- Stephen Bondio
- Movement Music Festival.
Detroit Tigers Opening DayMarch 26, 2020; Downtown Detroit
It could be argued that all major cities really friggin’ love their sports teams. But when it comes to Detroit, the first Tigers home game of the season is basically an alcohol-fueled religious holiday. Warning: do not mess with a Tigers fan on Opening Day. Curious? Head to Comerica Park or the Tigers’ old neighborhood, Corktown, and you’ll encounter swarms of metro Detroiters drunkenly partying in bars, under tents, or in the streets. Oh, and there’s baseball. (Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, sometimes it snows.)
Ann Arbor Hash BashApril 4, 2020, at high noon; Ann Arbor; hashbash.com
There’s nothing more beautiful than people coming together to smoke weed and celebrate all things cannabis, which is exactly what Ann Arbor’s annual Hash Bash has set out to do since it was first established in 1972. Though originally organized as a protest, this year’s pre-emptive 4/20 celebration marks the first Hash Bash since Michigan dispensaries were given the green light to sell recreational weed.
FoolMoon and FestiFoolsApril 3 and 5, 2020; Ann Arbor; wonderfoolproductions.org
On FoolMoon, the streets of Ann Arbor are invaded with illuminated costumes and contraptions. For its sister event, FestiFools, a “flash mob” army of papier-mache puppets takes to the streets for one kooky celebration.
Detroit Music AwardsApril 19, 2020; Detroit; detroitmusicawards.net
Celebrating the finest acts and artists from metro Detroit — of which there are plenty — is the annual Detroit Music Awards. From blues and jazz to garage rock and folk, the Detroit Music Awards recognizes local trailblazers and music makers with a soiree worth dressing up for.
Stratford FestivalApril–December, 2020; Ontario, Canada; stratfordfestival.ca
Thanks to our properly insured neighbors to the North-ish, we can stamp our passports and catch some incredible theatrical productions, with an emphasis on Shakespeare, all season long. This year, the Stratford Festival, which is North America’s largest repertory theater company, will offer productions of Chicago, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Much Ado About Nothing, and Wendy & Peter Pan, among others.
Cinetopia International Film FestivalMay 8-17, 2020; Ann Arbor, Detroit; cinetopiafestival.org
Cannes. Sundance. Tribeca. These might be among the most recognizable names when it comes to film festivals, but Michigan, too, has earned a place in the ranks of independent film havens, thanks to the Cinetopia Film Festival. The annual event, now entering its ninth year, handpicks 10 days’ worth of independent programming from all over the globe. This year will screen more than 60 feature narrative and documentary films, as well as shorts programs across a handful of metro Detroit locations in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Dearborn, and elsewhere.
Motor City Comic ConMay 15-17, 2020; Novi; motorcitycomiccon.com
Last year, Motor City Comic Con turned the same age you should probably move out of your mom’s basement and stop using your comic book storage boxes as furniture by. No, we’re kidding. Nerds have finally gotten their revenge, thanks in part to the massively successful mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise and Game of Thrones, which made dragons sexy again. Entering its 31st iteration, Motor City Comic Con will welcome celebrity guests like Jennifer Morrison, Kiefer Sutherland, Meat Loaf, Mario Lopez, and, She’s All That cast members Freddie Prinze Jr., and Rachael Leigh Cook. As always, there will be a massive artists alley and marketplace, an anime room, cosplay contests, and guest panels.
East Lansing Art FestivalMay 16-17, 2020; East Lansing; elartfest.com
It’s an art thing, baby. Since its inception in 1964, the East Lansing Art Festival has morphed into a community undertaking that offers hundreds of artists, performers, and craftspeople the chance to show off their work to thousands of art-hungry visitors.
