Michigan Bucket List: Summer Festivals to Put on Your Calendar
| 6 min read
The alternating cold and warm of spring has fled the state of Michigan, and now two things are certain for Michigan residents: It will be very hot outside for the next few months, and we’re going to celebrate until we beg for autumn and winter to return.
This summer, there’s something for everybody in this lineup of Michigan summer festivals that are a must-add to your bucket list. Whether you’re drawn to celebrations of kites, ships, baby food, melon, sandcastles or hot air balloons, you’re sure to find a festival of interest in the list below.
Summer festivals in Southeast Michigan
Detroit Kite Festival (July 9), Detroit: Set on Cricket Field on Belle Isle, this festival is open to kite enthusiasts of all ages to enjoy kite flying. Live music will also be on-site.
Blue Water Fest: Port Huron’s Boat Weekend (July 12-15), Port Huron: This festival celebrates the city’s maritime legacy during the 2023 Bayview Mackinac Race, a yacht race from Port Huron to Mackinac Island. Festivities include live mannequins, concerts, fireworks and a parade.
African World Festival (July 14-16), Detroit: This festival celebrates Africans and their communities worldwide, hosting over 125 vendors with food, clothing, visual arts, live demonstrations, community resources and more. George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic are set to open this year’s festival, which will be rich with musical acts.
Ann Arbor Art Fair (July 20-22), Ann Arbor: Nearly 1,000 artists set up their wares on 30 city blocks in downtown Ann Arbor for a one-of-a-kind experience. Three nonprofit art fairs happen at the same time – offering patrons a wide variety of fine art and unique finds.
Hot Air Jubilee (July 21-23), Jackson: Every summer, thousands of people flock to Jackson to see more than 25 hot air balloons rise into the sky. Various grounded attractions support these aerial wonders, with craft booths, vendors and an auto show rounding out the bunch. This year’s event follows the 2023 U.S. Women’s Hot Air Balloon National Championship, which will take place July 16-21.
Blue Water SandFest (August 4-6), Port Huron: Grab a pail and plastic shovel, because things are about to get sandy. This festival, which has been recognized among the best sand sculpting festivals in the world, hosts professional and amateur sand sculpting competitions, along with sculpting lessons, live music, cornhole tournaments and more.
Thunder Over Michigan Air Show (Aug. 12-13), Ypsilanti: Pack up your lawn chairs and snacks for a drive-in experience at the historic Willow Run Airport and enjoy this air show with aircraft old and new. Proceeds from the show benefit the Yankee Air Museum.
Detroit Jazz Festival (Sept. 1-4): This is the world’s largest free-admittance jazz festival and has been celebrating Detroit’s history with the genre for over 40 years. Attendees will be treated to some of the world’s best talent at Campus Martius Park.
Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats & Eats (Sept. 1-4), Royal Oak: This festival in downtown Royal Oak plans to feature 200 musical acts this year, as well as the best of the area’s art and cuisine.
Summer festivals in West Michigan
Wings Over Muskegon Air Show (July 6-9), Muskegon: This air show includes a lineup of historic aircraft from WWII bombers to Huey copters. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
National Baby Food Festival (July 19-22), Fremont: This one-of-a-kind festival is a perfect opportunity for some family fun. Highlights include the Baby Crawl, the Baby Food Eating Contest, two parades, a carnival and a car show.
Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival (July 28-Aug. 6), Grand Haven: This popular festival honors the members of the U.S. Coast Guard with a parade of ships into the Grand Haven port, ship tours, waterfront concerts, parades and a street carnival.
Western Michigan Fair (Aug. 8-12), Ludington: This fair has it all: a demolition derby, a wrestling tournament, a hay bale toss contest, a truck and tractor pull, a carnival, harness racing, fireworks and so much more. Head west, and you’ll be in good hands.
National Blueberry Festival (Aug. 10-13), South Haven: If you’re looking to add more fruit to your diet, look no further than this festival, which celebrates the blueberry industry’s importance to Southwest Michigan. Visitors come from all over and are treated to musical performances, a parade, a pie eating contest and craft fair.
Summer festivals in Mid-Michigan
Michigan Challenge Balloonfest (June 23-25), Howell: Hot air balloons are the main attraction: evening glows, launches and fly-ins are on the agenda for this family-friendly festival, as well as carnival rides, kids games and fireworks.
Labadie Ribfest (July 27-30), Bay City: A celebrity rib cook-off, 10 renowned barbeque vendors from across the country and performances from Little River Band, Molly Hatchet, Foghat and others: What more could a barbeque lover want in a weekend?
Michigan Chicken Wing Festival (Sept. 2-3), Lansing: If proteins make up your favorite food group, you may want to spend some time in mid-Michigan this summer. This festival holds a chicken wing eating contest — how could they not — along with professional wrestling, local musical acts and various giveaways.
Summer festivals in Northern Michigan
National Cherry Festival (July 1-8), Traverse City: Look no further than the Cherry Capital of the World for one of Michigan’s largest and most iconic festivals. Listing all its activities is nearly impossible, as there are almost too many to count. Just know that there is something for everyone at this celebration of cherries and Michigan alike.
Michigan Brown Trout Festival (July 14-23), Alpena: This is the longest-running fishing tournament in the Great Lakes, but there is more to this festival than fish. Live music from Michigan bands, Family Fun Day and a beer tent complete the festivities.
Summer festivals in the UP
Marquette Trails Fest (June 23-25): Grab your bike, running shoes or hiking shoes, because the trails are calling. A series of races are available for those who love the outdoors and are willing to test Marquette’s forests.
Upper Peninsula Championship Rodeo (July 7-8), Iron River: Cowboy boots are recommended attire for this festival, which hosts a series of professional rodeo events accompanied by a parade, antique tractor show and crowning of Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen and U.P. Rodeo Princess.
U.P. State Fair (Aug. 14-20), Escanaba: Celebrate the culture of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by attending this fair, which hosts an endless amount of family fun over the course of one week. Few events embrace the spirit of the region with as much pride.
For a full lineup of fairs and festivals in Michigan this summer, you can check Pure Michigan’s events page.