Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023

Photo courtesy of Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company's Facebook page

By Claire Mainprize

June 20, 2023

Why fill your calendar with generic food and music festivals, when you could surround yourself with peculiar cuisine, compelling events, and weirdos just like you? 

Michigan ranks in the top 10 on the list of most festival-obsessed states, and it’s no mystery why; some of the biggest and best gatherings happen right here in the Mitten State. 

When planning your yearly activities, however, you shouldn’t overlook the lesser-known events in the area that offer a different kind of fun. A Flapjack & Flannel Festival beats your average Fall Fest any day of the week, so ditch the latter and add the former to your 2023 calendar — stat! 

Find out more about that festival and 22 others that are happening in Michigan this year.

Great Lakes Pirate Festival 

Where: Mackinac Island

When: June 17

Cost: Free (but you’ll need a ferry ticket)

Aye, I’ll bet you a buried treasure chest you’ve never been to a pirate festival before. Well, now’s your chance. 

Although festival admission is free, you’ll need to purchase a ticket from the Mackinac Island Ferry Company to get to the island from Mackinaw City. This will give you a chance to ride on the decked-out pirate ship (yes, it’s a thing) before checking out the festival, which includes live music and a competitive pirate cosplay contest (got a fake hook and some eyeliner? You, too, can compete for the top prize). 

If you want to keep the adventure rolling, you can hop aboard the Good Fortune Pirate Ship for an evening cruise. That adventure, which ranges from $10-$29 (or more if you add a round-trip ferry ticket) offers a full pirate crew, music and dancing, water cannons for the kiddos and the firing off of Good Fortune’s cannon. To learn more, click here

Mighty Uke Day

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Mighty Uke Day’s Facebook page

Where: East Lansing

When: June 23-25

Cost: $20-$219

Whether you’re an experienced ukulele player or just a fan of the instrument’s ragtime-style tunes, you’ll want to check out “the best ukulele festival in the Midwest.”

The weekend will be jam-packed with special performances and workshops from the best of the best uke players. Tickets range from $20 for Sunday’s Acoustic Afterglow concert to $219 for the VIP All-Inclusive Package covering all three days. To learn more, click here

Olive Burger Festival 

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Canva

Where: Lansing

When: June 24

Cost: $20

Are you even a Michigander if you’re not fully familiar with olive burgers? This year marks the first-ever festival devoted to the delectable dish. You’ll have the opportunity to vote for your favorite burger among the dozen-or-so choices created by the region’s favorite food trucks and restaurants. 

There will also be live music, drag performers, an olive burger eating contest, and other family-friendly activities, so be sure to bring your whole crew! To learn more, click here

Michigan ElvisFest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Michigan ElvisFest Inc.’s Facebook page

Where: Belville

When: July 7-8

Cost: $25-$60

There aren’t many festivals devoted to a single person, but it makes sense that the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is among them. According to the ElvisFest Facebook page, this event is “officially licensed and sanctioned by Elvis Presley™ Enterprises,” so you know it’s legit. 

To guarantee you’ll hear some of the very best Elvis Presley impersonators Michigan has to offer, make sure you buy your tickets in advance; they range from $25 for a day to $60 for a two-day pass. To learn more, click here

Mid-Michigan’s Enchanted Forest 

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Mid Michigan Enchanted Forest’s Facebook page

Where: Vassar

When: July 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30

Cost: $6-$15

If you want your summer to be like something out of a fairy tale, look no further than Mid-Michigan’s Enchanted Forest. Celebrated over three different weekends in July — each with its own distinct theme — this festival takes place in an actual forest. Take a stroll through the woods, and you’ll happen upon Vikings, the Evil Queen, the Fairy Godmother and many others. 

While children 4 and under are free, daily ticket prices for the rest of us range from $6 to $15, or you can buy a season pass and make return visits as the theme changes. To learn more, click here

National Baby Food Festival 

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of National Baby Food Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Fremont

When: July 19-22

Cost: Free

A baby food festival might sound strange, but this annual gathering is packed with fun for all ages (but especially the little ones!). Sponsored by companies like Nestle and Gerber, this four-day event includes the highly anticipated Baby Crawl in addition to a kid’s parade, baby food eating contest, carnival, car show and more. 

