Options for unconventional seasonal gatherings abound across the state. 

From cities teeming with bright lights to snowy small towns, Michigan is a winter wonderland. If you’re looking for a way to make your event or post-event outing more festive, consider these unique holiday offerings. 

Peacock Road Family Farm 

Laingsburg

This rustic Peacock Road Family Farm has long been a tradition for weddings, parties and other events, and its barn is a particularly popular location for business parties of 50 to 250, complete with a delicious holiday meal. The location offers numerous holiday activities, from a ride on the Peacock Express train to Santa’s Cabin and cookies in the Sugar Shack. No visit is complete without cutting down your own Christmas tree.  

The Collins Off Main

Chelsea

Celebrate winter California style. This new, chic event space is located in a turn-of-the-century building in downtown Chelsea. The Collins Off Main is a blend of California Boho and functionality have quickly made it one of the hottest spots for weddings and corporate events, with capacity for up to 200 people and elegant decor that can be tweaked for any holiday occasion. “The walls are white, and with just a splash of color can meet whatever need you have,” says owner Amy Collins. “Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so it was very important for me to make it fit all holidays.” 

Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village 

Dearborn

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is ideal for an inspiring end-of-year celebration or cocktail hour, where guests will be surrounded by famous historic artifacts (capacity ranges from 100 to 5,000).  Afterward, head to Greenfield Village for the 20th annual Holiday Nights to tour historic homes and enjoy festive foods, gorgeous light displays, a visit with St. Nick, fireworks and caroling. “It’s like stepping into a Christmas card,” says Joanne Peterka, head of event sales for The Henry Ford. Group tickets are available. 

Downtown Frankenmuth 

Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth shines during the holidays, and not just because it’s home to Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store. Frankenmuth offers many event options, from the full-service conference center at Bavarian Inn Lodge, which can accommodate up to 500, to historic Fischer Hall, which can seat 120 to 196. After your event, enjoy a world-famous chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, shop downtown, take a horse-drawn carriage ride or go for a spin on the new skating rink at Zehnder Park. 

Christmas at 
Crossroads Village

Flint

What’s more festive than a Christmas train ride? Crossroads Village is the perfect gathering place after an event at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum and can accommodate up to 65 guests. After a light-festooned ride on an authentic diesel engine, stroll through an 1800s winter wonderland. Visit Santa Claus, take in a stage play or ride the antique carousel and Ferris wheel. 

Festival of Trees

Port Huron 

McLaren Port Huron Hospital will once again fill its main floor public areas with festive Christmas trees. It’s an ideal way to spend some time after a gathering at Blue Water Convention Center (capacity 1,600), McMorran Place Sports & Entertainment Area (capacity up to 3,000 in the arena; 1,157 in the Theater; 80 in the Memorial Room and 150 in the Lounge), or Solitude Links Golf Course and Banquet Center (capacity 25-750 guests). Other area holiday offerings include Winter Celebration in Pine Grove Park or a candlelit tour through Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan’s oldest working lighthouse.

“Winter here is breathtaking!” says Katie Stepp, marketing manager for Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The views from the Blue Water Convention Center of the Blue Water Bridges and close proximity of freighters passing by are spectacular. One of the more popular attractions in the winter is seeing the ice floe (blue ice on occasion) and birdwatching. Because the inland lakes freeze, the birds, including snowy owls and bald eagles, will gather more along the St. Clair River in search of the flowing, open waters. It’s beautiful to watch.”

Meadow Brook Hall 

Rochester

Considered one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in the country, Meadow Brook Hall provides an elegant option for numerous events, from business meetings to grand receptions, strolling dinners and cocktail hours for 20 to 300. 

During the holidays, the estate is decked out with more than 50 trees, hundreds of feet of garland and thousands of twinkling lights. In 2021, Meadow Brook will expand the experience with Winter Wonder Lights, featuring festive outdoor lights, music and concessions.

A thick layer of snow blankets a stand of evergreen trees. Sunshine glances off the slopes, turning the setting into a landscape of diamonds. The faces of skiers beam as they schuss their way down the mountain. 

 

“Beer City USA” mixes business and pleasure at meeting venues large and small.

Headquarters to more than 130 international companies—including such global giants as Amway, Steelcase and Herman Miller—and home to Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Michigan’s second largest city, Grand Rapids, ranks as a natural destination for corporate gatherings. What’s more, the city’s reputation as a center for fine and performing arts, outdoor recreation and craft beer lures plenty of leisure travelers as well. 

 

After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?