Spring … summer … If you’re a warm weather person like I am, you’re probably counting down the (bittersweet) days of winter’s slumber to hibernation’s end when outdoor adventures begin! Michigan offers a vast array of festival fun that will keep you dreaming through these chilly winter days of making memories all summer long! Here’s our list of must-see Michigan festivals!
And if you’re one of those cold-blooded types who can’t get enough of winter, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a list of Michigan festivals in fall & winter, too!
Michigan, MI Home Sweet Home!
When I was growing up, I remember, like most kids, of dreaming of ending up some place greater than “here” [Michigan]. But as I grew, so did my love and appreciation for this grand state I am proud to call home. I entered my adult years when the recession hit Michigan, hard. Yet even in those hard times as Michigan transitioned from a lone automotive focus to a growing tourism destination, I found it offered far more than I could ever have dreamed! And years later I’m still happily discovering all that Michigan has to offer!
Michigan Festivals For Fun
With over 50 spring and summer festivals to choose from according to Pure Michigan® alone, we figure that’s just a drop in the bucket of what Michigan truly has to offer! (OhioFestivals.net lists over 750 spring/summer celebrations from small towns to big cities in their Michigan Festivals schedule!) So, here is just a tease to help you start planning your warm-weather wanders in our friendly mitten state!
HOLLAND’S TULIP TIME
FREE & up (based on events.)
- Holland’s Tulip Time Festival
Imagine a town painted in romantic hues by over 5 million tulips! Sounds like a dream sequence from some movie? It may – but it’s not! Undeniably, this is the reality of Holland, Michigan’s Tulip Time Festival, the largest of its kind in America! But more than just flowers, Tulip Time has celebrated the area’s rich Dutch heritage for 90 years strong.
Without a doubt there are far too many activities to highlight during Holland’s biggest festival, which features 9 days chock-full of incredible events for all ages! From breathtaking, scenic views that look like they came straight from a painting, to shopping artisanal crafts including Dutch delft art and dishes that will delight your palate. To activities for the young and active. Additionally, a plethora of live entertainment … Tulip Time is definitely a festival bloom-ing full of memories to be made! So pack up those wooden shoes … or head to Holland, Michigan to get yourself a pair! This is one from the list of Michigan festivals you won’t want to miss.
Here’s just a tease of Windmill Island Gardens in Holland with over 102,000 tulips in bloom!
MACKINAC LILAC FESTIVAL
FREE & up (based on events.)
As if the beauty of Mackinac Island wasn’t enough of a draw, imagine the storybook isle permeated by the lovely fragrance of fresh lilacs as you take in the surrounding fresh-water, beauty of Lake Huron! Evolving all the way from a single-day celebration in 1949 to the 10-day extravaganza it is today, the Lilac Festival is Mackinac Island’s first and largest celebration of summer! Markedly, it includes events like the Lilac Festival 10K run/walk, the Lilac Festival Queen Coronation, a Taste of Mackinac and the Dog & Pony and Grand parades! With no cars on the Island, you’re sure to feel like you’re stepping back, Somewhere in Time!
Enjoy a bit of the island’s rich history with lilacs and garden tips from 906 Outdoor’s “Discovering” episode.
TRAVERSE CITY’S NATIONAL CHERRY FESTIVAL
FREE & up (based on events.)
- Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival
In particular, the west side of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula bursts with the bounty of some of summer’s juiciest gems! Among the treasure trove of produce are sweet, golden peaches (my favorite!), robust blueberries and ravishing raspberries in the most luscious shades. Furthermore, think acres of vineyards as far as the eye can see, boasting a variety of sun-soaked grapes that transform into some of the region’s most incredible wines. (Just to name a few!) But one of the crowning jewels? Traverse City’s ruby-red cherries, so remarkable that they have garnered a nationally recognized, week-long Michigan festival! The celebration’s long, unique history includes the attendance of two U.S. Presidents (and a once world-record-breaking 17′ 6″ cherry pie that weighed in at a whopping 28,350 pounds in 1987!) Offering a variety of events for a wide range of ages, this Michigan festival is perfect for the picking!
DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL
- Detroit Jazz Festival
It’s no secret that Michigan was once home for great musicians like Madonna (Bay City), Kid Rock (Romeo), Eminem (Detroit), Diana Ross (Detroit), Sonny Bono (Detroit) and many more! A city that embraces many music genres, Detroit (once known as Motor City and also Motown) has been regarded as a “major cultural center” with great contributions to the creative industry. So it’s no surprise that among Michigan’s festivals, you’ll find any number of incredible music themes happening there throughout the year!
“For nearly 40 years, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation has celebrated Detroit’s rich history of jazz music by providing year-round concerts and educational programming, and of course, organizing the world’s largest free jazz festival, featuring world-class talent, over Labor Day weekend.
With the support of corporate sponsors, philanthropic organizations, individual donors and volunteers, the Detroit Jazz Festival is free to music fans looking to revel in the artistry and improvisation of jazz legends, rising stars, legacy and homecoming artists. Each year’s lineup of more than 60 performances as remarkable and diverse as the genre itself, as well as spontaneous late-night jam sessions, offers something for everyone.
