Holiday Nights was just about the cutest little event I've ever been to. I heard about the whole shebang last Christmas season (2011, to clarify), but by that time, it was too late to get tickets or plan around our travel itinerary. This year, however, I wasn't going to miss out on an evening of colonial carolers, lights, mulled cider, or Model-T rides. No, sir. Not when it set up a perfect excuse for me to wear my new hat.
Brad and I got to The Henry Ford about 20 to 30 minutes before the event began, and the lines to get in were stretched wayyy beyond the front gates. I wanted to shop in the meantime, but Brad was smarter than me and pointed out that if I left for the gift shop, I'd lose my spot. So I waited. And other than the fact that I had to hop around a little to fend off the chilly night air, it wasn't so bad. Before we knew it, things were up and running, and the lines flowed inside to a magical, Christmas-themed evening.
Since we'd visited Greenfield Village just a few weeks before, Brad and I had somewhat of an idea about the park's layout. This meant high-tailing it over to the glass shop (Brad's favorite), where we huddled inside a toasty room and watched artisans do their thing with lava-like concoctions. The theme of the night was glass candy canes, which the glass blowers created as they stretched hot, spiral-patterned glass across the room in strands that miraculously never broke.
|Candy canes in progress. This strand of hot, molten glass would eventually be cut into several, small pieces and twisted into cane shapes before being cooled and sent to the Greenfield Village gift shop.|
Brad mentioned that he could've spent the entire evening watching the glass artisans, but I had plenty of other items on my agenda. So, it was off to explore the grounds, where we made our next stop at the line for free Model T Ford rides.
|Zooming through Greenfield Village with our driver/tour guide.|
If you've never ridden in an old Model T, I highly recommend it. Granted, you can only fit about three or four people in the car, but the light, swift feeling you get as you float by pedestrians--nearly pushing little, old ladies off the street--is one of a kind (I can assure you that no one was hurt in the process--at least not during our ride).
After we had gotten our fill of 20th-century road rage, Brad and I strolled around Greenfield Village, taking in the decorations, sights, and smells of the season. The night was cold, but there was no wind, making for . . . well, a perfect evening, really.
|An old Ford sitting out front of the Model T ride area.|
|Inside the Wright Brothers' Home. The rooms were decorated for Christmas, all in authentic styles for the time period.|
|Mrs. Cohen's hat shop, decked out in Christmas decor.|
|Charming shop window.|
|Silent Christmas movies were projected directly onto the Tintype Studio building.|
|This film was a silly, Santa-themed flick. A small-scale sleigh and reindeer were part of the mix.|
|More carolers, singing atop a lovely gazebo.|
In one particular spot of town, there was a small bunch of creepy characters donning masks and frilly, festive attire. They didn't talk, and their main job seemed to be intimidating passersby. I didn't get very close, but watched a couple of them sneak up on unsuspecting pedestrians.
|That photographer is very focused, what with Terror staring him down and all.|
The star of the night, though, had to be Kris Kringle himself. Perched atop a balcony on the Robert Frost home, Santa spent the evening waving to crowds of spectators and calling out the names of actual children who stood below. I don't know how he did it . . . must have been Santa magic. He also had a few reindeer in tow, but the pick of the herd seemed a little tired and unimpressed by all our cooing and picture-taking.
Eventually, we mustered up the courage (okay, I was the only one who was nervous) to go ice skating on the outdoor rink. It had been years since I took a pair of blades to the ice, so I wasn't expecting much. Which is probably a good thing.
|The ice rink. Dun dun dun.|
We laced up our skates and waddled out to the rink, which was choppy like snow from the constant crowds. And then, my premonitions came true: the ice was slippery, so I held onto the railing like a little girl. You know what, though? I didn't really see anyone else doing much better, except for maybe that one kid with a hockey helmet who sped around us all, rubbing in our feelings of inferiority. Long story short, people were wiping out right and left, so I kept my composure and slowly scooted around the rink. Once. And I laughed a lot.
Cell phone pictures, because we were smart enough to not take the camera out of its bag while we struggled to stand on the ice.
Near the end of the night, Brad and I joined hundreds of other people in gathering around the town hall for a Christmas carol sing-along and grand finale. Everything started out cheerful, just music and milling about, when suddenly, a series of bell tolls rang out, and we looked across the village green to see a mob of lantern-carrying townspeople advancing towards us. The whole thing was very reminiscent of the mob scene from Beauty and the Beast.
|Blurry photo to drive home the intensity of the mob.|
Great news--the mob didn't turn into a real-life Walking Dead scenario! Rather, the townspeople met up with the rest of us 21st-century time travelers and joined in the festivities by proclaiming a celebration of Christmas and leading us in more caroling. Then, the fireworks started and we all just stood there being happy and enjoying life.
|Fireworks over Greenfield Village|
Then, just as quickly as it had begun, Holiday Nights was over. We made one, last stop at the gift shop before leaving to pick up a few Christmas gifts (if you're looking for unique, Michigan-made or Michigan-related souvenirs, this is a great place to browse), then rolled out with the rest of the crowds. I can not emphasize enough how great this experience was . . . and the fact that there's so much going on during the event just makes it possible to return year after year to see more (I still have to try some roasted chestnuts and go on a horse and carriage ride!). I think I must be destined to memorize this village like the back of my hand.
Have any of you visited Holiday Nights recently or in years past? How about something similar? Let me know in the comments! :)