Movement Music FestivalMay 23-25, 2020; Detroit; movement.us
It’s all the rave! Lovingly referred to by electronic music fans as “Techno Christmas,” the annual Movement Electronic Music Festival draws fans and DJs from all over the world. Considering that Detroit is the undisputed capital of techno, there’s only one place you should be Memorial Day weekend. This year’s lineup includes veteran British techno group Underworld, deadmau5 alter ego Testpilot, Jamie xx, A$AP Ferg, Nina Kraviz, and Detroit techno vets Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, and Mike Huckaby, among many others.
Ferndale PrideMay 30, 2020; Ferndale, 2020; ferndalepride.com
All that glitters is gay at Ferndale Pride, the annual inclusive celebration of our local gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, intersex, and ally communities. Hundreds of vendors, as well as participating businesses along Ferndale’s main Nine Mile Road drag, will raise their rainbow flags in solidarity while Pride’s thousands of attendees let their rainbow flags fly. Pride also hosts DJs and live music, a 5k Rainbow Run, wellness planning opportunities (HIV/STI testing), and a mass wedding on the main stage.
Motor City PrideJune 6-7, 2020; Detroit; motorcitypride.org
Let your pride flag fly! As Michigan’s largest pride event, Motor City Pride turns up with an average of 40,000 participants to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with a blowout like no other.
HoedownJune 12, 2020; Clarkston; wycd.radio.com
Country music has a little bit of somethin’ for everyone these days, which is why metro Detroit’s annual Hoedown lassos thousands of country music fans with a day packed with country-fied entertainment, major musical headliners, and vendors galore.
Ann Arbor Summer FestivalJune 12-July 5, 2020; Ann Arbor; a2sf.org
Ann Arbor’s massive festival practically takes up all summer with 22 nights and more than 175 events, featuring music, art, film, and more.
The Art of Fire FestivaJune 13-14, 2020; Royal Oak; artoffirero.com
Not to be confused with the social media influencer-led scam Fyre Festival, the Art of Fire Festival in Royal Oak is the real deal. Honoring the artistic creations forged from fire, the annual Art of Fire Festival features over 100 artists working in clay, glass, and metal, and hosts live glass blowing, metal working, and workshops.
GM River DaysJune 19-22, 2020; Detroit; riverdays.com
“Take me to the river,” world-famous wall-hanging Billy the big mouth bass once said. During summer, the revived Detroit riverfront comes alive with music, special events, food, and plenty of activities for the kids.
Summer Solstice Jazz FestJune 19-20, 2020; East Lansing; eljazzfest.com
Returning for its 24th year, East Lansing’s Summer Solstice Jazz Fest features hours of top-notch jazz performances and includes youth and community education programming. The two-day event is free and also offers a New Orleans-style parade and an avant-garde jazz picnic.
Jobbie NoonerJune 26, 2020; Gull Island
Old heads know: As legend has it, Jobbie Nooner started in 1974 when some coworkers played hooky on a Friday to celebrate a birthday with a day out on the lake. In the years since, Jobbie Nooner has developed into the “Mardi Gras of the Midwest,” attracting up to 10,000 boats and more than 100,000 people around Lake St. Clair’s Gull Island — and unprecedented levels of public intoxication.
Electric ForestJune 27-30, 2020; Rothbury; electricforestfestival.com
There’s nothing quite like Electric Forest, which is probably why the annual psychedelic summertime music festival sells out so dang quick. Not only does the weekend-long event welcome a massive lineup of heavy-hitting jam bands, electronic artists, and psych rockers, but EF basically erects a neon hippie commune in rural Michigan where the trees are truly aglow, making whichever trip you decide to take all the more trippy.
Ford FireworksJune 22, 2020; Detroit; theparade.org/ford-fireworks
Detroit is pretty good at blowing shit up, which is why the city’s pre-Fourth of July fireworks show is among the best, brightest, and bangiest. The big blowout takes place just ahead of the national holiday along Detroit’s scenic riverfront. You’re welcome, Canada!
