Sunny with a chance of music: Summer festivals and events in Midland

While spring might have given locals a few bouts of snow in recent weeks, there is plenty to look forward to in the coming months as Midland festivals, events and activities come into full swing. We have your summer festival and activity planning covered around town between large events, picnic trips and live music as well as a few new programming efforts that are sure to please.

Festivals galore

Part of the reason for the expanded programming and event lineup are due in part to the newly renovated streetscape in Downtown Midland. This year, you will find some of the same festivals that Midland has hosted before, just in a new light. With the expanded amenities downtown, festivals in 2018 are primed to become a greater part of the Midland community.

Hot air balloons lined up at sunset in Midland

Tapped – Craft Beer Festival in Downtown Midland
Tapped, Downtown Midland’s Craft Beer Festival brings breweries, wineries and cideries from around Michigan set to the tune of some amazing live music. While the beer tent features several tasting opportunities, you will also find several takeover events at local bars and restaurants. You don’t have to be a Tapped ticket holder to enjoy the event at the takeover locations, which are currently being hosted at WhichCraft, Decker’s Lounge, Oxygen, Oscars, Diamond Jim’s and Grape Beginnings Winery. The event also boasts a Makers Market with handmade goods from around Michigan and food vendors, which also are not ticketed sections of the event.

Patrons enjoy local craft beer samples at Tapped

Riverdays - Hot air and cool tunes
Midlanders will recognize the sounds from the blasts as they take off or the whooshing overhead of giant and colorful hot air balloons that grace the local sky. This year, the Balloon Festival joined forces with the Riverdays Festival to bring a weekend of activities to Midland each summer including live music, boat rides and many other activities.

The Accidentals live on stage at Midland Riverdays

Notably in 2017, the festival drew the wildly popular band The Accidentals, who played in front of a packed crowd at the Tridge and fans were treated to an amazing fireworks display following the show.

Riverdays welcome night and Main Street Glow featuring many of the hot air balloons.

Put on by the Midland Area Community Foundation, Riverdays has been a longstanding Midland tradition for 33 years and has continued to grow in recent years and we are looking forward to this year’s festival.

Midland Center for the Arts - 52nd annual Summer Art Fair
A local favorite, the annual Summer Art Fair put on my Midland Center for the Arts is moving this year to the new festival-friendly downtown. With the aim of integrating more with the downtown community and businesses, the Summer Art Fair is free to attend and patrons will find much to do in the area. The event acts as a fundraiser for the Center’s programming activities, with vendor fees going to support year-round Center initiatives.

"We love what’s happening in Downtown Midland and can’t wait to be a part of it," says Kristen Wuerfel, marketing director for Midland Center for the Arts. "We hope it’s a stepping stone for us in what we can do to bring people to the city."

You can catch the Summer Art Fair on Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street in Downtown Midland.

Several balloons take flight during Riverdays in Midland

out·land·ish - A new outdoor festival

This June, during summer solstice on June 21, locals and friends are in for a new experience with the inaugural out·land·ish festival. out·land·ish is put on by Heart of the Lakes, a collective for Michigan’s land conservancies, The Little Forks Conservancy and several local businesses and nonprofits that will be announced at a later date.

out·land·ish celebrates Michigan’s outdoors through yoga, biking, trail running, fly fishing, and more! The festival will have events for everyone including families, beginners, experts and those with limited mobility. The only requirements are the desire to experience outdoor adventure and to have a great time.

Conservation advocates and local outdoor businesses are joining forces to host the event’s basecamp in Downtown Midland with activities taking place at various conservation lands and parks nearby. The out·land·ish festival will run from 3:00 - 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 21.

Organizers are planning to host a showing of No Man’s Land Film Festival, with music and adult beverages capping off the evening.

You can keep up with out·land·ish on the festival’s Facebook page, Instagram or the eventbrite page.

Dow Gardens - Yoga, movies and more

While Dow Gardens might be best known for exhibits and garden tours, there are numerous other events you may not know about. With summer right around the corner, the Gardens is a great place to skip the gym and connect with nature in an outdoor yoga session. You can find Yoga in the Garden information here.

Over the past few years, Dow Gardens has expanded the Pines Summer Concert Series to include several popular and also up and coming talents from around the state and region. While concert goers gather out on the front lawn of The Pines, bands typically set up in a quaint setting that makes the perfect backdrop for a live and low-key summer show — the front porch.

Concert goers enjoying live music at Dow Gardens

“Nothing beats a summer evening surrounded by good friends and great jams - all within the perfect back drop of Dow Gardens,” says Anna Swartz, Informal Program Coordinator at Dow Gardens. “In our third season of The Pines Concert Series, I am thrilled to bring in such talent from around the state, and highlight artists from our own tri-city area as well.”

The venue is the perfect place to grab a blanket and a picnic basket and enjoy some great live music in the yard of The Pines. The event draws some fantastic talent from around the state and this year, we are especially looking forward to the show featuring May Erlewine and Barbarossa Brothers on Sunday, June 10th.

For a lunchtime pick me up, Dow Gardens also has some smaller shows in their Lunchtime Concert Series to check out as well, which we think is the best way to spend a summer lunch hour.

The Gardens is also a great place to catch a movie in the summer underneath the stars on a Friday night. Typically shown on the last Friday of the month, movies at the Gardens are a great mix of old classics and new films – this year we are most excited to catch the 1980s classic E.T. in a new light. You can see the full 2018 listing of Friday night movies here and all the events Dow Gardens has to offer this summer here.

Lou E. Loon makes a special guest appearance at Riverdays

Tunes by the Tridge

You can also catch a large variety of local music weekly in Downtown Midland compliments of Tunes by the Tridge, put on my Midland Parks and Recreation with the help of several sponsors. Set in the lawn between the Tridge and the farmers market, live music fans can catch these free shows during most of June, July and August on Thursday nights, which feature everything from country, to jazz, to 80s music.

Tunes by the Tridge features different music each Thursday

Grab a blanket, picnic basket and some friends for a fun and free night out during the week. Bands typically play from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. and local food vendors are usually on site. You can see the full summer schedule for Tunes by the Tridge here.

Movies on Main - Downtown Midland

You can also catch movies weekly this summer, where they are shown on the side of the building of our friends at Ace Hardware in Downtown Midland. With the feel of a drive in movie theatre, Movies on Main shows numerous types of films on the Ace backdrop. The 2018 schedule is pending and should be announced in the coming weeks.

"Movies on Main has been such a fun and rewarding event series to be a part of. It is awesome to see the community come together and the audience is also so appreciative,” says Daniel Buzzell, owner of Midland’s Ace Hardware. “We are excited to host it again this year at Ace Hardware, and looking forward to another season full of movies.”

Movies on Main set up on the side of Ace Hardware

Now in its third year, Movies on Main is a completely free event each Wednesday in the summer for all to join. All you need is a lawn chair and a few bucks for the fresh popcorn.

By no means an exhaustive list, you can find additional adventurous things to do in Midland from our recent feature on accessibility, all the places you can enjoy a beer this summer, fun facts about Midland Center for the Arts and the Great Lakes Loons and many of the places that we highlighted in our winter activities feature have just as active summer schedules. Bring on the sunshine!
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