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Photo by Todd & Brad Reed Photography

Manistee's Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend

November-December 2024

When the Christmas season is upon us, the Victorian city of Manistee kicks off the festivities in a big way, with its annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend. This popular event brings as many as 10,000 visitors to Manistee to experience the wonder of a Christmas gone by. The highlight of the parade is the Belgian draft horses that pulls a 30′ Christmas tree down River Street in downtown Manistee. The entire Old Christmas Weekend is filled with wonderful activities.

The Painted Lady
T.J.'s Pub

Manistee is a great place to pick up those gifts for everyone on your list, and downtown restaurants welcome you into their cozy establishments for a delicious meal. As the snow flies, enjoy the carolers, decked out in period dresses, coats, and top hats. It’s certainly the right setting to put you in a festive holiday mood.

For the holiday season, make sure you include Manistee’s Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend in your plans.

If you are traveling from outside the area, check out places to stay in Manistee, and Manistee restaurants for your dining options.

And don’t forget to make time to visit the many downtown shops!

Photo by Todd & Brad Reed Photography

Here's what happened in 2023:

Thursday

  • 5-7pm – Chamber of Commerce UnTapped at the Ramsdell Theatre Ballroom- 101 Maple St. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, holiday music, 50/50 raffle, cash bar, and a first look at the Lakeside Club of Manistee County’s Festival of Trees & Holiday Decor. For tickets or more information, visit manisteechamber.com.
  • 7pm – Victorian Christmas Concert at the Congregational Church- 412 Fourth St. Songs of the season new and old will be sung and played by the Manistee Choral Society and instrumental friends. 

Friday

  • 3pm – Dramatic Reading from “A Christmas Carol” at Manistee County Library, 95 Maple St. Free and open to the public. For more information, visit manisteelibrary.org.
  • 6pm – Ceramic Tree Painting Party at the Purple Paintbrush- 338 River St. Fees apply. Click here to purchase tickets.
  • 7:30-10:30pm – Lakeside Club’s “1885 Comes Alive!” This event is an authentic Victorian Christmas gathering. Black tie with a Victorian theme required. Enjoy entertainment, Victorian appetizers and sweets with a cash bar. Limited tickets are available. Age 21+ only, please, and costumes are required. Purchase advance tickets online at lakesideclubmanistee.org. Tickets are $40 per person or $70 per couple.  

Saturday

  • 8-11am – Flapjacks with Fire Hats at VFW Post 4499- 1211 28th St. Breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, and biscuits & gravy. Proceeds will raise money for life-saving equipment for the Filer Township Fire Department.
    Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12 , and kids under 5 eat free.
  • 9-11am – Elk’s Breakfast Buffett
    at the Elks Lodge- 432 River St. $12 per person, 5 and under free.
  • 9am-3pm – Christmas Craft Bazaar at Manistee Senior Center- 260 St. Mary’s Parkway, Manistee. Features  handmade crafts and Christmas cookie sale.  Lunch will be available for purchase. For additional information, contact Kathy Yoder at (231) 723-6926.
  • 10am – Jingle Bell Jog 5k Run/Walk beginning at Tabernacle Church- 77 Hancock St. Advanced registration by November 25th is $20 per runner, $25 on race day.  Register at runsignup.com.
  • 11am-4pm – Drop-in Keepsake Ornament Painting at the Purple Paintbrush- 338 River St. Fees apply. Click here to purchase tickets.
  • 11:30am-1pm – Meet the Grinch at Happy Owl Bookshop- 358 River St. Free admission.
  • 12-2pm – Sleighbell Saturday Open House and Warming Station
    at the Manistee County Library. Family-friendly activities including a Victorian Lantern Craft and Bah-Humbug Pinback Buttons, a self-guided tour of  Carnegie Library built in 1905, great views on the top floor of the historic district, and hot cocoa.
  • 12-2pm – Open House & Tour at St. Paul Lutheran Church- 313 4th St., Manistee. Free admission. Attendees receive a Christmas ornament.
  • 12-3:45pm – Horse and Carriage Rides on River Street (East and West Sides of Maple Street). Free.
  • 2pm – The Haunting of Old Ebenezer at Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts
  • 2-4pm -Christmas Tea at the Buckley House– 450 Cedar St. Three full courses will be served along with a tour of the home. Reservations required by Wednesday, November 29th. Tickets are $40 per person and available by calling (231) 690-2743.
  • 2-5pm – Gift Giving Silent Auction at City2Shore- 340 River St. Bid on items to benefit the Armory Youth Project. Bids close at 5pm but you do not need to be present to win. Call (231) 299-1205 for more information.
  • 3-6pm – Warming Station at West Shore Community College Satellite Site- 400 River St. Free admission includes refreshments.
  • 5:30pm – Victorian Sleighbell Parade on River St. in downtown Manistee. Sponsored by West Shore Bank. Follow the last parade entry for caroling and tree lighting. Free.
  • Following the parade – Sleighbell Fireworks at Manistee Municipal Marina area. Sponsored by Jeff Reau of Edward Jones. Free.

