After initially canceling the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair in mid-May, relaxed COVID guidelines are now making the Art Fair possible as announced on May 26. Hopefully COVID spread will remain low with the restrictions lifted on schedule.
Are you attending the Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids? Check out our Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids Guide. Don’t miss our Printable Art Fair Scavenger Hunt.
Ann Arbor Art Fair Back On!
See their Press Release for the announcement:
May 26, 2001
Hooray! With the Governor of Michigan’s updated timelime for lifting outdoor gathering restrictions, the Ann Arbor Art Fair has reversed the cancellation and will be held this July with new days and times. The event will take place on:
Thursday – Saturday, July 15-17, 2021 The new times are Thursday and Friday, 10am – 9pm and Saturday, 10am – 7pm.
Stayed tuned for more details. You can also preview the 2021 artists on our website ARTIST DIRECTORY.
About the Ann Arbor Art Fair
The Ann Arbor Art Fair is the largest juried art fair in the country. It is the combination of three independent juried art fairs across 30 blocks in downtown Ann Arbor. The four Art Fairs are:
- Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original
- Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
- State Street Art Fair
Combined the Ann Arbor Art Fair features more than 1000 juried artists in various media like painting, sculpture, mixed media, jewelry and more. Typically there are stages with performers – but those may not happen in 2021.
The three Art Fairs are typically held the third week in July. A few years ago, they moved from a Wednesday through Saturday schedule to a Thursday through Sunday schedule. The Art Fair hours are usually 10a-9p Thursday through Saturday and noon-6p on Sunday.
For 2021, they have a special schedule:
- Thursday, July 15 – 10a-9p
- Friday, July 16 – 10a-9p
- Saturday, July 17 – 10a-7p
Before Ann Arbor Art Fair
Attend the Townie Street Party
The Townie Street Party is a great way for locals to celebrate before Art Fair starts. They originally announced the cancellation of the party. But with Art Fair back on, we will watch to see if the Townie Party is back on. The Youth Art Fair is a highlight of the Townie Street Party. Families can also enjoy fun art zone activities, engage with community partners, and more. There is live music and food tents available (and some adult beverages for you too).
Explain Ann Arbor Art Fair to Kids
Every year, I share the story of my daughter at 2.5. Earlier that summer we had attended the Milan Fair which had rides. We visited the Ann Arbor Art Fair one afternoon and she had fun exploring the booths. We stopped for dinner at a nearby restaurant. As we walked back to the car, my daughter says “I’m ready to go to the fair now”. The poor kid was expecting rides and games. So, the moral of my story is to make sure your kids know what to expect.
Activities at Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids
There is typically plenty to do with kids at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Art Activity Zone
Each day the Art Activity Zone on Ingalls Mall offers fun activities for all ages. When the 2021 details are announced, we will add them here.
2019 Art Activity Zone Activities
- Simple Adornments
- CAPS! Community Awareness Plastic Solutions
- Clay, Play, Create
Get more details in the Art Activity Zone Event Listings (to be added):
In 2019 the Ann Arbor Art Fair Demo Zone ran Thursday through Saturday. Stop by under the big maple trees on North University by Hill Auditorium. We’ll share 2021 details when they are available.
In 2019 there were two stages for live music at Ann Arbor Art Fair. We will update with 2021 plans when they are annucned.
The Stage on Main was located in the Palio restaurant parking lot on the corner of Main & William.
The Fountain Stage was located on Ingalls Mall between E. Washington and N. University. They have family-friendly live music from 11a-7p Thursday-Saturday and noon-5p on Sunday. See their lineup on the Art Fair website.
Getting to Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids
Several readers recommended using the AAATA Art Fair Shuttles. Details for 2019 are below. 2021 information will be added when available.
Briarwood Mall (by The Ride)
- Parking free
- Round-trip $3; one way $1.50
- K-12 Students with student ID & Fare Deal cardholders, one-way $.75
- Senior/A-Ride and GoldRide cardholders & kids five and younger ride free
- Shuttle stops: Main Street at William and on State Street near South University
- Buses return to both parking locations from either shuttle bus stops
- Thursday – Saturday, 9am – 10pm
- Sunday – 11am – 7pm
Huron High School (by Trinity Transportation)
- Parking Free
- Round Trip $3
- Kids five and under ride free
- Shuttle stops: Fletcher and Washington & South University at Forest
- Thursday – Saturday, 9am – 10pm
- Sunday – 11am – 7pm
Other parking suggestions from the Ann Arbor Art Fairs:
Ann Arbor Art Fair attendees also can park at downtown parking structures and lots for $18 per day or $9 after 5 p.m.
Personally, my husband works at UM and has a Blue Pass. We have used his pass to park in Blue Lots when attending Art Fair. If you are planning to use a UM Parking Pass, make sure that the lot is accessible with Art Fair closures.
You can also park a bit further away and walk to town.
What to Bring to Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids
Water was the number one recommendation from my readers. Art Fair week is typically hot and this year’s forecast is no exception. Make sure to stay hydrated. I also suggest a bag for any purchases or art activities your child creates (Art Activity Zone is located on Ingalls Mall). If your child is not up for walking long distances, a stroller or wagon is a good option. With crowds, the stroller may be easier to maneuver.
Also, be ready for rain particularly on Saturday and Sunday. Umbrellas and ponchos can be helpful (and are another good reason to bring a bag).
What to Wear
It is also important to dress properly for Art Fair. You will be outside, so dress for the weather. Lightweight fabrics are a good choice. Rain always seems to be a threat at Art Fair, so quick drying clothes (and footwear) is a good bet.
Visiting Art Fair requires a lot of walking. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Other Tips for Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids
Identification wristbands are available for a 7th year to help reunite lost children with their parents. Wristbands can be obtained at:
- Safety Service Plaza at Liberty Plaza (at the corner of Liberty and Division)
- Art Fair information booths
- Ann Arbor Emergency Management mobile command unit
I definitely recommend these wristbands for younger children. We got one for my daughter at a UM football game several years ago. The contact information faces inside and is only visible once it is removed.
Make a plan for food. Either bring snacks (a reader suggests protein snacks), or take a break at one of the food courts set up around Art Fair – or both.
There are a number of good restaurants in the Art Fair district – some of which will offer food stands. Check out our reviews of restaurants near Art Fair:
One of our readers suggested using UM buildings for bathrooms instead of porta-pottys. A few suggestions (from me) are the UM Museums, Michigan League, and Michigan Union. Also, make sure to use the bathroom if you take an indoor meal break or visit a museum.
Make it an Adventure
A reader advises, don’t expect to see everything. Make the whole trip an adventure. There’s taking the bus, trying a new food, and visiting the Art Activity Zone.
Check out our Ann Arbor Art Fair Scavenger Hunt. Have the kids find art featuring the pictures on the list.
Take a Break
My last suggestions is to take a break. Especially on a hot day, it gives everyone a chance to cool off and recharge. It also gives an escape from the crowds at Art Fair. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant (see our reviews above), visit the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the UM Museum of Natural History, or stop at the Downtown Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.