50+ Northern Michigan Events to Check Out in October

When the leaves begin to rustle and the mornings turn brisk, it can only mean one thing—the holiday season is nearly upon us. And there are a plethora of Northern Michigan events in October to embrace it all. From intimate dinners to celebrations of local arts to positively spooky festivities, autumn is off to an exciting start.

THE HUNT FOR THE REDS | Weekdays in October

This is a fun way to discover incredible red wines on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. For the entire month, your ticket gets you a complimentary pour at each of 22 participating wineries offering diverse red wines. Includes signature wine glass, a complimentary red wine pour at each winery and a $5 donation to the American Red Cross. Great wine for a great cause—it doesn’t get better than that!

INTRODUCTION TO THE ELEMENTS OF ART | Tuesdays in October

This series at The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee is for those who wish to visit or revisit the basic concepts and vocabulary of the visual arts. The four-part workshop is a foundation series for art education. Each session is a stand alone investigation of particular elements of art, as well as a general review of vocabulary and concepts. Class time will include instruction, discussion and “eyes on/hands on” activities.

CLASS: SINGING FOR MUSICAL THEATER – KIDS | Tuesdays, October 1–November 19

This course at Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City is for students who wish to develop a basic knowledge of singing. The focus is on the acting aspect of song preparation, including presentation and general vocal coaching. This class is part of the Broadway Junior program and fulfills the singing prerequisite for the Young Company musical, Disney’s Frozen Jr.

CLASS: CREATIVE PLAY – ALADDIN | Wednesdays, October 2–November 20

Songs, stories and so much fun at Old Town Playhouse. This basic introduction to all things theater will feature singing, dancing and staging of Disney’s Aladdin. Students will perform with other classes preparing for this collaborative performance.

CLASS: INTRO TO MUSICAL THEATER – ALADDIN | Thursdays, October 3–November 21

This Old Town Playhouse class will provide students with a comprehensive introduction to musical theater. Students will learn choral songs and choreography as well as provide narration for a collaborative performance of Disney’s Aladdin.

SOLSTICE SOIREE DINNER SERIES | October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Picture a dinner party at your neighbor’s house, only with award-winning chefs and a table full of new friends. The Solstice Soiree Dinner Series is a fun way to explore global cuisine within a homey venue, A Matter of [email protected] in Ellsworth. Each date features a themed menu so be sure to view all available dates and descriptions.

GREAT LAKES HARMONICA RETREAT | October 3–5

For three days in October, Petoskey, Michigan, will be the center of the harmonica world as the Great Lakes Harmonica Retreat takes place with seminars by some of the best harmonica players in the word and exhibitions by the most renown harmonica merchants. Much of the retreat will take place at the Odawa Hotel but every evening the action moves to Red Sky Stage for a world-class harmonica concert featuring the incredible faculty from the retreat. Featured this year will be Gary Green, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, Hank Shreve, Sandy Weltman and Todd Parrott.

THE MAGIC OF BILL BLAGG LIVE | October 3

The Magic of Bill Blagg comes to The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee for one show only! Critics and audiences alike rave about Bill’s interactive magic and jaw-dropping illusions that will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief. Blagg’s show combines his mind-blowing magical talents along with his trademark off-the-cuff personality to take you on a magical journey you’ll never forget.

HARVEY | October 4, 5, 6

A reading of the beloved light-hearted comedy. This Pulitzer Prize-winning play tells the story of an affable man whose only serious flaw is he says his best friend is a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit. When his sister finally has enough of his hallucinations, she tries to commit him to a sanitarium, but her plans go hilariously awry. Catch a show at Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City.

PAUL VORNHAGEN QUARTET | October 4

Paul VornHagen is an accomplished jazz saxophonist, flutist and vocalist who has won Detroit Music Awards on six separate occasions and categories. Presently living in Ann Arbor, where Paul got his start on the flute in 1972, he studied music at City College of San Francisco in 1978–79. Paul is a private teacher from his home in Ann Arbor, as well as at the Northville Center for Music and the Ann Arbor Music Center, where he accepts students on saxophones, flute, piccolo, piano, clarinet and voice. He’ll perform in Petoskey at Crooked Tree Arts Center. 

