In retrospect, the summer season doesn’t last long. Northern Michigan residents know this and seek to take full advantage of the fleeting, sun-filled days by exploring as many Northern Michigan summer events as possible. One classic summer event that is often overlooked, however, is live outdoor music.

Outdoor music sets the soundtrack for Northern Michigan summers whether you’re pulling up a lawn chair to a grassy outdoor venue or business-hopping downtown. Here, we’ve compiled a series of Northern Michigan outdoor concerts so you can experience summer to its fullest extent.

Sleeping Bear Dune Climb Concert

Dune Climb, M-109, Glen Arbor. July 10, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Located at the foot of the Dune Climb in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, a unique venue and impressive yearly headliners make this event a popular calendar-marker. Be sure to come with beach blankets, a picnic, and your favorite people before spending the evening with The Way Down Wanderers. This Sleeping Bear Dunes concert event is part of the Manitou Music Festival and is free to the public.

Manitou Music Festival

Glen Arbor, multiple venue locations

The Manitou Music Festival presents Northern Michigan locals and visitors with many free events such as the Dune Climb Concert. It’s extremely accessible due to a wide variety of performance genres, a schedule that stretches from early July to mid-August, and shows at various times. Experience indie-folk chops that defy musical stereotypes with The Crane Wives on July 27 or catch Celtic fusion ensemble, Nessa, July 17.

Michigan Legacy Art Park Summer Sounds Concert Series

Michigan Legacy Art Park, Thompsonville

Enjoy a wide array of genres and local band favorites in a comfortable park setting. With featured artists like Northern Michigan fan-favorite, Joshua Davis, or self-proclaimed “twang-rock-and roll-jelly” group, The Go Rounds, this is one you won’t want to miss. The Summer Sounds Concert Series began July 1 and ends August 13. All shows start at 7 p.m.

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Rockin’ the Bay Music Fest

Gladstone Yacht Club, Gladstone, Upper Peninsula

Nestled on the shores of Little Bay de Noc in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Rockin’ the Bay Music Festival is often an overlooked summer music event. Make no mistake, this one packs punch with headliners like Joshua Davis, the Sam Llanas Band, and a day pass for only $15. The festival takes place July 8 and 9.

Charlevoix Summer Concert Series

Odmark Pavillion, Charlevoix

On Thursday nights at 7 p.m., Charlevoix’s Odmark Pavillion in East Park holds quality live music sessions for downtown visitors and locals. Catch an outdoor performance by The Accidentals August 4 or Petoskey’s steel drum band July 14. This event is free to the public and performances are scheduled through August 25.

Aten Place’s Concerts in the Barn

Aten Place, Boyne Falls

Aten Place holds weekly “concerts in the barn” and hosts acts like Reina del Cid and the Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza. Tickets are $15 to $16 and can be purchased on the night of each show or pre-ordered. Season passes are also available.

Music on the Bidwell Plaza

Bidwell Plaza Square, Downtown Petoskey

Every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. the Crooked Tree Art Center hosts small, live shows that are perfect for any jazz appreciator. The art center’s own Jazz Trio and Jazz Chamber Quartet have spots on the schedule along with the foot-stomping Americana duo Kellerville. All concerts are free and open to the public.

Concerts in the Park

Pennsylvania Park Gazebo, Downtown Petoskey

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting at 12 p.m., Crooked Tree Art Center hosts a series of noteworthy musicians and occasional “kid days” geared toward easy listening for young ones. All Northern Michigan outdoor concerts are free and open to the public. Rain location: Crooked Tree Arts Center Theatre.

The Little Fleet

Front Street, Downtown Traverse City

Located on Front street, on the edge of downtown Traverse City, live music can be easily heard Fridays starting at 6:30 p.m. Enjoy live, local music in an engaging outdoor atmosphere, surrounded by delicious and affordable gourmet food truck finds!

More Northern Michigan Music and Art

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Photo(s) by Katy Joe Desantis