A Dozen Ways to Have Fun As Summer Ends in Metro Detroit

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

Detroit RiverWalk
••• Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

If it's August, it's time for the ultimate Detroit celebration of the season: the Woodward Dream Cruise, wedged somewhere between all the many festivals, shows, swims, runs and sports this month. To help you plan your fun in August, here are some great, classically Detroit things to fill those sweltering end-of-summer days.

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    Detroit's very own 2017 Highland Games, August 4–5, are
    hosted by the city's St. Andrew's Society and take place at Greenmead Park, 20501 Newburgh Road, Livonia. 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 will be sitting through live piping and drumming performances and competitions testing the guests' passion for Tug-o-War and Border Collies with Ducks and Sheep. Scotch tastings will keep everyone in the mood. But the real tests will, of course, be highland dancing and stone put (a few degrees more difficult, let's say, than shot put) with strong men wearing kilts and throwing stones.

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    Milford Memories, a musical produced in Milford's Central Park back in 1991, grew over the years into the Milford Memories Summer Festival, which runs August 11 through August 13 this year. It now boasts 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. Whew! In three days.

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    Sponsored by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where it takes place, the 35th annual African World Festival, August 18 through August 20, is expected to bring in more than 150,000 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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    The wildly popular Woodward Dream Cruise, August 17–19, celebrates its 21st year of classic cars, including every conceivable type and style. 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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    At Michigan's long Renaissance Festival, Aug. 19—Oct. 1 in Holly, you can eat an enormous turkey leg, give a cat call to passing crowds, watch a joust, and generally get saucy as you go back in time to the Elizabethan era—more or less—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 Royal Pet & Ale Fest (8-19, 8-20), the Highland Fling (8-26, 8-27), High Seas Adventure (9-2, 9-3, 9-4), Wonders of the World (9-9, 9-10), Shamrocks & Shenanigans (9-16, 9-17), Harvest Huzzah (9-23, 9-24), Festival Friday (9-29), and Sweet Endings (9-30, 10-1). Tickets are available online.

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    More Festivals

    That's not all. Here are more festivals to keep you smiling 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 10-12 and August 17-19, 2017.
    • Northville: The Buy Michigan Now Festival takes place in downtown Northville from August 4-6, 2017. It's a marketplace of Michigan-made products mixed with sweet treats, live music and children's activities.
    • Rochester: The 17th annual Wine and Craft Beer Festival returns to the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre August 22 and 23 in 2017. Admission to the festival will get you eight wine and craft beer samples. The two-day festival will feature more than 150 wines and craft beers from around Michigan and across the globe, local food, wine and food seminars, and live music. 
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    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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    The Tigers battle it out in a busy August 2017 against the Indians, the Yankees, the Orioles, the Pirates, the Twins, the Rangers, the Dodgers, the White Socks and the Rockies. There are 11 home games at Detroit's Comerica Park on August 9, 10 against the Pirates; August 11, 12, 13 against the Twins; August 18, 19, 20 against the Dodgers, and  August 22, 23, 24 against the Yankees. Check out the August schedule online to see the multiple promotions available and to buy tickets.

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    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. They're open throughout the summer.

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    Detroit Institute of Arts

    The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is always brimming with tours for adults and children, events, films, exhibits, and music, all of which is that much more pleasant in the wake of six and a half years of renovations. (The renewed DIA opened its doors in 2007 to show off a new design and new galleries.)

     Notable in August 2017 is the exhibition D-Cyphered: Portraits by Jenny Risher, August 4, 2017–February 18, 2018, in which Risher takes viewers on a photographic timeline of the Detroit hip-hop scene. Often overlooked by the movements in New York and Los Angeles, Detroit’s hip-hop is deeply shaped by elements of Motown and Detroit techno. 

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    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 kind 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 great 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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    Just squeaking in over Labor Day Weekend is an event so iconic we couldn't wait to list it: Thunder Over Michigan Air Show, an action-packed three days, September 2 through September 4, at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti. 

    The event is headlined by the dips and dives of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels demonstration team. The Navy's C-130 "Fat Albert", a four engine turboprop workhorse to a dozen nations will also be there as the Blue Angels support craft.

    Kids look forward to taking rides in aircraft like the B-17, the B-25, the WACO biplane and more. And everyone thrills to WWII battle reenactments with 250 men in uniform bringing history to life and more men participating in a reenactment of the world's largest paratroop drop. 

    Matt Younkin takes his Beech 18, a plane never designed for aerobatic flight, through just that. Plus, visitors will get up close and personal to a 1943 450hp Super Stearman; an M4 Sherman tank; and a C-17 Globemaster III, the newest, most...MORE flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force.