8 Milwaukee Festivals to Visit This Summer
Known nationwide as the "City of Festivals," Milwaukee knows how to throw a party…or 12. After the last few years of pandemic-related cancellations, Milwaukee's live summer festival schedule is expected to be one of the most joyous on record. Revel in the sunshine at one or all of these festival favorites with your Milwaukee fam this season.
Related: Top Things to Do in Milwaukee
With a name like Summerfest, this legendary annual musical festival needs almost no explanation, but we'll go ahead and give you one anyway: 12 stages, hundreds of acts, three weekends. Entertainment spans just about every genre and niche you can think of. Indie rock? Yes. Sparkly pop? Yes. Twangy bluegrass and neo-soul R&B? Yes, and yes. If you're into live music, grab a ticket (or a weekend pass) and join the likes of Justin Bieber, the Backstreet Boys and Lil Wayne for this famed event at Henry Maier Festival Park.
When to go: June 23–25, June 30–July 2 and July 7–9
Milwaukee Night Market
Get a taste of downtown's lively night culture at the reopening of the Milwaukee Night Market. This free, family-friendly event is a vivacious mishmash of street vendors, artistic offerings, home goods, vintage wares and more. Head to West Wisconsin Avenue (between 2nd Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue) from 5 to 10 p.m. to enjoy the city in a new light.
When to go: June 15, July 13, August 17 and September 21
Celebrate the shortest night of the year at the 20th annual Summer Soulstice, a cheeky, cheery ode to the East Side's big heart and top local talent. This free musical, culinary and artistic showcase runs from noon to midnight. Since its last iteration in 2019, the festival has been pared down and reimagined, according to its organizers, but don't worry—all the Brew City quirks and characters should be in attendance, including that one dude who always brings his giant lizard.
When to go: June 18
You don't have to have Polish roots to appreciate the rich cultural convocation of all things Slavic at America's largest Polish festival (although you can consult with on-site genealogy experts to find out). Brush up on your high school Polish skills and polka your way down to Sukiennice Marketplace on the lakefront for cooking demonstrations, Polish sheepdogs, a Chopin youth piano competition, folk arts and crafts, and tastes of Tyskie beer and Sobieski vodka.
When to go: June 10–12
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival
Head to Historic Downtown Cedarburg, just 20 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, the last weekend in June to indulge in Wisconsin's prime summer bounty, strawberries! At Cedarburg Strawberry Festival, you'll discover just how many delicious ways you can consume strawberries (strawberry blush wine, strawberry shandy beer, strawberry shortcake and strawberry brats, to name a few). Between tastings, visitors can peruse art stalls, listen to live music, admire historic main street and watch the rubber duck race. Save room for the all-you-can-eat Strawberry Pancake Breakfast on Sunday morning.
When to go: June 25–26
Milwaukee's Bastille Days was named one of the best celebrations of its kind in the world by National Geographic, and for good reason: this free festival is a Francophile's daydream, featuring everything from roaming minstrels to cancan dances to a "Storm the Bastille" 5K. While Cathedral Square Park won't host the nearly 50-foot Eiffel Tower replica this year, the event (which usually attracts more than 250,000 visitors) is still expected to be one for the ages.
When to go: July 14–17
Jazz In The Park
Jazz In The Park carries that prototypical good Milwaukee summer feeling of being sprawled out on soft green grass with colorful blankets and good friends, a sparkly beverage in hand and the sounds of a saxophone crooning over the laughter of a full Cathedral Square Park. This weekly summer gathering is a staple in the Brew City's festival culture, whether you're a guest or weekly attendee. The show runs from 6 to 9 p.m., but don't miss happy hour at 5 p.m., when local vendors give early birds a few bucks off!
When to go: Thursdays, July 21–September 29
Wisconsin State Fair
Attend the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, and you'll quickly see the Dairy State live up to its name. The fair boasts just about every Midwest delicacy and delight, and you can lean further into Wisconsinite culture by ordering cream puffs and cheese curds, mingling with friendly locals and cheering for the pig races. Amusement park rides, celebrity performances (Toby Keith, anyone?), ag showcases and the annual Sporkies awards are all hallmarks of this annual Wisconsin event.
When to go: Aug. 4–14