Your Up North Memorial Day Weekend Itinerary
12 events across northern Michigan to add to your calendar
By Alexandra Dailey | May 20, 2023
Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer Up North. This weekend, all our favorite restaurants and shops will have opened for the season. The farmers markets will be showing off their spring bounty. And the water temperatures have warmed just enough that we’ll stick our feet in (but not much else).
Whether you want to celebrate the return of summer by busting out your white linen shorts, attending a parade, or exploring a beloved festival, we’ve got you covered. Check out these 12 events happening from Thompsonville to Houghton this weekend.
1. Cherry Capital Comic Con
Ready to get your geek on? (In the coolest possible way?) During the holiday weekend, take the opportunity to connect with over 100 exhibitors, artists, and creators at northern Michigan’s largest comic book and pop entertainment expo, which takes place at the scenic Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. 2023 marks the 15th annual event and includes great deals on comics and collectible merchandise, plus a costume contest for adults and children. Tickets are $40/person and can be ordered online at cherrycapitalcomiccon.com.
2. Elk Rapids Arts & Crafts Show
Saturday, May 27, 10am-4pm
An event for all ages, the 29th annual Arts & Crafts Show is set to take place in the heart of downtown Elk Rapids on River Street, featuring over 70 different artisans and creators who will be selling their work and showcasing demonstrations of their craft.
3. Houghton from the Ground Festival
Saturday, May 27, 12-6pm
Get ready to enjoy 40 local food and art vendors and live music from local musicians during this Saturday afternoon event in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Musical performances feature Adam Meckler and Jana Nyberg, Kevin Blackstone, Hannah Rundman, Bruce Rundman, Bling Crosby, and Ani & Kora. The Houghton from the Ground Festival takes place in conjunction with Ride the Keweenaw, an all-day mountain biking event that includes a group ride on the Michigan Tech Trails, a family endurance race, and bike check-ups afterward.
4. St. Ignace’s Annual Native American Festival at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture
Saturday, May 27, 10am-6pm
This festival recognizes and celebrates the culture and contributions of the Anishinaabe people from the surrounding area. Festival activities are free and open to the public and include drumming, dances, workshop presenters, and a taste of centuries-old food traditions. Cultural artistry featuring birch bark, porcupine quills, and other natural materials will also be on display. Guided museum and grounds tours with a cultural interpreter will be offered, as well as a guided historic walking tour with a local historian.
“Everyone is welcome to come and experience the rich traditions and culture of the Anishinaabe people. It is an honor and a privilege to host this annual event that spotlights an important part of our history through the eyes of the First People who inhabited this area,” says Shirley Sorrels, Museum of Ojibwa Culture director.
5. Michigan Beer & Brat Festival at Crystal Mountain
Saturday, May 27, 4-8pm
With over 20 vendors participating, the 16th annual celebration of Michigan-made food and craft beverages offers the chance to sample microbrews, meads, hard ciders, wines, liquors; dine on gourmet brats; and listen to live entertainment put on by Barefoot and Jedi Mind Trip. VIP admission opens at 3pm, with general admission open from 4-8pm. Tickets may be purchased online at crystalmountain.com; kids ages 3 and under are free.
6. Leland Air Plein Air Exhibition
Saturday, May 27
During Leland’s plein air exhibition and sale, art collectors will have the opportunity to purchase fresh works of art created earlier in the day by artists who painted and drew scenes featuring the beautiful Leelanau County landscape.
“We’re so excited to host the 11th annual Leland Air this Memorial Day weekend,” says Sarah Mills, executive director of the Old Art Building. “Close to 40 artists will be en plein air painting all of the natural beauty in Leland and beyond.”
The newly created plein air pieces will be on display during the ticketed opening reception on May 27, but then open to the public for viewing and purchase from May 28-31 at the Old Art Building. Tickets for the opening night reception are available at oldartbuilding.com.
7. Northport Cars in the Park
Saturday, May 27, 10am
Come check out Leelanau County’s longest-running auto show on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend in the village of Northport at Haserot Park. Since 1998, car enthusiasts have been showcasing their beautifully maintained and unique vehicles. Admission is free for all ages, and awards will be announced at 3pm.
8. Made in Cheboygan Craft Show
Saturday, May 27, 9am-5pm and Sunday, May 28, 10am-3pm
In its fourth year of programming, Made in Cheboygan is set to host a craft show over the holiday weekend to support local crafters and provide shoppers with a fun and unique experience in Cheboygan’s Washington Park. Crafters and artisans will showcase various items for sale, including jewelry, home decor, pottery, clothing, toys, kitchen essentials, custom-printed shirts, mugs, and more!
9. The Midtown Men
Sunday, May 28, 8pm
Join Great Lakes Center for the Arts for a lively performance by The Midtown Men during their Tenth Anniversary Tour.
“We are excited to introduce northern Michigan to The Midtown Men, the perfect performance to kick off the summer and fall season at the Center,” says Matthew Kacergis, Great Lakes Center for the Arts executive director. “Complete with four Broadway veterans from the original cast of Jersey Boys performing your favorite hits of the ’60s and a killer live band, audience members are in for a festive and memorable holiday weekend. This show reaches far beyond your typical tribute.”
This performance will feature songs by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Chicago, Elvis, The Temptations, and more. Tickets are available at greatlakescfa.org.
10. Pit Spitters Season Opener
Monday, May 29, 7:05pm
Catch the Pit Spitters’ season-opener against the Rockford Rivets of Rockford, Illinois, at Turtle Creek Stadium on Memorial Day in Traverse City. Grab a drink and a hot dog, and settle into your seat for an evening at the ballpark to kickoff the summer season. For a complete 2023 schedule, visit northwoodsleague.com/traverse-city-pit-spitters.
11. Petoskey Memorial Day Parade
Monday, May 29, 10am
To honor those who have served our country, Petoskey residents line East Mitchell Street in the downtown Gaslight District for the annual Memorial Day Parade. Ceremonies at Greenwood Cemetery and the downtown war monuments will occur prior to the parade, with a memorial service at Pennsylvania Park Gazebo taking place afterward complete with wreath placement, music, a salute, and taps. After the service, a luncheon is set to take place at the American Legion Post 194 (455 Bay St., Petoskey).
12. Fort Mackinac Memorial Day Observance & Fort Michilimackinac Reenactment
Monday, May 29, 8:30-9am / 2:30-4pm
Starting off Memorial Day at Fort Mackinac is an observance tribute, brief ceremony, and salute to the soldiers who served at the fort. Later that afternoon, the Fort Michilimackinac Reenactment takes place and presents a recreation of events that occurred on June 2, 1763, between the French, British, and Native tribes. The reenactment is presented by a Mackinaw City community group, and admission to the reenactment is free. (Note: Access to Colonial Michilimackinac requires an admission ticket.) Find more details at mackinacparks.com/event.
Photo of Northport Cars in the Park, as seen from above. Photo courtesy of Tom Wetherbee.