Football games, corn mazes, cider mill visits, and leaf-peeping mark a glorious season in our state. In addition, here are a dozen unique ways to make the most of fall.
Oct 1-31 The Hunt for the Reds of October – Leelanau Peninsula
Our state’s plethora of white wines has become common knowledge, but many local oenophiles have yet to discover the influx of complex and scrumptious reds that have joined the scene in recent years. This fun tasting opportunity is destined to change that. Explore the wineries of Leelanau Peninsula any weekday (Mon-Fri) in October for some tantalizing reds, while doing some good. In addition to a signature wine glass, for the entire month of October, your ticket gets you a complimentary pour at each of more than 21 participating wineries offering diverse red wines like big and bold Cabernet Francs and Merlots and aromatic and spicy Pinot Noirs. As an added bonus, $5 of each ticket purchase will be donated to the American Red Cross.
October 4-5 Hops and Harvest Festival – Empire
Hops is a crop that is rising in visibility all around the state—literally. If you aren’t sure you’ve seen it, the vines grow high along wooden structures commonly in areas that also grow grape vines. Not surprisingly, like any celebration of locally-grown hops, this event features plenty of craft brews. The revelry begins with on Friday night with a pig roast on Front Street from 6pm-10pm. Admission is five bucks with food and beverages available for purchase. Saturday runs from 12pm-10pm. Admission is $25 and includes a commemorative glass and drink ticket with music from Wild Horse Music, Stellar Association, Jackpine, 5th Gear, and The Benzie Playboys.
October 4-5 Old Town Blocktober Party – Lansing
One of Lansing’s coolest and quirkiest neighborhoods is throwing a block party and you’re all invited. Formerly known as Oktoberfest, this reimagined event runs from 6pm-11pm on Friday, Oct. 4 and 2pm-10pm on Saturday, Oct. 5. Located on Turner Street in Old Town, it features beer from Ozone’s Brewhouse and Lansing Brewing Company, a cornhole tournament by Kountry Kornhole, and DJ Fudgie spinning tunes. Three bucks will also buy you a wristband for unlimited throws with Bull’s Eye Axe Throwing.
October 5 Red Flannel Festival – Cedar Springs
For eighty years, this small town in West Michigan has been throwing a huge party to honor garments that have gotten many a hearty Michigander through a bitter winter. President Gerald Ford even attended this event at least twenty-five times. This community fest includes a beverage tent with live music, parade, car show, arts and crafts fair, chili cook-off, children’s carnival, and high school marching band competition. Drop by and help them celebrate eighty years—one of the state’s longest running and warmest festival traditions.
October 11-13 Color Cruise and Island Festival – Grand Ledge
Celebrating its 40th year, this annual treat is all about soaking in the glory of autumn and our state’s heritage. Step aboard a riverboat for a scenic tour down the river that includes plenty of fall foliage as well as views of the area’s 60-ft sandstone ledges, which are a paradise for rock climbers. The weekend also harkens back to days of old with folk music, voyageurs, fur traders, wood carvers, blacksmiths, Native American crafts, and lots of other displays and activities.
October 11-13 Apple Fest Art & Craft Show – Charlevoix
Aside from fall colors and football, there is probably nothing more closely associated with fall in the Great Lakes State than apples. Fill up on soup, chili, hot dogs, kielbasa apple flappens and Irish apple cake, with proceeds benefitting local nonprofits. Support local artists as you shop early for special holiday gifts or pick up a little something to spoil yourself. Kiddies will enjoy balloon-twisting, face-painting, and a petting zoo.
October 12-13 Glass Pumpkin Patch – Dearborn
Halloween has become its own industry in recent years. If you can’t get enough of harvest décor then undeniably one of the hottest items to add to your collection is a gorgeous handcrafted glass pumpkin. (Though wait until they’re cool to bring them home). This unique shopping experience includes live glassblowing demonstrations in Furnace Design Studio. Watch the process as one-of-a-kind pieces are created. Then bring a couple home to add a truly special flair to the harvest season. Admission is free and the event runs from 10am-5pm each day.
October 12-13 Appleumpkin Festival – Tecumseh
Apples may say autumn in this state, yet nothing says harvest season like pumpkins. Perhaps that’s why the good folks in Tecumseh have opted not to choose betwixt the two. Voted Lenawee’s Best Community Festival for several years running, this street party includes midway rides, carnival games, inflatables, bungee-jumping, rock-climbing, make-it-take-it crafts, and miniature golf. For a really memorable day, take a $10 monster truck ride or hop aboard a helicopter for just $35 per person.
October 12-13 Michigan International Alpaca Fest – Dimondale
Did you know that dogs aren’t the only adorable animals that battle it out in Best of Show competitions? Michigan is home to over 8,000 alpacas, and each year many of them and their owners make a trek to Dimondale to socialize and compete. The event is open to the public from 9am-4pm on Saturday and 9am-1pm on Sunday in the Summit Sports and Ice Complex.
October 17-20 Fresh Coast Film Festival – Marquette
Here in Michigan we love good movies and Great Lakes. Once a year we get to descend on Marquette and combine those passions for a documentary fest unlike any other. Over the course of 4 days, in 8 venues, over 140 outdoor-inspired films will intrigue and inspire those who seek them out. Guests can purchase day or weekend passes to catch as many flicks as possible. Another element that makes this film fest unique is the opportunity to take adventure off the screen and into your own life. There are 9 morning tours available ranging from the serene to the surreal. Soak in a quiet morn at Wetmore Landing, rock climb Cliff’s Ridge, or just chill around town waiting for your next flick.
October 25 YpsiGLOW – Ypsilanti
Sure, about this time of year the days get shorter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. Make your night brighter by hitting downtown Ypsi for this eye-feast. Participate in advance through one of the free GLOWorkshops to make luminaries and costumes for the event or simply show up October 25 to enjoy the spectacle. Local artists will activate downtown storefronts with installations, somoe of which will come to life during the event. Guests can also expect over a dozen multi-media projects, like video projections, giant luminaries, performance art, live painting, shadow puppets, chalk muralists, and laser shows.
October 25-26 Fall Beer Festival – Detroit
What do you get when you combine one of the nation’s oldest and largest year-round public markets with the thirst-quenching delights of the Great Beer State? The answer, of course is this splendid event in Eastern Market. Attendees can enjoy scrumptious food from Detroit area restaurants while listening to a talented line-up of local musicians, though the true stars of the event are the more than 800 craft beers representing around 120 Michigan breweries. Tickets range from $45-$55 and include 15 drink tokens.