EMPIRE HOPS & HARVEST FESTIVAL | October 5

Bitter is back with the Hops & Harvest Festival! Featuring Northern Michigan food and drinks, live performances, and more in downtown Empire—all celebrating the beautiful and bitter hop plant. Bask in the glory that is early October in Michigan.

FALL “SPEAKEASY” FUNDRAISER | October 6

Psssst! You’re invited to The Music House Museum’s Fall Speakeasy Fundraiser in Williamsburg, benefitting museum program expansion and improvement projects. The night will feature a “symphony” of hors d’oeuvres and beverages, along with a silent auction and entertainment by Maestro Tom Kaufmann.

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS | October 5

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” Encore Winds will perform some of the concert bands’ time-honored pieces at First Congregational Church in Traverse City.

THE TIPSY TROLLEY BAR CRAWL | October 5

Head to St. Ignace for the city’s first-ever Tipsy Trolley Bar Crawl. This brand new event is the perfect way to start a U.P. road trip. With beautiful fall foliage, a quaint downtown atmosphere and delicious snacks and beverages, you can’t go wrong!

ESCAPING PAVEMENT | October 5

Gopherwood Concerts in Cadillac is excited to welcome this fine duo to its stage for the first time. There’s something about the bend of the mandolin, the rustle of the guitar and the gale-like wave of the band’s vocal melody, that calls you to adventure. 

DAMN TALL BUILDINGS | October 5

In their early days, Damn Tall Buildings didn’t rehearse, they busked. Now, whether live or on record, the band still radiates the energy of a ragtag crew of music students playing bluegrass on the street. But anchoring that energy is their instrumental chops, their strong songwriting and their varied influences that stretch beyond bluegrass—even beyond American roots music altogether. See Damn Tall Buildings live at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City.

TWILIGHT WALKING TOURS | October 6–10

This is an hour-and-a-half guided, leisurely walk with Jim (known as Wood Smoke), who will share haunted tales of the Grand Traverse area. The final tours of the 2019 season run nightly from October 6–10 from 8–9:30 p.m. Guests meet outside the Bijou Theater in Clinch Park (181 E Grandview Parkway, Traverse City). Dress for the weather—tours run rain or shine.

HABITAT MATTERS: INVASIVE SPECIES IN NORTHWEST MICHIGAN | October 9

Emily Cook, outreach specialist with the Invasive Species Network (ISN), will be discussing the history of invasive species, how they arrived in our region and the priority plants ISN targets. Additionally, Emily will review many native alternatives to invasive species, helping to create a beautiful and pollinator-friendly garden. There is no fee for this program at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City, but donations are requested.

HOUSEPLANTS IN OUR HOMES WITH JEANINE RUBERT | October 9

Jeanine Rubert is a local gardening expert and co-owner of Pine Hill Nursery and Pine Hill Village Gardens. Jeanie will discuss the benefits of adding houseplants to our homes, as well as best practices and tips for plant selection and care. There is no fee for this program at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City, but donations are requested.

MAY ERLEWINE RECORD RELEASE SECOND SIGHT | October 10

May Erlewine, Northern Michigan’s local songbird, and friends will be hosting the release of her record Second Sight at the Old Art Building in Leland. Come by to celebrate the local musician’s latest collection.

ARTISTS FOR FLOW | October 11

FLOW (For Love of Water) is a local organization dedicated to empowering our community and leaders to protect the Great Lakes. The health of our Great Lakes affects all of us. Higher Art Gallery invites you to an evening of art, culinary delights, wine and live music in support of FLOW. The event features 19 artists from our region who have been invited to create a work of art in the theme of water.

TRICKS AGAINST HUMANITY | October 11 & 12

Drink, laugh and be amazed. Ben Whiting, Traverse Magazine’s 2018 Red Hot Best Comedic Entertainer, gives you and your friends a hysterical evening of inappropriate magic and mind reading at Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City. Just don’t bring the kids (18+ event)!

