Greenfield Village Holiday Nights 2015 Review

Disclosure: The Henry Ford provided my family with tickets to the event to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own.

Last weekend my family began our Christmas celebrations by attending Greenfield Village’s Holiday Nights. We first attended Holiday Nights in 2010 when my daughter was 5 and have attended every year since. It is definitely one of our favorite family traditions.

Holiday Nights is a celebration of holidays throughout time. Roaming the village you will find holiday celebrants from different eras. There are historic re-enactments, cooking demonstrations, craftwork shops, dining, skating, and much more. One of the things that I love about Holiday Nights is that there are so many things going on that you cannot possibly visit everything. Even though this was our sixth Holiday Nights event, we have found new experiences each year.

The slideshow below captures some of our favorite photos from Holiday Nights:


Historic Homes at Holiday Nights

My favorite part of Holiday Nights has always been exploring the homes in the Porches and Parlors District. Each home is setup for the holidays as it would have been in the era of the home in the region that it was located in. For some homes, this means no decoration as the holidays were not celebrated in a home of that time period and location (or family background). One of my favorite homes is the Susquehanna Plantation which is setup for a family wedding. My husband is typically a fan of the Giddings house where they demonstration chocolate making.

This year I also enjoyed the McGuffey school which was setup as a Civil War encampment. During the presentation in the school we learned how the illustrator Thomas Nast contributed to our image of Santa Claus today. Did you know that during the Civil War he was drawn in patriotic garb and was a tool of northern propaganda? After the war he dropped the stripes and blue stars to adopt the familiar color scheme we know today.

Patriotic Santa in McGuffey Schoolhouse at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights


Holiday Nights is also a great chance to visit Cotswold Cottage since it is not open year-round. The Cottage is typically setup from World War II era with American or British soldiers stationed there. This year we skipped the cottage because the line was fairly long. I do recommend visiting early in the evening as the line tends to build throughout the night.

Cotswold Cottage at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights

Santa at Holiday Nights

Each year Santa is on the balcony of the Frost Home. He will call out greetings to passerby. Be sure to look for his helpers dressed in red capes. They will pass the names you request to Santa. This year they were located across the street from the home.

This year as we walked up to Santa, we saw him help with a proposal. Unfortunately, we were just walking up as it happened and were too far away for a picture. Congratulations to the couple!

Santa at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights

Liberty Craftworks at Holiday Nights

Our family’s new activity during this year’s Holiday Nights was visiting the Liberty Craftworks shops to see the demonstrations. Glass blowing is usually my daughter’s favorite shop, but it was so crowded (perhaps due in part to the warmth from the ovens) that we moved on very quickly. I never knew that there was a Printing Shop behind the Tin Shop. We stopped by and saw a demonstration of how things were printed. We even got to take home a print. I am definitely planning to get a frame for it as a new holiday decoration. 

Dining at Holiday Nights

Last year we ate dinner before arriving at Holiday Nights and then I spotted the Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches. By the end of the evening we did decide to share one among the three of us and it was quite good. This year, we decided to forego dinner before the event and dine on Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches. We bought three sandwiches from the stand and after picking up our rolls went to the spit where they had the beef roasting. They cut the meat off and place it right on your roll. There are also onions and barbecue sauce that can be added. We found benches nearby and sat down to eat. After finishing his sandwich my husband went in the Cheers tent and bought us chips and hot chocolate and hot cider to drink. Other nearby food stands offered hot dogs if those are more to your child’s liking.

I do recommend finding a bathroom or carrying wipes to clean your hands after eating the sandwich, as they were quite juicy. I certainly did not want to put my gloves back on until cleaning my hands.

We also visited the Village Pavilion for more hot chocolate later in the evening. This time we also added mini-donuts. I am very glad that we decided to stop in for hot chocolate since the LEGO and Train displays were in here.

Holiday Nights Children’s Activities

This year there were two children’s activities setup. Kids could write letters to Santa at the Miller schoolhouse and mail them at the Phoenixville Post Office. There was also “gingerbread” house decorating in the Activities Center near the playground. By the time we made it to the Activities Center it was getting late and my daughter wanted to visit the craft stations, so decided to skip the craft although I did convince her to let me stop in to take a picture of their sample.

Gingerbread House at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights

Other Activities at Holiday Nights

Last year was the only year that we waited for a Model T ride. Rides are free during Holiday Nights. This year, I tried to talk my daughter into taking a carriage ride and joining in carol signing, but she was more interested in visiting the houses. One activity that I would love to try is the ice skating, but my daughter hates skating so I have never been able to convince her to go skating at Holiday Nights.

Skating at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights

The night ends with carol singing and Fireworks. We were already near the exit at the Craftworks so decided to head out instead of returning for the songs and fireworks. The night we visited was very foggy, so even though we could hear the fireworks as we walked to our car we could not see them.


Holiday Nights Tickets

Tickets for Holiday Nights are $24/adults, $22/seniors, $18/child (ages 5-12), free/(ages 0-4). Tickets are still available for December 17, December 21, 22, 26, 27, 28. I recommend buying your tickets as soon as possible before the remaining days sell out.

Holiday Nights Logistics

Parking can be an issue for Holiday Nights. We typically park in the Henry Ford Museum lot and walk to the village entrance. Even this lot is fairly crowded. We arrived at the Village entrance a couple of minutes before 6:30 (opening time) and had to wait in line to enter Holiday Nights. I recommend either arriving around 6:15 and waiting in line or arriving a little later as the line behind us was shorter than what we waited in.

Holiday Nights is held in almost all weather conditions. During the night you are in and out of buildings and there are fire pits throughout the Village to help you stay warm. There are also plenty of places to buy hot chocolate. We dressed warm with layers – snow pants for my daughter, long underwear for my husband, and fleece tights for me. With our winter coats, gloves, hats, and boots we were all fine. We did remark that this year was definitely the nicest weather we have had in our 6 years attending Holiday Nights. It was also the earliest in the season that we have attended.

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Anna Mae

Anna Mae owns & operates Ann Arbor with Kids, a website dedicated to Family Activities in Ann Arbor. My husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and our daughter joined the family in 2006.

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