It’s summertime in Michigan, and for most that means you can find us at the beach, by the lake, or enjoying a nice cold one on a patio.
Summer can sound like a nice breeze in windchimes by the sparkling blue lakefront, the revving of engines at the Detroit Grand Prix, or the laughter of youngsters exploring at the Traverse City Cherry Festival. No matter where you are, the sweet sounds of summer are only amplified with many music festivals scattered across Pure Michigan.
Whether you’re into jazz, blues, rock, folk, or something totally different, the mitten state has got a festival right in tune for you. Here is a rundown of Michigan music festivals we’re excited for in Summer 2016.
6/30 – 7/03
For those about to rock, Stars & Stripes Festival salutes you! Take a drive down rock’n’roll memory lane with this Metro Detroit three-day rockfest at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights.
“Mr. Roboto” classic rock mainstay Styx will be performing with special guest Led Zeppelin 2, along with Uncle Kracker, Seether, and The Winery Dogs.
Aside from the outdoor concerts, traditional carnival rides, fireworks, petting zoos and pig races ensure there’s never a dull moment at Stars & Stripes. The four-day fest is the perfect pregame to celebrating the Fourth of July in all it’s patriotic glory.
7/23 – 7/24
Detroit’s West Riverfront Park provides the perfect backdrop for this alternative, multi-genre music festival in the heart of the city. This year’s headliners include G-Eazy, M83, Haim, The Head and the Heart, Matt and Kim, Glass Animals, Father John Misty, Borns, Mac Demarco, Shakey Graves and more.
Grab the girls and get your boots — it’s country time. The 34th annual event, put on by 99.5 WYCD, takes over DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston.
Headliners include Brad Paisley, Chris Young, Brandy Clark, Chris Lane, Michigan’s own Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys and more. Doors open early to allow all the booze and breeze one can handle.
Big name country stars have played sets at the Hoedown, right before making it big: Rascal Flatts, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, and more, so catch ’em while you can!
This metal music fest would likely blow the roof off the place – if there was one! This day-long hardcore/metal/punk festival takes place on various outdoor stages surrounding The Crofoot in downtown Pontiac. This year’s lineup includes Killswitch Engage, Asking Alexandria, Hatebreed, Trivium, Attila, and more.
9/2 – 9/5
If you’re looking for a variety of styles, instruments and time signatures, then Detroit’s Jazz Festival in downtown’s Hart Plaza is a great way to round-out the summer months. The eclectic lineup includes an array of performers, including Detroit native and double bassist Ron Carter as the Artist-in-Residence. Also keep an eye out for George Benson, Freddy Cole (brother of Nat King Cole), Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, and many more.
7/7 – 7/10
This free-admission festival brings fan-favorite classic rock legends of yesterday back to the stages for three days in July to Civic Center Park. This year’s lineup includes Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Great White, .38 Special and a KISS cover band, War Machine.
For parents, the concerts might take center-stage, but for the kids, Uncle Sam Jam features a carnival midway, monster truck rides, petting zoo and even camel rides.
7/8 – 7/9
If you get all shook up just thinking about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, then this festival dedicated to the hunka-hunka-burnin’-love man is the stuff of dreams. Lucky for you, it’s real. No suspicious minds about it.
Located just outside of Ann Arbor, the Michigan Elvis Fest brings fans of the Jailhouse Rock singer from all over the Midwest to Depot Town in Ypsilanti. Impersonators round-out the musical portions, and plenty of merchandise, fan meet & greets, and fellow Elvis lovers await at the scenic Riverside Park. Expect your favorite fair food vendors and a plethora of Elvis merchandise, goodies, and memorabilia that fans of The King “can’t help falling in love” with.
6/10 – 6/12
The beautiful Circle Pines Center in Delton sets the mood for the family-friendly, three-day music and arts festival. Featuring overnight rustic camping, tons of Michigan-made musicians, local artisans, food vendors and a craft beer tent, Buttermilk Jamboree is a peaceful down-home celebration of the arts.
Musical acts include traditional blues, indie folk, pop folk, rock, experimental groups, duos and solo acoustic acts.
