Last year the Henry Ford Museum hosted my family for 2017 Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. This is one of our favorite annual traditions. One thing that I love about Greenfield Village is that it is so large and there are so many extra activities that we always seem to find something new. Also, don’t forget to check out our 10 tips for attending Holiday Nights with kids.
Our 2017 Holiday Nights Experience
Holiday Nights is 3.3 hours, but we could easily spend even more time there. We always seem to be rushing to fit in everything. I think this is our 8th straight year attending Holiday Nights.
We had a great time at Holiday Nights and look forward to returning next year. We started with street food for dinner, visiting the historic houses, a snack at the Village Pavilion and finally a trip to Liberty Craftworks to watch the artisans at work.
New Experience at Holiday Nights
A new experience at 2017’s Holiday Nights is the Menlo Park Lights. This was the first time we were in any of the Menlo Park buildings except for the boarding house. The Menlo Park complex is set for December 1880 when Thomas Edison met with politicians from New York City to convince them to allow him to light up 1 square mile of NYC – including digging up the roads to lay underground wire.
Also in the Menlo Park lab is an old phonograph that records on foil cones and can be played back. Historically, it is famous for a recording that Sarah Bernhardt made. More recently, Lady Gaga visited and made a recording last month.
10 Tips for Holiday Nights with Kids
Since we have attended Holiday Nights many times, we have some tips to share.
1 – Pre-Buy Your Tickets
Holiday Nights sells out on many of the more popular nights. For example, all Saturday nights before Christmas are already sold out. Of course this means you will have to take your chances with the weather. We got lucky this year with a warm night. However, in other years we have had cold temperatures and snow on the ground.
2 – Dress for the Weather
This year we had the best weather in our 8 years of attending. While we still dressed for the weather, it was definitely more pleasant.
On most nights, you’ll want to make sure to bundle up. You will spend most of your time outdoors. Snowpants are a great option for anyone, but especially the kids. I usually double up tights and leggings or tights and wool pants. My husband wears long johns and jeans. Don’t forget hats, gloves, and scarves. You will be in and out of buildings heated by fire and there are fire pits around that give you a chance to warm up a bit.
3 – Arrive Early
Holiday Nights starts at 6:30p. Due to other commitments we pulled into the parking lot at 6:29p and parked near the Museum entrance. It took us more than 20 minutes to make it through the gates. With the wait to get in the door and eating, it was probably 7:20 before we started exploring. New for 2018, Members can enter at 6p.
4 – Enjoy Holiday Tastes
There are several street food options. The last three years, we have had dinner from the street food stands. There is a roast beef sandwich stand and a ham sandwich stands. Note, at both you are given just the roll at the booth and proceed to the fire where your meat is carved for you.
New in 2017, the Taste of History restaurant has menu items from the various holiday houses available for purchase. We didn’t learn about this until after we ate, or we would have sampled some.
Other options include the Village Pavilion which offers hot dogs, mac & cheese, and sweets including mini-donuts – our tradition. If you’re like my daughter the LEGO and model train displays in the Village Pavilion are always a hit.
5 – Take Advantage of Freebies
Yes, there are a few freebies at Holiday Nights.
Model T rides are free during Holiday Nights. The line does get long, so I suggest arriving early and doing the ride first. We rode a Model T two years ago.
Carousel rides are free during Holiday Nights. The line usually wraps around the carousel. We didn’t stop this year, but did last year.
The Children’s Activity House has two crafts for the kids. Meijer has sponsored a rocking horse ornament reminiscent of Sandy. There is also a Christmas Tree/Jingle Bell cup catch game. Markers and stickers are available to decorate the ornament and tree.
The Print Shop makes prints and gives them away. This is a great souvenir. We have the print from 2015 framed. I am going to get a frame to add this year’s print.
6 – Have Santa Greet Your Kids
Santa is on the balcony of the Robert Frost House (through December 23). Across the street you will find Santa’s helpers. They are usually women dressed in long red coats. Give them your child’s name for Santa to call out a greeting. There are reindeer in front of the house to occupy your kids until Santa calls out their names.
7 – Visit with Caution
We visited the McGuffey School which is setup like a Civil War Camp. They talk about how our vision of Santa is largely influenced by the works of Thomas Nast during the Civil War. Prior to his work, Santa was mostly depicted as a small elf with miniature reindeer. During the Civil War, Thomas Nast portrayed Santa as a full-size adult who was a Union supporter in blues and white. After the war, Nast’s drawings of Santa changed to his current red and white “uniform”. As we walked out, my husband commented that he hoped there were no kids who believe in Santa listening. If you still have a believer, this may be a building to skip.
8 – Talk to the Presenters
Take your time and talk to the presenters especially in less crowded buildings. Two years ago we had a great talk with a presenter at the Edison Illuminating building which presents the history of Christmas lights. Feel free to ask questions.
9 – Bring Home a Souvenir
Last year we bought a Greenfield Village lantern. It decorates our mantle for the holidays and we brought it back with us this year. Despite them selling candles in the lanterns, they don’t want lit candles in the historic buildings. Note, if you want to buy a lantern, bring a battery operated light from home. We had a small tea light, but saw someone with a battery operated string of lights. It provided much more light.
There are lots of great souvenirs from Holiday Nights. The last two years we have bought a wreath for our front door at Holiday Nights. It’s definitely a tradition we plan to continue.
Other souvenir choices are ornaments, the annual glass candy cane, historic toys, and more.
10 – Make A Quick Escape
We wrapped up our visit to Holiday Nights at Liberty Craftworks. As we were leaving, the end of the night fireworks were going on. We were able to watch them as we exited. Doing this allowed us to beat the crowds out of the parking lot.
2018 Holiday Nights Schedule
The 2018 Greenfield Village Holiday Nights Schedule is below:No Events
Buy your tickets now as weekend nights tend to sell out quickly.