There’s much to experience at the Traverse City National Cherry Festival. If you’re planning on taking a week-long vacation at the Cherry Festival you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss some of the biggest events. From a U.S Navy Blue Angels Airshow, to dog jumping and concerts, a week-long Northern Michigan vacation at the National Cherry Festival can cause chronic fear of missing out. Luckily, we’ve got a list of spot-on travel ideas for your one week National Cherry Festival vacation filled with music and art events, Northern Michigan food and drink, and some of the best attractions.

Friday, July 4th – Opening Day

  • Fireworks Show – 10:30 pm: The must-see opening day event is the 4th of July fireworks show. Grab blankets and snacks and find a spot down on West Grand Traverse Bay to enjoy the show at sundown. It’s a family fun event that kicks the festival off with a bang.

Saturday, July 5th – Air Show

  • U.S Navy Blue Angels Air Show – 12:30 pm: Head down to West End Beach early to save a spot to watch the magnificence of the high-flying Blue Angels air show. Watch the planes perform aerobatics as you view from the sandy beaches. Ear plugs are recommended for small children—and don’t forget to pack lots of sunscreen and water.

Sunday, July 6th – Classic Car Show

  • Old Town Vehicle Classic Auto Show – 11 am: Perfect for adults and kids alike, the Classic Auto Show will take place on Union and Sixth street in the Old Town district of Traverse City.  It’s the place to be to check out cool, classic cars.
  • Festival Open Space Park: Open all day, the Festival Open Space Park is your one-stop spot for lunch and souvenirs. Eat a slice of pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company or enjoy an all-American handful of a hot dog and brewski. The Festival Open Space Park is open throughout the festival.

Monday, July 7th – Day for the Kids

  • Kids’ Bubble Gum Blow – 10 am: Join the crowd of kids trying to blow the biggest bubble. Registration begins at 9:30 am and the event runs until noon.  This event takes place at the Grand Traverse Mall.
  • Kids’ Turtle Races – 3 pm: Head over to F&M park around 2:30 to register to race your turtle, or borrow one of the festivals own turtles. Registration is free.
  • Arnold’s Amusement Midway: Finish the day with some carnival rides and games over at the Midway, and grab Gibby’s fries before you leave—they’re indispensable for any festival goers. The Midway is open daily throughout the festival.

Tuesday, July 8th – Heritage Day

  • Heritage Day Old Fashioned Picnic – 11:30 am: Pack up your own blanket and head to Hannah Park for games of years gone by such as potato sack races and tug-of-war. There will be story-telling, draft horses to meet, and a performance by Traverse City West’s Drum Line.
  • Pow Wow – 12:30 pm: The National Cherry Festival will celebrate the heritage of the region with a Native American Pow Wow Dance, presented by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Come and see the colorful display of dance and drumming and taste Native American cuisine.

Wednesday, July 9th – Wine Tasting or Beer Tour

  • Wine Tasting: Take a day away from the festival and enjoy some of the local wines that Traverse City has to offer. Click for a full Traverse City and Old Mission Peninsula Winery guide.
  • Beer Tour: If wine isn’t your drink of choice then gather up some friends and have a microbrewery tour. Traverse City has plenty of beer culture to offer. Click for a full Traverse City Brewery Guide Click Here.

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Thursday, July 10th – Beach and Parade

  • Head down to Clinch Park or West End Beach for a day filled with sunshine and water. Clinch Park is family-friendly with a lifeguard on duty and roped off swim area, while West End Beach is a bit more raucous—it’s perfect for couples and a day date for mom and dad.
  • Jr. Royal Parade – 6:30 pm: When you’re done with the day, and after you’ve had dinner at a downtown restaurant, claim a spot down on Traverse City’s Front Street to catch the Jr. Royal Parade. Watch the floats made by local elementary schools cruise down the street and applaud the valiant princes and princesses representing each school.

Friday, July 11th – Ultimate Air Dogs

  • Ultimate Air Dogs Show – 10 pm: Head down to the West End Beach volleyball courts to watch the dogs fly at this fun-filled event. Meet the competitors before hand, and then gather around the pool to cheer on your favorites.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs Finale – 3 pm: Walk back to the volleyball courts and West End Beach to catch the Ultimate Air Dog finals and see if your favorite pup takes home the prize.

Saturday, July 12th – Closing Day

  • DTE Cherry Royale Parade – 11:15 am: Pack up a bag filled with water and sunscreen and camp out on Front Street to catch the closing day DTE Cherry Royale Parade. A favorite of locals and festival goers, the parade will feature the newly crowned Cherry Queen, floats, bands, clowns and more.
  • Closing Festival Fireworks – 10:30pm:  Close out your festival with the spectacular fireworks of West Grand Traverse Bay. Be astounded by the amazing show as you reflect on the eventful week that’s passed. Ooo’s and Aah’s encouraged.

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