After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, music festivals are back in full swing. From New York to Los Angeles, summer is filled with the sounds of music once again. Festivals of every kind date back to ancient Greece. The word “festival” is derived from Latin, festivus, meaning a religious holiday feast. While modern music festivals may or may not focus on a religious theme, they are fun for all ages and abilities.
Modern music festivals gained momentum in the late 1960s. In 1968, Milwaukee hosted the first Summerfest. Along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, Summerfest features the industry’s hottest stars from a variety of genres on 12 festival stages—an immersive experience for the avid music fan.
In 1969, Woodstock became a defining moment in popular music history for the counterculture generation. Half a million people descended upon on dairy farm in upstate New York for a music festival billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Love.” The concert had its challenges. There were traffic jams, a lack of crowd control, poor sanitation, and food shortages. Days of rain and bad weather left the ground a muddy mess. But despite all the poor planning, Woodstock was a celebration of peace, love and music.
Among many lasting legacies of Woodstock is its strong impact on modern music festivals. While Woodstock represented folk music, in later years Lollapalooza would put alternative music onto the musical map. The festival was conceived by Jane’s Addiction front man, Perry Farrell, whose shows were legendary at L.A. rock clubs. Lollapalooza’s first festival took place in 1991 and is currently held in late July in historic Grant Park in downtown Chicago. But fans can be fickle; what’s hot can quickly cool and even festival organizers need to evolve to stay relevant.
Those who wanted a grunge element mixed with a hippie feel flocked to Coachella. In 1999, the first Coachella took place in the Coachella Valley in southern California. Every April, Coachella features many musical genres including pop, rock, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music. The festival is not only known for its performances by popular musicians, but as a stylish place to make a bohemian fashion statement.
Festivals are a sensory experience—listening to music, feeling a warm breeze as you stroll outdoors with friends and family in the community, tasting delicious and different foods, people- watching, and shopping. Metro Detroit has many venues for music festivals, and it's time to get ready for these upcoming events. Save the date!
- Charlotte Bluegrass Festival – June 23-25, 2022 in Charlotte, MI. Celebrating 50 years of bringing the best bluegrass music to mid-Michigan. A fun weekend of camping, pickin’ and jamming.
- Backwoods and Bonfires Music Festival – June 25, 2022 at 3733 McKinley Street, Detroit, MI. Featuring local and national hip-hop artists performing live on three stages. DJs, food and artwork vendors are a bonus to the music.
- Marshall Blues Fest – June 25, 2022 in Marshall, MI. A free family-oriented festival featuring blues, brews and food.
- Detroit Music Weekend – July 2-3, 2022 in downtown Detroit, MI. In partnership with the City of Detroit and over 40 art organizations, DMW brings together a full spectrum of music, dance and art performances featuring the best Blues musicians from the area.
- Michigan ElvisFest – July 8-9, 2022 at the Wayne County Fair Grounds, Belleville, MI. Put on your blue suede shoes and poodle skirts and celebrate “The King” of rock and roll with music and fun.
- Michigan Jazz Fest – July 17, 2022 on the campus of Schoolcraft College, Livonia, MI. Local jazz musicians and artists will perform live on stage starting at noon. Admission and parking are free.
- Faster Horses Festival – July 22-24, 2022 in Brooklyn, MI, near the Michigan International Speedway. A three-day country music and camping festival featuring country music’s biggest superstars.
- SterlingFest – July 28-30, 2022 in Sterling Heights, MI. Includes an art fair, carnival music fest, book signings and sales from local Michigan authors, a 5K, and an assortment of restaurant and food vendor options.
- Mo Pop Festival – July 30-31, 2022 at Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI. Mo Pop Festival has established itself as a unique festival that celebrates creative expression and craft.
- Frankenmuth Summer Music Fest – August 9-13, 2022 in Frankenmuth, MI. Grab your beer stein and polka shoes and immerse yourself in traditional German/Polish food and music. A family-friendly event.
- Hamtramck Music Fest – August 11-14, 2022 in Hamtramck, MI. Celebrating Metro Detroit’s diverse music community, audiences will experience live performances by local bands in numerous Hamtramck favorites including bars, venues and restaurants.
- Phil Denny’s Armory Smooth Jazz Fete – August 13, 2022 at 330 Marshall Street, Lansing, MI. Lansing-based international recording artist and saxophonist Phil Denny presents a celebration of contemporary smooth jazz artists. This event is held at the historic Armory.
- Ribs R&B Music Festival Weekend – August 12-14, 2022 at Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI. The festival features an outstanding lineup of local barbeque pit masters and grilling gurus serving tasty ribs, brisket, and chicken. Live music by talented R&B and soul singers.
- Vibes with the Tribes – August 27-28, 2022 at 4132 Bagley Street, Detroit, MI. Inter-tribal rounds of pow wow dance with drum groups, Native American beadwork, quilting and clothing. Local food vendors.
- Detroit Jazz Fest – September 2-5, 2022 from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius, Detroit, MI. Now in its 42nd year, the Detroit Jazz Fest is one of the largest free music events in North America. Over 100 hometown musicians will be performing live on five stages.
- Arts, Beats and Eats – September 2-5, 2022 in Royal Oak, MI. Celebrating art, food, music and community in downtown Royal Oak.