DETROIT –Downtown Detroit is where the holiday season begins. To usher it in, the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) and DTE Energy Foundation are proud to present “Merry & Bright: 20 Years of Holiday Lights” in Detroit, a special Detroit Tree Lighting edition marking the 20th anniversary milestone of the opening of Campus Martius Park and the first tree lighting held in the award-winning park. For the first time this year, DDP will host a full weekend of free, festive activities and entertainment following the annual tree lighting to accommodate the growth and popularity of the event.
“This year marks a joyous milestone as we honor 20 years of Campus Martius Park, hand in hand with our community. Two decades ago, about 3,000 people came together for the first-ever Detroit Tree Lighting event in Campus Martius Park. Today, over 100,000 holiday enthusiasts join us in Downtown every year to officially kickoff the holiday season tradition in the best and most vibrant public square in the U.S.,” said Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. David Cowan, chief public spaces officer at the Downtown Detroit Partnership, continued, “Detroit’s Tree Lighting continues to captivate all who attend, spreading holiday cheer to families across the State of Michigan. Everyone is welcome for this unforgettable and festive evening, and to revisit throughout the winter season for ice skating, shopping, dining and exploring the city’s numerous free and family-friendly attractions.”
20th ANNUAL DETROIT TREE LIGHTING
Festivities for the 20th annual Detroit Tree Lighting at Campus Martius Park will take place from
4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. The public is invited to enjoy the live show from the MGM Grand Detroit Main Stage or throughout the area with big screens stationed in Campus Martius Park and Cadillac Square. The highlight of the evening will be the arrival of Santa as he lights the 64-foot Michigan-grown Norway spruce gracing the center of Detroit’s gathering place. Detroit’s Christmas Tree will be decked out with ornaments and illuminated by more than 25,000 shimmering LED multi-colored lights. This year’s tree comes from Kingsley, just south of Traverse City and east of Interlochen.
“The annual Detroit Tree Lighting has been a cherished community event for decades, and I’m thrilled to help flip the switch this year to kick off the holiday season. This evening is all about creating memories and traditions, and we are honored to support an event that brings families and friends together from around the region,” said Paula Silver, DTE senior vice president, Corporate Communications/DTE Foundation and Corporate Citizenship. “’Light Up Beacon Park’ offers an additional downtown destination with activities and a dazzling winter wonderland backdrop with picture-perfect holiday displays so everyone can celebrate the most wonderful time of year in the heart of Detroit.”
Live Skating Spectacular and Ice Show
The signature event will be marked by a stellar lineup of live entertainment on The Rink at Campus Martius Park presented by Visit Detroit, which includes performances by Nathan Chen, one of the biggest names in the world of men’s figure skating whose extraordinary talent has captivated audiences worldwide. With an impressive array of quadruple jumps and a graceful on-ice presence, he has redefined the boundaries of the sport. Chen took home the gold and silver medals at the 2022 Olympics, is a three-time World Champion and currently holds the world record score of 113.97 in an individual event, solidifying his status as a true icon in the world of figure skating.
Other U.S. national champion skaters to perform include Daniel Palmeri, a five-time championship masters junior-senior men’s champion at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships and the first Adult Championships competitor to perform three triple jumps in one program. He currently holds the record for the highest score ever achieved at the U.S. Adult Championships: 74.86 points, which he earned at the 2019 event. Anna Cobb, a professional figure skater and choreographer from Flint, Michigan, will add to the impressive list of talent. Recently, Cobb toured with Disney On Ice, dazzling crowds with her mesmerizing performance as Elsa from “Frozen.” Annabelle Wilkins, who is ranked third in the U.S. in the Intermediate level, and Brooklyn Wybo, who has received first place in many competitions this year, will skate to “Perfect Christmas” from the “Barbie” movie soundtrack, plus skaters from the following skating clubs across metro Detroit will show off their skills on ice: Arctic Figure Skating Club, Detroit Skating Club, Dream Detroit Skating Academy, Figure Skating Club of Birmingham, Figure Skating in Detroit, Fraser Figure Skating Club, Motown Ice Theater, New Edge Figure Skating Club and Onyx Suburban Skating Academy.
Musical Acts and Entertainment
Headlining the MGM Detroit Main Stage at Campus Martius Park will be award-winning, acclaimed American country singer and Flint, Michigan native Miko Marks. Known for her soulful voice and innovative blend of traditional country with elements of blues, folk and gospel, Marks was named an inductee to CMT’s “Next Women of Country” class of 2022. Her widely anticipated album, released in October 2022, “Feel Like Going Home,” landed on several year-end “best-of” lists, including Rolling Stone, NPR, Paper and Garden & Gun, among others. In March of 2023, she was included in the “American Currents: State of the Music” exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, which will be on display through February 2024.
