Lighting Up the Sky: Five fireworks shows around the North this July
From Boyne to Mackinac Island to TC to Charlevoix
By Alexandra Dailey | June 24, 2023
Summertime in northern Michigan means cookouts, boating, and several amazing fireworks displays throughout July. Here are some upcoming events you won’t want to miss, plus a few fun facts about the breathtaking shows.
Photo by Alex Childress
Named one of the country’s best small-town Independence Day spots, Boyne City’s 4th of July Festival and fireworks have been a hallmark tradition for over half a century. Shot off from a location and height that enables everyone around the lake to see the show from land or boat, the spectacular display has garnered some high praise in recent years.
“When we were first recognized by USA Today, we were blown away,” says Jessica White of Boyne City Hardware. “Then Good Morning America, the Travel Channel, and Reader’s Digest awarded us. We have no idea how they heard about our festival and fireworks, but I guess our reputation precedes us!”
The Wolverine Fireworks Company, which also handles fireworks for the world-famous Bay City Fireworks, will be in charge of the upcoming show…with an impressive committee-approved budget.
“We pride ourselves on the nickname we have acquired over the years as the ‘Best Fourth in the North,’” adds White. “We also pride ourselves on the things that make the Fourth of July so special: freedom, family, fireworks, and fun.”
When and where: Tuesday, July 4, at about 10:30pm. Popular viewing sites are Veteran’s Memorial Park and Sunset Park.
How long do they last: 20-25 minutes
How many: $40,000 worth of fireworks will be used this Fourth of July
Fun fact: Donations from local businesses and individuals entirely fund the fireworks display. Donations total approximately $55,000 annually and support the fireworks show and surrounding festival, including a craft show, running race, live music, games, food, and the parade, which draws about 10,000 spectators.
An ever-popular fireworks destination is Mackinac Island, and they boast not one but two displays of pyrotechnics on the Fourth of July. According to Emily Oakes, who handles public relations on behalf of the island, if you’re lucky enough to be at Fort Holmes—the highest point on Mackinac Island—you’ll even have the opportunity to see both fireworks shows. One location, two shows…how can you beat that?
When and where: Tuesday, July 4, around dusk/10pm at the Mackinac Island Marina and on the west side of the island, out from the boardwalk toward the Mackinac Bridge
How long do they last: Both displays are 20 minutes long and take place at the same time.
How many: Almost 2,000 fireworks are used in the two displays
Fun fact: The displays can be seen from Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, and the historic port town of Hessel.
Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival
A third Independence Day offering coincides with the National Cherry Festival as the nonprofit organization TC Boom Boom Club lights up West Grand Traverse Bay. They tell us new effects and brighter colors are in store for this year for what the club calls “the best fireworks display in Michigan.”
When and where: Tuesday, July 4, over West Grand Traverse Bay
How long do they last: 25-30 minutes
How many: There are over 1,500 firing events in the program
But wait—there’s more! The National Cherry Festival hasn’t had its closing night fireworks since 2018, but they’re back this year and promise to be better than ever.
“Back by popular demand, the National Cherry Festival Fireworks Grand Finale … will take to the skies at dusk on the festival’s last night,” says Executive Director Kat Paye. “The fireworks finale is a longtime favorite, closing the eight days of festival fun.”
When and where: Saturday, July 8, over West Grand Traverse Bay
Fun fact: The closing night fireworks are produced by Great Lakes Fireworks, and they’re creating a special edition cherry firework, so keep your eyes peeled.
Charlevoix’s Venetian Festival
Charlevoix’s Venetian Festival had simple beginnings in the 1930s as a candlelit boat parade. Now, it’s known for some of the greatest fireworks in the state. (The festival takes place later in July, just in case you haven’t gotten your firework fix from Fourth of July.) First up on this year’s schedule is the “Night Sky” display on July 21.
“Venetian has continued to add bells and whistles to its colossal Night Sky Display, which is launched from the Venetian barge in Lake Charlevoix,” says Dan Barron, president of the Charlevoix Venetian Festival. “The display will again be introduced by a pyro stunt plane which will scream down the Pine River Channel before entering the Lake Charlevoix airbox in proximity to the fireworks barge, complete with aerobatic stunts and fireworks launched from the plane.”
The second display takes place the following night. Saturday, July 22, hosts the Harbor Fireworks show, the festival’s low aerial/high-intensity fireworks presentation. In addition to the classic big booms, the display uses specially formulated fireworks shells that shoot out from beneath the surface of Round Lake for an added element of artistry and surprise.
“This pyrotechnic extravaganza, rivaled only by such displays as Thunder Over Louisville, will rock the sky with fireworks launched from the Venetian barge during Venetian’s lighted boat parade,” says Barron.
When and where: Friday, July 21 & Saturday, July 22, downtown Charlevoix
How many: Over 10,000 pyro bursts will be used between the two nights of fireworks
Fun fact: The Venetian Festival fireworks displays have received national acclaim thanks to the artistry of its renowned master pyrotechnician, Frank Loffredo, Jr., who has orchestrated the displays for over 20 years.
Coming Soon: International Fireworks Championship
The first-ever International Fireworks Championship is set to be held Saturday, September 9, at Traverse City’s Turtle Creek Stadium, showcasing world-class fireworks displays by teams from the U.S., Mexico, Spain, and Germany, with the U.S. team hailing from Cincinnati. Each of the four competing teams will present unique fireworks shows with musical accompaniment for judges to formally critique.
“This promises a fireworks event like no other, with bright colors, bold designs, and fun concepts,” says Mickey Graham, director of events at Traverse City Tourism. “Fireworks competitions happen across the globe, and we thought there would be an interesting opportunity to try one here,” adds Graham. “This [event] is a collaboration between Great Lakes Fireworks and Traverse City Tourism.”
With an emphasis on creative abilities, the four world-class teams will all perform on one night. Graham says that though details are still in the works, this will be a family-friendly event with entertainment for all to enjoy leading up to the nighttime displays. Within an hour of going on sale, tickets for the event sold out, though organizers tell us they are looking into more seating and viewing opportunities. For more information, visit traversecity.com.