Our year-round educational programming creates one-of-a-kind opportunities for regional students and aspiring musicians to help them achieve artistic excellence, while our concerts celebrate the works of students and mentors, in addition to local and national artists.” (as excerpted from DetroitJazzFest.org)
Enjoy this short promotion by musician Ron Carter from the 2016 festival and see why you’ll want to “choose Detroit” for your Michigan festivals experiences this year as well:
Frankenmuth, Michigan Festivals In Spring & Summer
“Frankenmuth in Bloom” means our streets blush with the colors of spring and summer. Basically, it’s the perfect time to enjoy our charming curb appeal! Every inch of our town (including Bronner’s) is artfully landscaped with bright seasonal flowers, lilacs, evergreens and blossoming trees. In fact, our streetscape has been nationally recognized as an America in Bloom champion for our outstanding landscaping, floral displays and parks. Hundreds of flats of flowers and more than 2,000 individual pots are planted by the city’s Clean Team in May. In addition, 400 locally grown hanging baskets pepper the street’s quilt of colors in hues of yellow, red, purple, pink and green. We welcome you to visit Frankenmuth through all the seasons. But we are especially excited to share our beautiful blooms with you in the summer and spring!
Frankenmuth is probably one of the most festive towns I have ever seen in my life, so it’s no surprise it has come to be known as Michigan’s “Festival City”! Given that they host 14 different spring and summer festivals in this town alone, it seems like there is always something going on. At such a beautiful time of the year, it seemed only fitting to showcase a few fun Frankenmuth extras to add to your “Michigan Festivals” list! Wilkommen to Frankenmuth:
BAVARIAN EASTER CELEBRATION
- March 19 – April 18, 2021
Known as “Osterbrunnen” in Franconia, Germany, Frankenmuth celebrates the centuries-old tradition of decking the town and fountains with colorful egg and garland displays to delight young and old alike. Additionally, many other egg-ceptional local businesses join in on the egg-citement, offering fun experiences and classes that are sure to make you hop-py! Still curious? Take a peek in town at Frankenmuth’s 2017 Egg celebration:
BALLOONS OVER BAVARIAN INN & DOG BOWL
- May 28 – May 31, 2021
- Balloons Over Bavaria & Dog Fun Fest
Two festivals in ONE weekend and in ONE place! From the magical appeal of watching colorful air balloons float over Michigan’s Little Bavaria and glow into the night, to all sorts of hilarity and entertainment during more than a dozen unique Dog Bowl events – you’ll want to load up the car, turn the sub-woof-er up and head in to Frankenmuth for Memorial Day weekend!
Ranges from FREE to $5
- June 10 – June 13, 2021
- The Bavarian Festival
Frankenmuth’s 62nd Annual Bavarian Fest offers fun for all ages whether you make the trek just for the day or stay for the entire weekend! Experiences include “the Free Street Party, traditional Maibaum dancers and Da Frankenmuda Fratz’n” As well as “Bavarian Festival Olympics and the Bavarian Festival Parade.” You’re sure to find the stuff memories are made of and more in the full Bavarian Fest Schedule of Events! (Bronner’s unique parade float entry each year makes for some pretty cool post-parade photo ops too!)
FRANKENMUTH FLOWER FESTIVAL
- August 6 – August 15, 2021
- Frankenmuth Flower Festival
Because you can never have enough festivals … or color in your life – Grandpa Tiny’s Farm is bringing back their U-Pick Sunflower fest even BIGGER and better in a now, city-wide celebration aptly renamed the “Frankenmuth Flower Festival!”
Perfect for lovers of gardening, art, foodies or those who simply love the beauty of idyllic landscapes set in a dreamy, fairy-tale like town, Frankenmuth Flower Fest will offer as robust a calendar of diverse events over two days as blooms in the town!
View plein air painters on Grandpa Tiny’s farm and around town, with wet paint sales both days! Soak in the color during a wine-paired, farm-to-fork dinner in the patch (pre-sales only) or wear the color during the Sunflower Fun Color Run! If running is not your thing, join the Frankenmuth Garden Walk (with gourmet edibles and refreshments). Dan Hopp and Master Gardeners will give tours at public and private gardens in Frankenmuth to benefit the Frankenmuth Farmers Market and City Beautification. The Historical Museum will have a “flour” Bake Sale and Tiny’s Farm will host a garden of vendors. (*Schedule of events subject to change.)
To sweeten the pot? The Michigan Honey Festival will also be running down at Frankenmuth’s Heritage park in the Harvey Kern Pavilion Saturday, August 7!
Check Frankenmuth Flower Fest event page for details as they continue to develop.
FRANKENMUTH AUTO FEST
FREE to $10
- September 10 – 12, 2021
- Frankenmuth Auto Fest
Even with our deep German roots, Frankenmuth takes pride in celebrating decades of rich American history in automotive innovation during Frankenmuth’s annual Auto Fest weekend. If you love the rumble and roar of fast American muscle, than you won’t want to miss this massive showcase with over 2,500 classic cars, street rods, muscle cars and more! Whether you choose to join us when Main Street shuts down on Friday night for the Big Block Party, find a seat along Main Street Saturday or Sunday to watch the cars cruise by, or head down to Heritage Park where you’ll find even more cars, dancing and live music, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed! But you don’t have to take our word for it … you can take Dennis Gage’s word from My Classic Car®!
$10.00 (Kids 15 & under FREE) Sunday is FREE All Day
- September 16 – 19, 2021
- Frankenmuth Oktoberfest
Ever dreamed of visiting Germany to experience an authentic Oktoberfest? You may not have to; Frankenmuth is not just any American – German town!
According to the Frankenmuth Oktoberfest website, “Lord Mayor Christian Ude and the German Parliament from Munich gave an official proclamation in 1996. Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest was declared the first Oktoberfest to operate with the blessing of the original Oktoberfest in Munich.
With this proclamation, the event was moved into September to coincide with the opening of the Munich event.” So pack up your dirndl or lederhosen and head into “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” where music, entertainment, delicious food and authentic, imported Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest beer awaits you!