Monthly Events in Detroit That Return Every Year

Events, Festivals, Attractions, Shows, and Charity Walks

Detroit Michigan skyline reflections
••• Linda Goodhue Photography / Getty Images

Detroit, Michigan, is one of the most populated cities in the United States. The city hosts numerous events annually like festivals, fairs, shows, charity walks, marathons, and many events that tie in its rich automotive and musical history. The area has a variety of natural highlights like parks and access to water sports on the Great Lakes.

The metro Detroit area covers more than 1,300 square miles. It is nicknamed the "Motor City," for its automotive heritage, and it's the birthplace of the Motown music scene. It also has one of the more bustling economies in the U.S., with 11 of the top Fortune 500 companies calling Detroit home.

  • 01 of 12
    Ford displays the 2015 50th anniversay Mustang at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on January 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The auto show opens to the public January 18-26.
    ••• Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    As the Motor City, it makes sense that the North American International Auto Show takes places in Detroit. It is arguably Detroit's biggest event.

    The month also marks the beginning of the winter festival season starting with ice sculpting at Zehnder's Snowfest in Frankenmuth, Michigan. You can count on Rochester's Fire & Ice Fest for a family-friendly weekend with roasting marshmallows and snow tubing. ​The Plymouth Ice Festival features ice sculpting and other ice and snow-related activities.

    Also, there are indoor events featuring music and entertainment, like TigerFest in Detroit, the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, and the Anti-Freeze Blues Festival in Ferndale.  

  • 02 of 12
    Motown Winter Blast Marks Super Bowl XL
    ••• Brian Bahr / Staff/Getty Images

    Detroit is one of the snowiest big cities in the U.S. averaging about 43 inches of snow a year. By comparison, New York City gets about 25 inches annually. Detroiters revel in the white stuff with winter activities and live entertainment in Detroit's Winter Blast. To help keep warm for the last half of winter, store up some body fat by going to Hamtramck for some paczki (Polish doughnuts) in celebration of Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Lent.

    Or, you can head indoors to the Ferndale Blues Festival or go snuggle up with a loved one for Valentine's Day at one of the many galas, balls, cruises, or special events for lovers.

  • 03 of 12
    A2 film festival
    ••• Blacklisted/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    While March marks the beginning of the thaw in Detroit, you still might want to stay indoors or find fun events that take place in a heated building like the Motor City Tattoo Expo, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Detroit's Autorama hot rod show. If you absolutely, positively want to go outdoors, save it for the day to don your green at Detroit's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

  • 04 of 12
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    ••• Andypiper / Flickr

    April may bring with it some showers, and also some worthy outdoor events, including Ann Arbor's Festifools' community interactive art installations, and exchange a few "Opas!" while at Detroit's Greek Independence Day Parade.

    In case the rain is threatening, check out the Detroit Music Awards at the Filmore Detroit, taste test new eats at Detroit Restaurant Week, or visit the Shrine Circus that usually pulls into town this month.

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  • 05 of 12

    May

    Eastern Market Flower Day
    ••• Paul Warner / Contributor/Getty Images

    May is the month that most Detroiters emerge with the warmer temperatures although you cannot rule out a final snowstorm. Ever optimistic that weather will be on their side, most communities within the metropolitan Detroit area hold outdoor art fairs, concerts, and walks, such as Art Birmingham, the Belle Isle Grand Prix, Eastern Market's Flower Day, Walk MS, and Detroit's March of Dimes' March for Babies Walk.

    If you'd rather stay indoors, you can join 50,000 people who love visiting the Motor City Comic Con every year in Novi, Michigan, at the Suburban Collection Showplace.

    Memorial Day weekend in Detroit usually includes a picnic in the park or a day at one of the Great Lakes' beaches. One of the big events scheduled over the three-day holiday includes the Movement Electronic Music Festival at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit. 

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    June

    Motor City Pride Merch
    ••• Matt Taylor/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    The Metro Detroit area is bustling with outdoor activities in June. Where to start? Maybe on one of Michigan's lakes for Jobbie Nooner, dubbed the "Mardi Gras of the Midwest," which usually takes place the last weekend in June.

    Downtown Detroit holds its annual Motor City Pride Parade and Festival and the River Days festival along the Detroit River with jet-ski demos, live music, sand sculptures, and delicious eats.

    Other events this month include the Taste of Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Frankenmuth's Bavarian Festival, the Belleville National Strawberry Festival (Father's Day weekend), Eastpointe's Cruisin' Gratiot, Howell's Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, and the Livonia Spree at Ford Field.

    Get a jump on the 4th of July holiday the last weekend in June at the Stars and Stripes Festival in Novi, Michigan, at the Suburban Collection Showcase.

