5 Mackinac Island events to plan your vacation around

You can always find lots of things to do on Mackinac Island. (Unless, of course, the reason you’re visiting is to get away from things to do, in which case spending the day in an Adirondack chair sipping your favorite beverage on one of the many great porches of Mackinac Island is perfectly acceptable.) At certain times of the year when there’s a festival going on, there’s even more to do on Mackinac Island than usual.

Trying to decide when is the best time to visit Mackinac Island? See which of these events you may want to build your vacation around:

Gorgeous pink and purple lilacs bloom on Mackinac Island at the foot of historic Fort Mackinac

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

There are pretty flowers. And then there are the lovely lilacs of Mackinac Island, which has some of the oldest and largest lilac stems on the planet. The annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival in June celebrates the burst of color and the sweet fragrance that fills the air in late spring and early summer.

Lasting for 10 days, the festival includes a range of activities including the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10K run and a grand parade featuring the lilac queen and her court.


Fourth of July fireworks blast over Mackinac Island at night as seen from up on the bluff at Fort Mackinac
Photo by Sara Wright

Fourth of July on Mackinac Island

There are many places to see fireworks on July 4. But there’s only one where you can watch a fireworks display and participate in the prestigious W.T. Rabe Stone Skipping Contest on the same day. On the Fourth of July each year Mackinac Island hosts the world championship of stone skipping, attracting the sport’s world-record holders as well as regular Joes who want to give it a shot. It’s one of the reasons Coastal Living magazine named Mackinac Island one of the Best Little Beach Towns to Visit in Summer.

Mackinac Island also is home to a vintage 1880s Independence Day celebration at historic Fort Mackinac where you can take part in dances, games and music from the Victorian era as soldiers reenact 38-gun salutes. The party continues into the evening with an All-American picnic on the fort’s parade grounds, then fireworks at dusk. You can cozy up with a blanket on Mackinac Island’s boardwalk, or grab a ticket for a fireworks cruise on the water.

A woman and two children learn how to make fudge at Murdick's Fudge during the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival

Mackinac Island Fudge Festival

You can get free samples of world-famous Mackinac Island fudge all season long. But there are limited occasions to taste specialty fudge-infused cocktails such as a Fudge Martini or a Death by Chocolate Margarita. The Mackinac Island Fudge Festival in August celebrates its heritage of fudge in a special way with tasty fudge concoctions, fudge-making demonstrations, Willy Wonka sightings and family games including a fudge egg hunt and an old-fashioned ice cream social.

You can also find roving magicians and musicians during the Fudge Festival, go to concerts and watch an outdoor movie at the island’s Windermere Point.


A group of people pose for a photo while wearing costumes during Mackinac Island's Halloween Weekend

Mackinac Island’s Halloween Weekend

Mackinac Island’s peak tourism season draws to a close at the end of October when ferry companies reduce the number of trips back and forth to the island. But, boy, does the season end with a bang! The annual Mackinac Island Halloween Weekend includes parties and costume contests at restaurants, bars and places to stay all over the island. Plus, families can go trick-or-treating at businesses downtown!

Halloween weekend also is when the last of Mackinac Island’s four extraordinary trail runs is held. The Great Turtle Trail Run is one of the most scenic races in Michigan, whether you opt for the 5.7-mile run/walk or the half-marathon. To participate in all four Run Mackinac races during the year, you can also visit for the Fort-2-Fort 5-Mile Challenge in May, the Lilac Festival 10K Run & Walk in June and the Mackinac Island Eight Mile in September.


The Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street in downtown Mackinac Island is all lit up and covered in snow

Mackinac Island’s Christmas Tree Lighting

The pace on Mackinac Island is always relaxed, and it slows down even more during the island’s winter offseason from November through late April. Still, there’s more to do than just incredible hiking, fat-tire biking and cross-country skiing through Mackinac Island State Park. Winter events include the Mackinac Island Christmas tree lighting in early December, the New Year’s Eve Great Turtle Drop on Dec. 31 and the Twilight Turtle Trek on select dates in January, February and March.


That’s just five of the unique events you can plan your Mackinac Island vacation around. There also are Mackinac Island yacht races, a vintage baseball game outside Fort Mackinac and much more.

Check out all of Mackinac Island’s annual events here.


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