Festival of Lights
Battle Creek, Michigan
Downtown Battle Creek is aglow with lights every December. Plan your visit for the International Festival of Lights:
It starts with the Christmas Parade, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Kids of all ages come to see the sparkling floats, the blasts of fire from the hot air balloon baskets and the carriage that carries Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
That’s also the night the switch is thrown on for thousands of lights on display along the downtown streets.
Get a drink
Order a hot chocolate and giant cookies for the entire family from Griffin Grill & Pub. If you’re looking to start with adult beverages, try the cozy taproom for Handmap Brewing.
Visit Mill Race Park
Follow the sound of Christmas music to Mill Race Park. The Christmas tree and candy cane decorations are synced up to songs, flashing and glittering to the beat. The lights surround a playground at Mill Race Park, which is popular with kids.
Head to Kellogg House
Down the street from Mill Race Park is the Battle Creek River. Cross the bridge and turn right. You’ll find vintage light displays for the 12 Days of Christmas, from the pear tree to the drummers. You might recognize the guy juggling the five golden rings: Tony the Tiger!
The Kellogg House isn’t open for tours, but there is the Underground Railroad Monument in the gardens by the river.
Warm up with dinner
Follow the river back to the heart of downtown and you’ll find Santa and his reindeer up on the rooftop of Clara’s on the River. This restaurant was once a train station and has retained its historic charm.
Return to Griffin for Irish-inspired pub fare, or try Torti Taco Bar & Grill for tacos and seafood, or New Holland Brewing Co.’s famous pizza pinwheels.
If it’s a special night, then make a reservation at Kitchen Proper, where the food itself is a special event.