High Times Cannabis CupJune 2020; Detroit and Clio; cannabiscup.com
Now that recreational weed is legal in Michigan, expect more of High Times’ Cannabis Cups events. Previously, the premier stoner mag has hosted events in Detroit and Clio, where cannabis connoisseurs could sample strains, edibles, and other products. It’s also a legit hip-hop festival in its own right, with previous iterations hosting big-name acts like Wu-Tang Clan, Busta Rhymes, 2 Chainz, and Wyclef Jean, among others.
- Karen Wampler, Detroit Stock City
- Detroit Fireworks.
Wyandotte Street Art FairJuly 8-11, 2020; Wyandotte; wyandotte.net
For 59 years, downtown Wyandotte has transformed into a walkable, art-filled oasis for one weekend in summer. The event draws in more than 200,000 visitors and 200+ artists from Michigan and beyond.
Blue Water FestivalJuly 8-11, 2020; downtown Port Huron; thebluewaterfest.com
Don’t rock the boat. Downtown Port Huron’s annual event includes a parade, a carnival, live music, and other activities all leading up to the 2020 Bayview Mackinac Sailboat Race.
Concert of ColorsJuly 8-14, 2020; Detroit; concertofcolors.com
Diversity is not the name of an old wooden ship. It’s the very heart of Detroit’s free annual cultural kaleidoscopic festival, better known as Concert of Colors. This year will mark its 26th year and will, once again, feature world music, culinary flavors from around the world, and more.
Michigan ElvisfestJuly 10-11, 2020; Ypsilanti; mielvisfest.org
Elvis Presley, the “King” of rock ’n’ roll, has been dead more than 40 years. And yet some people still find themselves all shook up. Celebrate the ol’ hunk of burnin’ love with some of the country’s best Elvis impersonators.
Ann Arbor Art FairJuly 16-19, 2020; Ann Arbor; theannarborartfair.com
Ann Arbor is already a total destination for arty academic folks, but the city’s nationally celebrated art fair offers up a dizzying display of contemporary fine arts and crafts.
Pig and WhiskeyJuly 17-19, 2020; Ferndale; pigandwhiskeyferndale.com
This smoky, sweet, and perfectly barbecued shindig celebrates perhaps the most iconic culinary duo. Pig and Whiskey is part music fest, part meat-lovers paradise, and, well, as much whiskey as your poor little liver can take. Did we mention it’s free?
Faster HorsesJuly 17-19, 2020; Brooklyn; fasterhorsesfestival.com
Yee-haw. Now in its eighth year, the Faster Horses Country Music Festival is expected to draw more than 40,000 country music fans each day. 2020 headliners include Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, and Jon Pardi.
Sterlingfest Art and Music FairJuly 23-25, 2020; Sterling Heights City Center; sterling-heights.net
Last year’s free fest featured musical acts Sugar Ray, Mötley Crüe lead singer Vince Neil, and cover band the Mega 80’s, along with an arts and craft festival, children’s activities, and fireworks.
Michigan Summer Beer FestivalJuly 24-25, 2020; Ypsilanti; mibeer.com
Crack a cold one. In fact, grab a few at the festival that celebrates the nectar of the hoppy gods by serving a selection of 1,000 Michigan-made craft beers from 150 Mitten state breweries.
Mo Pop FestivalJuly 25-26, 2020; Detroit; mopopfestival.com
Started in 2013 and hosted at West Riverfront Park, Mo Pop spoils Detroiters with some of the biggest music acts around. The fest is, however, plotting a location change that has yet to be revealed, but the yacht passes being offered online makes us think Belle Isle might just be the new pop-off point. In past iterations, Mo Pop acts have included Lizzo, Tame Impala, the National, Billie Eilish, and Run the Jewels.
Milford Memories Summer FestivalAug.7-9, 2020; Milford; milfordmemories.com
Milford’s annual founding celebration includes an art fair, music, beer tent, kids’ activities, and more.
Renaissance FestivalAug. 22-Oct. 4, 2020; Holly; michrenfest.com
Huzzah! Rejoice as medieval worlds, once again, clash with fantasy realms for the ultimate throwback reverie. Costumes, jousting, and turkey drumsticks shall be plentiful.
