The state of Michigan has birthed, or at the very least cultivated, some of contemporary music’s most enduring genres within the past fifty years, from punk rock to Motown/soul to techno. Though the state’s capital is Lansing, Detroit is Michigan’s most influential and largest city by far, known by locals as ‘Motor City’ due to both the successful car manufacturing industry and the hometown music label Motown Records which released many of the popular, and now classic, soul, pop, and funk records of the 60s.
Aside from the music that was birthed in Michigan, blues and Hip-Hop also have strong ties within the state, which has birthed artists like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Eminem, Diana Ross, and Madonna to name a few. Music represents a vital part of Michigan’s culture and the amount of music festivals and events they have surely prove it. Here is a list of what we consider to be the top ten music festivals in Michigan currently.
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Electric Forest in Sherwood Forest, Rothbury, MI
Electric Forest is a continuous four-day festival that stretches over one weekend. The event offers up a variety of music but is mostly centered around electronic music and jam band. Set among the flora and fauna of Rothbury’s majestic Sherwood Forest, the festival literally transforms the tranquil woodland into an electrifying, kaleidoscopic, and hedonistic haven. Since 2008, Electric Forest has offered up a meticulously curated lineup of electronica’s foremost artisans for the almost 50,000 lucky festival goers that descend upon the enchanted forest in search of an unforgettable experience year after year.
Movement Electronic Music Festival in Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI
Movement Electronic Music Festival is one of longest-running dance music events in the world and is committed to showcasing authentic electronic music while providing an experience unlike any other. The festival takes place in Hart Plaza – Detroit’s legendary riverfront destination every Memorial Day Weekend. Thousands upon thousands of ravers flock to the Hart Plaza to celebrate the history of techno in the birthplace of techno. As one of dance music’s oldest festivals, numerous generations of festival goers come together annually to celebrate techno’s origins, and its apparent impact on electronica and beyond.
Hoxeyville Music Festival in Wellston, MI
Hoxeyville is the Midwest’s premier Americana and Roots festival with a background in Americana and bluegrass music. Boasting three stages featuring national touring artists, and the best and brightest Michigan talent, they create an environment that is serene, communal, and family-friendly environment with a child-focused program of activities and games where the kids are occupied while the adults kick back to the earthy sounds. The venue is also very intimate and is outfitted to entertain a crowd of 3,000.
Common Ground Festival in Lansing, MI
Beginning in 2000, the Common Ground Festival has been a bright spot in the July calendar for Lansing, Michigan. For twenty years now, guests have been able to enjoy the weeklong festival which has hosted some of the USA’s finest talents in the shape of Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees, and multi-Grammy award winning artists. By mixing in legacy artists with modern icons from a wide array of genres including Contemporary, Classic Rock, Pop, Alternative, Folk, Country, Hip-Hop, and R&B music, they have been able to create an energetic and lively atmosphere with a highly enthusiastic and interactive audience.
Detroit International Jazz Festival in Hart Plaza & Campus Martius, Detroit, MI
Held in Detroit on every Labor Day since 1980, this free festival is, without doubt, a mainstay of the city’s cultural tapestry. With over sixty different performances across the multiple pop-up stages within the city, the festival is able to ensure that the heartbeat of jazz stays pumping over the course of the entire event which has seen the likes of legends like Dave Brubeck and Pat Metheny perform in the past.
Mo Pop Festival in West Riverfront Park, Detroit, MI
Although it has only been around since 2013, this two-day inner-city festival quickly became a fan favorite for festival goers and locals. The event caters for indie audiophiles that have a penchant for rhythm, ingenuity, and dancing with an ambiance that can be described as “boutique and niche.” Growing bigger and bigger with each year, the Mo Pop Festival has an attendance of around 20,000 guests for whom there is a wide selection of music and artistry to enjoy. Indie Rock, Pop, and Hip-Hop is played all across the venue from artists who come from a variety of backgrounds, emerging newbies to established music industry giants. Guests will be able to enjoy this spectacular festival along Detroit’s famous waterfront while enjoying some of the city’s famous foods and beverages. At an event that has been compared to the likes of major alternative festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Pitchfork, you know you are in for a great time.
Hiawatha Music Festival in Tourist Park, Marquette, MI
Within the beautiful forested area of Tourist Park in the city of Marquette, the quaint Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival unfolds. This celebration of music is the ideal locale for those who love old-fashioned nature camping and outdoor activities as much as homegrown music. Hiawatha invites a mixture of both locally and nationally successful talents to perform at the event. If you love Bluegrass, Celtic, Acoustic, Blues, or Gospel music, then this is the place to be in the middle of summer.
Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, MI
The Wheatland Music Festival is a music and arts festival organized by the Wheatland Music Organization, a non-profit organization specializing in the preservation and presentation of traditional arts and music. Music, dance, arts and crafts, nature, and storytelling are all championed at this cultural community event. Since 1974, this festival has been a firm fixture in Michigan’s summer activities calendar. It began as a free concert on the grounds of the Rhode family farm and since then has blossomed into a gathering of festival goers within the 160-acre site.
Faster Horses Festival in Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI
Faster Horses Music and Camping Festival is a 3-day country music festival that runs from Friday to Sunday annually. Over the course of the weekend, over 40,000 festival goers descend upon the Michigan International Speedway, both young and old, for an epic ho-down. The festival features plenty of country music superstars, stellar campsites, and lots of boot-scootin’ boogies. The 2021 lineup looks bright with Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, and Jason Aldean as well as other talented artists in the genre. If country music is your jam, then this is one festival you’ll sure wish to be a part of.
Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in Ann Arbor, MI
What began as a tribute to ageing Blues icons during the late 60s and early 70s, the Ann Arbor-based festival soon expanded to encompass the genre of Jazz as well. Inviting a generous list of venerated guests like Miles Davis, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sun Ra, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Al Green, the festival is one that diehard Blues and Jazz fans must have on their bucket lists. The festival’s program is split across the vast outdoor arenas, the large indoor concerts, and even intimate authentic Jazz clubs that will immerse festival goers into both the expressive, emotive domain that Blues and Jazz are so famous for.