Summer in West Michigan is primetime to sip, savor, and adventure your way through endless days of Pure Michigan goodness, whether you’re posting up beach-side, dropping a line for the day’s catch, or perusing peak-of-freshess produce at our local farmers markets. But it’s also primetime for some of the hottest events of the entire year, and that’s why we’re giving you our festival bucket list of 5 local warm-weather favorites you simply can’t miss:
Festival of the Arts
Downtown Grand Rapids, Calder Plaza
June 2-4, 2017
Kick off summer at this FREE, 3-day event, filled with several stages of live performances, a juried Regional Arts Exhibition, and food booths that’ll keep you fueled up for all-day fun! Your little ones will love the chance to make their own art while you purchase your favorite pieces from local Michigan artists, and all proceeds (from food to art, t-shirts to posters) give back to the West Michigan community!
Founders Fest 2017
235 Grandville Ave. SW
June 17, 2017
Ages 21+ are welcome when this full-on, sun-soaked craft beer bash takes to the streets surrounding Founders Brewing Co., as Founders Fest celebrates it’s 10th Anniversary (and the Brewery’s 20th!), promising its best lineup of brews and live music yet. Tickets are just $40 ($50 day-of-show, if available) and they’ll get you access to 8 hours of live entertainment (including 7 bands, plus sideshow entertainment from Super Happy Funtime) and, of course, your first pint! Snag your tickets now, as this event has been well-known to sell out!
Grand Rapids 4th of July Amway Family Fireworks
Downtown Grand Rapids, Ah-Nab-Awen Park
July 1, 2017
No West Michigan summer would be complete without watching fireworks explode high above our stunning Grand Rapids skyline! So, be there for the free display with blankets & beach chairs in tow (and be sure to scout out your spot LONG in advance, though the fireworks don’t start until 10:30 PM)! This free family event kicks off at Ah-Nab-Awen Park at 5 PM with family activities, food trucks, vendors, and live music and keeps the Independence Day celebration going from 7-9 PM in the Amway Family Zone, featuring face painting and fake tattoos for the kids (all before the fabulous fireworks display begins at 10:30 PM)!
Grand Rapids Balloon Festival
Ah-Nab-Awen Park (Thursday) & Hudsonville Fairgrounds (Friday & Saturday)
July 20-22, 2017
On Thursday, July 20, come kick off one of the biggest family fun events of the summer – the Grand Rapids Balloon Festival – at the FREE Thursday Night Picnic in the Park at Ah-Nab-Awen Park! Bring your own picnic, or sample from some of the delicious food vendors (think: Gettin’ Fresh Food Truck and Wagner’s Ice Cream), take a $1 walk inside an inflated hot air balloon, and stick around for the main show – the night glow – where the hot air balloon pilots will light up the night with their burners!
On Friday & Saturday (July 21-22), make your way to the Hudsonville Fairgrounds and prepare for a full weekend of family fun (just $5/person for ages 2+). Kids will love the inflatable bounce houses, balloon artists, face painting, magic show, and dunk tank, while the adults enjoy live music (like local favorite folk artist, May Erlewine), photobooths and craft vendors, and, of course, nightly balloon launches! Best of all, you’ll be helping a great cause, as all Grand Rapids Balloon Festival proceeds go to Children’s Miracle Network & D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s!
Downtown Grand Rapids, Rosa Parks Circle
August 19-20, 2017
2 days? 11 performances? FREE jazz? We may have already said enough. But, if we haven’t, start gearing up for this year’s GRandJazzFest at Rosa Parks Circle: West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival! Bring your folding chairs, blankets, and snacks, and be ready to frequent the many delicious downtown Grand Rapids dining options nearby – before, between, and after the performances!