The Woodward Dream CruiseAug. 15, 2020; various; woodwarddreamcruise.com
Who gives a shit about your carbon footprint when you can just, you know, sit in the best damn traffic jam this side of Eight Mile? The Woodward Dream Cruise combines classic cars and the cruisers that love them.
HydrofestAug. 21-23, 2020; Detroit; detroitboatraces.com
Fast, furious, and splashy. More than 100 years strong, the APBA Gold Cup is the oldest active motorsports trophy, featuring high-speed hydroplanes on the Detroit River.
- Courtesy of Detroit Jazz Festival
- Detroit Jazz Festival.
Michigan State FairSept. 3-7, 2020; Novi; michiganstatefairllc.com
Nothing can stop the 160-year-old family-friendly state tradition. The Michigan State Fair may have been canceled in 2012, but it immediately rose from the dead and relocated to Novi with all the family-friendly fun you’ve come to expect.
Arts, Beats & EatsSep. 4-7, 2020; Royal Oak; artsbeatseats.com
The best things come in threes, and such is true of Soaring Eagle’s massive Arts, Beats & Eats festival. Now entering its 23rd year, AB&E presents performances by local artists, as well as nationally acclaimed music acts from past and present. Don’t forget the Arts or the Eats, as this event is packed with metro Detroit’s tastiest restaurants and some stellar artisans.
Detroit International Jazz FestivalSep. 4-7, 2020; Detroit; detroitjazzfest.org
Jazzheads, this one’s for you. The world’s largest free jazz festival just so happens to take place in Detroit. The Detroit International Jazz Festival spans several city blocks downtown, including Hart Plaza and the scenic Detroit waterfront. The weekend-long event honors jazz in all forms with an incredible lineup of world-renowned artists, as well as a celebrated resident artist.
Dally in the AlleySept. 2020; Detroit; dallyinthealley.com
There’s dancing in the streets — and then there’s Dally in the Alley, Detroit’s largest community festival. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Cass Corridor is transformed into a winding celebration of art, music, and one very cramped alley. For 43 years, Dally in the Alley has withstood Cass Corridor’s ever-changing landscape to maintain its reign as Detroit’s largest community festival — and it’s free.
Hamtramck Labor Day FestivalSep. 5-7, 2020; Hamtramck; hamtownfest.com
For more than four decades, Hamtramck has put on a weekend-long Labor Day festival boasting local acts across all genres.
Art & Apples FestivalSept. 11-13, 2020; Rochester; pccart.org
Rochester might be a wee bit out of the way for us Detroiters, but it’s a destination year-round, especially during the annual Art & Apples Festival. The festival, presented by the Paint Creek Center for the Arts, takes over 30 acres of Rochester Park to exhibit work by more than 250 artists from across the country.
Murals in the MarketSept. 2020; Eastern Market, Detroit; muralsinthemarket.com
Out with the old, in with the new. Each year, Detroit’s Eastern Market district gets a bold overhaul when renowned local and national muralists take over for one week. Murals in the Market gives visitors an up-close look at the entire process and includes a walking/driving map of all the new works.
DIY Street FairSept. 18-20, 2020; Ferndale; ferndalediy.com
We all like to do it ourselves, usually in the privacy of our own homes. But thanks to the annual DIY Street Fair, you can do it yourself without, you know, the impending shame. Each year, Ferndale rounds up some of metro Detroit’s craftiest crafters, makers, and shakers to hawk their wares. Oh, and there’s always an enviable local music lineup and delicious eats because, well,
Funky Ferndale Art FairSept. 18-20, 2020; Ferndale; funkyferndaleartfair.com
Not to be confused with DIY Street Fair, which is on the other side of Nine Mile Road, the Funky Ferndale Art Fair caters to lovers of eclectic fine art with a, well, funky selection of works for sale, as well as vendors, food, and various events at the shops along the strip.
