12 Ways to Have Fun as Summer Ends in Metro Detroit

Detroit's August Festivals, Shows, Drives, Swims, Runs, and MLB Games

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor Detroit Michigan Aerial view
pawel.gaul / Getty Images

If it's August, it's time for the ultimate Detroit celebration of the season: the annual classic car event, the Woodward Dream Cruise.​ The auto show is wedged between all the many festivals, shows, swims, runs, and sports during the month; there is no end of things to experience around the city.

To help you plan your fun in August, here are some classically Detroit things to fill those sweltering end-of-summer days.

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Tigers Baseball

Comerica Park, Home of the Tigers in downtown Detroit MI
  csfotoimages/Getty Images
2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
Phone +1 313-962-4000

The Tigers battle it out in a busy August against the Royals, Giants, Rangers, Orioles, Pirates, Twins, Astros, and Red Sox. There are 17 home games at Detroit's Comerica Park. Check out the August schedule online to see the multiple promotions available and to buy tickets.

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Highland Games

Editor's note: The 2020 Highland Games have been cancelled.

Detroit's very own Highland Games are hosted every summer in August. The event is hosted by the city's St. Andrew's Society and take place at Greenmead Park.

A Michigan tradition since 1849, Detroit's Highland Games try to preserve the customs and culture of the participants' Scottish heritage by showcasing authentic dress, games, literature, and art. Attendees get to watch live piping and drumming performances and competitions testing the guests' passion for tug of war and throwing heavy things, such as logs and hammers.

Scotch tastings keep everyone in the mood. But the real tests will, of course, be highland dancing and stone put (a few degrees more difficult than shot put) with strong men wearing kilts and throwing 16–18 lb. stones.

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Milford Memories Summer Festival

"Milford Memories," a musical produced in Milford's Central Park back in 1991, has grown over the years into the Milford Memories Summer Festival, which runs August 7–9, 2020.

The performance has evolved to include an art fair, 5K and 10K runs, two stages for performers, a beer tent, sand volleyball, a charity softball tournament, a euchre tournament, a blind canoe race, a fishing tournament, and a basketball tournament.

All that in only three days!

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Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Cityscapes and City Views
Raymond Boyd / Getty Images
5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Phone +1 313-833-7900

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is always brimming with tours for adults and children, events, films, rotating exhibits, and music. Here, you will find more than 100 galleries and 65,000 works of art, including Indigenous American art, carved stone reliefs and glass from the Middle East, and contemporary paintings and sculptures. Of particular note is the General Motors Center for African American Art, a collection that looks at identity, race, and American society through the lens of the Black community.

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The Woodward Dream Cruise

Editor's note: The 26th annual Woodward Dream Cruise has been cancelled.

The wildly popular Woodward Dream Cruise celebrates every conceivable type and style of classic car. Cars and more cars cruise along a nine-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue from Ferndale to Pontiac.

In addition to the ​many events hosted by communities and car companies along the cruise route, Autopalooza and several other auto-related events expand the celebration throughout the Metro-Detroit area. 

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African World Festival

Editor's note: The 38th annual African World Festival has been postponed to August 2021.

Sponsored by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the annual African World Festival is expected to bring in more than 150,000 people over three days.

They'll be coming for the performances on three stages, poetry, arts and crafts, African drumming and dance, hundreds of marketplace vendors, ethnic foods, and much more for the whole family.

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Beaches and Parks

MacArthur Bridge, Detroit, Michigan, America, USA
  ApMadoc/Getty Images

Detroit, Michigan's largest city, is situated on the Detroit River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, opposite Windsor, Ontario. 

Downtown Detroit has RiverWalk, a wide, cement pathway for biking, skating, and walking with the Detroit River bordering one side and a greenway on the other. 

But the real draw is the amazing number of park swimming holes and beaches, including the gorgeous, fine-sand along the Great Lakes. Either in the city itself or the metropolitan region, there are plenty of parks with rolling lawns of green, forested preserves, and playgrounds. Note that most beaches and parks in the Metro Detroit area require some kind of vehicle-entry permit.

Michigan as a whole is blessed with sandy beaches and grassy dunes, thanks to its geographic location bordering four Great Lakes, from east to west: Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior.

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Michigan Renaissance Festival

Michigan Renaissance Festival
Sue Talbert Photography/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

At Michigan's long Renaissance Festival, Aug. 22–Oct. 4, 2020, in Holly, you can eat an enormous turkey leg, give a catcall to passing crowds, watch a joust, and generally get saucy as you go back in time to the Elizabethan era and experience life among the peasantry.

Permanent buildings help create the illusion of 16th-century England, and jugglers, comedians, and sword swallowers help set the mood by contributing their own brand of entertainment.

Theme weekends might reflect a slightly different era or culture, such as the Pirates and Pets (Aug. 17–18), the Highland Fling (Aug. 24–25), High Seas Adventure (Aug. 31, Sept. 1–2), Wonders of the World (Sept. 7–8), Shamrocks & Shenanigans (Sept. 14–15), Harvest Huzzah (Sept. 21–22), Festival Friday (Sept. 27), and Sweet Endings (Sept. 28–29).

Tickets are available online.

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Additional Festivals

That's not all. Here are more festivals to keep you entertained in August:

  • Frankenmuth: The annual Summer Music Fest at Heritage Park includes a huge dance floor, country polka bands, the Fabulous Hubcaps belting '50s jitterbug hits, and Magic Bus oozing songs of the Woodstock era. The festival runs August 11-15, 2020. 
  • Northville: The Buy Michigan Now Festival is a marketplace of Michigan-made products mixed with sweet treats, live music, and children's activities. While this event typically takes place every year in Northville, it has been cancelled this year due to current circumstances.
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Shows and Concerts

At any given time in August, the Detroit area hosts a massive variety of shows and classical, jazz, and rock music concerts; Broadway plays; comedy shows; county fairs; and dance events.

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Water Parks and Slides

If natural ponds and lakes don't provide enough excitement for you this summer, check out the many Detroit-area water parks and slides in the city itself and the suburbs.

The wet and wild amusement parks are open throughout the summer.

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Thunder Over Michigan Air Show

thunder over MI Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography /Flickr  
801 Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti Charter Twp, MI 48198-0899, USA
Phone +1 734-485-6666

Thunder Over Michigan Air Show is an action-packed weekend, Aug. 29-30, 2020, at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti. 

Book a ride in an aircraft such as a B-17, a B-25, or a Curtiss SB2C-5 and buy tickets to special seating areas. If you love to photograph the planes, there are special photo pass tickets as well.

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12 Ways to Have Fun as Summer Ends in Metro Detroit