When the weather warms up, you can find exciting celebrations happening every weekend across Michigan. From food and music festivals to art fairs and beach parties, there are hundreds of amazing Michigan summer festivals to choose from.
Based on my experience attending these events, here are some of my absolute favorite summer festivals that you don’t want to miss.
1. National Cherry Festival
Without a doubt one of the best festivals in Michigan, the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City is on every Michigander’s summer bucket list. Held every July, this is one sweet celebration of cherries, summer fun and our state’s agricultural heritage.
I try to make it up to Traverse City each summer for this incredible festival. The cherry pit spit is a favorite wacky event – seeing how far competitors can spit a cherry pit is very entertaining! The cherry pie eating contest is my kind of messy fun.
And you can sample so many creative cherry dishes and drinks. But beyond the cherry focus, there are air shows, concerts, parades, a classic car show, arts and crafts fair, and a midway with carnival rides and games. No summer festival does it better than Traverse City’s National Cherry Fest.
2. Ann Arbor Art Fair
One of the country’s largest and most prestigious outdoor art fairs happens annually in Ann Arbor, attracting creative talent from around the globe. Peruse incredible art while enjoying street performances, food and music.
I’m continually amazed by the sheer talent on display at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. It represents mediums I’ve never even heard of! Even if you’re not an art collector, browsing the endless rows of vibrant paintings, life-like sculptures, intricate jewelry and more is incredible.
Grab some food from the street vendors and sit on a lawn to people watch. I love listening to impromptu music performances on street corners too. The art fair utilizes the whole downtown area, so be sure to wear comfy walking shoes! Don’t miss this cultural summer highlight.
3. Summerfest in Milwaukee
Head just over the Wisconsin border to Milwaukee for one of America’s largest music festivals – the aptly named Summerfest. With 11 concert stages and over 1,000 acts ranging from rock to hip hop to country, you’re sure to enjoy amazing live music.
Even though it’s not technically in Michigan, Milwaukee’s Summerfest is well worth the drive. It blows every other music festival in the Midwest away in terms of size, scope, and star power on the lineup.
I make the trip every couple years and have seen acts like Bruno Mars, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, and Pitbull absolutely crush it on the massive main stage. Make sure to explore the other 10 side stages too that highlight local acts.
And when you need a music break, enjoy the carnival rides or sample Wisconsin’s famous cheese curds. If live music is your thing, Summerfest needs to be on your summer bucket list!
4. Muskegon Summer Wine Festival
Sip and sample a variety of fine wines along the scenic shore of Muskegon Lake at this annual wine festival. Enjoy live music while tasting wines from Michigan wineries as well as globally produced varietals.
Any festival that involves drinking wine in a beautiful lakeside setting is okay in my book! Muskegon’s Summer Wine Festival has quickly become one of my favorites. The live music provides an upbeat soundtrack as you wander between the various tasting tents set up along the boardwalk.
And you can purchase bottles from your favorite vintners too. I like attending seminars to learn about the various wine regions. Beyond the wine, make sure to check out the local food vendors, wine-themed marketplace, and arts fair. It’s a very sophisticated and fun way to spend a summer weekend
5. UP State Fair
Experience classic state fair fun in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula during the UP State Fair. Check out livestock shows, demolition derbies, truck and tractor pulls, carnival rides and indulge in time-honored fair fare.
The UP State Fair has all the charm and character of an old-fashioned county fair, but even bigger and better since it represents the whole U.P! I love checking out entries for the blue ribbon baking and canning contests – Yooper grannies take those seriously.
And the carnival midway with amazing rides and greasy food is a must. Watching kids show their prized cows and pigs is heartwarming. And you have to catch some type of motorized vehicle race or show – demolition derbies, truck pulls, etc. The U.P. State Fair is the perfect place to let your inner farm kid run free!
6. National Baby Food Festival
This wacky annual festival located in “Baby Food Capital of the World” Fremont, MI pays homage to the baby food industry. Highlights include a Baby Crawl Contest, Little Prince and Princess Pageant, parade of floats, 5k run and Baby Food Cook-Off.
I stumbled upon the National Baby Food Festival a few years ago and just had to see what this quirky event was all about! Turns out little Fremont used to be the home of Gerber Products Company, and they have the baby food celebrations down.
Beyond the obvious baby costume contest and crawl races, I got a kick out of the creative baby food dishes served up during the cook-off competition. Who knew you could make such gourmet cuisine starting with pureed peas?
The whole town really embraces the silly baby theme too – you’ll see lots of clever floats and costumes during the parade. Perfect for new parents and those young at heart!
7. Coast Guard Festival
Honor the United States Coast Guard during this lively lakefront festival in coastal Grand Haven. Highlights include a carnival, parades, fireworks displays over Lake Michigan, a rubber duck race, musical entertainment and more.
I’ve always had an appreciation for the US Coast Guard and the work they do. So I really enjoy Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Festival every year. The ships in port offer public tours and helicopter rides. And I love watching the thrilling Coast Guard rescue demonstrations on the water.
