2023 Great Lakes Calendar of Events

Great Lakes

There’s no better time to visit the Great Lakes states than when temperatures rise in the spring. Below you’ll find events from all over the coasts of Wisconsin and Michigan — and a few in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois — to give you a taste of what the Great Lakes have to offer this season. Read on for a little bit of everything: fishing, boat shows and races, flower festivals, cultural events, and activities to get you moving. The common thread is breathtaking nature—not only the lakes themselves, but also natural sand dunes, diverse birds and wildlife, and blooming flowers.


2023 Pro/Am Fishing Tournament

Michigan City, IN April 29-30

Drop a hook at a Lake Michigan salmon and trout fishing contest with cash prizes. Join fellow anglers at the Hoosier Coho Club for a regional fishing tournament, but make sure you find time to venture west to the Indiana Dunes National Park, where you can find 15,000 acres of diverse wildlife, sand dunes, woodlands and lush wetlands.

Where to Dock: Washington Park Marina

Detroit Bourbon Fest

Detroit, MI April 1

Hosted at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, this indoor celebration of libations features 200+ whiskeys and bourbons, but beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages are also available. Food trucks, live music and vendors generate a festive vibe, and proceeds benefit Friends of the Rivers’ efforts to improve water quality in Michigan’s rivers.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Detroit River


The Biggest Week in American Birding

Oak Harbor, OH May 5-14

Bird-watching boaters won’t want to miss this week-long event in the warbler capital of the world. Attend field trips and workshops on identification, conservation and birding. Keynote topics to look forward to including indigenous people and birds, urban birding, and the Galapagos Islands.

Where to Dock: Maumee Bay Lodge & Conference Center

49th Annual Coho Classic

Michigan City, IN May 6-7

Dock on the south coast of Lake Michigan for the longest-running salmon fishing tournament on the Great Lakes. Dedicated to the preservation and conservation of Lake Michigan sport fishing, the host Hoosier Coho Club is a great organization to connect with other anglers.

Where to Dock: Washington Park Marina

94th Annual Tulip Time

Holland, MI May 6-14

Holland has blossomed with hundreds of thousands of tulips since 1929 — a feat certainly worth celebrating. You’re in for much more than a colorful display with pageants, costumes, parades, Dutch dancers and the Tulip Time Run on May 6.

Where to Dock: Anchorage Marina

Chicago Mayfest

Chicago, IL May 12-14

Usher in summer at a lively spring street festival. Listen to some of Chicago’s best pop rock and jazz live, bring your family to the kids’ area and enjoy the Armitage Art Show.

Where to Dock: Belmont Harbor

63rd Annual National Morel Mushroom Festival

Boyne City, MI May 18-21

Join hundreds of mushroom lovers from around the world in Boyne City this spring to celebrate the mysterious morel. There’s a carnival for the family at Veteran’s Memorial Park, a morel hunting seminar for aspiring foragers, morel tastings for foodies, an arts crafts show and more.

Where to Dock: F. Grant Moore Municipal Marina/Boyne City Marina

Door County Scottie Rally

Baileys Harbor, WI May 20

Dog-loving boaters can’t resist docking at Baileys Harbor, a coastal town known for nature preserves and spectacular fishing. One of the largest gatherings of Scottish terriers in the United States, canines and their parents from around the country and world put on a truly adorable parade.

Where to Dock: Baileys Harbor Town Marina

34th Great Lakes Boating Festival

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI May 20-21

The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club kicks off the 2023 boating season with a bang. Visitors can expect to climb aboard and gawk at boats up to 80 feet, and history buffs enjoy antique cars, vintage boats and displays from the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and Edsel & Eleanor Ford House.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Jefferson

Beach Ride the Keweenaw

Keweenaw Peninsula, MI May 26-29

A fun way to spend Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer is in the great outdoors. Bring the family along for a variety of guided rides for all abilities. Riders will glide through the Adventure Mine caverns on Friday, Michigan Tech Trails on Saturday and Copper Harbor on Sunday.

Where to Dock: Ontonagon Marina

Fort Mackinac by Pixabay

Fort 2 Fort 5-Mile Challenge

Mackinac Island, MI May 13

Avid runners and history buffs alike will enjoy this scenic route past seven historic landmarks on Mackinac Island. Both run and walk options start with a blast of the rifles at Fort Mackinac, go up to Fort Holmes, and end where the activities began.

