CultureShift Events Guide: Cultural celebrations, Michigan-made music and more

Discover unique arts and culture events in Metro Detroit happening Dec. 21-31, 2023.

A 30-foot tall Kwanzaa kinara in Detroit

The Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara in 2022.

Whether you want to close out your year with cultural celebrations, Michigan-made music or some much-needed laughter, we’ve got something for you. Read on for unique events to end 2023, and we’ll see you back here in 2024!

Happy holidays!


On Tuesday, Dec. 26, the City of Detroit will light the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara for the second year. This 30-foot-tall monument brings a celebration of African American life, community and culture to Campus Martius Park in observance of the first day of Kwanzaa. The celebration will begin in the heated tent of Cadillac Square at 3 p.m., featuring virtual remarks by Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga, live performances and then the Kinara Lighting ceremony once the sun has set. Attendance is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Downtown Detroit Partnership’s website.

Then, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is holding a series of community events that will explore the seven principles of Kwanzaa from Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Monday, Jan. 1. The series includes a daily kinara lighting ceremony, a cultural showcase, a holiday market, a jazz performance and more. For the full program lineup, visit The Wright’s website.

Read more: Maulana Karenga talks with WDET about the creation of Kwanzaa

New Year’s Eve

Beacon Park is hosting a New Year’s Eve Kids Countdown on Sunday, Dec. 31 from 1-5 p.m. for families who want the excitement of ringing in the new year without staying up until midnight. There will be crafts, games and party favors, plus a performance by DJ Invisible emceed by The Youngstarz. Food trucks and other refreshments will be available on site. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Downtown Detroit Partnership’s website.

Or, for a more upscale experience, Willis Show Bar is hosting an all-inclusive New Year’s Eve party featuring live music, DJs and a hosted bar. There will be a champagne toast, hors d’oeuvres and more starting at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 and going until 2 a.m. on Jan. 1. Tickets are $150 per person and the event is 21+. For more information, visit their event page.


On Friday, Dec. 22 and Saturday, Dec. 23, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will perform the score of the heartwarming holiday classic ‘Elf’ live as the film plays on the big screen above them. Performances will take place at 8 p.m. and 3 p.m. respectively and tickets start at $59. Limited seats remain. For more information, visit their website. 

On Sunday, Dec. 31, the Detroit Film Theatre will be screening the award-winning 2022 film ‘RRR’ (Rise Roar Revolt). This exhilarating, action-packed spectacular is set in the 1920s before the fight for independence in India began. The film features impressive choreography, hit musical numbers and a powerful message. The screening begins at 2 p.m. and tickets are $10.50 for general admission or $8.50 for seniors, students and DIA members. For more information, visit the DIA’s website.


Head to the Lager House in Corktown for Underflow Records’ Holiday Showcase on Friday, Dec. 22. The lineup features Underflow artists Remnose, Pesky Kid, Quells, Two Gospels and Michael Labella. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. Guests under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information, visit the Lager House’s website.

Detroit’s top femme singer-songwriters will take the stage at Tin Roof Detroit on Friday, Dec. 22 for Music Mavens of Michigan, a concert fundraiser benefiting Girls Rock Detroit. The lineup features Audra Kubat, Julianne Ankley, Maggie Cocco, Coko Buttafli, Fay Burns, Gwenyth Hayes, Julia Rose, Jacki Daniels and more. Doors open at 6 p.m., music starts at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are pay what you can with a recommended donation of $20. For more information, visit their Eventbrite page.


Looking for a laugh this holiday season? Melanie Hearn will be performing at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle on Thursday, Dec. 21 through Saturday, Dec. 23 with special guest Johanna Medranda and emceed by Kevin Johnson. Melanie is a ‘What’s So Funny About Detroit?’ veteran and she’s sure to put a smile on your face. Tickets are $20 and this event is 18+. For showtimes and more information, visit their website.

Then, Mark Ridley’s is hosting Bill Bushart’s Best in Michigan Stand-Up show on Wednesday, Dec. 27. This showcase will bring together some of the top talent in the state for what’s sure to be a hilarious evening. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15. For more information, visit their website.

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