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20 Reasons to Visit Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2020

Posted on January 28th, 2020

Kalamazoo has been showing off lately, and we’re here to revel in the revival.

Home to a flourishing handcrafted scene and entrepreneurial spirit, world-class attractions, diverse creative arts and cultural groups, one of a kind local restaurants, a fast-growing hub for competitive sports, and so much more.

Out of towner’s tell us that Kalamazoo is nothing like they imagined it to be, and yet everything they wanted and needed. You’ll walk in to our locally owned shops and restaurants a stranger, and walk out feeling right at home.

Year after year, Kalamazoo’s roster of events, festivals and exhibitions provide irresistible reasons for visitors to come to — and fall in love with — Kalamazoo, and 2020 is no different.

Check out some of our favorites below!




1. Give a Craft Beer Passport 

Our wildly popular Give a Craft™ beer trail and passport program has gone digital! The Give a Craft™ beer trail is a fun way to experience Kalamazoo’s beer scene. The digital passport is the same concept, except it’s all accessible right from your phone. Don’t worry, there are no apps to download! Go to www.drinkkalamazoo.beer to get your free mobile passport.

2. Bell’s 35th Anniversary Funvitational 

Sept. 12, 2020

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#bells #funvitational

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To mark the 30th anniversary of Bell’s Brewery in 2015, Bell’s hosted the very first Funvitational Beer Festival! This festival featured over 100 breweries from Michigan and beyond, as well as games, live entertainment, local food and all around great fun. All of the proceeds were dontated to charity. This year marks the 35th anniversary, so Funvitational is back Septemebr 12, 2020.


Attractions and Exhibits

Kalamazoo Valley Museum 
3. Wicked Plants: The Exhibit

January 25 – May 17, 2020

In Wicked Plants: The Exhibit, visitors explore a creepy Victorian home and educate themselves through interactive displays about the world’s most villainous plants that may be lurking in their own homes and backyards. History, medicine, botany, and legend are brought together to entertain and inform about the health effects to the human body, as well as the amazing evolution of some of Mother Nature’s evil doers in the plant world.

4. Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights

February 9 – June 7, 2020

Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights brings to light the stories behind an overlooked moment in US history and the fight for Disability Rights.

Gilmore Car Museum 
5. Women Who Motor

July 2019 – July 2020

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We liked this one the best ?

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This exhibition offers a glimpse into the world of women and the automobile. It is designed as a jumping off point for your own exploration into how the automobile has influenced women – and how women have influenced the automobile.


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Model T Driving School #driverrevird #modelt

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Secure a seat Behind the Wheel of an AUTHENTIC Model T Ford, built between 1908 and 1927 — right out of the Museum’s fleet of vintage vehicles — and drive 3 miles on paved roads within our historic campus with an experienced and enthusiastic instructor. 

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

June 5-6, 2020

More than 180+ jury-selected artists from across the country will offer beautiful artwork throughout the city’s green, shady “central park.” You’ll find jewelry, photography, sculpture, painting, ceramics, glass, fiber, leather, and wood, along with music, food trucks, and family activities to make a great, art-filled weekend.




Recreation & Nature

8. Trails

Every day, a growing number of cyclists, runners and hikers check their brakes or lace up their shoes and head onto our roads and ever expanding network of trails!

There are plenty of Kalamazoo parks to enjoy, but our trails set us apart from other places to visit. Novice trail trekkers can take a spin, but even experienced cyclists can be challenged by the beautiful trails!

For some of the best tips on how to experience Kalamazoo’s trails, check out 5 Reasons Why You Should Grab Your Bike and Head to Kalamazoo, or 8 Lesser-Known Parks and Trails to Discover in Kalamazoo.

9. Kalamazoo Nature Center

Mud Fest 2020

Dig into a giant mud pit, have a blast at Nature’s Playground, zoom down the giant slip ‘n’ slide, check out fun family games, and soar through the trees on the zipline.




April 1-6

USA Hockey has been conducting the country’s national championship tournaments since 1938, with teams from 38 states being crowned champions in various classifications. As part of USA Hockey Nationals, some 4,000 players compete for American hockey top honors in the sled, youth, girls, high school, adult and women’s levels.

11. 2020 Junior Roller Derby Championships

July 24-26

JRDA is dedicated to advancing the growth of junior roller derby through the standardization of rules and goals for all junior skaters at all skill levels. The JRDA Championships will be held in Kalamazoo this year at Wings Event Center. 

12. Kalamazoo Balloon Fest 

August 2020

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I like big balloons and I cannot lie

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The Kalamazoo Balloon Fest is one of the largest balloon events in the State of Michigan and the largest fall themed balloon festival in the State. Witness over 30 Hot-Air Balloons take to the skies over the fall colored trees in both the morning and the evening. Watch in awe as numerous hot air balloons light up the launch field at night.



Unique Events and Festivals

13. AfroFest: Michigan’s Largest Afro Party

February 22, 2020

AfroFest is the ultimate Black History Month celebration! This event celebrates the beauty and culture of the African American Community through food, laughter and music.

At this event, you will have the opportunity to shop with vendors operated by POC and organizations supporting the Black Community.

14. Gilmore Keyboard Festival

April 22-May 10

The Gilmore Keyboard Festival is one of the most highly anticipated events of the summer music season. Recognized by NPR as “the largest gathering of piano talent in the Western Hemisphere,” the biennial Festival brings world-class musicians to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a totally immersive, three-week experience in classical and jazz keyboard music.

15. Hippie Fest 

May 30, 2020

Hippie Fest is a grassroots festival where free-spirited people from across the country gather to celebrate peace, love, and all things groovy! Returning to Kalamazoo County Fairground in Kalamazoo, MI Saturday May 30, 2020. Featuring live music, bohemian shopping, vintage hippie car show, DIY tie-dye, giant bubble garden, cirque performers, kids activities, delicious food, and so much more.

16. Conferences

Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference

The Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference (MBLGTACC) is an annual conference held to connect, educate, and empower queer and trans+ college students, faculty, and staff around the Midwest and beyond.

International Congress on Medieval Studies – May 7-10

Hosted by the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University, the International Congress on Medieval Studies is an annual gathering of around 2,750 scholars interested in medieval studies.

2020 ORGPRO Annual Convention – July 14-16

ORGPRO 2020 is Michigan’s premier education and networking event for organization professionals in the not-for-profit sector. The convention includes two days of educational programming targeted to the needs of association executives, chamber executives, not-for-profit executives, staff specialists, and administrative staff, meeting professionals, volunteer leaders and vendor representatives.

National Trappers Association Convention – July 23-25

The National Trappers Association is committed to defending and promoting the safe and ethical harvest of furbearing mammals and to the preservation and enhancement of their habitats. One of the highlights of the show will be demonstrations of various trapping skills and techniques that will be put on throughout the three day period.




Arts & Entertainment

18. Musical Theatre




19. New and Opening in 2020

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Lamb kabsah per special order

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Middle Eastern Appetite

The Grand Woods Lounge 

– Ramen and Rice – Opening TBA




 20. New and Opening in 2020

Avid IHG Hotel – opening late 2020

avid hotels is a fresh, high-quality midscale brand that has been designed for the underserved Principled Everyday Traveler. They have applied their insights, expertise and scale to deliver an experience that features modern and stylish designs, superior guest rooms and public spaces, and great service.