This year’s lineup includes local favorites The Accidentals, The Crane Wives, The Go Rounds, Madcat Midnight Blues Journey, May Erlewine, Ralston Bowles, The String Doctors, and other local and national acts.
6/23 – 6/26
Double JJ Resorts transforms into a magical, whimsical woodsy escape for this four-day-festival in Rothbury. Electric Forest is a multi-genre festival, focusing on jam bands, electronic music and dance tunes. Interactive art displays, illuminated forests, and trippy demonstrations are on deck for a truly unique festival experience.
As for the music component, Electric Forest does not disappoint either. This year’s headliners include The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Major Lazer, Adventure Club, Baauer, Fetty Wap, Greensky Bluegrass, Griz, and more.
Chances are you’ve heard of Electric Forest Music Festival before, since it’s one of the most beloved festivals in the nation, and it sells out extremely quickly. If you’re lucky enough to have already snagged tickets, or you’re willing to go for a VIP package, Electric Forest is sure to excite!
6/16 – 6/18
The 44th annual bluegrass festival brings guitars, banjos and plenty of harmonies to this small town Mid-Michigan city. The Eaton County Fairgrounds is transformed into the home of the parking lot pickin’ over the two-day festival in June. Some of this year’s talent includes Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, Spinney Brothers, Russell Moore & Illrd Tyme Out, and Edgar Loudermilk Band feat. Jeff Autry.
7/5 – 7/10
Fan of hip hop? Pop? Country? Rock? Alternative? Common Ground Festival has it all! This multi-genre music festival brings an array of national and international talent to the Capital City for six days this July. And the festival pass cost is unbeatable – $20 per day to see big-name acts at Adado Riverfront Park.
This year’s lineup includes Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, AWOLNATION, Milky Chance, Rise Against, Jason Derulo and A$AP Rocky. Couple the talent with hammock hangouts, ziplining, fair food, vendors and plenty of activities, and you’ve got all the glory of a full-blown festival like Coachella, Firefly or Lollapalooza, but no need for camping charges, since it takes place right in downtown Lansing.
7/15 – 7/17
For many, camping and country music go hand-in-hand. While country tunes from Alan Jackson, Travis Tratt or Jason Aldean might have a slower pace, Faster Horses – on the backstretch of the Michigan International Speedway track – is certainly a fun ride.
“The gang’s all here,” with a bona fide backwoods country lineup featuring Wynonna & The Big Noise, Lady Antebellum, Granger Smith feat. Earl Dibbles Jr., Gary Allan, A Thousand Horses, and way, way more where that came from.
Throw in a foam party, official Budweiser Campfire Kickoff party with the Clydesdales, ferris wheel, swings and giant waterslide, you’ve got enough fun in the sun to go around.
8/12 – 8/14
Join the tight-knit community of folk fans in welcoming internationally-known musicians to this campus town. An August weekend brings a diverse range of musicians, art, food and activities to the sidewalks, alleyways and stages of downtown East Lansing, directly across from Michigan State University.
Penned a “celebration of culture, tradition, and community,” the festival sounds come from all over the world, featuring swing, polka, Celtic, gospel, bluegrass, reggae, Chinese Guzheng, and more.
This festival is perfect for those people who say they listen to everything, because that’s truly what you will get from the Great Lakes Folk Festival –a talented and varied musical grab-bag.
9/9 – 9/11
Singing, dancing and friendship are on full display as Wheatland welcomes families and children to fiddle, frolic and enjoy the low-key camping and camaraderie to be had on the 160-acre grounds.
Just as much as this small-town-feel festival is about showcasing talent on stage, it is also about teaching talent to festival-goers. Fiddle workshops, drum circles, and impromptu jam sessions make the Wheatland Music Festival unrivaled and unique in its forty-year history.
6/10 – 6/12
This three-day-festival boasts a real getaway on the Fairgrounds of Oscoda County, where relaxation and recreation are all around in one of Michigan’s best beach towns. Attendees can enjoy rustic camping, children’s activities, open mic nights, workshops, arts, and crafts, all while being surrounded by sunny open areas as well as tall shade trees scattered throughout the grounds.
