City Transformation, Conservation, Events

Belle Isle Summer Saturdays bring even more events, activities to Detroit’s island getaway

Belle Isle

As if you need additional reasons to visit Detroit’s Belle Isle Park – beyond the natural beauty, the amenities, the playground to beat all playgrounds, the free activities and much more – there are three fun-filled weekends planned for you.

All of Metro Detroit is invited to participate in the third annual Belle Isle Summer Saturdays or BLISS, three weekends full of art, games, sports, food and culture on one of Detroit’s most delightful places. BLISS takes place this year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 25, Aug. 29 and Sept. 26.

BLISSThis year’s highlights include bike rentals; kayak instruction and water exploration; hustle dancing with MIX 92.3 and FM 98 WJLB; yoga in the Conservatory garden and (my personal favorite) an outdoor large-screen movie showing featuring the film Soul Power.

It is the ultimate way to enjoy a Detroit staycation, according to Michele Young Hodges, president of the Belle Isle Conservancy. The Conservancy’s mission is “to protect, preserve, restore and enhance the natural environment, historic structures and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all.”

The Conservancy is hosting the BLISS events with its partner, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources And what a partnership it has been, Hodges notes. All of us who adore this Isle have to say that with public interest, lots of hard work by the Conservancy and the immense resources of the DNR, Detroit’s little piece of heaven is looking wonderful.

This year’s BLISS reflects that, Hodges said. Each year, the event has grown as the Conservancy adds new activities and partners, including Penske, General Motors, First Merit and Strategic Staffing Solutions. Such a robust showing both in these partnerships and those interested in being part of BLISS is one reason why everyone within driving distance (and beyond) should participate, Hodges said.

“Belle Isle is Detroit’s playground. We want people to come play with us,” Hodges said. “It’s a destination. It’s uniquely Detroit. All of us should make it a priority to visit.”

Belle Isle 2Also new this year is the addition of the Detroit City Chess Club, which will be at Dossin Great Lakes Museum on the island, giving visitors a chance to watch tournament play as well as offering chess instruction. “It’s a workout for your brain as well,” Hodges jokes.

The big movie night takes place Aug. 29 thanks to the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Detroit Film Theatre. Beginning at dusk on the grounds near the Belle Isle lighthouse, movie lovers can take in the story of the 1974 Zaire 74 music festival in the critically-acclaimed film Soul Power, projected on a larger-than-life screen. The movie features performances by music legends like James Brown, B.B. King and Bill Withers, free of charge.

The Belle Isle Aquarium and Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory will be open and, as always, admission will be free to visitors of all ages.

FYI: Free activity maps will be available at BLISS welcome stations near the floral clock at the island’s entrance and at the Aquarium each BLISS Saturday. Events and scheduled times are subject to change, and charges may apply to some events. A recreation passport is required for vehicle access to Belle Isle Park. No recreation passport is necessary for pedestrian and bike access.

Events on July 25, Aug. 29 and Sept. 26:

Chess Instruction and Competition with the Detroit City Chess Club: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Outdoor Games: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on the White House Lawn

Kayak Instruction and Water Exploration with Riverside Kayak Connection: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Beach

Self-Paced Belle Isle Tours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Food Concessions: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Beach and Sunset Point

Giant Slide: Noon-3 p.m. $1 per ride

Guided Island Bicycle Tours with Riverside Kayak Connection: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Flynn Pavilion
•         2-hour guided tour $20 / $40 with a bike from Riverside Kayak Connection
•         1-hour bicycle rental available all day (without a tour)
•         $7 adult / $5 child / $10 tandem

Special activities on each day of BLISS include:

Sports and Fitness – July 25

Yoga in the Conservatory Garden with Yoga Shelter: 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at the Conservatory Gardens

Golf Sessions for Children and Adults: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Belle Isle Golf Center

Aquarium, Conservatory and Olmsted History Stops
•         Conservatory History at the Conservatory:10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
•         Aquarium History at the Aquarium: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
•         A Look at Frederick Law Olmsted at the Aquarium: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Hustle Dancing with MIX 92.3 and FM 98 WJLB: Noon-1 p.m.; Location TBA

Basketball KNOCKOUT: Noon-1 p.m.  at the Basketball Courts – Athletic Complex

Kickball Pick-Up Game: 1:10 p.m. sharp at the Baseball Field – Athletic Complex

Nature and History – August 29

Belle Isle Wildlife Hike: 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Forested Route TBA

Aquarium, Conservatory and Olmsted History Stops
•         Conservatory History at the Conservatory: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
•         Aquarium History at the Aquarium: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
•         A Look at Frederick Law Olmsted at the Aquarium: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Golf 101 Scramble: Time TBAat the Belle Isle Golf Center

Music with MIX 92.3 and FM 98 WJLB: Noon-1 p.m. at the Music Shell

Nature Photo Walk: 12:30 p.m.- 1:30 p.m. Route TBA

Arts and Culture – September 26

Adopt-a-Beach™ Cleanup with the Alliance for the Great Lakes: Time TBD at the Beach

Yoga in the Conservatory Garden with Yoga Shelter: 10:30am – 11:30am  at the Conservatory Gardens

Painting with a Twist Demonstrations: 10:30am – 2pm on the White House Lawn

Protecting the Great Lakes Talks with the Alliance for the Great Lakes: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,2 p.m. at the Aquarium

Music with MIX 92.3 + FM 98 WJLB: Noon-1 p.m. at the Music Shell

Michigan Story Telling with Ivory Williams: Noon and 2 p.m. Location TBA

Sketching Instruction with The Scarab Club of Detroit: 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. Various Locations TBA

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