If you know Grand Haven, you probably know the Coast Guard Festival. If not, you may be surprised to know that this is Grand Haven’s most well-attended Festival, bringing in between 350,000 and 400,000 people each year. Whether you are familiar or not, this Blog will help you to better navigate the Festival. We have compiled an overview of the Festival’s top events and their scheduled dates and list of activities.
What is it? The Coast Guard Festival is an annual event dating back to 1924, honoring the U.S. Coast Guard and those who sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. The City of Grand Haven is known as Coast Guard City, U.S.A. What is a Coast Guard City you may ask? According to Wikipedia, “A Coast Guard City is a United States municipality designated as such by the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard on application of the local civilian government. It is an honorary designation intended to recognize communities of special importance to the U.S. Coast Guard.”
Grand Haven was the first City chosen in the country back in 1998 and continues its support for the United States Coast Guard.
When is it? The 2023 Coast Guard Festival starts on July 28th and ends August 6th. The final weekend tends to be the busiest with the most activities taking place, but there are daily events that are worth attending, so make sure to look at the entire schedule of events! For future years, the Coast Guard traditionally starts the last Friday of July and wraps up on the first Saturday of August.
Where is it? The 2021 Coast Guard Festival is located throughout the city of Grand Haven depending on the event. However, the majority of the events are located on the Boardwalk stretch along the river between the pier and the Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium. The Coast Guard ships dock in front of the Coast Guard station near Escanaba Park and that is where the ship tours take place throughout the week.
The carnival takes place downtown on Washington Avenue and the parking lots nearby. The nightly tribute bands play at Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium. The big firework display that marks the end of the event can be viewed along the river near where the Musical Fountain takes place.
What are the main events? There are lots of different events that take place throughout the week but the main ones are listed here in chronological order:
- YMCA Coast Guard 5K run- July 29 @ 7:30 AM
- Kids Parade- July 29 @ 10:30 PM
- Cardboard Boat Race- July 29 @ 1:30 PM (held on the river near the Waterfront Stadium)
- Music Cover Bands – nightly at Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium
- Carnival- daily starting July 26
- Ship Parade- July 31- 1:00-3:00 PM
- Coast Guard Ship tours- (times vary)
- Kids Day- Aug 1, 10 AM-2 PM
- Craft Fair- Aug 4, 9am-6pm
- Coast Guard Memorial Service- Aug 4, 4 pm-5 pm
- Grand Parade- Aug 5, 11:45 AM (located through the downtown Washington Ave area)
- Coast Guard Fireworks- August 7
We appreciate you checking out our 2021 Coast Guard Festival blog and hope you have found some valuable information. This is a really fun event for people of all ages which is why it brings in 350,000- 400,000 visitor each year! We are honored to support our US Coast Guard here at Coast Guard City, USA. For more info, check out the 2023 Coast Guard Festival website. This information will help you be ready for your best visit ever- as the Coast Guards motto states: “SEMPER PARATUS (Always Ready).”