WHISKEY & WINE | October 12

Tours will begin at Traverse City Whiskey’s stillhouse, where guests will enjoy a tour as well as a flight of their signature whiskey. Hopping on the TC Whiskey shuttle, the tour will continue just a few miles away at Left Foot Charley. Enjoy the excitement of the urban winery with a full tour of the winemaking facility as well as a private tasting in the barrel room. The last stop is Rove Estate. Relax at the highest point on the Leelanau Peninsula with a private tasting expertly paired with locally sourced snacks.

MET OPERA LIVE IN HD: TURANDOT (PUCCINI) | October 12

Franco Zeffirelli’s spectacular production returns to cinemas, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, conducting his first Puccini opera with the company. Powerhouse soprano Christine Goerke takes on the icy title princess, alongside tenor Roberto Aronica as the unknown prince vying for her love.

6TH ANNUAL HOPS N’ HIGHLANDS MICROBREW FESTIVAL | October 12–13

Boyne Highlands’ fall beer festival will feature 45+ Michigan breweries, 175 microbrews, Up in Smoke food truck, complimentary scenic chairlift rides and family-friendly activities. And don’t miss out on the create-your-own six-pack afternoon on Sunday!

 
ORCHARD’S AT SUNSET 5K AND FUN RUN | October 12

Racers will begin on a hilltop in the heart of Leelanau County surrounded by views of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. The course meanders through apple and cherry orchards as well as local vineyards. The terrain will vary from maintained paths to grassy hillsides, and participants will get the unique experience of running through some of Northern Michigan’s most beautiful countryside at sunset.

CONTRA DANCE | October 12

Bayside Travellers presents contra dancing to promote traditional music and dance. All ages, skills and interest levels are welcome to participate at Empire Town Hall. There will be live music by Dag Nabbit and the dances will be called by Dave Goodwin. The caller teaches each dance before it begins. Please bring clean dry shoes for dancing (smooth soles make dancing easier). Children under 13 are free when accompanied by an adult.

MSU BEBOP SPARTANS | October 12

The West Shore Community College Performing Arts Series will feature Michigan State University’s Bebop Spartans, along with special guest, world-renowned trumpeter, Tanya Darby at Ludington High School. The next generation of great American jazz musicians is represented in this spectacular ensemble from MSU. Improvisation, bebop, swing, blues and soul are just a few genres of this American art form that the Bebop Spartans will be performing.

GARDEN STORYTELLER SERIES – HARVEST TALES TO TELL TOGETHER | October 13

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park invites you to the fourth and final event in a series of seasonal storytelling programs for families. This interactive program will include stories and songs about the cycles of nature and a pumpkin craft. Experience the magic of the autumn season with Michigan Humanities Touring Artist and Storyteller Jenifer Strauss. 

BOOKS, BABES & BOOZE: FIVE FEMALE AUTHORS INVADE NORTHPORT | October 13

Five authors representing a variety of genres—urban fantasy/murder mystery, historical romance, rom/com, contemporary fiction and contemporary romance—are coming together for lively discussion at Willowbrook Mill in Northport. You’ll enjoy a cocktail reception where you’ll meet the authors, followed by a panel discussion on books, genres, writing techniques, funny stories and insights on the world of novel writing. The authors include Alyssa Alexander, Barbara Stark Nemon, Dana Fredsti, Lyssa Kay Adams and Meika Usher. 

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA WITH ANDREW ROGERS | October 18–19

The Music House Museum’s silent film series presents this horror classic just in time for Halloween! The Phantom of the Opera is a 1925 American silent horror film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel of the same name. It was directed by Rupert Julian and starred Lon Chaney, Sr. in the title role of the deformed Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House, causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to make the woman he loves a star. The movie remains most famous for Chaney’s ghastly, self-devised make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film’s premiere.

JOSHUA DAVIS | October 18–19

A tried and true Michigan musician, Joshua Davis was raised in the folk tradition: the music, the social movements, the land. He writes and performs songs that blend the roots of American music with gritty rock n’ roll and vintage soul. As a top-three finalist on NBC’s eighth season of The Voice, he performed with Sheryl Crow and Adam Levine. Join him at Traverse City’s Old Town Playhouse for a night of beautiful singing, killer guitar playing, irreverent storytelling and powerful songwriting.

