By Jeremy Witt, West Michigan Tourist Association
With summer comes a slew of festivals in West Michigan, each entirely unique and memorable. We’re talking about festivals centered around food, beer, nature, culture, and more throughout the next few months. With festivals nearly every week throughout the Summer, there’s always something right around the corner for you to experience with these West Michigan festivals.
June Festivals in West Michigan
Mecosta County hosts the Barryton Lilac Festival Craft and Vendor Show from June 2nd to 4th. The Lilac Festival is a chance for families to come out and do something fun at a family-friendly event. The festival kicks off with a talent show, pony rides, and a petting zoo, and is in full swing on Saturday with a car show, free-throw shoot out, as well as the vendor and craft show. The festival wraps up on Sunday with a community potluck in the park.
Rockford has two festivals in June that need to be on your schedule. The Rockford Reading Festival is on Saturday, June 3rd. Numerous authors will have booths selling and talking about their books. This is a fun way to scratch your summer reading addiction. From June 9th to 11th, is the 49th Annual Start of Summer Celebration. Food, arts and crafts, free kids activities, carnival rides, beer tents, and more make this a fun event for the whole family to attend. Family fun is always at the center of Rockford’s summer festival lineup.
June is popular in Muskegon with the Antique Tractor and Engine Show from June 8th to 10th, and the White Lake Arts & Crafts Festival on June 17th to 18th.
The National Cereal Fest in Battle Creek is June 9th and 10th, celebrating the birthplace of cereal. The festival kicks off with the Grand Cereal Parade, and continues on the next day with the World’s Longest Breakfast Table.
Celebrate Mackinac Island’s treasured blooms at the Lilac Festival. Running from June 9th to 18th, discover over 100 species of the sweetest smelling lilacs. Festival events abound, including a Dog & Pony Parade, Taste of Mackinac, hayrides, family fun playground, walking tours, artist expos, planting seminars, live music, and more.
Feast of the Strawberry Moon is June 10th and 11th, in Grand Haven. The event includes reenactments, a kids’ day, live entertainment, and more as they explore the middle-ground world that evolved between Europeans and the Native Americans in the Great Lakes Region during the pre-1800 fur trade era.
Grand Haven hosts some of West Michigan’s fan-favorite festivals every summer. The Spring Lake Heritage Festival is June 12th to 17th, and has family fun like no other. The following week is the Grand Haven Art Festival on June 24th and 25th. The event seeks to provide the community and visitors with a unique opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind art, directly from the artists.
River Country is hosting a variety of events all month long. The 61st Annual Three Rivers Water Fest is in downtown Three Rivers on June 15th to 17th, featuring arts and crafts, food vendors, midway, classic car show, live music, parade, fireworks and more. Also in June are the Michigan Hydroplane Boat Races from June 16th to 18th, with small boats made from thin wood strips going 100 miles per hour. June concludes with Sturgis Fest on June 17th to 25th.
Visit Ionia on Saturday June 17th, as Main Street is transformed into the Yellow Brick Road before your very eyes for the annual Wizard of Oz Festival! As a tribute to the Wizard of Oz, they have planned a full day of fun for everyone. From arts and crafts to vintage treasures, vendors will be offering their finest wares. The movie that started it all will be shown at the historic Ionia Theatre, with tickets priced as they were 78 years ago at just 25 cents per person.
Coldwater’s Strawberry Festival is Saturday, June 17th with everything themed like the little red fruit. The festival parade starts at 11am, with more than 150 exciting entries of floats, musical entertainment, motorcades, marching bands, clowns, and acrobats that will keep you entertained for two hours.
Harborfest is South Haven’s annual celebration of the area’s unique maritime history. For 25 years, Harborfest has kicked off summer on Father’s Day weekend, June 16th to 18th, with free live music, food and craft fairs, Dragon boat races, kids activities, beer garden and more! Harborfest is sponsored entirely by local businesses and volunteers of South Haven.
As part of Harborfest, the Michigan Maritime Museum presents the 36th Antique & Classic Boat Show on Saturday, June 17th. This event celebrates all kinds of antique and classic small craft from powerboats to paddle boats. Woodworkers and collectors alike will show their boats, demonstrations on boat building techniques will be featured, and toy boat building will be available for kids. The aim is to help perpetuate the building, restoration, and use of classic boats and small craft to give participants and the public an entertaining and informative learning experience.
For 42 years, the St. Ignace Car Show has been a Michigan summer staple for people who love automobiles. This year, the Car Show weekend is June 22nd to 24th, with hundreds of custom, antique, and celebrity automobiles on display in the streets of this quaint Upper Peninsula community. This event is great for families, and conveniently located near beaches, parks, hiking trails, and Mackinac Island ferries.
The Bay Harbor Vintage Car and Boat Festival in Petoskey brings you an amazing show on June 22nd and 24th with a fantastic collection of classic cars and wooden boats! This event brings thousands of people from across the Midwest with their families to see this elegant gathering of vintage cars and motor boats.
Grab your walking shoes and mark your calendar for the upcoming Marquette Trails Festival from June 23rd to 25th. Spend some time in the great outdoors at this fun event!
For history buffs, the Civil War Muster in Ludington is June 23rd and 24th at Historic White Pine Village. Become one with history while being surrounded by civil war re-enactors.
The 14th Annual Blues Festival will be held in Marshall on Saturday, June 24th. The event is headlined by the Luther Badman Keith Blues Band, along with guest bands performing all day. Bring a lawn chair, sit right downtown on Michigan Avenue, and enjoy the blues.
Located on Walloon Lake, Hotel Walloon is hosting their Walloon Water Sports Festival on Saturday, June 24th. See water ski shows by the Grand City Show Skiers at 11am and 1:30pm. With summer comes exciting times on the water at Hotel Walloon.
June in Battle Creek means it’s time for the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival from June 29th to July 4th. Balloon launches or fly-ins take place every night (weather dependent) and air shows take place at noon.
Cadillac Freedom Festival in Cadillac is a fantastic, family-friendly festival from June 30th to July 2nd. Enjoy a Kids Carnival, Freedom 5k, disc golf tournament, and more over this three-day event up north.
July Festivals in West Michigan
When it comes to summer festivals, Traverse City packs the schedule with something happening nearly every week. One of the biggest festivals in the area is the National Cherry Festival, which runs from July 1st to 8th. Cherry Festival celebrates every year with over 150 family activities including air shows, fireworks, parades, games, races, midway rides, nightly outdoor concerts, and plenty of chances to taste delicious cherry products.
If you consider yourself an art enthusiast, the 49th Annual West Shore Art Fair in Ludington is July 1st and 2nd, featuring over 100 jury selected fine artists competing with a variety of media including clay, fiber, glass, painting, photography, and more.
There are events galore in Marquette, so clear some time to attend at least one of these fine festivals! The International Food Festival is from July 2nd to 5th, Hiawatha Music Festival from July 21st to 23rd, and Blueberry Festival on July 28th.
Shanty Creek’s Freedom Festival is July 3rd. Activities include games and activities for kids, bounce house, water slide, live music, lawn games and disc golf, swimming pool, face painting, and more. Admission is free with a nominal fee for some activities.
Celebrate Independence Day in the Charlevoix area at the Boyne City 4th of July Festival on July 3rd and Beaver Island’s celebration on July 4th. July also brings the tunes with the Charlevoix Venetian Festival from July 15th and 22nd, and the Beaver Island Music Festival from July 20th and 22nd.
The Lakeshore Art Festival features a unique blend of arts, crafts, music, food, and fun in beautiful downtown Muskegon on July 7th and 8th. With nearly 300 fine art and specialty craft exhibitors, children’s activities, specialty food items, street performers and multiple interactive art stations this event is an artful experience for all to enjoy!
Car enthusiasts, rev up your engines for the Scottville Summerfest when it rolls into Ludington on July 7th and 8th. There’s a Friday night car cruise and Saturday is headlined by the Annual Classic Car Show.
Ionia Free Fair in Ionia is July 13th to 22nd with camping, a parade, live entertainment, and more across ten days. The whole festival is very affordable and, best of all, very fun!
Mount Pleasant has festivals throughout July, making it easy to find something for you and your family. On July 15th, car collectors from across the state come together for the Downtown Mount Pleasant Car Show. NativeFest, from July 24th to 29th, features an American Indian Dance, music and comedy shows, car bingo, and more. With festivals and events throughout the month, you’re bound to find something that you’ll love in Mount Pleasant.
Beaver Island Music Festival promotes the variety and tradition of all music and art, and the Beaver Island Boat Company will help you get there. Being located off the grid in the middle of Lake Michigan’s largest island, it’s easily known as one of the most unique music festivals in northern Michigan. Load up your camping gear, ride the boat over during the festival week from July 20th to 22nd, and listen to musicians fill the air with their laid-back tunes on your way to rock out in the woods with a great group of friends.
Celebrate Polish culture at the Coldwater’s Polish Festival on July 20th to 22nd, before ending the Coldwater’s summer festival season the following month with the County Fair from August 6th to 12th.
For your inner artists, there’s also the 49th Annual Cadillac Arts Festival on July 21st and 22nd, held in the Cadillac City Park. The Park Pavilion hosts live entertainment and the art exhibits will be present throughout the weekend.
Idlewild Festival, held in Idlewild on July 22nd, commemorates and celebrates the history of well known African-American entertainers and professionals who owned property and performed at the Historic Resort prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Known as the “Black Eden,” this location was one of the few resorts in the United States where African Americans could vacation and purchase property.
New to Battle Creek this year is the Caribbean Fest on Saturday, July 22nd. Come out for a night of authentic island food, craft vendors, and reggae music. It’s a great way to spend a hot July, summer night. Rounding out the summer festival season in Battle Creek is Leilapalooza at the Leila Arboretum on Saturday, July 29th. See 60 bands perform on multiple stages at this family event.
Traverse City Film Festival is July 25th to 30th. The event was founded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore as a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization committed to showing “Just Great Movies” and helping to save one of America’s few indigenous art forms: the cinema. The festival brings films and filmmakers from around the world to northern Michigan every year.
Petoskey is hosting the 18th Annual Bay Harbor Fine Arts & Fine Craft Festival. Held on the waterfront North and South Terraces on July 28th and 29th, this year’s festival includes expanded art categories, meaning there’s more to see or possibly add to your collection.
Rounding out the Grand Haven summer is the Coast Guard Festival. Running from July 28th to August 6th, this nationally recognized festival honors and respects the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and provides family activities along the way. Grand Haven prides itself on throwing festivals for the entire family, and this summer is no exception.
Rendezvous in the Sault in Sault Ste. Marie is a two-day festival on July 29th and 30th, where you’ll be able to live through history. The Michigan Surveyor’s Reenactment Group fills the days with food, music, dancing, cannon firing, drum and fife corps, puppet shows, storytelling, crafts, and games. Step back in time and experience life in the 1600s with this fun and educational event! Rendezvous at the Sault moves right into the 5th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival on August 1st. This juried exhibition and sale of fine arts and crafts is a free event with a wide array of arts and crafts on display including paintings, photographs, prints, and more. Enjoy these events in this historic Michigan city!
August Festivals in West Michigan
Kalamazoo Ribfest is not only one of Townsquare Media’s signature events, but also Kalamazoo’s largest annual downtown festival when it takes over from August 3rd to 5th. Featuring rib vendors from across the country as well as local favorites, come with an empty stomach! The “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” tent will kick off Thursday night where attendees can sample from all the local rib vendors to determine the winner who receives rights to a vendor booth space at next year’s event. National entertainment and local bands will take the stage as well.
The 44th Annual Island Art Fair in Grand Ledge is August 5th, and is designed to promote Ledge Craft Lane. Vendors at the Island Art Fair come from all over the state for one of the best one-day shows in Michigan. As it was for the first Island Art Fair and continues to be, all artists’ and artisans’ work is approved by a jury. Those interested in participating need to complete an application and provide pictures of their art or craft as well as a picture showing them create their work.
Petoskey rounds out their summer festival season with two big events. In nearby Boyne Falls is the Boyne Falls Polish Festival on August 3rd to 6th. Polish food and Polish music are just the beginning with a carnival, horse and tractor pulls, an oldies night, parades, and more throughout the four days. On the evening of August 10th, Petoskey will be filled with unique cars and trucks during the annual Harbor Springs Car Festival. What makes this event different from other car shows is that it is open to all types of vehicles, giving attendees a wide variety of vehicles to check out.
The National Blueberry Festival is a four-day long event from August 10th to 13th, that takes place in the heart of downtown South Haven. The Blueberry Festival is one of South Haven’s biggest annual events. It encompasses the friendly feel of South Haven, while providing fun and entertainment for the whole family!
The 27th Annual Del Shannon Car Show in Coopersville is one of the largest linear car shows in West Michigan when it comes to town on August 11th and 12th. It draws up to 400 cars for the cruise and draws thousands of people from all over to participate and enjoy.
The Sparta Celtic Festival is a free, family-friendly event focused on the expression of Celtic heritage. Located in Roger’s Park in Sparta on August 12th and 13th, the festival offers music, food, and merchants with a Celtic focus.
See some of the area’s best animals compete at the Berrien County Youth Fair on August 14th to 19th. With this year’s theme of “Fairadise,” there’s plenty of additional concerts, carnival rides, food, and family fun that’s sure to be worth your free time.
The Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan is August 16th to 20th. The mission of the festival is to promote the interests of individuals and businesses related to natural fiber, to advance and continue high quality standards of business practice in the natural fiber area, and to further the development and knowledge within the fiber community. With the festival, enjoy workshops, activities, and a market, with something for everybody!
The 53rd Annual Danish Festival is August 17th to 20th, in Greenville. The event features live entertainment, parades, hot air balloons, and other summer staples while celebrating the Danish heritage.
The Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend the 15th Annual Festival on the Bay on August 18th and 19th at the Petoskey waterfront. Every year, visitors enjoy great music inside the Entertainment Tent and a fun Children’s Area all weekend. Other activities include Chalk the Walk, A Silent Disco, Wine on the Water, The Big Art Show, a petting zoo, and so much more!
The Bellaire Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the 30th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival in Downtown Bellaire on August 19th. Highlighting the Rubber Ducky Festival is a quarter-mile race when 2000 yellow ducks are dumped into the Intermediate River. Visitors can buy a $5 race ticket that corresponds to the number on a Rubber Duck. Ducks finishing the Top 27 win a cash prize! Come down for the ducks and maybe you’ll leave with some extra cash.
Walk The Beat in Grand Haven is Saturday, August 19th, and is a music festival like no other! The event hosts dozens of artists from all over the state in local business and venues, where participants can literally “walk the beat” from show to show and enter a series of giveaways along the way. It’s the perfect way to expose emerging musicians, as well as support local business in a big end-of-the-summer party!
GRandJazzFest in Grand Rapids is West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival! This year’s festival is August 19th and 20th, at Rosa Parks Circle, a central location in the heart of downtown. The festival brings to the stage notable jazz performers as well as up-and-coming artists for diverse audiences.
Bring the family to The City of Hastings’ Summerfest from August 25th to 27th. The annual event features an arts and crafts sale on the lawn of the historical and picturesque Barry County Court House, food, live music and entertainment, sporting events, Grand Parade, car show, and more. Don’t miss this celebration of summer!