May is now upon us, and for my family (at least) I know that with May comes serious discussion of our summer plans! We start to plot out our weekends, figure out when we are taking vacations, and go through the various summer festivals and events that we just HAVE TO be sure to attend. With that in mind, I am going to write today’s Hometown Tourist about one of my favourite summer events here in Windsor/Essex – the Detroit River Ford Fireworks!

While many of the smaller towns around the area have their own smaller events, parades and fireworks displays, there is no fireworks display I have ever attended that can even come close to the fireworks display that is put on by Windsor and Detroit! Even better, there is a whole ‘fair’ style festival leading up to it with something for everyone.

This has become a tradition with many families. Throughout the day the Festival Plaza area along the Windsor Riverfront is full of Carnival rides and games, as well as a collection of food booths and vendors. Have you ever craved a specific carnival style food or treat? I know for me there are a couple booths that hit all of our local festivals selling fresh squeezed lemonade, and they make a cherry lemonade that is just TO DIE FOR! I have not had a summer pass by in years that I didn’t have at least a couple of these at one point or another!



The fireworks themselves are a SERIOUS event! With it being May already, the hotels along the river will have already sold out of all their rooms with a river view months ago. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they are all at capacity already regardless of the view from the room! Along the river people come out early that morning with their lawn chairs and actually tie off their lawn chairs to the railings that run along the river, claiming their front row seats.

Parking is difficult if you wait until too close to the actual event. The roads right around the fireworks are shut down, and parking lots in the vicinity are packed. Some land owners in the area will sell off parking on their property for $5, which is a great deal compared to some of the larger commercial lots asking $15-$20 for the evening! If you are able to get down to the festival earlier you can claim parking before it fills up, and there is plenty to do to pass the time!



There are some great places to sit if you search them out – whether you bring your lawn chairs, or even just a blanket to lay out on the grass in one of the park areas. During the fireworks, its so packed that most people end up standing anyway.

The fireworks themselves are stunning! They set off fireworks from 3 separate barges located out on the river, so that the can be seen from both the Canadian and American sides. The fireworks are set to music, and the display is extremely well orchestrated. In over 5 years of attending this event I have never been let down by the display they put on! I am sure this year is going to be even bigger and more exciting with all the Canada 150 build up! I have never attended the display from the American side, but I have heard the crowd there is equally exciting!


windsor, fireworks, fireworks display


The Detroit News, in an article regarding the 2016 display, reported: “The fireworks will feature 11,000 shells and weigh about 5 tons, with mortars and wooden support racks that hold the fireworks going as high as 900 feet into the Detroit skyline and 800 feet in diameter.”

Superballs’ Supervids on YouTube shared this great video of the 2016 display:


If you don’t already have plans set in stone, I highly recommend you make your way to the Detroit River Ford Fireworks for what is arguably one of the best fireworks displays in North America! The 2017 display will be held on June 26th, and is scheduled to begin at 9:48PM (times may change dependant on weather and lighting).

How do you usually celebrate Canada Day? What is the biggest fireworks display you have experienced?