Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Freedom Festival

Originally called the International Freedom Festival, the festival became two different celebrations in 2007: Detroit River Days, and Windsor Summer Fest.  Began in 1959, the International Freedom Festival is a multi-day celebration in late June and early July marking Canada Day on July 1st, and America’s Independence Day on July 4th.  Set on the riverfront of both countries, Detroit and Windsor jointly celebrated the multi-day festival, drawing about 3.5 million visitors.

In 2007, the Detroit River Front Conservancy began the new Detroit River Days to introduce the community and visitors to the transformed Detroit International Riverfront. The festival marked the opening of significant portions of the new Detroit River Walk and the festival has continued each year to spotlight resources and this new destination in the city of Detroit.

The highlight of the event is the Annual International Target Fireworks Show, normally held on the Monday shared by both festivals.  One of the largest and most spectacular firework displays in North America, it lights up the sky over Windsor and Detroit. First sponsored by J.L. Hudson, the firework show is now sponsored by Target, the company which bought Hudson’s.  This annual spectacle draws more than one million people to the Windsor and Detroit Riverfronts.

Written by Stacy Newman



Certificate of appreciation from the first International Freedom Festival, 1959

Freedom Festival fireworks display, 1960

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