Every summer the little town of Holly, Michigan is host to the Michigan Renaissance Festival (not the only ren faire in Michigan, for the record, just the biggest). Unknown to me until this fall, beautiful and historic downtown Holly is also the home of an annual Dickens Festival.
I've been to the Ren Fest once, but aside from that, I don't think I'd been to Holly, and never downtown. Which turns out to be a real shame because it is wonderful. Since I worked on Saturday, and Kimmy and I have plans every Sunday, we decided to check out the Dickens Festival on Friday evening when they had a parade and lighting ceremony scheduled.
Sadly, we did not make it in time for either the parade nor the lighting. There were still a number of shops open, though, and since we'd driven forty minutes to get there, we decided to stick around and check this place out. Historic downtown is only a few blocks long, but the buildings are in perfect condition and the vintage architecture is just delightful (for those of us into that sort of thing).
Located at 110 Battle Alley (sic) is the Historic Holly Hotel where they serve a Victorian tea most afternoons and host various clubs and brunches. It is also supposed to be notoriously haunted, which means Kimmy, who maintains American Haunts, and I will probably be paying that place a visit once she returns from California.
Anyway. On the corner past the hotel, we came across a little chimenea where we warmed our hands and got our bearings. There are a number of cute folksy shops along that stretch of street, and we wandered through a few of them, delighting in what we found. I want to highlight one particular store here, though, the Great Lakes Market Place. You can find all manner of tasty Michigan-made delights, such as Better Made chips, Faygo pop, Sanders chocolates, and much, much more. There is also a counter serving hand-dipped ice cream and locally roasted organic coffees and tea, including chai.
Everyone we encountered was cheerful and friendly from the boys behind the coffee counter to the owners of the antiques shop down the street. It was darn cold that night, and I guess the crowds cleared out pretty quickly after the lighting ceremony.
It's too bad that we missed out on the Dickens Festival, but there is always next year, and we did learn that Holly is a very worthy daytime destination. Maybe this next year we'll actually make it to the Renaissance Festival, as well.
Merry Winter from Historic Downtown Holly, Michigan!