The Milwaukee summer festival season is right around the corner, and it’s time to start planning out your fun. But with seemingly a festival or live music event every weekend, it can be overwhelming to try and keep track of all the terrific options headed your way. Luckily, the OnMilwaukee summer festivals guide is here to help.

Here’s what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be drinking, who you’ll be hearing and how you’ll be getting a sweet tan this summer.

Now get out there and have some Milwaukee summer fun!

Bay View Art in the Park
Humboldt Park
Venture to Bay View every second Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Art in the Park. This monthly outdoor arts festival was created to celebrate local artists and help create connections to their community, featuring work from over 50 rotating artisans throughout Milwaukee. Enjoy the beauty of the park, delicious food and live music at Bay View Art in the Park!

Jazz in the Park
Cathedral Square Park
June 1-Aug. 31
Every Thursday happy hour starts at 5 p.m. and music kicks off at 6 and runs until 9. Drinks will be available throughout various tents at the festival, however it is asked that there are no carry-ins. While jazz may get top billing in the title, the lineup for the weekly summer concert event – newly sponsored this year by Educators Credit Union – offers plenty of tuneful variety from across genres and across the globe, from funk to R&B, local favorites (Extra Crispy Brass Band, Streetlife) to a nine-piece group from Barcelona (Alma Afrobeat Ensemble).


Chill on the Hill
Humboldt Park
June 6-Aug. 29
Hosted as always at Humboldt Park, Chill on the Hill will welcome over 20 bands over the course of 12 weeks, as well as local food vendors – last year’s list included Bay View eateries like Hue, Tenuta’s and more – and community partners. And if that’s not enough chilling on the hill for you, this year’s edition also features two movie screenings, “The LEGO Batman Movie” and the Oscar-winning “La La Land.”

River Rhythms
Pere Marquette Park
June 14-Aug. 30
Westown is the place to be on Wednesday nights this summer! River Rhythms is a free, outdoor summer concert event which hosts some of the finest local talent Milwaukee has to offer – this year including Chicken Wire Empire, De La Buena, King Solomon and more.

NEWaukee Night Markets
June 14, July 12, Aug. 16 and Sept. 13
Wisconsin Ave. between 2nd and 4th Streets
NEWaukee’s Night Market is a collision of all Milwaukee has to offer. The Night Market is a free, open-air market that offers a wide variety of experiences for people of all backgrounds and ages. The Night Market features a mash up of art, craft and food vendors, live art creation, local music and a beer garden!

Lakefront Festival of Art
Milwaukee Art Museum
June 16-18
This marks the 55th year for the annual Lakefront Festival of Art, which features works for sale by more than 175 artists from around the world. Guests can purchase art from painters, potters, sculptors, glassblowers, photographers and others selected by a jury to display their creations. You can also party the night away at MAM After Dark, which will kick off the festival.

Polish Fest
Henry Maier Festival Park
June 16-18
Head over to the Cultural Village to learn the secrets behind cooking your favorite Polish foods, appreciate the history of folk art and embrace your inner love for animals by visiting with sheepdogs, chickens and rabbits. Some daily attractions include a piano competition, a marketplace, Polish sheepdogs, cooking demos and folk art. Arrive early to attend the Catholic mass and grab some traditional Polish sausage for lunch.

Juneteenth Day
King Drive, between Burleigh and Center Streets
June 19
June 19 has been known as “Juneteenth Day,” the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States and a staple of Milwaukee festivals since the 1970s, when an employee of the Northcott Neighborhood House was inspired by the celebrations held in southern states. Four decades later, everyone agrees that the best Juneteenth party can be found right here in Milwaukee. This year’s celebration will feature kids’ games, exhibits, soul food, music, a parade and more.

