Photo by Matt Carissimi. Pack as much cherry-filled fun into one weekend at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. It might seem daunting to decide which events to attend and which to, unfortunately, skip out on, but we’ve mapped out both the opening and closing weekends of the Northern Michigan festival to assist you with your Northern Michigan vacation planning. These travel ideas and attractions will keep the whole family happy on your vacation in Traverse City.
Opening Weekend: July 4th and 5th.
Friday, July 4th
- Opening Fireworks – 10:30 pm: Start your festival off right by catching the fireworks down by the bay at 10:30pm. Bring blankets and picnic fixings, and be amazed by the spectacular show.
Saturday, July 5th
- Opening Ceremonies – 10 am: Listen to the National Cherry Festival President, along with the National Cherry Queen, kick off the opening of the Festival at the Cherry Blast Stage.
- Festival Open Space Food – 11 am: Grab a quick gyro the U&I Lounge’s stall or a slice of sweet cherry pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company.
- Blue Angels Air Show – Noon: The Blue Angels will be presenting a high flying air show starting at 12:30. Get down to West End Beach early to claim a spot on the beach to watch the spectacle. For a good views with brews and food, check out Blues, Brews and BBQ happening simultaneously.
- Arnold Amusements Midway – 3 pm: Ride the Ferris wheel for view of the festival grounds and downtown Traverse City. Lots of games, festival food and thrill rides right across from the Bay Side Music Street.
- Collective Soul at the Bay Side Music Stage – 6 pm: Purchase tickets and end your day jamming out to the grungy tones of Collective Soul right by the water. Buy tickets for shows individually or a pass to enter any concert at the Cherry Festival.
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Closing Weekend — July 11th and 12th
Friday, July 11th
- Ultimate Air Dogs – 10am: It’s an event you don’t want to miss! Watch the dogs soar through the air and splash into a pool of water in this canine long-jump competition. Takes place near West End volleyball courts west of the Bay Side music stage. Free to view.
- Meijer Festival of Races Registration – 2pm: Head over to Eastern Elementary to register for one of the races that happens the next day.
- Adult Cherry Pie Eating Contest – 5pm: Release your inner child and make the kids laugh as you try to beat out everyone by eating your cherry pie the quickest. Prizes will be awarded to winners.
- Justin Moore and Traverse City’s Ryan Whyte Maloney – 6pm: Check out headliner Justin Moore and Traverse City’s own Ryan Whyte Maloney rock it out on the Bay Side Music stage. Purchase tickets online.
Saturday, July 12th
- Meijer Festival of Races – 7am: If you’ve registered to run a race then pump yourself up, head to the starting line at Eastern Elementary near Northwestern Michigan College, and get ready to run. Or, pick up some coffee and watch the runners cross the finish line in downtown Traverse City.
- Festival Souvenir Tent – 10am: Purchase fresh cherries or jam to take home from the Open Space Festival Souvenir Tent.
- DTE Energy Cherry Royale Parade – 11:15am: Get down to Front Street early to claim a spot to watch the bands march and the floats pass during the Cherry Royale Parade.
- Ultimate Air Dog Finals – 3pm: Don’t miss the ending of the ultimate sporting event of the festival. Cheer on your favorites down by West Bay.
- Tommy James and The Shondells – 6pm: Catch the last concert of the festival at the Bay Side Music Stage. Rock out with Tommy James to classic American rock. Don’t forget to hydrate with a few microbrews or Northern Michigan wine at the Beer Tent beforehand.
Check out the entire schedule of events to plan your vacation at CherryFestival.org.