Some things may be different this October, but we’re still a state filled with crisp autumn air, stunning shores, spectacular fall foliage, and of course cider and doughnuts. There are lots of interesting entertainment options to explore this month. Here are a dozen of our favorites.
October 1-3,8-10,15-17,22-24 Glass Pumpkin Fest – Dearborn
Each weekend in October the Glass Academy in Dearborn will be dazzling guests with live glassblowing and the opportunity to purchase stunning harvest and Halloween décor for your own home. To keep everyone safe, shopping is available in the Dearborn gallery with the purchase of a $10 timed ticket. Hourly time slots are available, allowing ten customers in at a time for a one-way shopping experience. Your ticket fee can be applied to the cost of your pumpkins at checkout, and don’t worry, the stock will be replenished every two hours. If you can’t make it in person, they’ve still got you covered by taking it online this year. Enjoy live glassblowing every Tuesday and Friday with the opportunity to custom order your own one-of-a-kind pumpkin and watch artists make it on the live stream via Facebook and YouTube. Each show will reveal a new pumpkin available for online purchases.
October 2-31 Skeletons Are Alive – Northville
One of the best parts about this annual tradition is that you can easily enjoy it at your own pace, on your own schedule and with your own crew. Each year downtown Northville is overrun by over a hundred life-sized skeletons. As an added bonus this year, roads are closed on North Center between Main and Dunlap and East Main between Center and Griswold to allow guests to dine at one of the town’s many scrumptious eateries. Adult visitors can also purchase an alcoholic beverage to go from one of the participating restaurants and stroll through the designated downtown Social District.
October 2 Plaidurday – Statewide
Leave it to a Yooper to create a holiday that is based entirely on wearing plaid. Believe it or not, this tradition is celebrating its tenth year on the first Friday of October. While the concept is whimsical, its also rooted in the idea that we’re all connected by a common thread. Join in on the fun by wearing something plaid, be it a shirt, skirt, dress, jacket or an accessory like a scarf, socks, handbag, or even a face mask. Then post some pix on your social media of choice using #plaidurday. Organizers also encourage plaid-clad Zoom sessions, clearing closets to donate to a charity, baking plaid cookies or cakes, and surprising friends and family with plaid presents. Get creative, have fun, and share it all with the rest of us.
October 3,10,17,24 Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour – Muskegon
For the sixteenth year, Visit Muskegon is inviting tourists and locals alike to join in on its Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour any Saturday in October. Drive your car or ride your bike along this self-guided route that stretches from the Muskegon South Pier Light to the White River Light Station. Travel on some of Muskegon’s most scenic roads along Lake Michigan and the West Michigan Pike Byway. Visit historic sites, enjoy nature and of course snap some selfies along the way if so inclined. Download this year’s map for hints on ideal places to stop and explore.
October 7-31 Kaleidoscope City – Northville
Many museums and galleries have finally reopened so this is an excellent month to take in some art. Start by heading to the Northville Art House for Kaleidoscope City, an exhibit featuring the work of Detroit-based artist Darcel Deneau. This body of work reflects the degradation and renewal of the city of the Motor City. Using found glass and objects, she transforms the debris into beautiful mosaic urban landscapes. The show runs most of the month, with an opening reception on Saturday, the 10th from 1pm-3pm.
October 9-10 Friske Apple Festival – Ellsworth
One of the great pleasures of autumn is visiting orchards like those at Friske Farm Market, and especially during their weekend celebration of the incredible, edible apple. The site now features a huge new outdoor play area. Festivities also include yard games and live music, but food and drink really take center stage, starting with an apple pie pancake breakfast. You can also enjoy newly-pressed cider, caramel apples, caramel apple pie, and fresh-baked doughnuts. Pumpkins are on site too, in their natural state, and in doughnut form. Kids will love to take a wagon ride, shoot some apples from the giant slingshot, or bounce in the apple balloon. Pick your own apples or just buy a bunch to take home.
October 10 Rapid Art Movement (RAM) – Grand Rapids
This event is a really creative take on our current reality. The idea is to inspire local artists to create pieces that can be displayed or performed while on the move. Traditional festivals have a calendar of events and locations that can draw large crowds to a specific spot, which is exactly what we’re all trying to avoid in the age of COVID-19. Instead, this fresh fest will take place in a geographic zone of ever-shifting activity within the Monroe North neighborhood of Grand Rapids. A music performance could take place on one street corner, then move to another. A work of art might pass by as you stroll down a sidewalk or dine outdoors. Perhaps an actor will perform a monologue from a bicycle. You’ll never know what to expect, nor when, as RAM explores how art can be attached to the body, put on wheels, or performed while in motion.
October 14 Kirtland’s Warbler – Grosse Pointe Farms
It’s unfortunately not often enough that a creature makes it off of the endangered species list, but that is exactly what happened at this time last year. One of Michigan’s favorite native chirpers, the Kirtland’s Warbler, exited that notorious list, but of course that doesn’t mean the job is done. Join William Rapai, author of The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight for Survival and the People Who Saved It, on an exploration of the northern Michigan forests that the Kirtland’s Warbler calls home. The talk will delve into the details of this conservation success story, what remains to be done, and how this mini miracle is being used as a national model for other endangered species.
October 16-18, 23-25 John Ball Zoo Goes Boo – Grand Rapids
With a few adjustments, John Ball Zoo is eager to greet little pumpkins for this annual tradition filled with decorations, costumes, candy, and, of course, the zoo’s amazing animals. Kids will be able to get Halloween treats via a designated path instead of the typical treat stations. The treat trail will have decorated booths that are socially distanced from one another and from other guests in the zoo. This will allow for a one-way path and fewer people congregating. The treat booths will also have plexiglass separating guests and staff, along with enhanced sanitization for hands and surfaces. Tickets are free for members. Otherwise, admission is $13 per adult, and $11 for children or seniors, with kiddies under 2 admitted for free.
October 23 Hotel Transylvania at Stargaze Cinema – Saugatuck
There’s never a bad time to visit this charming town. Spend your day enjoying the great outdoors at Saugatuck Dunes State Park or eating, drinking and shopping in town. Then gather some chairs and take the family on a jaunt to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts for the 7pm showing of a family-friendly Halloween treat, Hotel Transylvania. The parking lot will be transformed into a socially-distanced seating area for you and your family or friends. Tickets are $15 and include a bag of locally-sourced gourmet popcorn. Tickets for ages 5-13 are just $5.
October 23 Black Star Farms Harvest Dinner – Suttons Bay
October is one of the most enjoyable times to visit Michigan wine country. You can tantalize your palate with new releases and old favorites, while taking in vistas ablaze with a palette of fall color. Some things are different this year so be sure to check out our tips for winetasting in the age of COVID to know what to expect before heading out. One thing that isn’t different is the culinary magnificence of the Black Star Farms Harvest dinner. They honor seasonal bounties, with a farm to fork practice of growing, raising, and sourcing from both their own and regional farms. The evening begins at 6pm with a welcoming reception featuring a specialty-themed craft cocktail. During dinner the culinary team shares the inspiration behind the evening’s menu and a winery representative talks about the wine pairings with updates on new releases and vintages. Tickets are $125 each, and typically sell out quickly.
October 23-24 Legend of Sleepy Howell – Howell
This spooktacular tradition is also carrying on with one significant adjustment—it’s a drive-thru version. A not too spooky laser light show by Iluminatus Lasers will dazzle guests along the Scofield Park drive. There will also be lots of trick-or-treat spots along the way. Don’t worry, organizers will provide butterfly nets to promote social distancing during the candy hand-offs. Registration is required in advance and is just $15 per car.