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Feeling Festive with Silver Bells in the City

By November 20, 2016Adventures

We adventured to attend the 32nd annual Silver Bells in the City event last Friday and it was quite an experience. We parked for free in a downtown lot by the Michigan History Center which was located a few blocks from the main attractions. This was actually a good place to park in case you’re not staying for all the entertainment as it was out of the main traffic area to allow for an easier departure. There were shuttles available from the lot, however as it was fortunately an unusually warm November night we were able to enjoy a pleasant walk downtown versus using the shuttle.


Dewpoint, the company Garrin works for was actually one of the sponsors of entertainment for the event this year. Dewpoint hosted their annual Christmas ‘warm up station’ for employees and their families that evening in the downtown offices by Michigan’s state capitol in Lansing. It was a fun filled party with plenty of pizza and refreshments to enjoy and we spent some time at the offices before heading out to partake in the activities.


Silver Bells in the City engages over 80,000 people to the Capital City each year and takes place each year on the Friday before Thanksgiving. The festivities are produced by the assistance of many volunteers and remains free for all to attend. Started in 1984 by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Silver Bells in the City was a modest event, bringing the holiday spirit with 2500 luminaries that framed the Washington Square Mall. Mayor Terry McKane  led community singing and then on the third year anniversary, the State Tree was lit during Silver Bells festivities. The event has continued to grow over the years, adding more attractions such as ice sculptures, horse drawn carriage rides, the electric parade and fireworks. Of course, it would not be complete without the important visit from Santa and his reindeer. There is also the Silver Bells Village showcasing holiday vendors and many local venues are open to the public free of charge during this event. Entertainment still includes a community sing and  a music concert to enjoy.

_dsc0687Growing up a majority of my life in Michigan, I am surprised that this was the first time I had ever enjoyed this experience though with such big crowds I can see where it would be challenging to bring kids to it which may be why. There were plenty of families, children and furkids participating in the festivities this year and the crowd was overwhelming at times.

_dsc0680We crossed over to Allegan Street to visit the Silver Bells Village which featured over 20 vendors.

_dsc0672 The air was filled with the smell of roasted nuts and cookies as many treat options were on display in the booths.

_dsc0674 I was able to purchase a commemorative ornament which was available in both silver and gold. I look forward to hanging it on the tree every year and remembering our adventure here.

_dsc0694After visiting the market place, we walked along the street and watched the electric parade which stepped off at 6:00 pm.

_dsc0683Many impressive floats decorated to the hilt with lights were presented however capturing good photos was challenging due to the mass crowds. Multiple marching bands participated and holiday music enveloped the air.

So many of the downtown buildings were filled with beautiful Christmas trees and decorations.

_dsc0690 Several even featured projected festive images and holiday movies on the outside of the building structure. It was quite a sight to see.

_dsc0681Before the parade came to a close, we decided to head toward the state tree in front of the capitol to try and obtain a viewing spot for the tree lighting that was scheduled for 7:45 pm. We learned that the weather forecast was predicting severe thunderstorms coming our way so we were unsure if we’d be able to stay. Fighting our way through the crowds to pass the parade and cross the street was very difficult. The wall to wall people felt intense and hard to navigate at times. We eventually were on the right side of the street moving towards the tree but we could see the crowds were not going to allow for a decent viewing spot. I think in the future I would choose a spot by the tree early on and watch the parade from afar instead as that ceremony specifically appeals to me.

_dsc0685At this point, it also started to sprinkle so we made the decision to head back to the truck and skip the tree lighting, fireworks, community sing and concert. The thunder and lighting soon came and a much heavier rain followed. We were soaked by the time we reached our parking spot and I made a note to myself to not leave the umbrella in the car for such events. Even while walking in the rain, I felt so lucky that the temperature was reasonable as November is usually quite chilly with snow on the ground in the Mitten. I am sorry we did not see all the activities and that we were not able to capture a photo of the state tree at the event.  Due to the stormy weather,  the fireworks were cancelled and the tree lighting will be rescheduled. Hopefully the next time we adventure to Silver Bells in the City, these items will not be missed.

Liz Ball

About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.