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Your guide to Labor Day weekend in Detroit

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Here’s a few things to check out during the unofficial last weekend of summer

A huge crowd sits around a depressed amphitheater with a row of tall skyscrapers in the background.
A crowd at the Detroit Jazz Festival
Getty Images

The unofficial end of summer is upon us, and it’s one of the busiest weekends in Detroit. Though plenty of people will be leaving town to get the last taste of nature before the weather turns, just as many will be sticking around.

Looking for something to do? We’ve got you covered. From festivals to parades to our favorite outdoor spaces, there’s plenty to see in Detroit this weekend.

Traffic

For those planning on heading out of town this weekend, obviously expect heavy traffic on the freeways Thursday, Friday, and Monday afternoons.

Fortunately, MDOT is suspending work and lifting lane restrictions where it can from Friday at 3.m. to Tuesday at 6 a.m. The only major freeway closure in the city to note is the I-94 westbound ramps from I-75 and eastbound from M-10.

Check out MDOT’s construction map for up-to-date information.

There’s also going to be a ton of street closures downtown for the Detroit Jazz Festival, especially on Woodward Avenue, Cadillac Square, Monroe Street, Congress Street, Michigan Avenue, and Fort Street.

The Ford Underground Garage ($10) at 30 E. Jefferson Avenue will be open throughout the weekend. And there are several other downtown garages you can access. We recommend parking a little ways down Michigan or Woodward avenues and taking public transit.

Though keep in mind, several DDOT bus routes heading downtown will end short of their usual terminal stop.

Detroit Jazz Festival

The Detroit Jazz Fest is one the best events all year in Detroit and possibly the best free music festival in the country. The festival runs from Friday through Monday with over 60 performances throughout the weekend on Hart Plaza, Campus Martius, Cadillac Square, and various music venues around the city.

For some suggestions, the Metro Times interviewed locals in the music industry about the acts they’re going to watch. The Detroit Free Press offered a list of recommendations as well.

Hamtramck Labor Day Festival

If you’re not able to catch a yacht race on the water this weekend, you might as well see one on Jos. Campau. The free Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, which runs Saturday through Monday, ends with its famous Yacht Club Canoe Race where local business owners build three-wheel “canoes” and race them down the street.

There will also be tons of music, food vendors, a carnival, and a bike valet. And the festival will have something new this year: wrestling. At 4 p.m. on Sunday, Mysterious Movado and Kongo Kong will face off in a “heavyweight” match, which we have to admit sounds pretty entertaining.

Arts, Beats, & Eats

Royal Oak hosts the annual Arts, Beats, & Eats Friday through Monday. Over 200 bands will take to stages in Royal Oak throughout the festival, and plenty of food and art options will be available to purchase. Ticket prices depend on what time you get there; after 5 p.m., tickets are $7.

Labor Day Parade

This Labor Day Parade, put on by Local 2280, will go down Michigan Avenue starting at 9:30 a.m. in Corktown. This year’s theme is “Labor and Community Moving Forward Together.”

Other ideas

If you want to avoid the crowds this weekend, take a few hours to wander around the city and snap photos of public art you might have missed, or maybe hit up some of our favorite Instagrammable spots. You could also visit some great parks in the metro area or gaze at architecture throughout the city—many of these locations are featured in our pocket guide to Detroit.

Are the kids looking for fun things to do before school starts? We have 22 family-friendly places to visit. Eastern Market is open both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, too.

Want to watch some football? Eater Detroit has a guide to the best places to watch a game.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments section and maybe we’ll add.