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There Will Be No Traditional Ann Arbor Summer Festival 'Top Of The Park' Activities This Year

Myra Klarman

A few weeks after canceling ticketed events for the annual Ann Arbor Summer Festival, executive director Mike Michelon now revealed there will be no traditional Top Of The Park events either, due to coronavirus concerns.  He spoke with WEMU's Lisa Barry about how they are trying to envision some new activities to keep the popular summer event alive but in a different capacity, due to health concerns.

Mike Michelon
Credit Ann Arbor Summer Festival /
Ann Arbor Summer Festival executive director Mike Michelon


– In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel their traditional free, outdoor events this summer originally scheduled for June 12 – July 5.  This announcement follows the cancelation of their indoor, ticketed series in late March.

Festival Executive Director Mike Michelon shares,  “Although we’re heartbroken that we can’t present the traditional Top of the Park, our team has been working diligently to produce adapted programming that will allow the community to connect in new and creative ways. We understand that the community needs a way to come together during this unprecedented time, and the Festival is determined to provide these opportunities.”

The Festival plans to present alternative activities for this moment including digital offerings, collaborative art projects, and live music reimagined.  Today, the public can participate in the first of those programs, Kooky Kreatures, a community art project presented in partnership with the Ann Arbor District Library’s Bummer Game.

In the coming weeks, the Festival will share additional elements of an adapted season.  Staff have been exploring many possibilities, including drive-in concerts and movies.

In a letter to email subscribers, Executive Director Mike Michelon and Board Chair Marvin Parnes shared:

“When our community can safely come together in-person again, the Festival will be there to make this happen. Please stay connected with us, share your ideas, and learn how you can help the Ann Arbor Summer Festival during this unprecedented time”

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival team wishes you health and safety during this crisis.

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is an exhilarating celebration of performing arts, outdoor entertainment, and community spirit.  An annual international arts gathering in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the three-week festival offers two parallel programs—one indoor and one outdoor—at various venues and spaces across the University of Michigan campus and in downtown Ann Arbor.  Each season features a progressive mix of over 200 events showcasing local, national, and international artists and a diverse audience of more than 80,000 people.

The indoor ticketed series includes performances of world-class music, contemporary circus, dance, family entertainment, public radio shows, and comedy.  The outdoor program, Top of the Park, is held along a beautiful campus green and offers admission-free concerts, Movies by Moonlight, open-air street spectacle, culinary treats, and unique family attractions.

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s admission free series located at Top of the Park was originally scheduled to run nightly from June 12-July 5, 2020 (dark on Mondays).

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which was originally formed as a partnership between the University of Michigan and City of Ann Arbor, produced its first, full season in 1984.  This is the first cancelation of Top of the Park. Top of the Park takes place on Ingalls Mall and Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor.  It has been relocated twice in its history due to construction (2006 it moved from the Fletcher Street Parking Deck to Ingalls Mall, and in 2015 it temporarily relocated to North University Avenue for one-year).

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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