Michigan is a big state with a slate of annual events for everyone. The Upper Peninsula boasts dog sledding, Uptoberfest, and other cold-weather activities while Traverse City and Grand Rapids feature film, food, and cherry festivals. Whatever floats your boat, the Great Lakes State has something for you to enjoy.
If you want to plan a trip to Michigan, see more great attractions, activities, and restaurants around our great state in our free Michigan Vacation Guide!
The Best Michigan Events on the Calendar
Best Michigan Winter Events
Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race
Popularized by movies like Iron Will or Snow Buddies, dog sled racing is a real sport with events in the colder portions of the world. Started in 1999, the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race is one of the first events on the sport’s calendar. The race features a mix of amateur and professional events and is a great primer for those new to the dog sledding world.
Michigan Ice Fest
The nation’s oldest ice climbing festival, Michigan Ice Fest is a celebration of all things ice climbing. Hosting over 1,000 attendees, Michigan Ice Fest is a five-day test of man vs nature over the cold Lake Superior. If you are new to climbing, guides and trainers are onsite to help would-be athletes pick up the extreme sport. The Ice Fest is a true test of the body’s endurance for cold, but certainly, a unique event for all would-be climbers.
Best Michigan Spring Events
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
Michigan’s Mackinac Island sits on the border between the United States and Canada and is home to the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival since 1949. The island disallows private motor vehicles so be prepared to be transported back in time as you watch Clydesdale drawn floats during the parade. Held during the beginning of the lilac season, the event draws thousands of visitors to see the flowers bloom.
Lasting 10 days, the festival features events such as A Taste of Mackinac Culinary Event, Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Show, and The Lilac Festival Grand Parade. Side events like the Lilac Festival Run/Walk and the Michigan Cornhole Tournament are also popular with festivalgoers. Make sure to book your stay ahead of time as this one tends to fill quickly.
Best Michigan Summer Events
National Traverse City Cherry Festival
Ranked a top ten event by USA Today, the National Cherry Festival attracts over 500,000 attendees annually. First held in 1926, the festival has attracted American presidents, hockey stars, and more in nearly 100 years of operation. The Cherry Festival has more than just cherries with events and attractions such as the Bay Side Music Stage Concert series, National Cherry Festival Air Show, the Old town Car Show, and Beach Volleyball.
Traverse City Film Festival
Held late summer, the Traverse City Film Festival is a celebration of all things cinema in Traverse City, Michigan. Organized and hosted by award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, the film festival showcases a wide variety of films for all ages and tastes. In addition to premieres and movie showings, the festival features a film school taught by industry experts, music stages, and free movies in the city’s Open Space Park. A great experience for all cinephiles, the Traverse City Film Festival is one of the most unique Michigan events to put on your calendar.
Best Michigan Fall Events
The German Oktoberfest has been replicated all over the world, but Michigan’s UPtoberfest offers a unique twist on the concept. Held in the fall, UPtoberfest is the largest beer and wine festival on the Upper Peninsula. Held on the picturesque lakefront of downtown Escanaba, Michigan, UP has been serving Michigan brews since 2006 in early October. A one-day event, the event supports local charities such as the Delta County Cancer Alliance.
Purchasing a ticket reward you with 15 drink tokens, food, games, and other entertainment options for the evening. All attendees must have their ID and be 21 and up so leave the kids at home! Designated Drivers get in free but are unable to partake in the alcohol. Some events include brewing demos, live music, and of course drinking!
Grand Rapids Wine, Beer & Food Festival
Since 2007 the November Grand Rapids Wine, Beer & Food Festival has been a fall festival you would be sad to miss. The event features over 1,500 wines, beers, ciders, and spirits for visitors to sample. A mix of local Michigan and international food and wine, the festival highlights Michigan’s ascent into the upper echelon of the culinary world. In addition to tastings, there are multi-course dinners, live music, panels, chef demonstrations, and more to explore.
Stay With Freshwater Vacation Rentals
Planning your trip to Michigan is easy when you book with Freshwater Vacation Rentals! Our collection of cabin rentals across Michigan means you can find the perfect rental near your destination. Whether you are traveling solo or in a large group, there is a freshwater vacation rental that fits your needs.
Start planning your Michigan vacation by booking your property today! We look forward to welcoming you to the Great Lakes State!