Detroit Festivals


Detroit is the Mid-west’s vibrant and artistic capital of the American music scene. From soul to techno, Detroit has pioneered some of the most influential art forms in American music and the Motor City's many annual festivals more often than not celebrate Detroit’s musical contributions in addition to its automotive greatness at events like Cruisin' Woodward. For a weekend of pan-genre musical talents on three stages, the Spirit of Detroit Music Festival delivers the best local and national acts from country to hip hop. The weekend-long African World Festival, held every year on the revitalized Detroit waterfront, celebrates the musical contributions of the African diaspora. For all things country, the Downtown Hoedown is a festival that delivers country music greats and up-and-comers in a free festival at Downtown's Hart Plaza.

Spirit of Detroit Music Festival

Michigan State Fairgrounds, 1120 W. State Fair Ave., Detroit, Michigan; Tel. 313.868.7464
From R&B to country, blues to hip-hop, jazz to rock, the annual Spirit of Detroit Music Festival brings together a wide variety of local independent musicians and three national headlining acts on three stages to create the ultimate weekend music experience.

African World Festival

Downtown Detroit, Philip Hart Plaza, Detroit, Michigan; Tel. 313.494.5800
Held on the Detroit riverfront, the African World Festival is a family-oriented festival that gathers everyone to celebrate African music and art in Philip Hart Plaza. With more than a million attendees at the weekend-long event, the cultural celebration is Detroit’s largest ethnic celebration. The whole family is annually invited to partake in the free festival and celebrate Afican culture through music, art and more in August

APBA Gold Cup

Henderson Park and Memorial Annex Park, Detroit, Michigan; Tel. 800.359.7760
The APBA Gold Cup—aka APBA Challenge Cup—awards the oldest active trophy in motor sports, an appropriate title to be given in the Motor City. Antique powerboats and racing boats cruise the Detroit River during the qualifying heats throughout the day. The final hydroplane races are held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and bring some of the finest competitors, fans and sponsors in Detroit to the race. The festival is held mid-summer and can be seen for free from the public beach on Belle Isle or from the ticketed grandstands in Chrysler/ Henderson Park and Memorial Annex Park.

Detroit Hoedown

Downtown Detroit, Philip Hart Plaza, Detroit, Michigan;
Each May country music takes over downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza for a free festival. Bringing in current country stars to get the hoedown going, it’s a weekend-long and one of a kind event put on by Detroit’s country radio station, 99.5 WYCD. Hundreds of thousands of folks head to Detroit to see over 30 artists perform at the festival that was established in 1983 and is still going strong.

Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival

Campus Martius Park, Detroit, Michigan; Tel. 313.657.0149
Over 25 years ago, Detroit's community-leaders wanted to give people a reason to go downtown and make it a positive environment so they started the Detroit Jazz Fest in 1980. Now, the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival, usually on Labor Day Weekend, is America's largest free jazz festival. More than 100 outdoor concerts feature 1,000 jazz artists from around the world. Detroit’s Riverfront area is the perfect place to host the event drawing more than 800,000 annually over the four-day event that includes some of Detroit's best swing, bop, Latin and modern jazz beats. Headliners like Aretha Franklin have performed at this jazz festival, which is produced by Detroit's Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts.

The Detroit Festival of the Arts

Midtown’s University Cultural Center, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Michigan; Tel. 313.577.5088
Detroit’s creative community presents a festival with fun for the whole family from professional painters and musicians to puppeteers and storytellers. The diverse heritage of Detroit is celebrated with an array of artists and performers as well as an outdoor World Market with ethnic food and more art. Held annually in Wayne State University’s Cultural Center, the art festival has new and exciting things to see and explore each year influenced not just by the world but also by ethnically and culturally diverse Detroit.

The Movement Festival: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival

Downtown Detroit, Philip Hart Plaza, Detroit, Michigan; Tel. 313.494.5800
Some say that techno music originated in Detroit, so it’s appropriate that the Motor City continues to host the Movement Festival. The event is an electronic music festival featuring performances from legendary Detroit artists as well as international artists from various electronic genres. Movement is a Memorial Day weekend opportunity to experiences the new and old-school grooves in techno, house, ambient, drum n bass on four distinct stages.
-- Detroit festival reviews by Alanna Lee