River Days is back for its thirteenth year on the Detroit River with a theme that is near and dear to the city’s heart. This year, the popular festival will celebrate 60 years of Motown, Detroit’s signature sound. You can catch the 3-day celebration at a new riverfront location – for the first time in its history, River Days will be held on the West Riverfront.
Along with Motown grooves and a fresh spot, here’s what else you can expect this year.
Happening from the Water
The Detroit River USA Freestyle Championships will take place during all 3 days of the festival, giving attendees the chance to catch some of the world’s best Jet Ski® freestyle athletes perform jumps, backflips, spins, and dives on jet skis and hydro flight Flyboards. These athletes won’t just perform for the crowd; they’ll also compete to qualify for the 2019 World Finals.
Happening in the Sky
Back for its sixth year, the Tuskegee Airmen River Days Airshow will wow onlookers with fly-bys, precision formation demonstrations, and aerobatic performances in numerous aircraft, including an airplane flown in World War II. The popular airshow is the only one in Michigan to feature local performers for the majority of its acts.
Happening on Land
The family-friendly festival will provide free activities for younger attendees at the Flagstar Bank Kids Corner. The area will host face painting, craft stations, magic shows, and science fun from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. each day.
Festival-goers looking for a thrill can find it at River Days Adventure Park. The new attraction will feature a zip line, inflatable axe throwing, mini-golf, and inflatable obstacle courses for an additional cost.
Entertainment will be plentiful over the weekend with a number of spectacles along the Riverwalk. Watch Florida’s Team Sandtastic create a 150-ton sand sculpture using only sand and water, then try your hand at sand sculpting in the giant sandbox nearby. There will also be street performances throughout the day, dazzling crowds with fire-breathing, stilt-walking, juggling and acrobatic performers.
If it’s that signature Detroit sound you want, you’ll find it sprinkled throughout festival events, including Motown 60 at 6. Stop by to celebrate 60 years of Motown music and poetry each evening at 6:00, presented by the Motown Museum.
Of course, no celebration of this legendary music would be complete without the “King of Motown” himself, Smokey Robinson, performing at River Days on Friday, June 21, at 8:30 p.m.
River Days Music Line Up
Robinson won’t be the only star to light up the main stage. You can also catch performances from R&B singers Brandy and Brian McKnight on Saturday night, and Faith Evans and Carl Thomas on Sunday evening.
Check out performances from local music acts on one of three stages during the day throughout the weekend. For a full list of performers, check out the River Days music line up. All live music performances are included in the price of admission.
Michigan’s Largest Food Truck Rally
The festival will also host Michigan’s largest food truck rally, featuring cuisine from more than 100 food trucks from such states as Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Indiana and Kentucky. Food options include (but are not limited to) pizza, BBQ, burritos, seafood, tacos, ice cream and special Motown-inspired dishes to complement the festival’s theme. Some trucks will even participate in a chili competition in honor of Motown’s beloved cook, Miss Lilly, and her famous “Miss Lilly’s Chili.”
River Days Admission and Additional Costs
River Days will offer free admission to anyone arriving at the festival between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, June 21. After that, admission to the festival will be $5 per person and include a $3 coupon to use at any food truck at the festival.
River Days is free to all children who are three and under, seniors 65 and over, and active and retired service members with their military ID.
Additional River Days Costs
Adventure Park activities and attractions will cost extra for those who wish to participate. Prices will range from $3 – $6 per attraction, and $10 for the zip line.
While concert performances are included in the price of admission, those who wish to purchase VIP passes for certain shows can do so for an additional $35.
People who want a more intimate River Days experience can attend Shimmer on the River, an exclusive River Days preview event on June 20, that includes unlimited food, unlimited access to the adventure park and a live performance by the Four Tops. Ticket prices for Simmer on the River range from $75 to $250.
Admission to these events helps cover the cost of the festival and supports funding for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, a non-profit on a mission to develop Detroit’s Riverfront property through development, maintenance, and programming.
About the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Since 2003, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has been working to bring public access to the Detroit Riverfront. Its goal is to connect it from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park through plazas, parks, and the Riverwalk. So far, the non-profit has opened more than three miles of the east Riverfront to the public.
The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy launched River Days in June 2007, in the effort to introduce the new and improved Detroit International Riverfront to the public. Since its transformation, the riverfront has become a popular destination for Detroit residents and visitors alike, with River Days at the heart of it all. The festival continues to show off Detroit’s beautiful Riverwalk and creates great summer memories for all visitors.
Come check out River Days from June 21 – 23. The festival will be open from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday.