Summer festivals are one of my favorite things. One of the best aspects about living in Michigan is the changing of the seasons. We experience a full four seasons with colorful autumns, snowy winters, flowery springs, and warm summers. After our collective hibernation throughout the cold winter, we Michiganders begin to emerge in the spring then fully rejoice in the summer.
Our summer occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During these short three months May-September, we are blessed with warm sun, blue skies, fireflies at night, and the smell of fresh cut grass. I think because our Michigan summer is so short, we celebrate it to the max with summer festivals. Every weekend, in every corner of the state you can find a festival that suits your interests. Below are 6 of my personal favorites, Michigan Summer Festivals You Do Not Want to Miss.
The National Strawberry Festival in Belleville, MI is a celebration of that perfect red berry held each Father’s Day Weekend. You can go into the vast fields and pick your own strawberries. My favorite part of picking your own, is that you can eat as many strawberries as you can manage while out in the fields! If you have never tasted a fresh picked strawberry straight from the vine that has been warmed by the sun, then you have not lived.
In the heart of the National Strawberry Festival you can ride carnival rides, shop strawberry themed merchandise, and buy every strawberry treat you can think of, including strawberry jam, strawberry preserves, strawberry pie, strawberry muffins, strawberry daiquiris, and more.
The Plymouth Art in the Park is held each year in mid-July. Somehow, this festival lands on the hottest weekend of the year every year. So bring a hat and lots of water! This festival is a celebration of arts and crafts, that is a smaller and more affordable counterpart to the massive and extravagant Ann Arbor Art Fair that occurs the following weekend (which is also worth a trip!).
At the Plymouth Art in the Park you can browse various types of wall art; from nature and wildlife photography, to oil paintings, to signed sports memorabilia. You can also find unique clothing items, handmade jewelry, soy candles, hand-crafted furniture, and children’s toys.
Each year, the Plymouth Art in the Park has a new theme. In the center of Main Street, they have unbelievably talented chalk artists create a themed masterpiece in sidewalk chalk!
The Michigan Lavender Festival is held in the Armada Romeo area of the state at Blake Farms. This festival is, you guessed it, a celebration of all things lavender. When you first enter the festival, you can stop at the cider mill for hot or cold apple cider, lavender lemonade, and fresh baked donuts. Then, you can wander through seemingly endless rows of tents with everything lavender you can imagine; soaps, lotions, candles, tea, chocolates, perfume, essential oils, and more. You can just smell the heavenly scent of lavender as you walk through each of these vendors.
Once you finish spending a fortune on lavender everything, you can take a tractor ride to the lavender fields, where you can pick your own bunch of lavender. Blake Farms also has an orchard with apples and pears ready for picking in autumn, and a tasting room with wines, hard apple ciders, and delicious food.
The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest is held in Howell, MI each year. This summer festival is a photographer’s dream! I love to emphasize bold colors in my travel photography, and this event was perfect for this! Like with most Michigan summer festivals, there is an area with carnival rides, vendors selling crafts and clothing, festival food and food trucks. The main event here, however, is a competition with hot air balloons!
It is so fun to watch the entire process from unloading the balloons from trailers, unrolling them into the field, then watching them slowly inflate. Once the balloons are fully inflated, the pilots hop into the basket and take off! It is truly magical to watch these beautiful and delicate balloons fly high into the air. Then, as the sun sets there is a special balloon glow, when they illuminate the balloons from the inside. The entire show is spectacular!
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival runs every evening June-July each year. This festival is difficult to describe succinctly because there are so many aspects to this fun event! It is located on the University of Michigan campus (one of my favorite places on earth), however during the summer there are fewer students and more townies.
There is an outdoor portion called Top of the Park with food, a beer tent, wine tastings, live music, events for children, and unique live outdoor entertainment. At night, you can bring a blanket to watch outdoor movie showings. The Ann Arbor Summer Festival also has an indoor portion called the Mainstage. The Mainstage holds ticketed performances that include dance, theater, music, and comedy. One year at the Mainstage, I saw the famed ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov perform, which was a total bucket list item for me!
Finally, Michigan, home to Detroit, The Motor City, and the birthplace of Henry Ford would not be complete without a celebration of the automobile! The Woodward Dream Cruise is held each year in August as a celebration of classic cars. This event stretches along Woodward Avenue through the cities of Ferndale, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, and Pontiac.
You can bring out a lawn chair and watch the classic cars drive down Woodward Avenue all day long or visit various car shows where immaculately restored cars are parked and on display. Each year, the air is always filled with the sounds of Motown music, however this year was extra special due to the passing of Aretha Franklin just two days prior. She was a beloved icon of Detroit, and feeling connected to the tradition of classic cars while hearing her sing Freeway of Love was truly memorable.
If you want to save as much money as possible on your flights to Michigan (or truly anywhere else) first read my Secret Tips and Tricks So YOU Can Buy Cheap Flights!
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Leah Little has a full time job as a social worker, and has managed to travel the world while wearing beautiful clothes by knowing how to score deals in travel and fashion. Learn more about her journey here. Join the Leah Little Travel and Fashion tribe by entering your email to subscribe to be the first to learn new ways to enjoy the best in travel and fashion for less. Say hi and send her a message! Contact