best Bets: Find endless opportunities to celebrate the holiday season this weekend
Get your dose of quaintness at the "Chelsea Hometown Holiday" celebration this weekend. The activities start on Friday night when Santa Claus arrives to light the giant Christmas tree at Pierce Park (6 p.m.). There are many other attractions during the weekend including the 8th annual Holiday Light Parade along Main Street, lit up with illuminaries, on Saturday evening, followed by the community sing and afterglow party at Chelsea Teddy Bear (6 p.m.). There are many, many activities, so click on chelseafestivals.com for a complete schedule. Downtown Chelsea.
You can mix the action of Black Friday savings while supporting small businesses at "Midnight Madness" in the Main Street area of downtown Ann Arbor on Friday. Keep in mind, it's not actually at midnight. 7-9 p.m. There will be deals and a chance to rub elbows with Santa Claus and Miss Washtenaw County. Bill’s Beer Garden will be open until midnight (210 S. Ashley St.). No cover. In the Main and Liberty Street areas.
It's also "Midnight Madness" in Kerrytown Market & Shops on Friday where the shops are actually open until midnight. You’ll find great holiday sales throughout the stores, live music featuring the Joe Summers Gypsy Jazz Quartet, strolling caroloers, treats and more. No cover charge; price of purchases. 407 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor. 734-662-5008.
Celebrate the season at the Kerrytown District’s "Fourth Annual KindleFest" in the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on Friday. 6-10 p.m. Artisans and farmers will sell their goods and wares for the holiday season. There will be live music, fire pits, s’more roasting, as well as pretzels, brats, mulled wine and more for purchase. Join in the Lantern Parade in the Kerrytown neighborhood. Free admission. 315 Detroit St., Ann Arbor. 734-794-6255.
Help the Take Heart Association Project at the "All-you-can-eat Pizza Contest" at Huron High School on Friday. 6-9 p.m. Local pizza businesses have generously donated more than 100 pizzas to the cause of needed heart surgeries in Kenya. Attendees will be able to taste many different types of pizza before voting on their favorite. Dr. Anne James will speak at the event and Youth Impact will also have a short presentation about global relief efforts. $5 for students, and $10 for adults. 2727 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor. 734-994-2040.
Celebrate "Christmas at the Mansion" in Dexter on Saturday and Sunday. Noon-6 p.m. View festive holiday rooms, chat with Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and visit the gift shoppe. A drawing for an old-world Santa will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. Raffle tickets are $5 each. 8341 Island Lake Road, Dexter.
The UMS Choral Union and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra will present Handel's "Messiah" at Hill Auditorium. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. An Ann Arbor tradition since 1879 in the beautiful surroundings of Hill Auditorium, these performances are ultimately the heart of UMS, connecting audiences with the talented people on stage, and with the friends and family who attend each year. Tickets start at $10. 825 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor. 734-763-3333.
The Ypsilanti Area Dancers will present "The Nutcracker" in the Ypsilanti High School Auditorium. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m. Begin your holiday season with the delightful holiday classic performed with new choreography performed by talented local dancers. $20 for priority seating, $18 General, $15 Seniors/Students and $20 at the door. Tickets available online through showtix4u.com. 734-528-0273.