This year’s music lineup includes eclectic acts from Michigan, the Midwest and across the country, on three different stages. Some of the headliners are Caravan of Thieves, Oh Brother Big Sister, Jill Jack, Olivia Millerschin, Magic Bus, Hey Mavis, Blue Water Ramblers, Red Herring and more.
7/8 – 7/10
Blissfest is another festival that welcomes art of all kinds: worldly music, dance, culture, and community. Featuring innovative roots and world music, enjoy bluegrass, blues, zydeco, Celtic, folk, jazz, Latin, and dance music at this three-day festival, celebrating it’s 35th anniversary.
What started as a one-day-festival beneath a big maple tree in a field has grown to encompass the entire Blissfest Festival Farm with food vendors, art vendors, healing arts vendors, craft vendors, and non-profit booths to accompany the musical stages and campgrounds.
This relatively newer Northern Michigan festival was started in 2013 with the concept of making “music in the woods” with artists and musicians. Nestled on Beaver Island, the largest island in Lake Michigan, you have to drive to town and take a ferry to the festival. Worry not about lodging or ferrying back and forth, though, because this music fest provides free camping with your festival pass purchase.
This year’s lineup includes Seth Bernard, The Outer Vibe, Ed Palmer, Dave Boutette, Under the Willow, Jack and the Bear, Soulpatch, Megan Dooley, and more.
8/4 – 8/14
Much like its namesake, Farmfest is a festival that continues to grow from its folk roots and farm-fresh produce on-site. The relaxed, intimate music festival, comprised mainly of Michigan acts, takes place in north woods with natural ampitheaters, on-site camping and a greenhouse.
A big part of what makes this fest so unique is its green-friendly attributes. The organizers welcome volunteers to help on planting weekends with their organic food and plant-filled greenhouse, and they encourage everyone to “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Dish) to reduce waste.
The mainstage is made from an old re-purposed barn, so they really mean farm when they say it. This year’s musical lineup includes Red Herring, Blue Water Ramblers, Jack and the Bear, Honorable Spirits, Olivia Mainville, Watching for Foxes, The Waxies, Jakey Thomas, The Cookies and Seth Bernard.
8/19 – 8/21
Described as “a testament to pure north country peace and celebration,” Hoxeyville Music Festival is set on over a hundred acres of farmland, surrounded by hardwoods of the Manistee National Forest.
With two stages and a capacity of 3,000 people, this festival is all about remaining true to its grassroots folksy founders. This year’s headliners include Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival, Joshua Davis quartet, mandolin Orange, Billy Strings, Luke Winslow King, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, The Macpodz, and more.
Set in one of Michigan’s most picturesque, award-winning towns, the Microbrew & Music Festival in Traverse City is a celebration of tasty Michigan-made drinks and sounds. The only thing better than an ice-cold Michigan brew, is washing it down to the tune of Mitten state bands.
The last weekend of August can sometimes be bittersweet, given the end of summer and return to school, but the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Fest is here to lessen the blow.
This year’s lineup includes Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue, The Revivalists, The Heard, That 1 Guy, Heatbox, The Accidentals, Detroit Party Marching Band, and more.
9/18 – 9/20
A celebration of food and music, the Earthwork Harvest Gathering features the “freshest of local ingredients and fine imported specialties,” within this family-friendly gathering. Over 2,500 people attend each year, camping and building community within the hardwood forests of Lake City.
Set on the Bernard family-owned farm, over 90 bands and 40 local farms come together across four stages and 181 acres. The community-feel vibe is amplified even more with free camping and parking, free water, and free showers.
This year’s lineup includes The Hamlet family band, Josh Hamlet, Bill Chesney, Seth Bernard, and more.
8/28 – 8/31
The 12th annual U.P. music festival takes place at the Winter Sports Complex ski hill, located on the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. On the shore of Lake Superior, canopy-covered pop-up stages transform the recreation area to a musical haven. Lodges and a restaurant are on-site, while workshops take place on the grounds, so there’s never a dull moment.
This year’s lineup includes folk, indie rock, roots, Americana and multi-genre acts including The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Papa Mali, Seth Walker, The Way Down Wanderers, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, The Stray Birds, Randy McAllister, Vox Vidorra, Doug Otto and Hurricane Harold, Frogleg and more.
Which music festivals are a can’t-miss on your calendar this summer?