Greek Fest
Wisconsin State Fair Park
June 23-25
There’s a reason why Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church has been putting on its annual Greek Fest for over 50 years. Milwaukeeans can’t get enough gyros, lamb and chicken roasted on a spit. Throw in some family fun and carnival rides, and it’s a party! Opa!
88Nine Block Party
220 E. Pittsburgh Ave.
June 24
It’s a year of major anniversaries in Milwaukee this summer, we suppose, with Summerfest celebrating 50 years, Good City celebrating one year in the books and, now, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee ringing in 10 years broadcasting in the Cream City. They’ll throw themselves a birthday party to celebrate at their Walker’s Point headquarters, with Noname, Field Report and Strand of Oaks performing, Milwaukee-themed games and more.

Cedarburg Strawberry Festival
Historic Downtown Cedarburg
June 24-25
Summer is the time for fresh berries – and what better berry than the strawberry? Sample some strawberry blush wine and chicken strawberry wraps, get sugared up at the strawberry shortcake eating competition and strawberry bubblegum blowing contest, or settle in for the Sunday morning strawberry pancake breakfast. You’ll satisfy your strawberry cravings for a while after you’ve finished with this festival! There will also be live music, pony rides, a petting zoo and the CedarQuacker 500 where 500 rubber duckies will be released into a creek.

Summer Soulstice
East North Avenue
June 25
Join in on the fun of celebrating the summer solstice – Milwaukee style! This East Side is one of the largest free showcases for the region’s top music acts – this year including Webster X, Whips and more – visual artists, creation stations, local chefs and so much more! Don’t worry, the Summer Soulstice is family-friendly, so you can bring the kids along, too.

Garlic Fest
South 2nd Street
June 25
Come celebrate all things garlic! Various restaurants around Walker’s Point will be offering their favorite garlic cuisine outside Braise Restaurant on South 2nd Street. In true Milwaukee spirit, there will be drinks from local distilleries, breweries and Braise Green Garlic Bloody Marys, as well as live music, a DJ, games and local artisans. Just maybe bring an after-festival mint.

Henry Maier Festival Park
June 28-July 9 (off-day on July 3)
From rock to pop, rap to alternative, country to electronic, the world’s largest music festival has something for everyone! And best of all, general admission is less than $20! In case you haven’t heard, this year is the Big Gig’s 50th anniversary – and they’re celebrating with an all-star lineup including The Chainsmokers, two nights of Tom Petty, a whole additional festival INSIDE the main festival, Luke Bryan, Pink and more.

Burnhearts’ Pabst Street Party
July 1
We know we just had a Pabst Brewery street party a few weeks ago, but this is a completely different Pabst Street Party – one that the beloved Bay View tavern has hosted for a decade this year and has graced the city with good local food, good local brews and good local bands every single time. One imagines they’ll ring in ten years with style; their lineup certainly says that, with acts like AUTOMatic, Queen Hilma and more set to show.


Bristol Renaissance Faire
July 8-Sept. 4
Grab your corset or your homemade chainmail armor; the Bristol Renaissance Faire is set to make its annual return. Open rain or shine, every Saturday, Sunday and on Labor Day, the Bristol Faire takes visitors for a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., complete with 16th-century arts, crafts, games, rides, food, music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a colorful cast of characters from the era.

Bastille Days
Cathedral Square Park
July 13-16
Bienvenu a Bastille Days! Come visit Paris via Cathedral Square Park and celebrate the 36th anniversary of one of the country’s biggest French-themed celebrations, with impromptu street performers, roaming minstrels, musical entertainment and tasty French delicacies. Have your camera handy, because there will also be a replica 43-foot Eiffel Tower in the center of all the fun.

South Shore Frolics
South Shore Park
July 14-16
The 68th annual South Shore Frolics, originally known as the South Shore Water Frolic, is all about community – and if you live in Bay View, you’ll be even more glad you call the neighborhood home after checking out this longtime favorite.

Festa Italiana
Henry Maier Festival Park
July 21-23
As one of Milwaukee’s oldest ethnic festivals, Festa Italiana continues to build on rich traditions from the past to represent our city’s Italian community in the present and future. Enjoy jazz music, a parade, children’s activities and fireworks each night – and show off your competitive side as you cheer on the players in futsal tournament and nearby flag throwers. And also be sure to check out this year’s headlining acts, including the Gin Blossoms, the BoDeans and Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti.

Firkin Fest
Cathedral Square Park
July 22
The Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest is here to educate and help you celebrate! This celebration of MKE’s past, present and future of beer will feature samples of over 150 brews and more than 40 firkins on site. What is a firkin, you ask? It’s a small, wooden barrel filled with about nine gallons of God-given brews. You’re welcome.

Armenian Fest
St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church, 7825 W. Layton Ave
July 23
Armenian food takes center stage at this festival, and the offerings resemble Greek and other Eastern Mediterranean cuisines, but with different spices and seasonings. The menu will include chicken and beef kebob, cheese and spinach burek, lamajoun (a pizza-like meat dish served on thin tortilla-like dough), hummus (a dip made of chickpeas), tabouleh (a green salad without lettuce), choreg (breadsticks), vegetarian and meat sarma (stuffed grape leaves) and a mouthwatering array of baklava and other traditional pastries.

Warped Tour
American Family Insurance Amphitheater
July 24
Come release your inner hardcore punk persona and jam out to your favorite metal, pop punk, and artists across all sorts of genres at this annual one-day music festival overload. This year’s lineup includes, CKY, Hawthorne Heights, American Authors, GWAR as well as countless other groups.

EAA AirVenture
Wittman Regional Airport, 525 W. 20th Ave.
July 24-30
Every year, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh earns its distinction as “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.” The members of the EAA make this annual event one of the world’s most impressive showcases of attractions, representing innovation, history, technological advancement and current and future trends in aviation.

Washington County Fair
Washington County Fair Park
July 25-30
Enjoy good food and good music at the Washington County Fair. Country headliners tend to dominate the festival, with this year currently featuring Montgomery Gentry and Dustin Lynch, as well as Ann Wilson of Heart. There will also be a carnival and a multitude of vendors so come out and see what all the fuss is about!

Riverwest 24
July 28-29
Calling all biking lovers! Come out to Riverwest for its 24-hour bike race, where you get in some exercise and experience the culture of one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

German Fest
Henry Maier Festival Park
July 28-30
Enjoy three days jam-packed with music, Sheepshead tournaments, wine tasting and children’s activities. Learn your family history as well as genealogists look up your family tree and see the alluring display of European trains. And don’t forget to check out the special feature this year, The Stihl Timbersports Series, bringing some of the top lumberjack athletes to Milwaukee.

Brady Street Festival
Farwell Avenue to Van Buren Street
July 29
You’ll be rockin’ the day and night away at one of the four stages packed with local bands – this year including NO NO YEAH OKAY, Abby Jeanne, Rocket Paloma and many others – and entertainment lineups including belly dancers, the Cream City Queens drag show and plenty more. And when you’re parched from walking around Brady Street and singing along to the songs, quench your thirst with an ice cold beer or fill up on an array of food from various vendors. The festival begins at 11 a.m. and closes at midnight.

Milwaukee Brewfest
Lincoln Memorial Drive
July 29
Make way to the shore of Lake Michigan and join the party at the eighth annual Milwaukee Brewfest, featuring hundreds of craft and micro brews, as well as ciders and meads, from around the world. And that’s not even mentioning the musical performances, silent auctions, food sampling and local vendors providing food for purchase.

Milwaukee Comedy Festival
Aug. 1-6
Who’s not in need of a good laugh these days? Luckily, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival is coming back around for its annual visit, with performers ranging in experience and style – but all certain to hit your funny bone.

Wisconsin State Fair
Wisconsin State Fair Park
Aug. 3-13
It’s that time of year again – the Wisconsin State Fair! For ten days, enjoy some classic cream puffs, fried Oreos and other tasty treats by the winners of the Golden Spork Awards. Then wear off all those calories by walking around the grounds, hopping on amusement park rides, watching endless fair competitions and listening to countless concerts – with this year’s main stage entertainment including John Mellencamp, Kip Moore, Pentatonix, Alan Jackson and more.

Center Street Daze
Aug. 5
This Riverwest Neighborhood festival is perfect for the whole family, featuring events such as car races, car shows, pool, dodgeball and pinball tournaments. The opportunities during one of the city’s most eclectic days of the year are endless as you make your way down one of the city’s most diverse neighborhood’s main drags.

