Traverse City Cherries, Home of the National Cherry Festival

National Cherry Festival 2024

JUNE 29, 2024 - JULY 06, 2024


It’s not quite the sweet cherry on top, but you can get the whole family jamming at this Michigan festival.

From concerts to volleyball tournaments, the National Cherry Festival is a full-town celebration dedicated just to cherries. Now, these aren’t your regular snacking cherries, your drive-away-the-summer-heat cherries, your grab-em-from-the-grocery-before-they’re-gone cherries, or, well you get the point. Sweet cherries are primarily produced in Oregon and Washington, but these bright red Michigan sour cherries are the ones you’ll really want for all your jams and jellies, pies and preserves, cocktails and compotes. You’ll definitely get a taste of all of these here as the festival commemorates the region’s long history of cherry production. Nearly 70% of the United States’ sour cherry production is from Michigan, of which 40% is from Traverse City — nicknamed the “cherry capital of the world” and home of the National Cherry Festival — and its surrounding counties alone. 

Sour cherry season might be brief, but this festival certainly isn’t. With eight whole days of events, standard fare here includes an air show by the US Navy Blue Angels (the annual air show over West Grand Traverse Bay is one of the fest highlights), the cherry pit spit contest (the record? 95 feet), farmers markets, cherry pie eating contest (ones for adults and children), cornhole tournament (Wednesday, July 3 from 12-6; check in starts at 11am) and fireworks for 4th of July and the festival finale. New this year are the volleyball tournaments, which will include six events in total, with two each for youth, two-person, and four-person teams respectively. You can also stroll through the classic car show for some fantasy shopping or hit the markets to find more realistic, and more cherry-themed, purchases. On the Bayside Music Stage — which does require tickets — there’ll be shows by American rock group Goo Goo Dolls, country-pop singer Dylan Scott and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias.  

As the weather patterns continue to shift, there’s reason to savor local cherries a little more intently: Traverse (and the state as a whole) may not continue to hold the title of the country’s leading tart cherry producer with the global climate crisis affecting crop growth. But for now, the festival — and its hometown — are still going strong. So go ahead, enter the festival’s cherry pie eating competition. Or, at the very least, eat a second slice of pie. 

The Specs

  • The festival draws over 500,000 people across the week.
  • Over 85% of the festival is completely free, but a select few events, like the concerts, have a fee.
  • Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to Michigan here.


Where is the festival located?

Events take place throughout the city of Traverse, Michigan, though many events are in or by Open Space, at the corner of Union St. and Grandview Parkway, (adjacent to Clinch Park Marina and within walking distance from Downtown Traverse City). There are also events that are in other locations across town.

What’s the exact address?

521 S Union Street, Traverse City, MI 49684

What is the closest airport to the festival?

The aptly named Cherry Capital Airport is located in Traverse, Michigan, about 10 minutes from Open Space. 

When is the Traverse City Cherry Festival?

Festival dates: June 29th – July 6th.

When is the opening ceremony?

Opening Ceremony is on June 29 at Open Space Park from 10—11am. The National Cherry Queen, the National Cherry Festival President, and other figures from the area are expected to speak.

I thought the National Cherry Blossom Festival was in Washington, DC?

Indeed. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in the tidal basin in Washington, D.C., commemorating the gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City in 1912 to the city of Washington, D.C. The National Cherry Fest in Traverse Michigan is different.

When are Petalpalooza and the Kite Festival?

Those are part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, not the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

When is peak bloom for the cherries in Traverse City?

Peak bloom is typically in mid-May (which also is wine month in Michigan).

Are dogs allowed at the festival? 

Though it’s a city festival, dogs — other than service animals — are not allowed in most areas of the festival. Pet friendly events include the kids pet show and ultimate air dogs.


BY Suchita Chadha