The star-studded musical lineup also includes social media sensation and singer Paul Russell, whose viral hit song ‘Lil Boo Thang’ has garnered millions of views on TikTok and was eventually released as a single in August 2023 through Arista Records. Russell describes his sound as “cookout music” and, today, he has over 150,000 followers on Instagram and 330,000 on TikTok.
Other performances of note include Detroit natives Drey Skonie, Corrin Barnett and the gospel duo Tasha Page-Lockhart & Clifton Lockhart. Isis Damil and John Paul Wallace will perform a festive duet, Ballinger Entertainment dancers present a hip hop Nutcracker, while the Archdiocese of Detroit choir with Rooted conducted by Dr. William S. Harrison, Sr. rounds out the entertainment. Returning to serve as the “house band” for the evening The Redhouse Band, featuring six of the Detroit area’s most outstanding musicians under the direction of Darell “Red” Campbell Jr., a renowned musician, songwriter, producer and teacher who’s working with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Youth Ensembles for the eighth season.
WXYZ-TV Channel 7 will once again serve as the official broadcast partner of the annual Detroit Tree Lighting ceremony, broadcasting complete coverage during a one-hour live special, “Light Up the Season,” beginning at 7 p.m.
Those planning to attend the 20th annual Detroit Tree Lighting are encouraged to arrive early to experience amazing lighting attractions totaling more than a million lights across the downtown, festive activities, holiday shopping and so much more, including:
Downtown Detroit Markets at Cadillac Square
The DDP is proud to provide economic opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Detroit and committed to showcasing their diverse concepts by giving them space in its parks and public spaces for exposure, as well as creating programs, events and activities that drive foot traffic to the area. The Downtown Detroit Markets is one of those programs where residents, visitors and out-of-town travelers can celebrate the season in the city through a multitude of engaging activities and experiences, and dining and shopping at Downtown Detroit Markets at Cadillac Square beginning Nov. 9, 2023, through Jan. 1, 2024.
This season, The Iconic Collection will once again operate Cadillac Lodge, a cozy, family-friendly space right next to the Downtown Detroit Markets that will serve an assortment of tasty treats and festive drinks for everyone to enjoy. In the comfort and style of a ski lodge setting, the Lodge offers a warm and welcoming place to sit and sip cocktails, hot cocoa and more.
An assortment of food and beverages will be available from food trucks, offering a variety of cuisines for hungry visitors to grab-and-go during the Detroit Tree Lighting. It’s also a great way to support some of Detroit’s finest small business owners and entrepreneurs in addition to trying some new, tasty delights. The list includes Clara’s Place, For the Love of Sugar, Impasto, Little Bros Burgers, Los Dos Amigo Tacos, Max Chicago Style Italian Beef, Original Seafood Truck, Rolling Stone Woodfire Pizza, Shredderz, Smoke Ring, The Lobster Truck and Unity Catering.
Dining Options Downtown
Downtown Detroit is home to an impressive number of award-winning dining options, from casual to fine dining and everything in between, including the award-winning Parc at Campus Martius Park and Lumen at Beacon Park. The Detroit Tree Lighting is one of the busiest nights of the season, so attendees are encouraged to make reservations early and support local restaurants.
In addition to taking photos with Santa, Detroit Tree Lighting attendees may also spot Detroit Lions’ mascot Rory and Detroit Pistons’ mascot Hooper, who will be roaming about.
New this year, “Winter Sponsor-land” will feature some of your favorite businesses with giveaways including hot cocoa, swag and other special surprises.
OPENING WEEKEND CELEBRATION – THE RINK AT CAMPUS MARTIUS PARK PRESENTED BY VISIT DETROIT – NOV. 18 & 19
The Rink at Campus Martius Park presented by Visit Detroit will open for the 2023-2024 season on Saturday, Nov. 18, kicking off a celebration that will feature guest appearances on ice and special offerings all weekend long. Saturday’s Santa Skate Party from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. offers fun for the whole family. Children can write letters to Santa and skate to everyone’s favorite sounds of the holiday season with DJ Invisible. In the evening from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., skaters are encouraged to show up dressed for an Ugly Holiday Sweater Party hosted by Joey Namou of Woodward Sports Network and Wana Brands. There, they can enjoy time on The Rink with merry beats from DJ Chris Hesano. Then on Sunday, Nov. 19, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., skaters can take photos with Elsa and Olaf and “let it go” with a Frozen Skate Party featuring the cast from Disney’s “Frozen” where a few lucky skaters can win tickets to Broadway in Detroit Winter Season shows.