Where to Dock: Mackinac Island State Harbor

39th Annual Amateur Salmon & Trout Fishing Derby

Pentwater, MI May 26-29

Coast through the Pentwater River from Lake Michigan to Pentwater Lake for three days of sportfishing on Memorial Day weekend. Try your hand at catching the most salmon and trout — the winner gets a charter boat fishing trip!

Where to Dock: Charlie’s Marina


Bayfield in Bloom

Bayfield, WI June 2-11

Admire blooming daffodils, colorful fields of lupine and apple blossoms in the coastal town’s annual flower fest. This is an ideal opportunity for boaters to explore the nearby Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Hike and camp on the 21 islands, explore shipwrecks and rock formations, or admire historic lighthouses. Make sure you’re on the mainland for the Blessing of the Fleet on June 4.

Where to Dock: Apostle Islands Marina

Alpaca Odyssey

Two Rivers, WI June 4

Swing by the LondonDairy Alpaca Ranch to learn why these animals and their fiber are popular in Two Rivers. Animal lovers can get up close and personal with alpacas and visiting llamas. Crafty attendees will enjoy fiber spinning demonstrations, finished alpaca products at the farm store and artisan goods — handmade soaps, honey, plants and more — from local vendors.

Where to Dock: Seagull Marina

Photo by Pixabay

Polish Fest

Milwaukee, WI June 9-11

Welcome to America’s largest Polish festival! Don’t miss entertainment at Henry W. Maier Festival Park with non-stop polka on one stage and contemporary music, cultural performances and kids’ shows on others. Dance to Polish jams, do a vodka tasting of Poland’s best, attend cooking demos or any number of forums, and visit a special exhibit on the intertwined history of Poland and Ukraine.

Where to Dock: McKinley Marina

75th Annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

Mackinac Island, MI June 9-18

Cruise up to northern Lake Huron for the largest and most historic festival on the island. Soak in the beauty of blooming lilacs, witness the Lilac Queen coronation and join the 10K run/walk, walking tours, bouncy houses, or Michigan Cornhole tournament. Stay for the grand parade on June 18, considered a local legacy event by the Library of Congress.

Where to Dock: Mackinac Island State Harbor


Houghton-Hancock, MI June 15-18

When the Portage Lake Lift Bridge opened in 1959, it linked Houghton and Hancock and served as a gateway to the rest of the Keweenaw Peninsula. It continues in that roll and provides a reason to celebrate. The waterfront is a beautiful venue for outdoor concrts, sporting events, the Bridgefest parade and Jon Davis Memorial Fireworks. This family- friendly event is perfect for Father’s Day weekend.

Where to Dock: Houghton County Marina

Powerboat Weekend by Pixabay

Muskegon Powerboat Weekend

Muskegon, MI June 16-18

Muskegon, known for its regattas and pleasure boating, is the perfect venue for a weekend of thrilling powerboating. Get up-close and personal at the High-Performance Boat Showcase, quench your need for speed at the Chase Poker Run and anchor in the South Breakwater Cove for Sunday Funday.

Where to Dock: Safe Harbor Great Lakes, Harbour Towne Marina or Hartshorn Municipal Marina Lakefront

Festival of Art

Milwaukee, WI June 16-18

Support the Milwaukee Art Museum’s comeback as it puts on its first in-person festival on Lake Michigan since 2019. The museum is a sight to behold, but so are the artists’ booths, workshops and demos, and views on the lakefront. Discover artists from across the country, and maybe snag a few of their pieces. Listen to live music and enjoy family-friendly activities in the lake breeze.

Where to Dock: McKinley Marina

Sea Shanty on the Ship Summer Series

Port Huron, MI June 23

Board the Huron Lightship, the last lightship on the Great Lakes, for an evening of live music, snacks and a glass or two of rum. Take in the coastal sights of Port Huron and its Canadian neighbor, Point Edward, at this nautical night out.

Where to Dock: Port Huron River Street Marina or Bridge Harbour Marina

Want to Stay In the Loop?

Stay up to date with the latest articles, news and all things boating with a FREE subscription to Marinalife Magazine!

Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Marinalife articles