Bundle up and bring the whole family to Tip-Up-Town USA, Michigan’s largest winter festival. Many of Tip-Up-Town’s scheduled activities take place atop a frozen lake, including ice fishing, ice boat and snowmobile rides, and softball on ice, and one famous activity occurs when brave souls jump in the lake — the Polar Bear Dip. Off the ice, there is something for everyone. Enjoy carnival attractions and pony rides, fireworks, tethered balloon rides, pie eating contests and a teen dance.
Houghton Lake, MI Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: $5, Children aged five and under are free.
January: Zehnder’s Snowfest
Michigan’s frosty winter weather is put to good use during Zehnder’s Snowfest, host to one of the top snow sculpting events in North America. View the spectacular sculptures made by professional ice and snow carvers from around the world, and try your hand at the nine hole Putt Putt Golf Course From Ice. But don’t worry about frostbite — visit the warming tent for refreshments, exhibit booths and entertainment. Snowfest features numerous live bands, fireworks, the Apple Pie Contest and the Hot Food Competition.
Frankenmuth, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Free general admission, certain events have a cost.
May: Tulip Time Festival
Click together your wooden clogs because there’s no place like Holland. The Tulip Time Festival celebrates Dutch heritage and culture with Dutch dance performances, shows, food and so much more! Younger kids will love the trolley tours, parades, and Kinderplaat kids’ area, while your teen will want to head to the Carnival and the musical performances by popular bands. And even if you have to drag the kids, don’t miss seeing the over 150,000 tulips.
Holland, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Prices vary by event.
May: Fort Michilimackinac Historical Re-Enactment Pageant
The Fort Michilimackinac Historical Re-Enactment Pageant brings to life the events that occurred in the Fort’s past. Originally used as a trading post, Fort Michilimackinac was attacked and temporarily taken over by Native Americans in 1763. So be forewarned that this event includes a portrayal of violence! Among the offerings are archery and knife throwing demonstrations, cannon and musket firings, and for the ladies, an eighteenth century fashion show. All events are free.
Mackinaw City, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Free; Donations are welcome.
Northeast Michigan’s aptly-named Nor-East’r Music & Art Festival celebrates music, dance and art with a variety of performances on two stages and a juried art show. Participation is encouraged so acquire a new skill at one of the many dance lessons, music workshops and art demonstrations offered. Children’s activities abound, including instrument making, face painting, crafts, story time and more. Plus, vendor space for child artists is free. Your weekend festival ticket includes free, rustic, on-site camping, or if roughing it isn’t your style, you can stay at a nearby hotel.
Mio, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Weekend tickets costs $37 if purchased before April 15, $42 before June 15, $50 at gate; Children 13-17 can purchase $5 tickets at gate, Children under 13 are free; Day passes $10-$25.
Land ho! A fleet of majestic tall ships sails into Bay City in July for the annual Tall Ship Celebration. Visitors may board and tour the tall ships during festival hours with the purchase of a Souvenir Passport. You’ll be entertained by the music of the sea at Tall Ship Celebration’s event within an event, the International Maritime Music Festival, and don’t miss the Ring of Steel Pirate School – it is sure to delight all lads and lassies with a display of fencing, pirate games and “tomfoolery.”
Bay City, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: $6 daily admission, or purchase a Souvenir passport for $12 per person if purchased before July 1, $15 after; Children under 36″ are free.
July: National Cherry Festival
Traverse City holds the distinction of being “The Cherry Capital of the World” so it’s only natural that the city hosts the annual National Cherry Festival. The festival offers the traditional parades, art shows and music performances, as well as a few less common events like the big wheel race, bubble gum blow, or cherry pit spit. Young children will especially enjoy participating in the Junior Royale Parade. The festival also features activities designed specifically for children with special needs.
Traverse City, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Prices vary by event, check website for details.
August-October: Michigan Renaissance Festival
Moms who have held a secret dream of being a lusty wench can live out their fantasies at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. Each weekend has a different theme (such as Wild Days & Amazing Nights or Harvest Huzzah) and different competitions, but what remains the same throughout the duration of the festival is the journey back in time to the sixteenth century, marked by a magnificent castle and reproductions of period buildings and shops. Grab a giant turkey leg and enjoy the nonstop entertainment provided by musicians, jugglers, jousters, comedians and artisans.
Holly, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: $19.95 – Adult, $17.95 – Student or Senior, $9.95 – Child (5-12), Free – Child under 5.
August: Woodward Dream Cruise
Every year, for one weekend in August, the Motor City turns back the clock and welcomes classic cars to its Woodward Dream Cruise. More than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles converge from around the world, and visitors can watch them drive along a sixteen mile stretch for free. When kids tire of their parents’ trips down memory lane, bring them to the Kids Play Zone for some age-appropriate fun, or visit the stage for musical entertainment.
Ferndale, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Free.
Comprised of four award-winning Ann Arbor art fairs, The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is a great choice for any art lover. Browse the artists’ booths selling paintings, sculptures, jewelry, furniture and other pieces as you walk to the tunes of drumming street performers or the more formal Performances on the Lawn. The ArtZone Kids’ Area will interest young children, and teens will love being on the campus of The University of Michigan.
Ann Arbor, MI; Hours: Check website for dates and hours; Admission: Free.