Our Top of the Park Kids Guide has information on all of the great family-friendly activities happening as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.
For 2020, the traditional Ann Arbor Summer Festival is canceled. Both ticketed shows and Top of the Park are canceled. They will be adding alternative programming for 2020 and will hopefully return with a normal schedule in 2021.
Top of the Park Kids Guide
What is Top of the Park?
Top of the Park is the free outdoor component of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Top of the Park includes numerous live concerts each evening and movies on Sundays-Thursdays (closed Monday). Each night there is a KidZone tent with activities for kids. There are also food tents for dinner or snacks.
This Top of the Park Kids Guide lists all of the great family friendly activities happening at Top of the Park. Top of the Park was scheduled to start on Friday, June 12 and runs through Sunday, July 5. It is held every night except for Mondays.
After more than 15 years in Ann Arbor, I am almost guaranteed to run into someone I know at Top of the Park.
Where is Top of the Park?
Top of the Park is held on Ingalls Mall on the University of Michigan campus. The large stage and movies are shown in front of the Rackham Graduate School Building on Washington Street. Washington Street is closed between Fletcher and Thayer for the duration of the festival. There are some chairs available in front of the stage/screen, but most guests bring blankets or their own chairs and sit in the grass on Ingalls Mall. There is also a smaller Grove Stage nestled in the trees on the west side of the Ingalls Mall.
Top of the Park KidZone Tents
Each night of Top of the Park, a local organization hosts activities in the KidZone Tent. The KidZone tent is open from 5-8p. The KidZone tent is located on the Ingalls Mall at the north end of the Michigan League. It is to the right as you face the Rackham stage.
One of my daughter’s favorite KidZone hosts has been the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Whether it was trying out the strings at age 3.
Or trying brass insturments at 12.
Top of the Park Retreat
Top of the Park kicks off each night with a wellness/fitness activity like yoga, martial arts, and more. While Retreat is not a kid-centric program, they are welcome to join in. Retreat activities happen on the Power Center Lawn.
Top of the Park Performances
The big draw of Top of the Park is the nightly musical performances. There are two stages setup at Top of the Park. The larger stage is in front of Rackham and is the main stage for Top of the Park. The Acoustic Stage is setup in the Grove near the Bell Tower. Music typically starts at 5p on the Acoustic Stage and at 7p on the Rackham Stage.
Top of the Park Movies
As my daughter has gotten older, we love attending the Top of the Park movies. The movies are held Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday. Sunday night is always family night at Top of the Park with a family-friendly film. Over the years we have seen Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz, and Despicable Me.
For 2020, one alternate possibility they mentioned is drive-in movies. Even before they announced the cancelation, I was speculating that drive-in movies might be a good socially-distant alternative.
Culinary Row – Top of the Park Food
Culinary Row is part of many of our visits to Top the Park. It has food booths and food trucks offering everything from drinks to dinner to dessert mostly from local vendors. Our favorite food vendor is Slow’s To Go. We have stopped for dinner on opening night in both 2016 and 2017 before my daughter went to camp for the weekend. Now that my daughter is older, we often end up at 3 different stands.
The Culinary Row vendors help to support Top of the Park. Attendees are encouraged to support the vendors instead of bringing their own food.
What to Bring to Top of the Park
You don’t need to bring anything to Top of the Park. However, we like to bring a blanket to sit on. You can also bring chairs to sit in. When my daughter was younger, we would bring our wagon to hold our blanket, water bottles, and so my daughter didn’t need to walk.
If you visit in early evening, you may want sun screen. If you plan to stay into the evening for the movie, you may want to bring a sweatshirt and/or long pants. We have never had an issue with mosquitos at Top of the Park, but we are always prepared when we come for movie night. We bring mosquito spray and repellent lanterns.
Many of the Top of the Park culinary row vendors have mobile credit card machines which makes purchasing food and snacks easy. Of course cash is always acceptable. It’s also handy to have cash on hand if you want to make a donation. The Ann Arbor Summer Festival asks for a $5/person or $10/family donation to help keep Top of the Park free.
Getting to Top of the Park
We usually drive to Top of the Park since we don’t live near downtown. My husband works at UM and has a blue parking pass. We will often use that to park in the Fletcher Parking Structure. Without the pass, there is often a $5 parking fee. The Thayer lot also has a $5 parking fee for non-pass holders. Many other UM Blue lots offer free parking after 5 or 6p. We have also parked at the Ann Structure which offers metered visitor parking and is a blue lot. It is a little further, but can be worth saving the $5 in parking. UM Parking maps can be found on their parking and transportation website.
Biking, walking and the bus are also great options for getting to Top of the Park.
In addition to the free Top of the Park activities, the Ann Summer Festival includes the Mainstage performances. The Mainstage performances have also been canceled for 2020.