MACKINAC ISLAND WOMEN’S WELLNESS & A WEE BIT O’ WINE WEEKEND | October 18–19

Celebrate womanhood at the Annual Mackinac Island Women’s Wellness & A Wee Bit O’ Wine weekend! Workshops, seminars, shopping, prizes, food, wine and more. All proceeds benefit the Mackinac Island Cancer Fund. This annual event is a weekend for women to celebrate friendships, health, shopping and of course… have a little wine. 

“UNDER THE HARVEST MOON” DINNER & DANCE | October 19

The Erickson Center for the Arts in Curtis, Michigan, invites you to spend an evening out on the town at the “Under the Harvest Moon” Dinner Dance. Start the night out with cocktails, enjoy a fabulous dinner and dance the night away with the Westerly Winds Big Band. Celebrate the end of a wonderful summer and the beginning of beautiful autumn at Erickson Center for the Arts.

NORTHERN HOME & COTTAGE TRAVERSE CITY AREA HOME TOUR | October 19

You’ll visit homes on lakes big and small, in a vineyard, on the tippy top of ridges overlooking lakes and in neighborhoods and small towns where you’d want to raise your kids. The 12 stunning homes are packed with ideas—both grand and immediately doable. All ticket proceeds go to Child and Family Services of Northwest Michigan. Click here for a sneak peek inside each home.

TRIP TO HOGWARTS | October 19

Experience a little bit of magic right here in Traverse City. Arrive at the entrance of Diagon Alley and check out the bookstore, pick a wand, grab some candy and see magical creatures. Travel to the train station to get your ticket punched to arrive at platform 9 3/4 to be transported to Hogwarts. You then will be sorted into your houses, take a potions class or send a letter out of the owlery! Costumes are welcome and encouraged. Please note this event is at Painting with a Twist but is not a painting class.

SELWYN BIRCHWOOD | October 19

With Pick Your Poison’s urgent, uncompromising music, Selwyn Birchwood is forging new directions for the blues. The Washington Post calls him a “tough, indelibly modern next generation bluesman.” The Wall Street Journal says he is “fiery and original.” The hard-hitting, cutting-edge songs on Pick Your Poison, along with his incendiary live performances, prove without a doubt Selwyn’s status as the blues’ most sensational young talent. Catch him at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City.

11TH ANNUAL TUFF ENUFF GOLF TOURNAMENT | October 20

Play one of Michigan’s toughest golf courses, The Bear, at its absolute hardest. For one day only, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa turns The Bear into 7,000+ yards of long-range tee boxes, aggressive greens and challenging hole locations. This is a two-person “best ball” event. Come take the challenge!

COLORING BETWEEN THE WINES | October 22

Relax with some wine (red, white or bubbly) or a cocktail, and a good coloring book at 123 Speakeasy in Traverse City. They’ll provide the food, drinks, coloring supplies and a frame for your art. You bring your creativity, appetite and humor! Need more convincing? Psychiatrists have prescribed coloring to patients for more than 100 years. Coloring gives you a chance to be social, and is clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Coloring activities also increase mental performance as they train your brain to focus while improving your fine motor skills. So, grab a friend and head to 123 Speakeasy!

HYDRANGEA WREATHS MAKE & TAKE WITH TERRY HOOPER | October 23

Terry Hooper, Master Gardener and owner of Hooper’s Farm Gardens, is back for another wonderful make-it-take-it class at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park. During this program, she will guide participants through creating their own dried flower wreath. The class is free, but donations are accepted. 

THE ATLANTIC HARP DUO | October 23

Founded in 2006 by Marta Power and Elizabeth Jaxon, both natives of the Great Lakes Region, the harp duo now based in Paris performs regularly on each side of the Atlantic. The Music House Museum in Williamsburg welcomes them this October. 

BIERE DE MAC HALLOWEEN PARTY | October 24

Tickets include an appetizer buffet, Halloween costume contest with some seriously legit prizes, DJ Mike Wiliford for a spooky dance party and much more at the Mackinaw City brewery.