The festival also includes a Special Kids Day that caters to kids with special needs so that everyone can take part in the fun. To learn more, click here

Farwell Lumberjack Festival 

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Farwell Area Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page

Where: Farwell

When: July 21-22

Cost: Free

The tiny village of Farwell lures in huge crowds for its annual Lumberjack Festival. The weekend includes tons of family-friendly and free events, including live chainsaw carving contests for the professionals, barrel train rides for the kiddos, and pie-eating contests for everyone else in between. Oh, and who could forget the famous Greased Pig Contest?

To learn more, click here

FrankenFest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of FrankenFest’s Facebook page

Where: Lansing, Port Huron, Detroit, and Jackson

When: June 24, July 22, September 16, October 14

Cost: Free

The ever-so-entertaining FrankenFest is coming to four Michigan cities this year over the span of five months. To be clear, this festival focuses on Frankenstein and other horrors, not hot dogs, so if you’re into hauntings and such, you’ll want to find the closest location to you and mark your calendar now. 

Featuring local artists, costumed characters and paranormal experts, this free festival takes place in some of Michigan’s spookiest locations: a 19th-century mansion (Lansing), Michigan’s oldest lighthouse (Port Huron), a former artillery fortress (Detroit), and an old carriage factory (Jackson).

To learn more, click here

YogaFest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of YogaFest at Song of the Morning’s Facebook page

Where: Vanderbilt

When: July 28-30

Cost: $60-$250

Calling all yogis! The beautiful ​​Song of the Morning Retreat, a spiritual sanctuary tucked away in the woods along Pigeon River, is hosting a family-friendly Spirit and Nature Weekend. 

Inspired by Paramahansa Yogananda’s chant, “Spirit and Nature dancing together,” the event features nature walks, guided meditation, vegetarian Indian food and, of course, yoga! Weekend passes range from $60-$250 (although kids 6 and under are free!), and you can spend the night on the grounds for an additional fee. To learn more, click here

Yale Bologna Festival

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of The Yale Bologna Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Yale

When: July 28-30

Cost: Free (but expect fees for pony rides and some crafts)

This town loves bologna so much that the locals call it “Bolognaville.” Whether you’re also a fan of the cured meat or just want to have some good, old-fashioned fun, the Yale Bologna Festival is for you. 

Each year since its conception in 1989, the festival kicks off with a parade, offers live music, and crowns a Bologna Baby as well as a Bologna King and Queen. To learn more, click here

Michigan Bacon Festival

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Michigan’s Bacon Fest’s Facebook page

Where: Lansing

When: July 29

Cost: $30-$40

So, maybe bologna isn’t your thing — but there’s a much better chance that bacon is. This one-day event includes every kind of bacon you can think of — from bacon donuts to bacon-flavored beer. 

Your $40 ticket comes with samples of food and beverages, a souvenir cup, access to live music and more. There are also “Just The Bacon” tickets available for non-drinkers, which cost $30. It is a family-friendly event, after all! To learn more, click here

Peace, Love and Hippies Festival

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Peace, Love & Hippies Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Houghton Lake and Lapeer

When: July 29 and August 5

Cost: $6.50

Although there are a few different hippie-themed festivals throughout Michigan, the Peace, Love and Hippies Festival is among the best. 

For just $6.50, you can spend the day dancing to groovy music, speaking with psychics, watching performers and making tie-dye clothes. Good vibes are sure to abound at each of this year’s locations. To learn more, click here

Michigan Lighthouse Festival

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Michigan Lighthouse Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Alpena

When: August 4-6

Cost: $45-$130

Michigan is home to some of the country’s most beautiful lighthouses, so it makes sense we have a festival to celebrate them. Taking place at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and the New Presque Isle Lighthouse, the event includes a range of knowledgeable speakers, a maritime market, a special lighthouse cruise, and a Fare Sailings Brunch to cap it off. 

There are three different ticket options ranging from $45 to $130, but you can check out the New Presque Isle Lighthouse Museum for free! To learn more, click here

Blue Water SandFest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Blue Water Sand Fest’s Facebook page

Where: Port Huron

When: August 4-6

Cost: $6

The Blue Water SandFest hosts Michigan’s only master sand sculpting competition, so it’s kind of a big deal. Don’t worry, there are also workshops and lessons for the amateurs, plus other forms of food and fun. 

