Motor City on the Move: Noel Night


This past weekend featured the annual Noel Night in Detroit’s Midtown district. It was the 40th year for the event, which is touted by many as a “Christmas card come alive.”

The event is centered around the cultural institutions; Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Detroit Public Library (DPL), and the newly renovated Detroit Historical Museum.

Though much of the people were around that area, buildings, companies and restaurants were open throughout Midtown, mainly between Cass and John R. and Kirby and Willis streets.

Detroit Institute of Arts during Noel Night (Chris Zadorozny)

Detroit Institute of Arts during Noel Night (Chris Zadorozny)

Over 60 venues participated in this memorable and holiday-filled event. It’s something that brings people together, and what better way to do so than by using the holiday spirit.

What’s spectacular about this event is the sheer size. Yes, the city of Detroit had it’s tree lighting a couple of weeks ago, but that is centered in just one small area of Downtown Detroit, Campus Martius Park.

Over 20,000 people appeared for the event that included the tree lighting, the opening of the rink, a carnival type atmosphere, a horse and carriage ride, and parties all over the area with live music.

Noel Night offered a different feel, especially for those looking for a new holiday experience. When the holidays can bring people together, especially in Detroit to give the businesses a boost during the holiday season, it can only be a great thing.

Over 50,000 people called Midtown their home, if only for a few short hours to experience what Detroit has to over, pretty much for free.

The DIA, DPL and Historical Museum were all free, as they are on a daily basis (DIA for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties).

Ice sculptures sat in front of the DIA, roped off for pictures and the event itself (the carving), places were lit up and most places offered food and beverages as snacks while you toured many of the great businesses Midtown had to offer.

It’s hard to gauge the sheer size of so many people being down there, but it is very uncommon to have a line stretching from the front door of the DIA all the way to Woodward Ave. It is also very uncommon to see so many people walking around at night on the streets of Detroit.

I’ll be the first one to say, that sometimes, it really isn’t safe, and although crime is going down, you just never know when you might turn a wrong corner.

You didn’t feel that Saturday night. Walking through Midtown, it felt as if you were walking through New York City on an average night there with so many tourists. It felt like NYC a bit, just because of so many people, the businesses being open, the restaurants having more than an hour wait.

If you didn’t go to Noel Night, I feel bad for you because you’re missing out. It’s such an amazing event, and not to mention, the weather was much warmer than in years past.

This is something the city of Detroit needs every year. Whether or not you have been to Detroit a thousand times, or you’re just scared, go to this. It’s going to be another year until this returns, but it’s another year for Detroit to prepare for such a large event. Who knows, maybe it will change your mind.

If this is what our city could look like everyday, I have a few words for all you naysayers: I told you so.

I’ll hold off on that as we have a long way to go, but Noel Night proves that Detroit is on the move.

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