  • 07 of 12
    Ann Arbor Art Fair 2007
    ••• Joe Ross/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Detroit celebrates the nation's birthday in style with firework displays, parades, and special events. A can't-miss event is Salute to America in Greenfield Village as picnic blankets and chairs are assembled for the joint concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band. The grand finale features a stirring rendition of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture played in harmony with authentic cannon fire under a canopy of fireworks.

    No matter where you like to hang out in the Metro Detroit area, there is something for everyone all around town in July. For arts and entertainment, check out the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Ypsilanti's ElvisFest, or Plymouth's Art in the Park.

    For boat sporting aficionados, the Bayview Yacht Club's Port Huron to Mackinac Race is recognized as one of the most challenging freshwater boat races in the world as racers sail Michigan's Great Lakes to Mackinac Island.

    Other...MORE headline events include the Vans Warped Tour, The Maker Faire at The Henry Ford Museum, and the Concours d'Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, which boasts more than 300 classic and historically relevant vehicles ranging from the Gas Light era to Modern Collectables.

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    2002 Woodward Dream Cruise
    ••• 2002 Woodward Dream Cruise. Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News

    August is host to one of the biggest events in the metro Detroit area: the Woodward Dream Cruise always held the third Saturday in August. The Woodward Dream Cruise is a classic car event started as a local fundraiser in Ferndale that now draws about 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe.

    Car fever hits the Motor City area in August with Autopalooza and other auto-related events.

    You can enjoy Scottish heritage through its arts, customs, dress, literature, and national games at Livonia's Highland Games

    Other top-notch activities in the month include the Milford Memories Summer Festival, the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show, and Detroit's African World Festival, celebrating the cultures of the African diaspora.

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  • 09 of 12
    Michigan Renaissance Festival
    ••• Sue Talbert Photography/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    Getting its start in August and spanning the entire month of September is the six-week-long Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly, Michigan. 

    Labor Day weekend is a big deal in the metro Detroit area. There are a lot of events scheduled for the three-day weekend such as the Royal Oak's Arts, Beats & Eats Festival; the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, and the rebooted Michigan State Fair. 

    The warm weather wanes, cider mills open, and school starts in September, but Detroit and the surrounding areas get in a bunch more festivals before calling summer quits. Detroit's Dally in the Alley is held the first Saturday after Labor Day. Other local festivals include Rochester's Art and Apples Festival, Northville's Heritage Festival, Plymouth's Community Fall Festival, the Funky Ferndale Art Fair, and Romulus's Pumpkin Festival.

    You can get some high-quality barbecue at Brighton's Smokin' Jazz Barbecue Festival and Westland's Blues,...MORE Brews, and Barbecue.

    Other top highlights in September include Detroit Fashion Week and the Mt. Clemen's Selfridge Air Show.

  • 10 of 12
    Glowing window casting light in backyard
    ••• Chris Clor/Getty Images

    The metro Detroit area holds several events in October, including Detroit's Free Press Marathon, Detroit's Fall Beer Festival, Trenton's Scarecrow Festival (first weekend in October),  Ann Arbor's Edgefest, and Plymouth's Great Lakes Regional Chili Cook-Off.

    Halloween is one of Metro-Detroit area's biggest holiday seasons. In fact, the area boasts so many haunted attractions that it's been called the haunted house capital of the country. When envisioning the dark nights surrounding All Hallow's Eve, the Michigan landscape fits the bill with a long list of haunted houses.

    In addition to haunted houses, the area has several corn mazes, ghost tours, and family Halloween attractions, including the Detroit Zoo Boo and Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village.

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    Campus Martius Rink
    ••• Dig Downtown Detroit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Before the holiday season begins, there are a few events to enjoy with the family like Detroit's Veterans Day Parade and Southfield's International Festival.

    Meanwhile, The Rink at Campus Martius Park and Wayne County Lightfest officially open in November.

    While Thanksgiving usually centers around the big dinner, in Detroit Thanksgiving means it's also time for the Turkey Trot, America's Thanksgiving Parade, and Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football. Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season and with it, Dearborn's Festival of Trees, as well as a host of tree lighting ceremonies and Santa parades.

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    Festival Singers Perform at Dickens Festival in Holly, Michigan
    ••• Michigan Municipal League/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    Detroit in December is big on Christmas, but there are several events and festivals that are more about the start of the winter season than anything else. For instance, Ferndale holds its annual Holiday Ice Festival and the Belle Isle New Year's Eve Family Fun Run/Walk.

    The Detroit Christmas season is chock full of family activities like Detroit's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony and Noel Night, as well as the Village of Holly's Dickens Festival. There are plenty more holiday displays, Christmas-related shows and concerts, New Year's Eve parties, special meals, and holiday markets.