Theatre BizarreOct. 2020; Detroit; theatrebizarre.com
The freaks come out at night — well, technically they come out for two weekends every October as the Masonic Temple is transformed into a wicked wonderland, and the “Greatest Masquerade on Earth” commences just in time for All Hallows’ Eve with fire dancers, demons, devils, a secret invitation-only human absinthe fountain, and Zombo.
Detroit Fall Beer FestivalOct. 24, 2020; Detroit; mibeer.com/detroit-fall-festival
It’s inadvisable to do math while drunk, but we can’t help ourselves when it comes to the Detroit Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market. More than 800 craft beers from 120 Michigan-based breweries, plus tasty food from several Detroit area restaurants and live music from local musicians equals one hell of a good time (and an Uber ride).
YoumaconOct. 29-Nov. 1, 2020; Detroit; youmacon.com
Why be yourself when you could be yourself as literally anything else? Metro Detroit’s annual anime convention seems to grow every year, featuring guest speakers, cosplay costume contests, concerts, live gaming, live art, dealers, vendors, and even such “live-action gaming” versions of Mario Party and Donkey Kong.
America’s Thanksgiving Day ParadeNov. 26, 2020; Detroit; theparade.org
No, you’re not tripping on some pre-Turkey Day LSD. That really is a larger-than-life Spongebob floating down Woodward Avenue, followed by a drowsy Kermit, and Rainbow Fish. Before you endure a family meal (god, those words make us uncomfortable during an election year), Detroit is home to one of the country’s largest and most spectacular parades. America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade lures thousands of folks from all over to take in the sights and sounds, many of which are provided by incredible marching bands, as well as the man of the hour, Santa Claus.
Detroit Urban Craft FairDec. 2020; Detroit; detroiturbancraftfair.com
Sew many crafts, sew little time is the name of the game for Michigan’s longest-running indie craft bazaar. Now entering its 15 year, DUCF welcomes thousands of visitors over the weekend-long event, during which more than 100 juried vendors will showcase their handmade wares, including jewelry, clothing, accessories, home decor, bath products, paper goods, children’s items, and edible treats.
Noel NightDec. 2020; Detroit; noelnight.org
The North Pole may be, well, north of here, but for one day during December, Midtown Detroit becomes a festive winter wonderland and a holiday shopping paradise. Welcome to Noel Night, the city’s beloved holiday tradition of more than 40 years, which draws tens of thousands of visitors. Not only does Noel Night offer ice sculptures, caroling, and hot cocoa, the event opens the doors to dozens of venues, museums, and shops where folks can shop and catch more than a hundred live performances.
Ann Arbor Folk FestivalJan. 29-30, 2021; Ann Arbor; theark.com
For 43 years, the Ark has hosted a folkin’ good time, showcasing some of the most influential folk acts of our time while shining a well-deserved spotlight on up-and-coming singers and strummers. In 2020, the festival was headlined by Nathaniel Rateliff and Iron & Wine with Calexico; in previous years, the festival has hosted Rufus Wainwright, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson, Kacey Musgraves, Jenny Lewis, and John Prine.
Quicken Loans Winter BlastFeb. 2021; Detroit; winterblast.com
Winter blows, but it can also be a blast. For 15 years, Winter Blast has brought some festive wintertime magic to downtown Detroit with a weekend-long family-friendly event that boasts live music, marshmallow roasting, free ice skating in Campus Martius, food trucks, and, in recent years, skiing and snowboarding demonstrations. Other event mainstays include zip lines, the Winter Slide, and the Polar Plunge, which invites brave folks to take a chilly dip to raise money for the Special Olympics.
The Dirty ShowFeb. 2021; Detroit; dirtydetroit.com
In 2020, Detroit’s Dirty Show turned 21 and, with that came, well, it came. Art impresario Jerry Vile’s international erotic art show features burlesque performances, the Cinerotic Film Festival, a pop-up gay leather daddy bar, and a titillating selection of thoughtfully curated paintings, photos, sculptures, and other odes to erotica. Oh, and there’s a spanking booth if mixing pleasure and punishment is your bag.
