Summer Festivals 

JUNE FESTIVALS

DEARBORN ARAB INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
JUNE 20-22 • DEARBORN

In its 13th year, this annual festival takes over Warren Avenue in east Dearborn for three days of good, clean, family fun and a celebration of Arab culture. Old-school festival attractions — including a giant Ferris wheel — will be in abundance, as well as the less traditional pastimes of coffee cup readings and henna drawings. Other highlights include an Arab fashion show, a children's tent, Arab merchandise (can you say hookah?) and 30 international food booths. A lineup of musical acts, both local and international, has yet to be announced, but last year's performers included sultry Lebanese vocalist Ayman Zbib and the Syrian-Palestinian hip-hop duo Omar and Ragtop. Info at arabamerican.org.

GM DETROIT RIVER DAYS
JUNE 20-23 • DETROIT RIVERFRONT

With the opening of the Detroit International RiverWalk came the inaugural River Days festival, an event that brought visitors from all over metro Detroit to check out the renovated riverfront. The drastic makeover and accompanying festival even got the city some positive national press for a change. Jet Ski demonstrations, boat racing, river cruises, the second annual Parade of Lights and the Highlander Sea tall ship are just some of the spectacles visitors can expect at this year's event. Those who prefer fun by land over fun by sea can check out family-friendly activities in Rivard Plaza or six stages of music showcasing national acts such as Rick Springfield and Brian McKnight, as well as a plethora of local talent. The whole shebang concludes Monday night with the 50th Annual Target Fireworks. Info at detroitriverdays.com.

JAZZIN' ON JEFFERSON
JUNE 28 • DETROIT'S EAST SIDE

For 16 years, the Jefferson East Business Association has been working to improve Detroit's east side for businesses and residents, investors and consumers. The association's cultural efforts include the fifth installment of Jazzin' on Jefferson on the aforementioned avenue between Chalmers and Alter at the edge of the city. There's a children's area, a juried artists' market (new this year), food galore and two music stages. Jazz singer Kevin Mahogany is the national-star headliner on a Detroit-star bill including Jesse Palter, the Scott Gwinnell Orchestra, Detroit Tenors, Rayse Biggs, Hot Club of Detroit and more. Info at 313-331-7939 or jazzinonjefferson.com.


JULY FESTIVALS

COMERICA CITYFEST
JULY 2-6 • DETROIT'S NEW CENTER

With more than 500,000 people swarming New Center for this annual event, you could say the Comerica Cityfest has become as much of a Fourth of July tradition as barbecues and illegal fireworks. It's no surprise, considering all the goodies Cityfest offers up: food from more than 40 Michigan restaurants, extreme sports competitions, a gallery featuring local artists, a street market and four stages of music. National acts on the bill are George Clinton, Broken Social Scene, De La Soul, Calexico, Aly & AJ and the Zombies. Metro Detroit artists include the Great Lakes Myth Society, the Hentchmen, the Silent Years and SSM. The festival is celebrating its 20th year with extended hours and a push towards going green by eliminating the use of Styrofoam products, reducing water usage and recycling all cardboard waste. Info at comericacityfest.com.

WYANDOTTE STREET ART FAIR
JULY 9-12 • WYANDOTTE
The second largest street art fair in the state is promising another year (the 47th year, in fact) of superlative art and entertainment along the streets of downtown Wyandotte. 250 fine artists from 30 states and Canada will have works on display. Two stages will showcase local musicians such as ? and the Mysterians, Fifty Amp Fuse, Manna & Quail, and Subourbon Son, and performances by still unannounced artists and musicians will be scattered throughout the actual streets of the city. The fair also features a children's activity area, a beautiful baby contest, the Budweiser clydesdales, a merchant's sidewalk sale and a section devoted to non-profit organizations. Info at wyandottestreetartfair.org.

MICHIGAN ELVISFEST
JULY 11-12 • YPSILANTI

It's been 31 years since Elvis left behind his earthly Graceland for one in the sky (that is, if he really died ...) and his death and life will be commemorated at the Ninth Michigan Elvisfest at Shadyside Park in Ypsilanti's Depot Town. Watch tribute artists shake their hips and curl their lips, take part in the candlelight vigil and gospel hour, check out a display of vintage cars and get in on the fun by coming dressed in '50s garb. But beware — two documentaries are being shot at this year's festival, so you might end up on film in a poodle skirt and saddle shoes. Tribute artists to Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and the Beatles will also perform. Tickets and info at mielvisfest.com.

CONCERT OF COLORS
JULY 17-20 • MAX M. FISHER MUSIC CENTER

An exhibit of photos by Rebecca Cook and Bruce Harkness at the Arab American National Museum captures the energy of the Concert of Colors since its inception, and Cook's photo of Ray Charles gets its essence in one shot. Charles is resplendent, arms outstretched, as if encircling the whole crowd in one hug. Community, music as a communal experience, unconditional acceptance — Charles radiates it all. And despite relocating from Chene Park to the Max and an adjacent side street a few years ago, this world music conclave has kept much of its easygoing vibe while gaining the kind of acoustics that all its acts deserve and some cried out for. Among those scheduled this year: Rickie Lee Jones, Buffy St. Marie with the DSO, Don Was with a cavalcade of Detroiters, Toots and the Maytals, Mavis Staples, Master Musicians of Jajouka and Brave Combo. Info at concertofcolors.org.


AUGUST FESTIVALS

ARTS, BEATS & EATS
AUG. 29-SEP. 1 • PONTIAC

The ever-popular Arts, Beats & Eats, now in its eleventh year, is one of the most highly anticipated festivals of the summer. More than 50 Michigan restaurants and caterers serve up savory tastes of their signature dishes, art vendors galore line the streets of downtown Pontiac and hundreds (that's right, hundreds) of musical acts perform. Details of this year's extravaganza are still shrouded in mystery, but last year's lineup included a plethora of local and national talent performing everything from metal to flamenco jazz to the Chinese fiddle. Info at artsbeatseats.com.

HAMTRAMCK LABOR DAY FESTIVAL
AUG. 29-SEP. 1 • HAMTRAMCK

Kielbasa and polka are always plentiful at this annual event in Hamtown's business district (along Joseph Campau between Caniff and Carpenter), but just like the city itself, it's not just about being Polish anymore. Vendors serve up a smorgasbord of international cuisine while top-quality local musicians rock two stages. Carnival rides for the kiddies, local artists with works on display, a pierogi-eating contest and the yearly Polish Day Parade round out the festivities. This year's special events and musical lineups have yet to be unveiled, but, if past festivals are any indication, there will be enough to see, do and hear to keep the expected crowd of 500,000 happy. Info at hamtramckfestival.org.

DETROIT INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
AUG 29-SEP 1 • DETROIT

Founded as the Montreux-Detroit International Jazz Festival in 1980, this became the prototype for today's outdoor metro Detroit music fests. And by expanding beyond jazz and beyond Hart Plaza in recent years, it's revitalized itself without losing its essence. This year's theme is "A Love Supreme: The Philly-Detroit Summit," featuring City of Brotherly Love bassist Christian McBride as artist in residence and fellow Philadelphians such as Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath and Pat Martino. Homecoming Detroiters include Gerald Wilson, Dianne Reeves and Hank Jones. Also of note: an Alice Coltrane tribute with Ravi Coltrane, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette and Geri Allen. Info at detroitjazzfest.com.

More by Megan O'Neil

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