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Traverse City Area Festivals
For more than 80 years the National Cherry Festival has been our way of celebrating Traverse City’s status as America’s Cherry Capital. The eight-day summer festival offers over 130 events and attractions, including free air shows, concerts, two parades, daily kids events, food tastings, the Festival of Races, and (of course) Cherry Pie Eating and Pit Spitting competitions for every age. Everything is located conveniently within walking distance, and since almost all the events are free, it offers more than a week of affordable family fun.
The Traverse City Film Festival was held for the first time in 2005 and has returned bigger and better each year. The week-long event is held in late July and runs through early August featuring new releases, classic films, documentaries, and independent productions. Venues are dotted across the city and include the venerable State Theater and the historic City Opera House. Each evening, free family-friendly movies are shown on a huge inflatable screen at the Open Space overlooking Grand Traverse Bay.
A joint endeavor by the Traverse City Film Festival and the National Cherry Festival, the Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival features top nationally-renowned comedians in concert each night, as well as some of the best up-and-coming comics in the U.S. But the festival also has lots of free events for families – in 2013, it converted the Front Street business district into a “winter playground” with a Ferris wheel, ice skating rink, sledding hill, live bands, and much more.
The Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival features more than 1,200 world-class riders and horses from throughout the country competing for four weeks in the Olympic discipline of Show Jumping. The Festival is located at the 80-acre Flintfields Horse Park on Bates Road, a half mile north of M-72 in Acme Township. Spectators are welcome at feature events, which are scheduled on the weekends and include special family day activities, charity fundraisers and exciting Gran Prix competitions.
The Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival started in as a summer festival and proved so popular that now there’s also a wintertime version. Both festivals both feature over 200 types of craft beer, wines, ciders and meads paired with international music talents -- plus lots of musical fun, games and discussions about the brewer’s art.
The Traverse City Wine & Art Festival, a popular celebration of “wine, culture & cuisine,” features tastings & full glass pours from the region's best wineries, paired with food created by local chefs, artworks by local painters, potters, weavers and other artists, and a diverse slate of musical performers. Over 4,000 people attended the 2012 festival, which takes place at one of Traverse City’s most scenic venues: the wide tree-shaded lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons – a former mental asylum whose tawny castle-like buildings have become a hub of Traverse City’s bustling culinary scene.
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