Cupid’s Undie RunFeb. 2021; Detroit; cupids.org
This is the only time of year that running around in your underwear won’t get you arrested. The Cupid’s Undie Run is both a charitable event and a cheeky one, taking place in various cities across the country each year in an effort to raise money toward finding a cure for Neurofibromatosis. The catch? Willing participants strip down to their skivvies in Michigan’s frigid temperatures.
Erotic Poetry and Music FestivalFeb. 2021; Detroit; tangentgallery.com
Detroit’s oldest community arts festival just so happens to be one that celebrates provocative, performative erotica. The annual Erotic Poetry and Music Festival has been making the hairs on the backs of necks stand up for 34 years. The event invites Detroit poets, writers, and performers to explore the power of sensuality and sexuality with readings, interpretive art performances, and burlesque, as well as art, food, and whatever else gets your engine goin’.
- Courtesy of Marche du Nain Rouge
- Marche du Nain Rouge.
Nicolas UnCagedMarch 2021; Hamtramck; planetant.com
For seven years running, UnCaged has served as a costume-encouraged film festival dedicated to notorious over-actor and master of the unnecessary freakout Nicolas Cage. The fest honors his many cinematic contributions — the good, the bad, and the bees! — and a Cage fan’s fantasy. One year, the organizers set Cage’s stuntman on fire in an attempt to break a world record.
Hamtramck Music FestMarch 2021; Hamtramck; hamtramckmusicfest.com
If you want to know what Detroit sounds like, look no further than the Hamtramck Music Festival, where dozens of Detroit-area bands, DJs, and solo artists take over Hamtramck’s bars and nightclubs for a three-day showcase that’s the largest local music festival in Michigan.
Motor City Tattoo ExpoMarch 2021; Detroit; themotorcitytattooexpo.com
Got ink? Do you want some? Since 1996, the Motor City Tattoo Expo has connected ink lovers and the needle-wielding artists that make very permanent dreams come true. This event draws tattoo aficionados from all over, featuring seminars, vendors, live music, and, yeah — tattoos.
AutoramaMarch 2021; Detroit; autorama.com
Since 1952, the grit, grease, and muscle of Autorama has been known as America’s greatest hot rod show. The event offers a glimpse at custom rides, celebrity guests, car tips, demonstrations, rockabilly tunes, and pinup girls, including a Miss Autorama contest.
St. Patrick’s Day ParadeMarch 15, 2020; Detroit; detroitstpatricksparade.com
Feeling lucky? Good! Because we’re seeing green — a lot of green. Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood will once again honor the long-standing celebration of its Irish heritage with a shamrock ’n’ rollin’ parade, traditional music, beer, and a family fun zone for all the non-alcoholic shenanigans.
Marche du Nain RougeMarch 22, 2020, from noon to 3 p.m.; Detroit; marchedunainrouge.com
OK, Detroit might just be one of the world’s weirdest cities, and our annual celebration of a mythological red dwarf does little to prove otherwise. Marche du Nain Rouge is a Mardis Gras-style fête where the city bands together to banish the Nain Rouge, the dreaded little red devil of local lore. The event, which marches along the Cass Corridor, concludes at the Masonic Temple, where the Nain delivers a speech filled with pop-culture references and double entendre. Oh, and then we dance. Don’t want to shame the Nain? You’re encouraged to defend the misunderstood imp, if you dare.
Ann Arbor Film FestivalMarch 24-29, 2020; Ann Arbor; aafilmfest.org
We get it — you love movies. But do you love movies? If you answered yes, then the 58th annual Ann Arbor Film Fest is the must-see event for cinephiles like you, especially those with adventurous tastes. The weeklong event features more than 180 independent and experimental films across 40 different programs.
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