As summer nears its peak, Ann Arbor Summer Festival lights up Ingalls Mall for its 28th annual celebration. As usual, the Festival is broken into outdoor and indoor events, respectively known as Top of the Park and Mainstage.
Ann Arbor Summer Festival
June 17 – July 10
“Top of the Park is the heart and soul of the Summer Festival,” said Robb Woulfe, executive director and all-around enthusiast of Ann Arbor Summer Festival. “It’s more social and allows for people to throw their blankets on the lawn and relax with family and friends, solidifying our event.”
Top of the Park offers free admission to 62 musical acts, 13 feature films and 8 guest DJs, and will also be host to performances such as the acrobatic dances of Strange Fruit and attractions like Architects of Airs’ “Amococo.”
“This year we’re bringing back one of our most popular attractions, called Strange Fruit,” Woulfe said. “A lot of people know it as ‘the pole people,’ because it features performers on 15-foot poles doing remarkable things.”
Strange Fruit, originating in Melbourne, Australia, fuses acrobatics and dance to deliver a striking and innovative presentation. For the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Strange Fruit is bringing its show “The Three Belles,” which showcases a trio of women circling and swinging to music while balancing precariously.
“Our other really big attraction is ‘Amococo’ by Architects of Air, and that’s a 10,000-foot inflatable vinyl structure landing at Palmer Field,” Woulfe added.
The luminarium, or sculpture of light and color, will be interactive — allowing visitors to explore its 10,000 square foot expanse.
Along with Top of the Park’s outdoor events, Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Mainstage features indoor concerts and performances by visiting artists.
“Our indoor season is amazing. So many people love Top of the Park that they don’t even know that someone like K. D. Lang is right next door, at the Mainstage,” Woulfe said.
“We have a circus troop this year called Tom Tom Crew, and they are phenomenal. It’s a hip-hop crew that meets circus artistry and it’s very exciting,” he explained. “This is only their second time in America — the last time they were here they were in a sold-out show on Broadway.”
The Mainstage events also include performances by Steve Martin, Los Lonely Boys and Andrew Bird, among others.
“We’re really thrilled to present this group of artists on our stage this year,” Woulfe added.
In order to sort through the high number of events, the Summer Festival website, annarborsummerfestival.org, has added a calendar feature where users can select the movies and bands they want to see.
“We’re also encouraging folks to share their experiences, and send us emails and photos and videos, so we can put all that up on the website throughout the festival,” Woulfe said. “It’s probably the best resource to get the most from your festival experience.”
Whether you wish to explore the hip sounds of Monsieur Guillaume & His Zydeco Hepcats, folk out to Hannah Winkler or swing to the tunes of Delilah DeWylde and The Lost Boys, there’s something for everyone at Top of the Park.
“There’s something really romantic about being on the lawn, hanging out with friends and watching a classic movie or fun band,” Woulfe said. “The whole season is filled with great nights, with a little bit of everything.”