Another Side of Duluth:
Celebrating the Boy from the North Country
Fans and music aficionados are invited to pay homage to Bob Dylan's ongoing legacy at the 2023 Duluth Dylan Fest! This event celebrates the Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter and his formative years in Duluth, Minnesota. Get ready for an weeklong celebration, May 20th-28th, 2023, that will honor this musical icon from The North Country.
The Duluth Dylan Fest is a volunteer lead and organized festival that celebrates “the spirit of artistic freedom, intellectual honesty, and integrity of Bob Dylan.” Dylan Fest events provide “creative activities that tap the talents of artists, poets, and musicians in Duluth, the surrounding region, and beyond.”
In the spirit of celebrating Dylan’s wandering and wondering, we’ve put together a list of locations to check out in Duluth as well as a couple of curated playlists with some of our favorite Dylan tunes (some hits, some from Dylan’s back catalog, as well as covers of Dylan tunes).
Born in Time
Dylan’s First Home, is a must visit for Dylan fans as the site where Robert Zimmerman lived before moving onward to his childhood home in Hibbing with his family at the age of six.
In 2016, outside of this duplex, a small plaque was embedded into the sidewalk with Dylan’s face and the words “In Bob We Trust.” Dylan’s childhood home in Hibbing is currently undergoing restoration to resemble its 1950’s appearance.
For those who make the pilgrimage to Hibbing, should also stop by the public art tribute on display outside of Hibbing High School by the Hibbing Dylan Project. The art display features the lyrics of more than fifty of Dylan’s songs and invites students to wonder about their connection to literature and dream of carrying on Dylan’s legacy.
Before The Day the Music Died
The Duluth Armory was the site where Dylan witnessed the second to last performance of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens who played at this site on January 31st, 1959. In his Nobel Lecture Dylan noted the impact of seeing Holly’s performance at the Duluth Armory: “Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction. Then, out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn’t know what. And it gave me the chills.”
Today, the Armory is home to several local artisans as well as the home of the Music Resource Center, an after-school program for area middle and high school students.
Pop by Fitger’s Brewery Complex which is home to a Duluth Dylan Display near Fitger’s Brewhouse along the official Bob Dylan Way.
Don’t Think Twice
It’s all right to visit Bayfront Festival Park which home to many events throughout the year such as the Bentleyville Tour of Lights and is also home to Duluth’s largest playground, Playfront Park.
On July 3rd, 1999 Bob performed here, mentioning his Duluth birthplace, saying “You know, I was born up on the hill over there. I was glad to see that it’s still there.” Visitors can stroll through the park, past the iconic performance stage, and along the harbor.
Admission is free; however, donations are encouraged by those visiting the park.
Gotta Travel On
There is no way we can mention Dylan and not mention the famed, historic Highway 61. Writing in his 2004 memoir, Chronicles: Volume One Dylan stated, "Highway 61 begins about where I came from, Duluth, to be exact." He added, "I always felt like I'd started on it, always had been on it, and could go anywhere from it."
We encourage you to head north after touring Duluth while pairing our Dylan-Inspired Spotify playlists featured below as you are North Shore Bound along Highway 61.
Bob Dylan Listening Party
Listen along with us.
The first collection is 100% Bob and friends, and the second are some wonderful covers of Dylan's work by a variety of artists.
The Best of Bob
Our Favorite Dylan Covers
Duluth Dylan Fest - Event Highlights
Duluth Dylan Fest Kick Off Party
1617 N. 3rd St., Superior WI
7:00-10:00 PM | Tickets $5 to $40 - Eventbrite
Robert Zimmerman Hibbing Day
Dylan Monument and Hibbing High Tour, Live Music at Dylan's Childhood Home
Bob Dylan Front Porch Birthday Party
519 N. 3rd Ave. East, Duluth
12:00-1:30 PM | Free
Dylan Fest Singer-Songwriter Contest
2022 4th Street, Duluth
7:00-10:00 PM | Tickets on Eventbrite