Summer in Michigan is far from dull, and with all the events happening in 2018, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. All over the Mitten, there are festivals celebrating various types of music with events big and small to cater to any audience. Some are long-standing traditions while others are newer additions to the festival circuit. The Greater Lansing area has a few, but those looking to travel can find something worthwhile in all corners of the state. From the quirky to the large commercial, there is a festival for any type of music lover on any budget.
Summer Solstice Jazz Festival
East Lansing | June 22-23
What better way to celebrate summer’s official arrival than a full night of jazz music? Nationally recognized jazz musicians will perform outdoors across the street from MSU’s campus for the 22nd year in a row. The festival is free to attend and there will be food vendors lining the streets as well. In the tradition of old European solstice festivals, the show goes all night long.
Common Ground Music Festival
Lansing | July 5-8
The biggest music festival in Lansing is back. The festival has grown since it started in 2000, attracting both local and national talent in several music genres. Each day of the festival has a different focus, from country to rock to rap, but week passes are available for those who enjoy all genres. Even if that’s not the case, Common Ground fills Adado Riverfront Park with enough food trucks and stands to satisfy any foodie. A multitude of Grammy nominees, and a winner or two, headline this year’s festival. Some of the big names include pop singer Halsey, rapper Logic, country heartthrob Hunter Hayes and singer-rapper T-Pain as the festival looks to cram as much talent as possible into four days.
Mo Pop Festival
Detroit | July 28-29
West Riverfront Park in Detroit is home to what has quickly become one of the largest music festivals in Michigan. Since it began in 2013, Mo Pop has grown to attract artists from all over the globe. Many MSU students believe this year’s lineup is one of the best, with some of the hottest artists in their respective genres filling the lineup. The music is mostly alternative and hip-hop and is accompanied by food, beer, and art. Some of the headliners include renowned rock bands from Portugal. The Man and The National, the incredibly talented indie artist St. Vincent, esteemed Long Beach rapper Vince Staples, and too many more to list. From the top of the bill to the bottom, there’s plenty of musical talent to be displayed at this year’s festival. It almost seems like too much for just two days, but the experience is worth it.
Brooklyn | July 20-22
The biggest country music festival in the Mitten takes place behind Michigan International Speedway every July. 2018 marks the sixth edition of the three-day event that continues to grow every year. Fans camp out during the festival and participate in several events aside from the music such as morning fun runs, waterslides and more. The lineup this year features country superstars like Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line and Brooks and Dunn.
Ypsilanti | July 6-7
One of the lesser-known festivals in the state, Elvisfest has been bringing music and fun to Ypsilanti’s Depot Town since 1999. The two-day event features performances from the best Elvis impersonators nationwide, and occasionally showcases impersonators of other artists too. The celebration of The King is one of the quirkier events the state has to offer and also one of the more underrated festivals.
Grand River Water Festival
Grand Rapids | June 23
Another free offering takes place at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. The Grand River Water Festival showcases folk music — from Bluegrass to Cajun — and advocates for environmental awareness. Between the bands, speakers talk about a variety of environmental issues, making this festival doubly worthwhile with entertainment and education. Vendors sell both artist merchandise and a variety of eco-friendly goods. Attending this festival is a must for folk-lovers and eco-warriors alike.
Rothbury | June 21-24, June 28-July 1
The great outdoors and electronic music go together better than you might think. Electric Forest is two weekends of camping and performances from some of the best DJ acts around. It’s essentially a giant party where you crash in a tent afterward. This is one of the craziest festivals that Michigan has to offer and is highlighted by bizarre costumes, giant art displays, and intense light shows. Electric Forest is as close as you can get to a modern Woodstock-like experience in the state.