Our Story

The Emberlight Festival is a branch of Theatre North (Ironwood, Michigan), one of the oldest continually-running community theatres in the United States, and also the hometown stage of Miles Mykkanen.

Miles grew up in front of Theatre North’s audiences before attending the Interlochen Arts Academy, earning three degrees in voice from The Juilliard School, and solidifying a place as one of the most promising young tenors with the world’s symphonies and opera houses.

In September 2019, Miles approached the Theatre North Board of Directors with the idea of starting an annual arts festival highlighting our best local talent alongside his colleagues from national and international arts organizations and stages.  The Emberlight Festival provides an unparalleled opportunity for audiences in the western Upper Peninsula and beyond to witness world-class talent in their own backyard.

Each summer the Emberlight Festival creates programs that celebrate artists, musicians, actors, filmmakers, creative writers and dancers.  Anchors to the Festival’s annual programming include:

  • Main Stage Live performances spanning classical music, plays, cabarets, and concerts
  • International Film Festival (EIFF) Extraordinary documentaries, narratives and short films that were created within the last three years and submitted to Emberlight from around the world
  • Art Shows Each summer Emberlight commissions a visual artist to present their original installation during our festival, in addition to Art in the Park, Emberlight Photographers, and partnering with local galleries to highlight their summertime shows
  • Performance Infusions Weekly presentations in the heart of Art in the Park that explore the “unconventional” art forms like Finnish folk dancing, Ojibwe basket weaving, broom-making, beekeeping, and much more
  • Behind the Curtain Intimate conversations and talkbacks with visiting professional artists

From the very beginning Emberlight has endeavored to make its programming available for everyone to enjoy, no matter their economic or social backgrounds.  We are proud that over 60% of our annual festival is absolutely free of charge, and the average ticket price for our paid events is $16.


The Emberlight Festival produces world-class art within the natural beauty of Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. We collaborate with local, regional and international artists to create affordable, life-enhancing experiences that spark imagination and ignite learning in our audiences and communities.


Audiences across the northern midwest can experience diverse and meaningful storytelling through every discipline of the Arts in their own backyard.


Our purpose is to provide affordable access to exemplary art that celebrates diversity, leaves a minimal environmental footprint, and enriches lives.