Amanda has lived her whole life in southeastern Michigan. She loves writing about the fun these little towns and cities have to offer!
Canterbury Village is a destination spot in Lake Orion, Michigan. Full of specialty boutiques, artisan vendors, and tasty treats, the village offers a pleasant day out for all. Many weekends throughout the year feature a festival or event, such as the lighted Holiday Stroll (more on that later) or the Michigan Medieval Faire.
Rain, snow, or shine, Canterbury Village is a shopping experience with a style you won't easily find elsewhere. With bonafide castles and century-old cottages that are now home to local businesses, the historical feel is what brings many fans back again and again. Though the specific stores and restaurants within the village have changed over the years, it holds a steady place in many Michigan hearts.
From 1993 to 2019, Canterbury Village was home to one of Michigan's biggest year-round Christmas stores, Aldridge's Always Christmas. The multi-floor, holiday extravaganza held thousands of ornaments, plus a beautifully displayed collection of Department 56 village pieces. Times change, however, and the store slowly downsized over the years before closing for good with its final season in December, 2019.
Christmas is far from gone from Canterbury Village though! The grounds have always been filled with gorgeous strings of lights and life-size displays during December, but they seriously took things up a notch in 2020 with the introduction of the Holiday Stroll! Featuring beloved holiday characters, giant Christmas trees, and close to a million lights, Canterbury's Holiday Stroll will hopefully be a Michigan family tradition for years to come.
The walk throughout the village will take you down many cobblestone paths and paved walkways. No matter which direction you take, unique stores and services are there to greet you. The small businesses that make up the shops at Canterbury Village have changed frequently throughout the years, but the diverse mix always makes for a fun trip.
For example, sister shops Celtic Connection and Highland Fling were open to customers since 1999 and closed their doors only recently in 2016. As the names might suggest, you could find all things Irish and Scottish in here. Stained glass and mosaic art have both featured at various times throughout the decades. At one point a tea store filled with china and lace sold Victorian style accessories. And for years The Enchanted Cottage was the place to go for lovers of fantasy and believers in magic.
Services at Canterbury Village have ranged from photography to floral arrangements to clock repair. One constant popularity is the wedding business. There is a chapel on site as well as a banquet facility (Kings Court Castle).
From boutique style clothing to handmade soaps, dragons and fairies to toys and candy, stained glass to jewelry of every style, there is something for everyone. It's a great place to Christmas shop for one-of-a-kind gifts!
You simply cannot visit a place such as Canterbury Village and not develop a sweet tooth for nostalgic candies or a sudden craving for donuts and ice cream. This is thanks to the many sweets shops that have populated the village for its lifespan. Whether it's winter and you're craving hot chocolate and fudge or it's summertime and you need a cold slush drink to cool you down, they've got you covered.
It is not uncommon to find homemade treats such as fudge, cookie dough, cupcakes, or decorated cookies in various Canterbury Village shops at any given time. Nowadays come visit the Yates Cider Mill Shop. This Yates store serves the same apple cider and delicious donuts that you're used to from the mill located in Rochester Hills, MI. In addition, they also sell muffins, ice cream, lattes, shakes, and souvenir items such as postcards.
Need some "real" food after all that sugar?
The Clansman Gaelic Pub is a family-friendly, sit-down restaurant. There is a bar for those of you looking to grab a drink; and burgers on pretzel buns, the spicy Dragon Chicken Sandwich, homemade chips, pizza, and Friday fish give plenty of meal choices.
Just a note, while you could once dine in a more formal setting inside of the Kings Court Castle, this is no longer the case. The castle is now used strictly for banquet festivities and other pre-arranged events.
The many weekend events are what keep Canterbury Village a local attraction as opposed to simply a shopping center. Craft sales, scavenger hunts, car shows, and more have been regularly held on the grounds over the decades. The village also hosts many community events (often free entry with only a charge for parking, or a donation to the Village Food Pantry) with fun for the kids: a helicopter Easter egg drop, a St. Patrick's Day leprechaun coin hunt, superhero and princess weekends, etc!
But keep your eye on the festivals and strolls, where the big excitement happens! Festivals nowadays include themes such as tacos, barbecue, donuts and cider (for the fall season), or even hippies! Vendors pop up along the pathways, food trucks roll in, and live bands play for hours.
If you're wondering what a "Stroll" is, these are relatively recent events in Canterbury Village that have taken off in a big way. Your ticketed entry sends you on a guided (via specific pathways) walk throughout the village which will be decked out in above-and-beyond decoration (often animatronic!) fitting the Stroll's theme. For example, the aforementioned Holiday Stroll turns Canterbury Village into a winter wonderland for the whole family to marvel over while still enjoying the shops and treats of a normal time in the village.
The Halloween Stroll is a family-friendly, nighttime environment mixed with professional-level spooky décor, laser lights, and animated props. Rather than the "jump scares" that you experience in a haunted house, Canterbury Village instead focuses on building an immersive Halloween atmosphere that can be enjoyed by all ages.
But the most popular Canterbury Village Stroll is probably the new (as of 2021) Dino Stroll! Like it sounds, this is a day out with the family to walk among life-size dinosaurs! The T-rex towers over all, the dilophosaurus spits cool water at hot onlookers, the brachiosaurus "munch" tree leaves, and the velociraptors actually walk around and roar at guests!
Ultimately it's up to you to decide what you believe in, but "Is Canterbury Village haunted?" is a common question asked around the place - and ghost hunters say yes! The Motor City Ghost Hunters have come out for nighttime investigations after receiving reports from village shopkeepers on multiple occasions. You can listen to the audio findings, watch the video of flashlight communication, and read the reports for Canterbury Village here.
Worth a Visit
Only you get to decide whether a trip out to Canterbury Village for a day is worth your time. But if you live nearby in Michigan, give it a chance! And for locals in Lake Orion you really can't beat this little village for cheap and easy entertainment on a slow weekend. May there be many more years ahead for this historical shopping and entertainment destination!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.