Traverse City Film Festival on a Budget

With so many films worth seeing at the Traverse City Film Festival, over-indulging your cinematic side could make a considerable dent in your pocketbook. These Northern Michigan travel ideas will help you get to the silver screen without much green.


Pack Up and Head to the Open Space

The free Open Space screenings are one of the best parts of the Traverse City Film Festival. Arrive early to stake out a spot in front of the blow up screen located at makeshift theater just north of downtown. Remember to be courteous of those around you and keep lawn chairs away from the front area of the outdoor theater. Pack up a cooler of your own snacks and drinks to save a few extra bucks, or, splurge a bit for a healthy to-go meal from Oryana on 10th street. Attend at least one of these screenings to get a true taste of the Traverse City Film Festival, and don’t forget blankets and a sweatshirt.

Click Here for the Open Space Movie Schedule

Music by the Beach

Plan a beach day down to Clinch Park and listen to musicians playing on the beachside patio. Pack a cooler with all your favorite beach day goods and lather up the sunscreen. If you feel like spending a bit, then stock up on “gobbler” sandwiches from Mary’s Kitchen Port. Step off the beach and out of the sun to enjoy some of the free live music right in Clinch Park. Find performing musicians at TraverseCityFilmFest.org.

Listen In on a Discussion

From Wednesday, July 30th to Sunday, August 2nd, each morning at 9:30 am the filmmaker panel will bring out their no-holds-barred panel discussion. These discussions are free to attend—perfect for the serious and penny-pinching moviegoer. Panel discussions will be held at the Traverse City Opera House, located on Front Street.

Save On Parking and Spend Elsewhere

Parking in downtown Traverse City during festivals is always a hassle and likely one you want to avoid. In order to save yourself the $5-$10 it will cost to park in a lot, at a meter, or in the parking deck, leave your car at home and bike. Maybe even carpool with friends or get dropped off at a bus station and catch a ride with the BATA bus to downtown Traverse City. After you’ve saved yourself some money, spend it elsewhere like at one of Traverse City’s amazing downtown restaurants. The Franklin, new this summer, is perfect for a drink and an appetizing savory flat-bread that will have you coming back for more. Or, head into one of the local breweries to relax with a beer outside. Either way, it’s money well spent.

Click to Explore the Northern Michigan Restaurant Guide

More Film Festival Events on a Budget

  • Discussions at the Cinema Salon: Following select 12 pm and 3 pm screenings meet at Cinema Salon in Clinch Park for a film discussion.
  • Kids Fest and $1 Movies: Take the kids to $1 films on Wednesday, July 30th to Saturday, August 2nd at 9:30 am at Lars Hockstad followed by a free lawn party that will leave the kids grinning from ear to ear.
  • Film School: For only $5 you can take part on an education adventure that will teach you lessons on film-making from wold-class experts.
  • After Glows at Fire Fly: If you can’t afford one of the Film Festival party tickets then head to Fire Fly to get a taste of the revelry on Saturday and Sunday night.
  • Free Movies for Volunteers: Those who volunteer for three or more shifts are awarded a festival t-shirt and the opportunity to attend the free pre-festival screenings and post-fest party. Call to sign up: 231.392.1134.

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