15 Northern Michigan Music Festivals for Your Summer Vacation

Music lineups have been announced and tickets are selling. Add these Northern Michigan music festivals to your summer bucket list.

When it comes to music, it’s hard to beat Northern Michigan for summer sounds. Between weekend festivals, week-long gatherings, and performances scheduled throughout the season, there’s enough music and enough variety for anyone and everyone.

Interlochen Arts Festival

The big kid on the block has long been Interlochen Arts Festival, with its mix of classical, rock, country, comedy, jazz, and more. The season kicks off with prog-rockers Yes making a return trip June 28 to celebrate the band’s 50th-anniversary tour. Joining the band as a special guest for this tour is original keyboardist Tony Kaye.

Two other outfits which had their heyday in the ’70s are also on the schedule— Blondie on June 30 and Earth Wind & Fire August 21. Three string quartets, several chamber groups, and the World Youth Symphony Orchestra highlight the classical side, while Reba McEntire, Steve Martin with Martin Short, and Jeff and Ben Daniels bring out the best in country and Americana. Plus, there’s a near-constant slate of shows featuring Interlochen campers. Here’s the full Interlochen Arts Festival lineup.

Great Lakes Center for the Arts

Further north, the Great Lakes Center for the Arts kicks off its debut season July 5 with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The opening show, which will also feature the Interlochen Arts Camp’s World Youth Honors Choir, is a fundraiser for the new auditorium located at Bay Harbor, the luxury community stretching along 5 miles of Little Traverse Bay just south of Petoskey.

Technically, the event is a standalone and not part of its premiere summer season. That actually starts July 12 with the first Leadership Forum featuring Dr. Edison Miyawaki, a Boston neurologist and Harvard faculty member; Daniel Hesse, former CEO of the Sprint Corporation; and Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Other shows for the inaugural season include the Joffrey Ballet, Sara Evans, opera, musicals, and more.

Bay View Music Festival

Got that? Good, now head to the north side of Petoskey for the Bay View Music Festival, the longest continuously operating chamber music festival in the country. Each year, Bay View hosts college students, music faculty, and special guests. This year, the latter include Blues Traveler, Ben Folds, and Ranky Tanky. You can also catch a host of pops, chamber, and vespers concerts by music faculty and students.

All performances and classes take place on the grounds of the community established in 1876 by a group of Methodists. It became a part of the Chautauqua Movement, committed to bringing religion, recreation, education, and the performing arts to a broad spectrum of the public.

National Cherry Festival

Like longer festivals? The National Cherry Festival always makes for a week of merriment, mirth, and music. It features classic rock, country, and more. It kicks off June 30 with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with special guest Loverboy. Other featured performers are Sheryl Crow, Dan & Shay, and don’t forget your chance to become a Cherry Idol.

Baroque on Beaver

The Cherry Festival crowds aren’t your thing? No better way to get away from it all than an island hideaway, and no better time than the heart of summer. Beginning July 27 and running through August 4, Baroque on Beaver features chamber orchestra, chorale, and various small groups, encompassing classical, pops, jazz, and more. The festival celebrates its 17th year in 2018. Special guests this year are guitarist Matthew Cochran and pianist Kevin Cole. (Read this Traverse Magazine feature about Baroque on Beaver.)

Grand Traverse Pavilions Concerts on the Lawn

As the commercials say, but wait, there’s more. The free summer series at Grand Traverse Pavilions features a variety of performers. The 2018 Concerts on the Lawn starts June 7 with Dominic Fortuna. Other returning stalwarts include Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums and Peter, Paul, and Mary Remembered. The Bay Area Big Band and the Petoskey Steel Drum Band will also make an appearance.

Fountain Point Resort Summer Concert Series

Americans are famous for heading west to find fame and fortune, and west of TC on the shore of Lake Leelanau is Fountain Point Resort. That’s where area favorites the Accidentals will showcase their unique mix of indie folk, rock, jazz, and classical music on June 17. Grand Rapids-based Mark Lavengood, Americana band the Appleseed Collective, and Canadian fiddling and step-dancing sensations the Fitzgeralds are among the other artists on tap for the resort’s summer concert series. Tickets are available at MyNorthTickets.com.

Check out this video of The Accidentals at Fountain Point last summer!

Manitou Music Festival

Glen Arbor’s Manitou Music Festival annually presents an eclectic slate of performers, and 2018 is no exception. Celtic music courtesy of Scotland’s celebrated Tannahill Weavers; an amalgam of Celtic, bluegrass, and jazz from Jeremy Kittel; rootsy blues from Mulebone; and local favorites Jazz North, the Summer Singers, and the Northport Community Band make this fun for the whole family. Plus, children 18 and under are free!

Michigan Legacy Art Park Summer Sounds

Our final stop takes us from Glen Arbor south to Thompsonville. Next door to Crystal Mountain Resort you’ll find the Michigan Legacy Art Park. Its 2018 Summer Sounds Concert Series features the Bergamot (Americana-infused indie rock), the folk music of Sally Rogers & Claudia Schmidt, and the high-energy 10-piece Latin orchestra Grupo Aye sure to please with a mixture of Cuban timba, salsa, merengué, and Latin jazz. Here’s MLAP’s full concert series lineup. Tickets are available at MyNorthTickets.com. Children ages 12 and under are free.

Music in the Park – Mackinac Island

Music in the Park is a free concert series hosted by the Mackinac Arts Council. Every Thursday night, nationally recognized musicians set up on the lawn of Marquette Park with the marina and Lake Huron as the backdrop. The Moxie Strings, Matt Gabriel, and Abigail Stauffer are a few of the artists on the schedule, along with The Accidentals who will make a special Sunday appearance.

Leelanau Summer Music Festival

There’s no need to travel far to experience world class music in “America’s most beautiful place.” Leelanau Summer Music Festival brings critically acclaimed artists performing classical chamber music from around the world to Cedar in Leelanau County. The festival opens with Michigan Stars, the five eminent Michigan artists performing works by Brahms, Rossini, and Schubert. Join Vive La France for a Bastille Day celebration and end the festival with Petar and Daniel Guitar Duo playing Latin, Spanish and world music. Tickets are available at MyNorthTickets.com.


Day & Weekend Festivals

If day- or weekend-long festivals featuring a slate of Americana/roots music performers are more your thing, there are numerous opportunities to indulge across the region. Check out Spirit of the Woods, June 16, in Brethren; Blissfest, July 13–15, outside of Harbor Springs; Hoxeyville, August 17–20, located in Wellston; Livelylands, August 24–26, in Burdickville, and/or Wheatland September 7–9 in Remus southeast of Big Rapids.

The list of performers which frequent the festivals is a who’s who of local, regional and national artists. Names like Dominic and Rachel Davis, Miriam Pico, Bruce Cockburn, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Luke Winslow-King, Lindsay Lou, Seth Bernard, Altan, and John McCutcheon exist alongside one another representing folk, blues, rock, and other styles.

You say you’re exhausted? Can’t be, not yet, because summer hasn’t even started. So rest up, as there’s music every which way this summer.

More Northern Michigan Vacation Ideas