takes her family to see Livonia Lights every year. “It’s really great that this family puts on such a beautiful holiday lights display. The children can’t wait to see the Livonia Lights each year. It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without them.”
Load up the kids, grandparents and the rest of the family; fill every seat in your vehicle; bring a thermos of hot cocoa and some cozy blankets; and get ready for an evening of enchantment while visiting these three must-see holiday light venues.