Here’s the first rule of Noel Night: There’s no way you can see it all. There is just too much to this annual Detroit tradition for an individual to take in during this singular night.

And that’s OK, says Annmarie Borucki, Special Projects Manager for Midtown Detroit, Inc. It just means that to have a great Noel Night experience you must 1) Arrive early, 2) Plan ahead and 3) Just come on over to Midtown and have too much free fun.

The 42nd annual Noel Night will take place from 5-10 p.m. Saturday in Detroit’s Midtown District. During this Cultural Center-wide holiday open house, activities range from horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday shopping, family craft activities and performances by more 200 area music, theatre and dance groups.

Yes, it’s overwhelming. And that’s a good thing. It’s a sign of a healthy city. It’s a sign that people are investing in Detroit’s core districts. And it means everyone … city or suburban … will be mixing it up and having a good time together.

“There’s no way you can see it all. There’s so much going on that if you tried to hit every venue, you would just go nuts,” Borucki said. “We’re constantly updating the schedule, and there’s more than 70 venues participating, from museums to galleries to churches to restaurants. We encourage people to figure out what you want to do and set up your own schedule.”

Got kids? Bring ‘em. They can meet nearly a dozen Santas and do a ton of make-and-take activities. Got dancers? Bring ‘em. They can see an itinerary just made up of dance performances. Got a music lover? Yup, they’re in good shape and then some. There are all types of musical acts – some that are new to Noel Night and some that are regulars, such as Thornetta Davis.

“If you haven’t seen Thornetta, you can’t call yourself a Detroiter,” Borucki said.

Detroiter pride also comes from participating in the evening’s community sing-along on Woodward Avenue led by the Salvation Army Band. This event ends the night and is a long-standing Noel Night tradition not to be missed, Borucki said.


So, here are some highlights and everything else you need to know about Noel Night. But remember: Dress warm. Arrive early. Watch out for road construction and the Wayne State University graduation traffic. Plan ahead for what you want to see. And spread the love for Midtown far and wide.

  • Hipster favorites The Wild Feathers will perform at the Motor City Brewing Work’s Warehouse at 441 W. Canfield at 6:15. The Nashville-based group is known for their organic rock-and-roll sounds, warm melodies and Southern hospitality.
  • Looking for something more radical? Try Rev. Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir. This performance-arts group is from New York City. They preach an anti-consumerist gospel, so be ready for some noise. They are at the Garden Theater at 3929 Woodward at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
  • Want some holiday music? The Good Lovelies bring a bit of folk to holiday standards at the Detroit Institute of Arts Lecture Hall at 5200 Woodward at 8:45 p.m.
  • Holly Miranda will put on a themed show with Ambrosia Parsley and Chris Maxwell at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Music Box at 8 and 9 p.m.
  • And the Goddess of Noel Night – Thornetta Davis – will be performing at 9 p.m. at the Cass Corridor Commons in the Sanctuary at 4605 Cass. Even if you cannot stay for the whole performance, show up up waaaaaay early to even get a seat or standing spot.

detroit-regional-news-hub-detroitLooking for some other unique things to do? I’m thinking the Ice Scraper Challenge is a must. Wayne State University and College for Creative Studies students meet at the DIA Plaza to take blocks of ice and transform them into sculptural creations. For more art, check out the Detroit Design Center Gallery at 4225 Third with a metal and glass works show by the uber cool Nordin Brothers and other artists.

The list of places to see, sip and shop are endless. Discover the best gifts at the CCS Student and Alumni Art sale at 201 E. Kirby. The Detroit Artists Market will have its annual Art for the Holiday Show.  There are great “shop local” opportunities as well at Busted Bra Shop, Fourteen East Café, Frida, Goods, Peacock Room, and Nom Nom’s Cupcake Factory in the Park Shelton next door to the DIA. Here’s a map you can download (pdf format but should still be usable on your phone).

Want more? Hit up the Noel Night website. Noel Night is produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc., a nonprofit community development organization that supports economic growth in Detroit’s Midtown district.  Call 313-420-6000 or visit for additional information. Keep checking from now until Saturday’s event for update.

As for parking, a free shuttle service is offered between participating venues. Convenient parking is available in area lots.


+ Woodward Avenue [from Palmer to Warren] + Ferry Street [from Cass to John R] + Kirby Street [from Cass to John R] + Farnsworth [from Woodward to John R] Please Note: Putnam Street will be a temporary 2-way between Cass and Woodward.


+ Northbound Woodward traffic will be guided to Warren Avenue, then Brush Street, then to the I-94 Service Drive, then back onto Woodward.
+ Southbound Woodward traffic will be guided to Antoinette Street, then Cass Avenue, then to Forest Avenue, then back to Woodward.
Please Note: We encourage everyone to avoid John R near the Detroit Institute of Arts. Traffic conjestion in this area delayed many visitors for 1+ hours in 2012.


WSU Parking Structure 2 – Located on Anthony Wayne Drive ($)
WSU Parking Structure 5 – Located on Anthony Wayne Drive | 5501 Anthony Wayne ($)
WSU Parking Structure 1 – Located at Cass and Palmer | 450 W. Palmer ($)
Please Note: A Noel Night shuttle will be circling around and pick up visitors from these three decks and then will drop/pick up people at the Detroit Historical Museum on W. Kirby Street. W. Kirby Street is closed off — only this special Noel Night parking shuttle will be able to get through the barriers to drop off guests.
WSU Parking Structure 8 – Located on Forest between Cass and Woodward ($)
WSU Parking Structure 6 – Located at Cass and Putnam | 61 Putnam ($)
WSU Parking Lot 60 – 4710 Second ($)
South Midtown Parking – 3408 Woodward | FREE parking courtesy of Michigan State University – Detroit Center, University of Michigan – Detroit Center and Whole Foods.

Ed. Note: Karen Dybis is an accomplished writer for a variety of publications and has a new book out – “The Ford-Wyoming Drive-In: Cars, Candy & Canoodling in the Motor City.” Check it out on Amazon here. This post originally appeared on DetroitUnspun and is used with permission.

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