Beyond celebrating the military, it’s packed with quintessential summer fun. Carnival rides along the water, huge parades, nightly fireworks, tasty fair food, and concerts keep you entertained. And theRubber Duckie Race where thousands of little ducks float down the Grand River is hilarious to watch. It’s a patriotic summer bash for all ages!
8. Port Huron Float Down
Thousands of eager floaters lay back and lazily drift three miles down the St. Clair River during this popular summer event. Revelers depart from Port Huron and aim to arrive in Marysville on inner tubes, rafts, kayaks and other floatable devices.
Floating down a river with a few thousand strangers may sound chaotic, but the Port Huron Float Down is actually magical! I did it a few years ago and loved the leisurely ride on the beautiful St. Clair River. Outfit your vessel – simple pool raft, kayak, giant swan floatie – with snacks, drinks (no glass), water guns, speakers, etc.
Some even deck out their boats with water slides! Along the journey, boats anchor for makeshift parties. The whole event has a fun, relaxed summer vibe. Just be prepared to walk back to your car afterward or catch a shuttle ride. An awesome laid-back adventure!
9. Woodward Dream Cruise
There’s nothing more quintessentially summer than classic cars, so head to Detroit’s world-famous Woodward Dream Cruise to check out over 1 million muscle cars, street rods and custom vehicles spanning many decades cruising down the avenue.
Even if you’re not a huge classic car fanatic, the Woodward Dream Cruise has to be experienced at least once. Every car enthusiast within a 500 mile radius seems to converge on Woodward Avenue showing off their rides.
10. Fowlerville Family Fair
Just find a parking lot or side street to safely post up in and watch thousands of mint condition and tricked out cars cruise by – it’s like living in an old Beach Boys song! Beyond the cars, it’s a giant summer party with festivals, concerts, and vendors lining Woodward Avenue too. An only-in-Detroit tradition celebrating Motor City pride.
Nestled in the heart of Livingston County, the small town of Fowlerville has hosted the beloved Fowlerville Family Fair every summer for over 50 years. The fairgrounds come alive during the six-day event held at the Fowlerville Fairgrounds, located right in town.
The midway features amusement park rides like the Zipper, Tilt-a-Whirl and Ferris wheel operated by Wade Shows, a carnival company that travels the county fair circuit all summer long. Beyond the carnival rides and junk food, the Fowlerville Family Fair has all kinds of family-friendly entertainment and contests.
11. Island Arts Fair on Mackinac Island
Amid the lush forests and Victorian charm of Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s most prestigious juried fine art shows takes place each summer – the Island Arts Fair.
From vivid paintings to unique jewelry to decorative wood carvings, the Island Arts Fair is a can’t-miss event for art lovers and summer travelers alike. To provide a scenic backdrop for such creative talent, the open-air art fair utilizes the beautiful landscape of Mackinac Island’s harbor.
All artists and media have to apply and be juried to ensure only the highest quality work is permitted. Painters make up a large portion of the show with watercolors, oils, acrylics, and mixed media pieces showcasing scenes of Michigan and beyond.
At the end of the day, many pieces have found new homes with eager buyers. With its rich history, stunning scenery and talented artists, the Island Arts Fair is an unforgettable island event for art collectors and also casual admirers who simply appreciate creativity in an idyllic setting.
12. Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival
The Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival is an annual event that takes place in Ypsilanti. Hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild, this festival showcases many of Michigan’s finest breweries and offers a wide variety of fresh, local Michigan beers.
The festival takes place at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town. Attendees can sample a diverse selection of beers and enjoy live music from a variety of Michigan bands. Food is also available for purchase inside the festival to complement the beer tasting experience.
13. Petoskey Stone Festival
The Petoskey Stone Festival is a highly anticipated annual event that celebrates the natural beauty and geological significance of the Petoskey stone. The Petoskey stone, Michigan’s state stone, is a unique fossilized coral that can only be found in the Great Lakes region, particularly along the shores of Lake Michigan.
During the festival, attendees have the opportunity to participate in various activities and events centered around the Petoskey stone. One of the highlights is the Petoskey stone hunt, where eager festivalgoers can scour the nearby shoreline in search of these distinct stone treasures.
In addition to the stone hunt, the Petoskey Stone Festival features a wide range of entertainment and educational activities. Visitors can attend workshops and demonstrations where they can learn about the geology and formation of the Petoskey stone and even try their hand at polishing and shaping these unique fossils.
Artisans and craftsmen showcase their Petoskey stone jewelry, artwork, and other creations, providing a perfect opportunity for attendees to take home a one-of-a-kind memento of the festival.
Food vendors offering delicious local fare, live music performances, and a vibrant marketplace featuring a variety of vendors complete the festival atmosphere. This family-friendly event provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with the local community, learn about the geological wonders of the region, and appreciate the beauty of the Petoskey stone in all its forms.
With its abundance of beaches, lakes, agriculture, and cities, Michigan really does summer festivals better than anywhere. I hope this list gives you some ideas when planning your warm-weather fun.
From wine tasting to riding giant swan floats down a river, embracing the creative and laid-back festival culture is an essential part of enjoying a Michigan summer!