The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is an annual display of performing arts, outdoor entertainment and community spirit. Each year, the nearly four-week event (2nd week of June - 2nd week of July, 6 nights a week at 5 pm) offers nearly 150 performances, events, activities, exhibitions, and parties, with eclectic music, dance, theater, film, visual arts and family fun. Events are ADA friendly. or 734-764-2538 for tickets.

History and Leadership

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is an exhilarating celebration of performing arts, outdoor entertainment, and community spirit. A boutique music and arts festival, the nearly four-week gathering offers a progressive mix of regional, national, and international artists of all disciplines  representative of the best in music, dance, comedy, film, circus and street arts, and family entertainment. Presenting nearly 150 events each season and attracting a diverse audience of 80,000 people, the festival continues to grow as a major cultural event in the Ann Arbor community, and as an internationally recognized celebration of arts that enriches the cultural, economic, and social vitality of the region.

Founded by Eugene Power, and established as an equal partnership between the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival presented its first full season as an independent non-profit in 1984. Early festival seasons emphasized classical music and theater, but have since become more popular and diverse in nature, encompassing a breadth of performance genres. What began with a vision for a summer cultural event that would connect audiences with world-class artists, bring community together, and showcase the city and state as a major arts destination, now flourishes as one of the leading multi-arts festivals in the country.

Today, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival produces two concurrent programs, one indoor and one outdoor, at various venues and spaces across the University of Michigan campus and in downtown Ann Arbor.

Mainstage - Ticketed Indoor Series

The indoor Mainstage series includes ticketed performances of world-class music, dance, theater, and comedy typically on the University of Michigan campus. The Mainstage series occurs in the Power Center for the Performing Arts and Hill AuditoriumMichigan Theater,  Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, and UMMA 

For over three decades of the Mainstage series, the festival has hosted such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Bob Newhart, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, Marcel Marceau, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett.  Recent Mainstage seasons in the have featured Al Green, Afro-Cuban All Stars, Andrew Bird, Arturo Sandoval, Bernadette Peters, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, CAKE, Chris Isaak, CIRCA, Devo, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Feist, Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, Gilberto Gil, Gladys Knight, Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson, John Hiatt, John Waters, k.d. lang, Les 7 Doigts de la Main, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Lily Tomlin, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Momix, Patty Griffin, Pilobolus, Pink Martini, Sandra Bernhard, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Steve Martin, NPR's Snap Judgement, Streb, The Capitol Steps, The Moth Mainstage, They Might Be Giants, Trombone Shorty and Willie Nelson.

Top of the Park - Admission Free Outdoor Series

The outdoor program, Top of the Park, is held along a beautiful campus green and offers admission-free concerts, 13 movies under the stars on week nights, open-air spectacles, and unique family attractions. Top of the Park, originally located on the top of the parking deck of the Fletcher parking garage (1984-2005)  has taken place outside on N. Ingalls Mall (2006-2014) in front of the University of Michigan's Rackham Graduate School. In 2015, Top of the Park needed to be relocated because of construction on the U of M campus. The choice was made to move 1 block south, to N. University Ave and a section of S. Ingalls Mall, between the front of Hill Auditorium and the Michigan League (2015 Map)

Top of the Park is admission free - though encourages voluntary donations of $5 per visit per person - offers performances of nearly 80 live bands and performers (the most are local or based in S.E. Michigan), local food and beverage vendors, 21 nightly hands on activities for kids co-presented by dozens of community partners, and 21 wellness Retreat classes such as yoga on the lawn. Culinary tastings and roaming street performers are also peppered throughout the season including chalk drawings from Ann Arbor's David Zinn throughout the festival . 

Funded by grants from the N.E.A., the State of Michigan and key donors since 2007, major outdoor spectacle presentation has included: Architects of Air, Australia’s Strange Fruit, BodyMasterpiece extreme face painting, Cirque Mechanics: Gantry Bike, the U.K.'s Dream Engine, Erth’s Dinosaurs, The Magmanus ShowPolyglot Theater’s Tangle, Spontaneous Art, Company Transe Express's The Drummers and Wild Byte’s Superhero.

Photographer Myra Klarman has been capturing the images of the festival as the festival photographer since 2007 Hundreds of images are available to review on both Myra's website and numerous festival website with a large formate show each year of the prior season's images as seen in this 2009 show:Re.Fresh

Mission and Vision:

Mission: The Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s mission is to present a world-class celebration of arts and entertainment that enriches the cultural, economic, and social vitality of the region.   Core Values: Excellence, Diversity, Relevance

Vision: The Ann Arbor Summer Festival aspires to be a leading multi-arts festival and an enduring local treasure – a widely anticipated, interactive hub of creative and community energy.

Board of Trustees, Staff and Volunteers

The festival board is evenly comprised of over 28 nominated volunteers who represent either city or university affiliations. The festival staff and management includes a small full time staff, 8 student interns, 150 seasonal staff and approximately 200+ volunteers.


The festival has embarked on a multi-year endowment building campaign to ensure stability and longevity of the organization. The Forever Summer campaign  a generous challenge gift from an anonymous donor, contributions to the new endowment campaign will be matched 2:1, up to $50,000, through 2019. This challenge is sure to have a transformative impact on the festival.


Video of the Festival

2014 video by Video Vision 360

ASF Time-Lapse Video by Seth McCubbin

Ann Arbor District Library Digital Archive of the Festival 

The Ann Arbor District Library has created a digital archive with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival capturing its history by digitizing Ann Arbor News articles, 30+ years of Festival Guides, publications, photographs, and of people having fun. You can also listen to interviews with past and present festival organizers and volunteers as they give behind-the-scenes tour of the Festival. The library is accepting contributions if you have additional festival memorabilia or names to ad to unidentified photos. Please browse the collection and enjoy.

Festival Media Page

Additional Festival Media, Press Release, Reviews, Digital Images, Logos and more

News references