FRANKENSTEIN | October 24–27

Set in the icy polar regions, scientist Victor Frankenstein chases the creature he has brought to life. This highly theatrical and emotional play at West Shore Community College traces Frankenstein’s path to the final confrontation with his intelligent, articulate, sensitive and powerfully violent creation.

GRAND OLD TOWN OPRY | October 25–26

In true Grand Ole Opry style, Traverse City’s Old Town Playhouse will envision Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium for a nostalgic walk down country music lane. The rhinestone cowboys will ride again as Doc and Donna Probes make their third appearance at the playhouse along with a full Opry Band and special guests, Dolly Pardon, Johnny Bash, Millie Pearl and special guest, Judy Harrison as Patsy Cline. The fun evening will also include fiddles, dulcimers, cloggers and old Grandpa Jones on the banjo.

THE LANDSCAPE OF GUITAR | October 25

From their chart-topping version of the classic “Malaguena” to the gorgeous vocal harmonies of “Sounds of Silence,” The Landscape of Guitar is a truly unique and inspiring production embodying the words of Patchouliʼs song “Anything is Possible.” Described as “The harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel, guitars of the Gipsy Kings and the colors of Van Gogh,” this production is aimed at creating joy and bliss for people of all ages, everywhere. See it at The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee. 

MET OPERA LIVE IN HD: MANON (MASSENET) | October 26

Massenet’s tale of passion, excess and its consequences stars rising soprano Lisette Oropesa in the effervescent title role. Tenor Michael Fabiano is her ardent admirer, Chevalier des Grieux, with Maurizio Benini conducting Laurent Pelly’s enchanting production. Manon’s story—from innocent country girl to celebrated courtesan to destitute prisoner—is one of the great tragic tales in literature and music. Lisette Oropesa stars as the irresistible title character, the tragic beauty who yearns for the finer things in life, in Laurent Pelly’s revealing production. Michael Fabiano is the besotted Chevalier des Grieux, whose desperate love for Manon proves their undoing. Maurizio Benini conducts Massenet’s sensual score. The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee will show The Met live in HD. 

HALLOWEEN PARTY | October 26

Join Portage Point Resort in Onekama for another epic celebration of Halloween and Day of the Dead. The Broom Closet Boys and DJ Eddie will play through the night while guests take frightening tours through the haunted hotel and pig-out at the pizza bar and Mexican buffet. One lucky visitor will win a two-night stay in one of the dollhouses at Portage Point Inn, if they’re brave enough.

LUKE WINSLOW-KING BENEFIT FOR GOPHERWOOD | October 26

Gopherwood is pleased to welcome back Cadillac’s own Luke Winslow-King for a house concert. Luke Winslow-King’s latest album is an example of craftsmanship at the highest level, radiating a warmth and timeless elegance. Luke is also donating a portion of the proceeds from this show back to Gopherwood to help further the nonprofit’s mission to bring top quality music to Cadillac and Northern Michigan.

MT. HOLIDAY HALLOWEEN PARTY | October 26

This is one of Traverse City’s best adult Halloween parties. Music, dancing and beverages, and 100% of the proceeds go to Mt. Holiday to help with operational costs. There will be costume prizes for various categories, totaling more than $1,000 in value. New this year will be a hot dog bar included in the price of admission.

ANGELS & DEMONS | October 27

Join the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Bay Harbor as they introduce Angels and Demons, an eerie themed concert with music from Ravel, Schubert and Caplet. The strikingly morose title of Ravel’s work, Pavane for a Dead Infanta, belies its actual inspiration: far from being about death, the piece is not sad and mournful, but more in the realm of fantasy and something close to nostalgia. A more apt rendering of the title in English might well be “Pavane for a Princess from a Faraway Time.”

MURDER MYSTERY PARTY | October 28

If you’re looking for a fun, unique and intriguing night out, you’ve come to the right place! Join your friends and family on an elegant and hilarious journey to solve a murder at 123 Speakeasy in Traverse City. Bonus challenges and games are included in the program with prizes awarded at the end of the evening.

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