Over the last few years, Traverse City has become one of Michigan’s most popular holiday shopping destinations. That’s partly because of the wide range of boutiques, galleries and shops scattered around the Grand Traverse area – but also thanks to the many community shopping festivals and events that enrich the “Up North” holiday gifting experience with small-town charm and tradition.

This isn't simply an invitation to indulge in retail excess. These special events do, however, offer a rare glimpse into the hearts of our communities and the ideals that inspire the people who live and work in them – whether it’s the carolers who gather in the streets of Suttons Bay to serenade Christmas shoppers or the downtown Traverse City merchants who donate 15 percent of their pre-holiday sales to local charities.

(And heck, they’re also fun – even for those of us who aren’t particularly good at shopping!)

Downtown Holiday

Here are just a few of them:

Nov 25:  Glen Arbor and Leland PJ Party Sale 5-7 am and 8-10 am

A fun event in two Leelanau Peninsula villages, where shoppers get the best deals if they come in their pajamas!

Tree Lighting

Dec. 2: Santa’s Arrival, Tree Lighting & Holiday Open House 

This little throwback to the good old days starts with caroling at the corner of Cass & Front Street, followed by the arrival of Santa Claus, the lighting of the downtown Traverse City Christmas tree, and lots of shopping with sales, specials and prizes at participating stores.

Dec. 2-4: Suttons Bay’s Holiday in the Village 

A three-day weekend of holiday events in Suttons Bay, starting Friday evening with a Holiday Stroll down luminaria-lined streets with refreshments and hors d'oeuvres. Local wines will be available to sample at select locations. There will be restaurant specials as well as over 50 decorated trees and street carolers.

Dec. 3 Bellaire’s Light Up the Night

A day filled with holiday events, including a free kid’s movie, ornament making, the annual “Soup Cook-Off,” a visit with Santa, the Parade of Lights and Tree Lighting, community caroling and a live Nativity. This is truly a family friendly event!

Dec. 8: Ladies’ Night in Downtown Traverse City 

Extended store hours for the ladies to shop! Participating businesses offer food and refreshments from 5 to 9 pm. And hey, you can even enter a drawing to win prizes!

Commons Carriage

Dec. 9-12: Christmas at the Village

A three-day celebration in the shops and galleries of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, on the site of Traverse City’s former asylum, culminating with the annual Santa Lucia Day celebration on Sunday afternoon. 

Dec. 10: Leland’s Holiday Open House 10 am-5 pm 

A shopping celebration throughout the village of Leland, complete with refreshments, gifts and sales at local merchants, and a Christmas Card Workshop event.

Men's Night

Dec. 15: Men’s Night in Downtown Traverse City 

An evening of shopping designated just for men! Enjoy food, refreshments and specials while you shop the night away finishing up those last minute holiday gifts.