CultureShift Events Guide: MLK Day in Detroit, where to watch the Lions and more

Discover unique arts and culture events in metro Detroit happening Jan. 11-18, 2024.

Exterior of the Hilberry Gateway theatre

Wayne State's Hilberry Gateway theater.

This week, we’ve got civil rights celebrations for MLK Day, Michigan music from Motown to metal and more.

Plus, where to find free Lions watch parties around metro Detroit. Read on to learn more.

MLK Day in Detroit

Wayne State University will hold its Annual Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend. The two-part event will kick off with a panel discussion on Thursday, Jan. 11 focused on Detroit’s role in the civil rights movement through music, art, religion, politics and labor. This free event will take place at the Wayne State Industry Innovation Center from 5-7 p.m.

Then, the programming continues on Friday, Jan. 12 with “Arts, Culture and Music of the Movement,” featuring presentations, live music and dance performances at Wayne State’s Hilberry Gateway. There will also be a conversation with special guest Santita Jackson and a presentation of the Dr. Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Awards. This free event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, and registration is open to the public. The program will also be streamed at on Monday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. for MLK Day. For more information, visit their website.

Monday is also your last chance to check out Mandela: The Official Exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum. This exhibition takes guests on a personal journey through the life of another civil rights leader, Nelson Mandela. This immersive and interactive experience features previously unseen film, photos and over 150 historical artifacts and personal effects on loan from the Mandela family, museums and archives worldwide. For more information, visit their website.

Support the roar

Watch the Lions take on the Rams on the big screen this Sunday at Support the Roar: Playoffs at Emagine. Participating Emagine Theaters like Royal Oak, Novi and Canton are offering free screenings of the game broadcast live to their theaters featuring signature cocktails, 24 oz light draft beers, special game day snack combos and halftime giveaways. Tickets can be reserved in-person starting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 14 and kickoff is at 8 p.m. For more information, visit their website.

Roller derby doubleheader

Prepare for Sunday’s sportsmanship with the Detroit Roller Derby on Saturday. They’re hosting a superhero themed doubleheader on Jan. 13 at the Masonic Temple. The Grand Prix Madonnas will take on D-Funk followed by the Pistoffs versus the Devil’s Night Dames. Doors open at 5 p.m., skating starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $19 online or $20 a the door. Hero and villain costumes are encouraged. For more information, visit their website.

Bach and beyond

Or, for a more serene experience, check out the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Bach & Beyond series. This weekend, Jan. 11-14, the DSO will travel to three metro Detroit communities to perform two works by Bach, one featuring the famous “Air” and the other a concerto for two soloists featuring DSO Principal Oboe Alexander Kinmonth and Associate Concertmaster Kimberly Kaloyanides-Kennedy. “Music from Paris” completes the program along with a symphony by Haydn that the Chevalier helped bring to life. Performances will take place in Southfield, Monroe and Beverly Hills. For tickets and showtimes, visit their website.

Michigan music

Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Timothy Monger will be performing at Ziggy’s this Friday, Jan. 12 with special guests Mercury Salad, Mike Gentry and Mike Vial. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m. This event is 18+. For more information, visit their website.

Related: Jeff Milo on Timothy Monger’s new single ‘Sa-Wa-Quato’

Panic in Hamtramck returns to the Sanctuary Detroit this weekend for three days of doom metal. The festival features bands like Living Dissection, Exploding Zombies, Centenary and Temple of the Fuzz Witch. Music starts at 5 p.m. daily Friday, Jan. 12 through Sunday, Jan. 13 and tickets range from $12-30. For more information, visit their website.

Then, cool it back down at Jill Jack’s annual birthday bash this Saturday, Jan. 13. The singer-songwriter has blended folk and rock traditions in Detroit for decades, and her annual birthday show at The Ark in Ann Arbor has become a New Year’s tradition. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 online. For more information, visit The Ark’s website.

Round out your Detroit music education for the week with Ann Delisi’s next Essential Conversation featuring legendary Motown arranger and trombonist, Paul Riser Sr. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, they’ll talk about Riser’s life, musical influences and the dozens of Motown hits he worked on during the label’s prime, including “My Girl,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” The show starts at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $100 and Willis Show Bar is 21+. For more information, visit our events page.

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