Celebrate the Holidays in Northern Door County

I spent one post-college year teaching English in public schools in Lower Normandy, France. The year was fabulous, full of challenging teaching experiences, cosmopolitan friends and delicious food. While I couldn’t get enough of this new culture, I was a little concerned about being so far from my Wisconsin home for the holidays. I shouldn’t have worried. One late November day on my trek to school I noticed the streets were abuzz; workers were stringing lights over the public square and decorating with greenery. The following day little wooden sheds popped up, topped with faux snow. A subsequent evening walk with teacher friends exposed me to perhaps my favorite European tradition: the Christmas market. The sheds soon filled with artisans offering homemade mittens and hats, home-grown honey and other charming gifts. The ubiquitous French crepe carts capped each row of temporary shops, and familiar Christmas tunes played gently on high-hung speakers. Best of all, I discovered vin chaud, a delicious mulled red wine sweetened with sugar or sometimes Cognac and festivized with Christmas spices. One could purchase this drink for just a few Euros and stroll the Christmas market in grand anticipation of the season.

Upon my return to the United States I pined for the holiday festivals of France. To my delight, I discovered that Door County shares this tradition and boasts special traditions of its own! Several villages on the door host unique holiday festivals to start the holiday cheer early and help tourists and locals alike prepare for the season.

Ephraim’s Christmas in the Village is the life-size equivalent of a miniature Christmas village. The old inns and shops abutting the road are lit up and decked out for the season, and if the weather is right, a pretty frost coats everything with glittery white. This very family-friendly event features hands-on activities and one-of-a-kind gift shopping. The historic village hall is the centerpiece of the festival, and warm soup and chili are served inside.

Distance from Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 12 minutes (8.6 miles)

Pre-registration required: None

Cost: Free to attend

Baileys Harbor’s Harbor Holidays festival presents a slew of fun holiday preparation activities. Browse crafts and homemade gifts in the warmth of the town hall. Fulfill DIY decorating needs at the Ridges Sanctuary wreath-making workshop or choose a tree at Cornerstone Pub’s tree lot. Take Christmas pictures with mini horses and donkeys at the Toft House. In the late afternoon, carolers and floats take to the Christmas tree-lined streets for a parade. The best part of Harbor Holidays is it remains in the true spirit of giving; most events throughout the festival benefit local nonprofits, like Rotary, the Humane Society and Thumbs Up Riders. Top the evening off with an upbeat yet intimate concert at the Door County Brewing Company.

Distance from Blacksmith Inn: Walkable (.1 – .2 miles)

Pre-registration required: None

Cost: Free to attend

Post-Christmas, Door County keeps the festivities going into the new year. Celebrate with folks who are old friends or feel like old friends at the one of the county’s New Year’s Eve parties, held at many resorts, restaurants and taverns all over the peninsula. The Door County Brewing Company hosts live music on the last night of the year, and the atmosphere is so warm and hospitable, revelers will need to dance.

Distance from Blacksmith Inn: Walkable (.1 – .2 miles)

Pre-registration required: None

Cost: Free to attend

After a long winter’s nap, make your way south to Egg harbor for an early-afternoon parade. The New Year’s Day procession is a rare and all-inclusive affair that invites anyone in their vehicle or on foot to take part—pets included! No pre-registration is needed to be a part of this fun stroll.

Distance from Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 14 minutes (9.3 miles)

Pre-registration required: None

Cost: Free to attend or participate

Many think of December as Door County’s off-season, but it is this time of year that the tiny villages and communities light up with spirit. Though some traditions here are different from those I experienced overseas, each village brings its own charm to the holiday season. The Blacksmith Inn is hands down the coziest spot to stay for a spell, so check our availability for your dates. 

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