Ludington Michigan is nestled between Lake Michigan and the Manistee National Forest, making it a nature lover’s paradise. There are plenty of free things to do — from playing in the chilly waters of Lake Michigan to hiking through the forest. There also is a year’s worth of free festivals. Here’s the lineup for 2020.
June 25, July 23, Aug. 27, 8-10 p.m.
Enjoy a beautiful sunset, roaring bonfire, and sounds of live music right on the shores of Lake Michigan. The festivities happen at Stearns Park Beach the fourth Thursday of June, July and August. Bring your beach chairs, blankets and favorite snacks and beverages, and enjoy a true “Up North” evening. (Looking at a map, I would have said Ludington is in west central Michigan. But I have learned from my kids who live in Detroit that, to Detroiters at least, any spot in Michigan north of Detroit is “Up North.”)
July 3 and 4
Celebrate Independence Day with a myriad of activities, starting with a parade of kids and their pets on July 3. On July 4, look for a full day of events, including a Grand Parade downtown at 2 p.m. and culminating in fireworks over Lake Michigan at dusk.
July 24, July 31, Aug. 7
The streets of downtown Ludington close for Friday Night Live, which features live music, food booths, entertainers, and children’s activities. Kids’ fun includes inflatables, a climbing wall, virtual reality arcade, balloon animals, pony rides, demonstrations and more. Please note that while it’s free to attend the festival, food and some kids’ game are not free. Bring cash.
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This signature free live music event began as a private get-together among Ludington musician friends. It has evolved into a two-day free music festival featuring local bands. (While admission is free, donations are accepted, even welcomed.)
July 25, Aug. 1, 6 p.m.
Sponsored by West Shore Bank, this free outdoor music concert series takes place at Waterfront Park overlooking the Ludington marina. The July 25 concert will have a family beach party vibe with the Landsharks Band playing popular songs from Jimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, and more. On August 1, it will be an 80s Retro Night featuring the Mega 80s Band, a Detroit-area group that performs 80s favorites with a retro vibe.
Celebrate Halloween all day in downtown Ludington. The fun starts at 9am will the “Run for Your Lives” 5K/10K. The kids’ costume parade is at 1:45 p.m., followed by downtown trick-or-treating from 2 to 4 p.m. at area businesses. The Trick-or-Treat After Party is set for 4 to 5 p.m. at Mason County District Library
Nov. 28, 6 p.m.
Floats of animals and characters will be “aglow” on Ludington Avenue during this parade, also featuring Santa and the famous New Year’s Eve ball. A pre-parade warmup is 4-6 p.m. at Mason County District Library with hot cocoa, cookies and holiday music. After the parade, enjoy tree-lighting and caroling at James Street Plaza.
Ludington offers one of West Michigan’s largest New Year’s Eve ball drops in this high-energy celebration – complete with outdoor beer garden and music, ball drop with 6,000 LED lights, plus fireworks. Start the evening at the New Year’s Eve Family Party, 7:30-11:30 p.m. at Mason County District Library, where families can celebrate New Year’s Eve with crafts, games and other activities. Then stroll downtown at 11:30, when the lit ball will be dropped at midnight above the intersection of James Street and Ludington Avenue (closed to vehicle traffic that evening), followed by fireworks over downtown.