Night comes early in the winter, but it’s also the best time for Battle Creek’s brightest festival. Tour the Festival of Lights with these tips.
Places to eat
Begin with getting a bite to eat. We recommend Griffin Grill and Pub (38 W. Michigan Ave.) andClara’s on the River (44 N McCamly St.) because the parking is easy and they are good starting spots for your tour.Griffin serves Irish-inspired pub food along with surprisingly good fish tacos. Clara’s has something for everyone, from sizzling beef fajitas to zucchini noodles. Both places have spiked coffee at the bar, if adults in your group want to warm up after walking outdoors.
Looking for Santa? The Warming House will be open the first three Saturdays of December, from 5 to 8 p.m. This year, it’s at the Welcome Center (34 W. Jackson St., Suite #1A). Look for a blue roof and cereal mascots painted in the windows.You can get a photo with Santa Claus and there will be an ornament craft for kids.While warming up, browse the Welcome Center store for holiday gifts. The Cheez-It socks are popular, and we just got in dishes with a Michigan map printed on them.Right by the Warming House, you can line up for a free horse-drawn wagon ride through downtown Battle Creek.
If you are allergic to horses, it’s easy enough to walk around and admire the lights.Start from the State Street parking lot:
- Walk across the river. Any of the pedestrian bridges make a good picture spot because you can see the lights reflected in the water.
- Go by Clara’s on the River, an old train station that has been converted into a restaurant. Santa flies over the roof, while a train chugs by the path along the river.
- Keep following the path toward Capital Avenue Northeast. Cross the street, and you’ll find lights depicting the 12 Days of Christmas, starting with a partridge in a pear tree. It’s a pretty stretch along the river, and you’ll go by the house W.K. Kellogg used to live in. If you make it to the Underground Railroad statue, stop and go back to Capital Avenue.
- Turn left at Capital Avenue. You should hear Christmas music. That’s because the decorations at Mill Race Park are synced up to the songs. Watch the Christmas trees change color and flash to the music.
- After admiring the show at Mill Race Park, continue down Capital Avenue and take a right turn on Jackson Street West. At the end of the street is Kellogg’s World Headquarters. It’s easy to find, because they always celebrate with beautiful red lights. The tree-lined walkway is a good spot to get some portraits.
- The State Street parking lot is less than one block away from Kellogg’s. Before you get back in your car, check out the frolicking reindeer in Friendship Park, which is right next to the entrance of the lot.