Daily tickets cost $6 and can be purchased online or at the gate, or you can snag a three-day pass for $15. To learn more, click here

Undeniably Dairy Mac & Cheese Fest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Undeniably Dairy Mac & Cheese Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Grand Rapids

When: August 12-13

Cost: $34-$59

What goes together better than macaroni and cheese? Well, how about macaroni, cheese, and a festival of fun? Included in your ticket for this all-ages event, you’ll get food and beverage samples, a souvenir cup and more. Tickets sell out every year, so be sure to get yours early! To learn more, click here

Rubber Ducky Festival 

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Destination Bellaire’s Facebook page

Where: Bellaire

When: August 14-19

Cost: Entrance and most activities are free

As if this list couldn’t get any weirder, we present you: Bellaire’s annual Rubber Ducky Festival. 

This five-day event includes tons of free offerings, including a community paddle, rubber ducky race and art fair. However, some of the events — like the kid’s “Duckling Park” of bounce houses or the many tournaments — will set you back a few bucks. 

To learn more, click here

Michigan Renaissance Festival

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Michigan Renaissance Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Holly

When: Every weekend from August 19 to October 1

Cost: $13-$150

The 2023 Michigan Renaissance Festival takes place across seven different weekends, so there’s sure to be a time that works for you. Moreover, each weekend has its own theme, from “Pirates & Pups” to “Shamrocks & Shenanigans.” 

With more than 250,000 annual visitors, this magical event has a range of ticket prices and attendance options. To learn more, click here

Humongous Fungus Fest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Humongous Fungus Fest’s Facebook page

Where: Crystal Falls

When: August 25-26

Cost: Free (the foraging trip costs $60)

With the most clever name on this list, the Humongous Fungus Festival isn’t just for the mycophiles. 

This year’s event is called Journey to the Fungus and takes place at locations across Crystal Falls, a small town that hosts a 38-acre fungus discovered several decades ago. (If you think that’s big, another one nearby was found to cover 91 acres and estimated at 2,500 years old!) You have to see it to believe it (which you can do if you sign up for the festival’s foraging trip!).

To learn more, click here

Seney Lumberjack Festival

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Seney Lumberjack Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Seney

When: August 25-26

Cost: $5

Come August, it will be time to dig out your favorite flannel and head over to Seney for the town’s annual Lumberjack Festival. Get ready to experience a weekend full of food trucks, live music, a side-by-side poker run, a petting zoo and the Lumberjack/Lumberjill contests.

To learn more, click here

Motor City EGGFest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Big Green Egg’s Facebook page

Where: Motor City 

When: August 26

Cost: $20-$100

If you don’t know what the Big Green Egg is, you must have been living under a rock for the last few years. This Kamado-style ceramic cooker has such a massive cult following that there’s an entire festival dedicated to it. 

If you don’t have one yourself, you can head to the event to get one at a hugely discounted price — and you’ll also get added perks like unlimited barbeque samples, cooking workshops and lively games. Tickets range from $20-$100, with half of the sales going to charity. It’s a win-win! To learn more, click here

Detroit Water Lantern Festival

Where: Detroit

When: August 26

Cost: $27-$56

Detroit’s annual Water Lantern Festival is hands down the most visually stunning festival on the list. The beginning of the event includes food and music, but the real fun starts when attendees get to design their own lanterns and then launch them into the water as the sun goes down. What follows is a sight you’ll never forget.

Tickets increase in price the closer you get to the event, so be sure to snag them now. To learn more, click here

Barktoberfest

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page

Where: Royal Oak

When: September 9-10

Cost: $5

Who needs Oktoberfest when you can go to Barktoberfest? This canine-friendly event features local food, beer and vendors for the humans and a Howl-a-ween contest and Weiner Dog Race for the pups. 

There’s a $5 entry fee, but kids 10 and under can attend for free! To learn more, click here

Flapjack & Flannel Festival 

Let’s Get Weird: 23 Quirky Festivals in Michigan to Check Out in 2023
Photo courtesy of Fire & Flannel Festival’s Facebook page

Where: Wyandotte

When: September 21-24

Cost: Free (some things will cost you)

This isn’t your average fall festival. At the annual Flapjack & Flannel Fest, attendees get to experience world-champion lumberjacks competing in live shows, thrilling fire magic entertainment, axe-throwing, glassblowing and so much more. 

The only request? That you wear a flannel shirt. (Axe-throwing and the carnival require an additional fee!) To learn more, click here

READ MORE: 9 of Our Favorite Chinese Restaurants in Michigan and What to Order When You’re There

Author

  • Claire Mainprize

    Claire Mainprize is a writer and editor who covers the intersections of pop culture, lifestyle, and spirituality. Find more of her work at ClaireMainprize.com.

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