Waukesha BluesFest
Naga-Waukee Park in Delafield
Aug. 11-12
Known as an “American Music and Art Festival,” the festival features blues, R&B, soul, gospel and roots music mixed in with country and rock. In the past, the festival has seen the likes of Mavis Staples, James Hunter, John Mayall and many other nationally and internationally renowned musicians. This year you can see headliners Charlie Musselwhite and Ana Popovic.

Bronzeville Cultural and Arts Festival
Aug. 12
The Bronzeville Cultural and Arts Festival – taking place in the middle of Bronzeville Week in the early weeks of August – focuses on the historical and cultural importance of its iconic neighborhood, offering local art, dance performances, venues for social discussion, free health screenings and more.

Irish Fest
Henry Maier Festival Park
Aug. 17-20
Don’t miss the world’s largest Irish music and culture celebration. The four-day family festival showcases more than 100 entertainment acts from all over the world, including over 30 Milwaukee groups, several local Irish dance groups and about 90 vendors selling Irish crafts and retail items will as well.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel A La Carte
Milwaukee County Zoo
Aug. 17-20
Head over to the Milwaukee County Zoo to “Feast with the Beasts,” enjoying great food and live music as you explore the world’s animal kingdom right here in Milwaukee. The kids will love it, but you’re sure to love it too!

India Fest
Humboldt Park
Aug. 19
India Fest might be one of the city’s youngest festivals, throwing its inaugural edition in 2013, but it’s also already one of Milwaukee’s brightest summer festivals as well, featuring authentic food, dance, music and marketplaces.

Mexican Fiesta
Henry Maier Festival Park
Aug. 25-27
Mexican Fiesta is a celebration of Mexico’s rich history of history, art, music and food. Sample some wines, browse through an art gallery, participate in a golf tournament, participate the Fiesta Run and Walk or enjoy taco dinner. Also feel free to take part in various contests such as salsa/bachata, dance, el grito, jalapeno eating and costume. The Fiesta also provides a scholarship for some of Milwaukee’s deserving Hispanic youth.

City of Wauwatosa
Sept. 8-9
For two nights in Wauwatosa, catch live music performances at one of three stages – this year including the likes of Greg Koch, The WhiskeyBelles and more – a cupcake and chili competition, petting zoo, arts and crafts, and local eats and treats. Plus, over the past ten years, Tosa Fest proceeds have donated over $150,000 to local organizations. So be sure to bring some spare change in exchange for a fun weekend!

Indian Summer Festival
Henry Maier Festival Park
Sept. 8-10
Now celebrating its 31st year, Indian Summer Festival is still Milwaukee’s favorite way to close out the summer festival season. Attend a moving prayer ceremony, clap along with a traditional pow wow or visit the circle of art featuring Native American-inspired art which you can admire and purchase. Indian Summer Festival will be both an educational and exciting experience.

Bay View Bash
Between Potter and Clement on Kinnickinnic Avenue
Sept. 16
The Bay View Bash is back with its 13th annual event, delivering a community festival filled with food, art, music, crafts, books and community organizations is also striving to be waste free!

Doors Open Milwaukee
Sept. 23-24
Historic Milwaukee quite literally gets 150 buildings – big and small, new and old, landmarks and hidden gems – open their doors to the city of Milwaukee for this adventurous early fall event. Guided tours are often times offered free of charge with no entry fee required – but if there is somewhere particularly interesting to you, check out the in-depth tours that are ticketed. Doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so get out there and be a tourist in your hometown!

Milwaukee Film Festival
Various theaters in the Milwaukee area
Sept. 28-Oct. 12
Come out and see countless eclectic films from all sorts of genres, delivered from all across the globe – and many right from your backyard too. It’s almost a guarantee that a few of the films will pop up again a few months later at the Oscars – and will probably pop up on your own personal top ten list for the year – so come out and support good cinema!


Community Reporter

Lawrence is a small business owner, Marquette University graduate, and community reporter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.