Let’s say you’re on a summer vacation in Michigan and you’ve got a week to kill. A friend suggests a local music festival. Why not? Music is high art—and everybody loves festival photos—so spending a day or two out in the woods is a sure thing.
If you aren’t nature-inclined, the heart of Detroit is more than happy to accommodate you. The Motor City hosts hundreds of music festivals and it seems to be going strong. The best festivals though are the regional events, drawing people from near and far to showcase various artists, bands and live shows. Whether your jam is country, rap, techno, or all three, there is a festival in the mitten for you. So, for the uninitiated, here’s a brief primer on some of the best festivals in the region.
Quicklook: Music Festivals in Michigan
- Electric Forest – Overall Music Festival in Michigan
- Faster Horses – Contemporary Country Music
- Blissfest – Families
- Camp Greensky – Bluegrass
- Movement Festival – EDM, rock, families, etc
- The Detroit Jazz Festival – Jazz
- Daily in the Alley – Free Festivals, Rap
- Common Ground Music Festival – Multigenre Festivals
- Mo Pop Festival – Discovering new artists
- Wheatland Music Festival – World Music
Choosing a Festival in Michigan
The thriving music scene in Michigan is second to none – a blessing to experience in person. Except, Michigan might just have too many music festivals for its own good. Not the worst problem to have, but deciding on where to spend a weekend can be arduous. Music is a draw. It’s on the floor. It’s awesome. To help narrow down the process of finding what festival is best for you, we have put together a list of the 10 best music festivals in Michigan.
1. Electric Forest
Best for: Overall Music Festival in Michigan
When is it?: TBD in 2020
Price: $309 for a weekend GA pass, $549 for a Maplewoods weekend pass, $699 for a Good Life weekend pass, $1,299 for an Effortless Camping weekend pass (includes a take-home tent, air mattresses, and sleeping bags), $1,999-3,399 for a two or four-person Good Life VIP Sherwood Bungalow Tent package, $3,7450 for a weekend two-person Good Life Back 40 VIP Enchanted Camping pass
VIP Experience: Yes, for with a Backlots 40 pass, you receive VIP viewing areas, parking for your car adjacent to your campsite, access to both the Back 40 Old Western Town water park and the Frontier Water Park Facilities, exclusive air-conditioned bathrooms and showers in The Back 40, exclusive artist sets in The Back 40, curated brunch each morning (Friday – Sunday), plus access to all Good Life amenities.
Where to stay? For Electric Forest, there is no better way to experience the festival than through camping. To accommodate those who do not enjoy camping, Electric Forest has multiple tiers of different amenities, from GA camping to air-conditioned cabins with concierges.
2. Faster Horses
Best for: Contemporary Country Music
When is it?: July 19-21st
Price: $215 for a GA weekend pass, $650 for VIP Tack Room Reserved Pass
VIP Experience: yes, for $650, you receive a reserved shaded seat in front of the mainstage, shaded lounge with a cash bar and exclusive culinary offerings, a complimentary massage service, dedicated VIP Concierges, VIP entrance to all festival venue attractions, from rides to venue entrance, and a secret gift
Where to stay? Camping on site is strongly recommended for Faster Horses. Faster Horses is located in Brooklyn, MI, a city with limited hotel options. There are Holiday Inns and Super 8s, but that is as good as it gets.
Best for: Families
When is it?: Second Weekend of July 2020
Price: $185 for a GA weekend pass
VIP Experience: No VIP options are offered
Where to stay? Camping is included with your GA weekend pass. Keep in mind that this festival is family-friendly & all ages, so camping will be more relaxed than other music festivals.
4. Camp Greensky
Best for: Bluegrass
When is it?: Early June 2020
Price: $300 for a weekend GA pass
VIP Experience: No VIP options are offered for Camp Greensky
Where to stay? Given its location in Wellston, MI, the hotel choices are quite limited. A few motels and inns are located near the festival, but camping on site will be the best experience. Campgrounds are spacious, clean, and communal. Expect to make friends with your neighbors.
5. Movement Festival
Best for: ex: EDM, rock, families, etc
When is it?: Mid-May 2020
Price: $195 for a GA pass, $320 for a VIP pass, $470 for a Club313 VIP pass
VIP Experience: yes, for $320, you’ll receive access to Main VIP Area (space above and behind the Movement Main Stage) where you’ll find exclusive VIP Bars, featuring discounted drinks and Premium drink choices, private air-conditioned bathrooms, complimentary massages, VIP-only viewing platforms for multiple stages, room reservation access to the Official Movement VIP hotel (while supplies last) at the Westin Book Cadillac or the Foundation Hotel.
Where to stay? The VIP tickets offer access to the official movement hotels, which are the Westin Book Cadillac and the Foundation Hotel. Outside of those options, the Shinola Hotel, as well as local Airbnbs, are great alternatives.
6. The Detroit Jazz Festival
Best for: Jazz
When is it?: August 30-September 2nd, 2020
Price: GA admission is completely free, $550 for a Guardian of Jazz VIP sponsor tickets
VIP Experience: Yes, for $550, you’ll receive Weekend access to reserved seating at the stages, access to VIP Hospitality areas, an exclusive invite to the Opening Night Celebration, private artist receptions, and the preview luncheon, official souvenir, poster, and recognition in the Detroit Jazz Festival website.
Where to stay? A common recommendation for all Detroit festivals, the Shinola Hotel and local Airbnbs in Greektown & Corktown are great options.
7. Dally in the Alley
Best for: Free Festivals, Rap
When is it?: Early September 2020
VIP Experience: No
Where do stay? With its location in midtown Detroit, there are a large number of options for hotels. Look for hotels by Wayne State’s campus, visiting parents need a place to stay after all.
8. Common Ground Music Festival
Best for: Multigenre Festivals
When is it?: Last Weekend of June 2020.
Price: $89 for a GA weekend pass, $240 for a VIP weekend pass
VIP Experience: Yes, for $240, you’ll receive access to elevated VIP platform and VIP pit at the main stage, complimentary parking, private restrooms, private cash bar, complimentary appetizers, access to the festival via VIP lane at the main gate.
Where do stay? Common Ground is located in Lansing, which presents some good hotel options for festival attendees. The Radisson Hotel Lansing and Hyatt Place Lansing are both quality, affordable festivals that are close to the festival grounds.
9. Mo Pop
Best for: Discovering new artists
When is it?: TBD 2020
Price: $89 for a GA weekend pass
VIP Experience: none
Where to stay? Since this festival occurs in the same location as Movement, my recommendations for where to stay are the same as well. The Shinola Hotel, as well as local Airbnbs in Greektown and Corktown, are great alternatives.
10. Wheatland Music Festival
Best for: World Music
When is it?: The first weekend of September 2020
Price: $120 for a GA weekend pass
VIP Experience: VIP is not offered
Where to stay? Wheatland Festival is located in Remus, which does not offer a lot of variety for hotels. However, this festival is best enjoyed with camping. The heavy focus on Leave-No-Trace and sustainable fun make camping environmentally responsible and fun.
A Festival For Every Genre
While every state has its highlights, Michigan’s music scene is a sight to be seen. From the beauty of Electric Forest to the chaotic excitement of Movement, there’s something for everyone here.
So, if you’ve always wanted to check out this region — or if you’ve spent time here before and you want to enjoy some less expensive festivals — there’s no better way to do it than by coming to any of these 10. I promise you’ll not regret it.