By Lydia Wilder
Frankenmuth, Michigan, located right off I-75 (Exit 136) just 90 miles north of Detroit, is known to many as Michigan’s Little Bavaria. It’s home to intricate German architecture, boutique lined streets, jingling horse drawn carriages, family-style chicken dinners, and the World’s largest Christmas store.
While the city is home to just 5,000 residents, it welcomes nearly a million visitors a year. As a four-season destination, Frankenmuth welcomes visitors from around the world all year long. There is something special about every season in Michigan’s Little Bavaria, but the time of year that shines brightest is Christmastime.
The Holiday season is called “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for a reason. It’s a time where there’s a little extra cheer in the air. Where lights shine bright, joy is shared, and the guy in the big red suit makes his annual appearance. While it is all these things, it’s also the time of the year where Frankenmuth turns into something truly magical.
When the lights come on every evening at dusk, beginning in mid-November, the Christmas magic in Frankenmuth shines bright. From the north and south end of Main Street and every direction in between, you will find over 150 trees wrapped in the warm glow of white lights.
Around every corner you will be delighted with colorful light displays of favorite Christmas characters, buildings beautifully adorned with decorations, and a spectacular 40-foot Christmas tree standing at the center of town. The one-of-a-kind tree, lit with 23,000 synchronized lights, fills the street with the sweet sound of Christmas multiple times per day as it comes to life with a 7-minute long light and music show.
The magic of Christmas is more than just a visual experience in Frankenmuth; there’s countless holiday activities to take part in with the family. From the minute you cruise under the illuminated Palmer Frankenmuth Gateway Arch, traveling in from the south, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland greets you with glee.
A stop here is a must if you want to fully experience all of the Frankenmuth Christmas magic. Stretched over 5 acres, with a showroom the size of 1.7 football fields, Bronner’s has every Christmas trimming imaginable. The number of different trims and gifts on the Bronner’s showroom floor surpasses 50,000, with many more available in their online store.
Before leaving Bronner’s, be sure to visit the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, an ornate 56-foot tall, exact replica of the chapel in Oberndorf, Austria where the hymn “Silent Night” was first sung in 1818. The chapel is open daily and is free to the public. Another must-do while visiting Bronner’s is a trip down Christmas Lane when the sun goes down. This brightly lit and beautifully decorated road located right in Bronner’s parking lot comes to life every night at dusk.
At Grandpa Tiny’s Farm, just across the street from Bronner’s, another magical Christmas experience can be found. This historical working farm is home to two special holiday helpers, Blue and Sivia. They may not have red noses or be able to pull a sleigh, but these reindeer sure make the season bright. Visit them through December at the farm’s special weekend Christmas experience, or all year long during regular farm fun days.
Founded in 1845, Frankenmuth was a community built from agriculture, and that rich history continues. From farming, to milling, to serving farm-to-table meals. The first farm-to-table meal was served in Frankenmuth in 1934, accomplishing the goal of sourcing fresh food from local farms and growers to the community. That tradition lives on in the food served at Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth.
Recognized as two of the largest independently owned restaurants in the country, these establishments continue to serve locally grown, farm fresh food to visitors from around the world. Each year more than 250,000 pounds of locally grown squash are served between both restaurants.
The squash is a holiday season fan favorite, often served as a side dish to their world-famous family-style chicken dinners. Nearly two million of these Frankenmuth staples are served between the two restaurants each year, making it a must for any trip to Michigan’s Little Bavaria.
During the Holiday season, the Frankenmuth Farmers Market transforms from a weekly market of locally grown products to a traditional German ChristKindlMarkt. This outdoor market, open on select weekends from late November through December, showcases the best of the best of locally made trinkets, gifts, baked goods, and so much more!
A visit to the market will help cross a few people off of your shopping list, but the Christmas shopping only begins here. All throughout Frankenmuth, you will find locally owned and operated boutiques and specialty shops. A stroll through Frankenmuth River Place Shops or along Main Street is sure to complete your search for the perfect gift.
On Main Street, you may notice something a little different this year. The Frankenmuth Ice Rink, located in Zehnder Park, is the newest addition to the winter season. Conveniently placed in the heart of downtown, a stop by the rink is the perfect shopping break. Open all week long, with skate rentals available, this winter attraction is sure to add some fun to the itinerary.
With so much Christmas packed into the two-square-miles of Frankenmuth, it’s easy to see why Country Living Magazine gave it the title of one of the Best Christmas Towns in America.
The sights, experiences, and tastes of Christmastime in Michigan’s Little Bavaria provide something fun for everyone, and the magical moments experienced here are sure to create lasting memories.
Photos courtesy of Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Christmas In Frankenmuth