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12 Things to Do in a Michigan July

by Lisa Diggs

Festivals really take main stage around the state this month. Live music, amazing food, incredible attractions, here are a dozen fun ideas worth taking in.

July 2-9 National Cherry Festival – Traverse City

As Michigan festivals go, this may well be the granddaddy of them all. Michigan produces nearly 75% of America’s tart cherries, and you’ll find them presented in all kinds of delicious forms at this fiesta. Parades, races, wine tours…in all, there are more than 150 events to enjoy along the shores of Lake Michigan's stunning Grand Traverse Bay, and frankly the views alone are worth the trip.  

July 7-12 Common Ground Music Festival – Lansing

There is nothing quite like the combination of summer nights and sweet sounds. If you love music, there is definitely something for you at this weeklong celebration in Adado Riverfront Park. From country to alternative, rock to hip hop, pop to rap, this event features national headlining artists mixed with regional and local favorites to create six truly entertaining nights in Lansing. This year’s featured artists include: Cassadee Pope, Tim McGraw, Dierk’s Bentley, DJ Quik, Daya, and Jason Derulo, to name, but a few.  

July 8-9 Saline Celtic Festival – Saline

They say we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and possibly even in July if you’re in Saline, Michigan. The Celtic Festival is famous for its rich blend of Celtic music and dance, along with jousting, Irish Football, ancient athletics, sheepherding, and many other Irish traditions. This wee ones will love it too with crafts, ducky river races, story-telling, and more.  

July 14-17 Tall Ships Celebration – Bay City

Step back in time and admire with awe the kind of tall ships that legends were made of. Bay City is a host port for the TALL SHIPS® CHALLENGE, a series of races and rallies. In 2016, Bay City celebrates fifteen years of award-winning maritime festivals having hosted the fleet every time it has visited the Great Lakes in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2013. Ships will arrive 2PM-4PM on Thursday, July 14, and depart on their own schedules on the final day.

July 16 Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Yacht Race – Port Huron

There are few more relaxing ways to spend a summer morning than watching yachts glide across the water as they set off on one of the state’s greatest adventures. This sailing tradition is among the largest fresh-water sporting events in the world and has easily grown into Port Huron’s coolest summer celebration. Sailboats gather in the harbor a few days prior to the race, and all kinds of crafts begin parading out of the harbor and into Lake Huron as early as 8AM to line-up for the race.

July 16-17 Michigan Market & Mayhem – Frankenmuth

The inaugural Michigan Market and Mayhem event will take place in Heritage Park at the Harvey Kern Pavilion. There guests will find cold Michigan beer and hot Michigan-made products alongside games for kids and delicious food options. Entrance to the Market is free. There will also be a ticketed 70s Dance Party at 8PM on Saturday, July 16. The $10 ticket supports Charity Celebrations, which donates to worthy local causes. Sunday, July 17, features a Michigan Book Bash, where nearly 20 local authors representing a variety of genres will be on hand signing, selling, and discussing their books. Local legend, Dorothy Zehnder will be the special guest, signing copies of her cookbooks from 1PM-3PM.  

July 20-23 Magic Festival – Colon

Did you know that Michigan is home to the Magic Capitol of the World? If your answer is no, then you haven’t made it to the tiny hamlet of Colon. Nestled amidst Amish country, this town was once home to Harry Blackstone and now houses the world's largest manufacturer of handmade magic apparatus. Each year performers from around the globe cast a spell on the tiny town to create a magical experience for families. This year’s lineup includes: Carroll Baker, Oscar Muñoz, Jeff Wawrzaszek, Doug Gancer, Trent James, among others. The would-be magician in your household can even attend camps and lectures to learn tricks of the trade.

July 21-24 Ann Arbor Art Fair – Ann Arbor

Bring your walking shoes, your wallet, and your sense of wonder as you explore another iconic Michigan tradition. This annual celebration is an absolute mainstay in Ann Arbor. Bigger than one single event, it is actually a group of four award-winning art fairs blending together to attract over 500,000 visitors annually. The concurrent fairs include the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, South University Art Fair and the State Street Area Art Fair. The varied parts of the fair fit together to form a gigantic, amazing, colorful array of sights and sounds that consistently ranks as one of the top art fests in the nation.  

July 22-23 Michigan Summer Beer Festival – Ypsilanti

Michigan beer just keeps getting better and better, and so does this annual celebration of the frothy beverages. This event is the oldest of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s four annual festivals. Located along the banks of the Huron River, it features more than 80 different Michigan breweries and 800+ beers! A variety of tasty food items are available for purchase from independent food vendors inside the festival accompanied by a diverse selection of live music from local bands.

July 23-24 Quake on the Lake – Waterford

If you’ve ever been to a hydroplane boat race and felt the thunder as those monsters fly by, you’ll understand how this sporting spectacle came to be called “Quake on the Lake.”  These beasts are 12’ wide, built of carbon fiber and other lightweight composite materials and weigh-in at around 2,900 pounds. The action is thrilling as Pontiac Lake provides one of the fastest one-mile race courses in the country. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, sunscreen, binoculars, and cameras to catch all the action.

July 26-31 Traverse City Film Festival – Traverse City

Originally created, and still run and curated by famed director, Michael Moore, this is far and away the best film festival in the state, and quickly becoming one of the finest in the nation. The fest is a combination of small, independent gems, new releases, and even classics shown on a giant screen outdoors for free. There is an affordable film school that runs during the event, and panel discussions with highly touted industry professionals in a variety of formats. Film buffs will love it.

July 30-31 Art on the Rocks – Marquette

July is a gorgeous time of year to check out the big lake they call Gitche Gumee, and some incredible art as well. For over half a century this event has been an Upper Peninsula tradition. It has grown to be one of the finest art shows in the country, attracting over 175 talented artists. To maintain the tradition of excellence, 30% of the show is made up of artists invited based on a scoring system used by previous show judges and the other 70% are selected in a jury process held in April. The event is nestled in a picturesque setting between Marquette’s historic downtown and the Cinder Pond Marina on beautiful Lake Superior.


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