Michigan’s premier family-friendly outdoor ice rink right in the heart of Downtown offers one of the most picturesque and iconic skating experiences in the country. It continues to be a top destination for the entire region, because nothing says holidays in Downtown Detroit quite like a spin around The Rink with Detroit’s Christmas Tree providing a beautiful backdrop.
The Rink at Campus Martius Park presented by Visit Detroit will be open seven days a week, including holidays, through March 3, 2024. Walk-up rink tickets will be available at Campus Martius Park with more info and pricing information to be found online at DowntownDetroit.org.
ADDITIONAL HOLIDAY OFFERINGS
Guests can experience the magic of Downtown Detroit like never before – from inside an enchanting horse-drawn carriage. Carriage rides take passengers on a journey through the bustling city and around Campus Martius Park 6 p.m. -11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday beginning Nov. 18 through Dec. 30 and also New Year’s Eve. With the dramatic backdrop of the city’s iconic skyline and Detroit’s Christmas Tree, these charming tours are a wonderful way to embrace the holiday spirit all snuggled up with friends and family or hand-in-hand with a sweetheart.
Events to celebrate the lighting of a Menorah and Kinara also will be held to add to Downtown Detroit’s holiday landscape. Details for both will be shared at a later date.
Holiday festivities run through Dec. 31, and bring winter fun and inclusivity to the broader Downtown Detroit community, promoting connectivity between the parks and creating warm, inviting spaces all season long.
LIGHT UP BEACON PARK + DETROIT CHILDREN’S TREE
Blocks away from Campus Martius Park, another holiday celebration will take place on Friday, Nov. 17, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., when Beacon Park kicks off the holiday season with “Light Up Beacon Park” and unveils the transformation of the park into a winter wonderland.
From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., families can watch the 20-foot, Michigan-grown Detroit Children’s Tree come to life with ornaments decorated by local children during the tree lighting at 6 p.m. They can visit with Santa, see live reindeer, enjoy live musical entertainment, food truck offerings and the “Polar Express” ride-on train will provide free rides to kids and families. A full list of activities at Beacon Park will be available at DTEBeaconPark.com.
Beacon Park’s stunning “Northern Lights” theme, on display through Jan. 16, 2024, will feature larger-than-life, custom-fabricated light installations. From a three-dimensional Infinity snow globe that stands 15-feet-tall to a walkthrough snowflake and skating and sledding polar bears, Beacon Park will sparkle with over 125,000 holiday lights. All lighting designs featured in Beacon Park are 95 percent recyclable and use LED lights, which produce less electricity.
Click here to view and download the 2023 Winter Brochure: https://downtowndetroit.org/wp-content/uploads/2023-Winter-In-The-Parks-Brochure.pdf
The Downtown Detroit Partnership is a privately funded non-profit organization that greatly benefits from the support of its lead sponsors DTE Foundation, DTE Beacon Park Foundation, Rocket Companies and Visit Detroit, as well as the following additional sponsors: Autoliv, Bally Sports Detroit, Broadway in Detroit, Budweiser, Capital One Café, Cronus Communications, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Disney, EY, Fabiano Brothers, Faygo, GM, Honigman, Kroger, McDonalds, MGM Grand Detroit, Michigan.com, Michigan Humane, Michigan Lottery, One Magnify, Premier Pet Supply, Strategic Staffing Solutions, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Trent Creative, Wana Brands and WXYZ Detroit.
About the Downtown Detroit Partnership
Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) strengthens and supports Downtown Detroit through strategic initiatives and programs. DDP convenes business, philanthropic and government partners to create a vibrant and resilient urban core for Detroit and the surrounding community. DDP is responsible for programming, managing and operating several of Downtown Detroit’s parks and public spaces. For more information, visit DowntownDetroit.org.
About the DTE Energy Foundation
The DTE Foundation is the philanthropic arm of DTE Energy, continuing the legacy of community support and involvement of its electric and natural gas utilities, which serve 2.3 million electric customers in Southeast Michigan and 1.3 million natural gas customers in Michigan. In 2021, the DTE Energy Foundation provided more than $18.9 million in grant support where the company has a business presence with a focus on driving positive, meaningful change on three key areas: jobs, equity and the environment. As one of Michigan’s leading corporate citizens, DTE aspires not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world, serving as a force for growth and prosperity in the communities across Michigan. Visit DTEFoundation.com to learn more.
About Beacon Park
Beacon Park, located at Grand River and Cass Avenue, was developed by DTE Energy as both a programmed public space and a catalyst for growth in west central downtown Detroit. The park is an environmentally conscious public space and hosts hundreds of events annually, from live music and art installations to family fun days and fitness boot camps. Programming for the park is underwritten by the DTE Beacon Park Foundation. Visit DTEBeaconPark.com for more information and a full list of events.