All season long, from April through October, Mackinac Island caters to visitors from all over the world. Come November, and the 500 or so year-round residents have the place mostly to themselves for a few months.
So, they do what people in other communities do. They get together with friends. They celebrate holidays. And they hold fundraising sales of homemade knickknacks.
Speaking of sales, the annual Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar returns the first full weekend in December. It’s a time when residents come together to benefit the island’s churches as well as the Mackinac Island Medical Center.
It’s also a great time for visitors to get a behind-the-scenes look at the community that makes America’s most popular summertime destination click.
Even though the prime tourism season ended on Halloween, Mackinac Island is still open through the winter, of course. And these days, an increasing number of visitors are joining Mackinac Island’s holiday festivities such as the Christmas Bazaar.
“In the last few years, we’ve been getting a lot more visitors coming to the island for it,” said Margaret Doud, who has been mayor of Mackinac Island since 1975.
You might be surprised, but Mackinac Island is one of the country’s Top 10 Christmas Towns, according to HGTV. There’s no reason you can’t be a part of all the fun! Come on up to Mackinac Island for the holidays this year. Here’s what you can do:
- Festivities kick off on the first Friday of December with the annual Mackinac Island Tree Lighting right downtown across from the Star Line ferry dock. You can join the islanders for Christmas carols and community cheer. Both Star Line, by ferry boat, and Great Lakes Air, by plane, provide transportation to Mackinac Island throughout the winter, weather permitting.
- The annual Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar runs Saturday through Monday of the first full weekend in December, with sales of crafts and homemade goods as well as both live and silent auctions of donated items and services. The weekend includes a bake sale, prime rib lunch on Sunday, ice cream sundae booth, and entertainment provided by the Mackinac Arts Council. Plus, Santa Claus will be there on the fire truck!
- The bazaar raises money for the Mackinac Island Medical Center and the island’s churches: Little Stone Church, Mackinac Island Bible Church, Ste. Anne Catholic Church and Trinity Church. There will be a raffle for a snowmobile, which is the primary mode of winter transportation since cars are prohibited on Mackinac Island.
- Many people enjoy spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s on Mackinac Island where you can enjoy outdoor winter recreation, including cross-country skiing, hiking, fat tire biking, and snowmobiling. You can also go for a hayride, then ring in the New Year in town.
The offseason on Mackinac Island is an opportunity for residents to take a break and relax. But some travelers do make their way to Mackinac Island in the winter, and you are certainly welcome to join them.
Several hotels remain open at times between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and some host guests all winter. Some shops and restaurants also stay open all winter.