Sunday

  • 12-4pm – Drop-in Pottery Painting at the Purple Paintbrush- 338 River St. Fees apply. Click here to purchase tickets.
  • 3pm – Lessons & Carols at Trinity Lutheran Church- 420 Oak St. Free admission. The Advent and Christmas Story in Word and Song. A dessert and social hour will follow.

Events Happening Over Multiple Days

  • Thursday-Saturday – Richard Timm Wildlife Retrospective at the Ruddiblush Gallery- 321 River St. Thursday & Saturday from 12-5pm and Friday from 12-8pm.
  • Thursday-Sunday from 11am-7pm – Holiday Market at The Outsider- 456 River St. Caroling, photos with The Grinch, food/drinks and wreaths/Christmas trees available for purchase.
  • Friday and Saturday from 11am-1pm – Holiday Card Making Class at Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts- 101 Maple St.
  • Friday from 1-6pm, Saturday from 11am-8pm, and Sunday from 10:30am-12:30pm –  Lakeside Club’s Festival of Trees & Holiday Decor at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts Ballroom- 101 Maple St., Manistee. View and bid on creatively decorated trees, wreaths, gift baskets, and seasonal decor. View and bid on creatively decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, gift baskets, and other seasonal decor designed by local holiday enthusiasts. “Buy it Now” options available. Bring canned goods to vote for your favorite entry for the “People’s Choice” award. Bring unwrapped toys for Five CAP’s “Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens”.  Bidding closes Saturday, December 3 at 8pm. Proceeds benefit two local nonprofits. $1 admission fee.
  • Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm – Performance of The Nutcracker at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts- 101 Maple St. For tickets, visit ramsdelltheatre.org.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 11am-2pm – Scandinavian Christmas Open House at Old Kirke Museum- 304 Walnut St. Christmas trees decorated in the traditional Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian manner and traditional Scandinavian cookies in the 1868 sanctuary along with a display of Christmas “Tiny Towns and Trains II” and the Madsen Lumbering Dioramas in the lower exhibit hall.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 11am-2pm – Guardian Angels Church Self-Guided Tour. For more information, visit facebook.com.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 1-4pm – Santa’s Headquarters at Manistee Marina- 480 River St., Manistee. Also open on December 9th, 10th, 16th, and 17th from 1-4pm.

Experience Manistee

There’s so much to see and do in Manistee! Read the stories below or go to the Manistee destination page.

For more information on the Manistee Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend, please contact the event organizer:

Manistee Downtown Development Authority  

(231) 398-3262

manisteesleighbellparade.com

More Manistee County Travel Information

Planning a visit to the Manistee area? Have questions about your trip? Here’s where you can find help: 

Contact the Manistee County Tourism Authority here:

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