Marcus Performing Arts Center is known for hosting touring Broadway productions, concerts, ballet shows, community programs, and other sources of entertainment within its walls all year long. Fortunately, the versatile venue also utilizes its exterior space to bring free, family-friendly entertainment downtown each and every summer. Well, almost every summer.

After taking last summer off from live, in-person events at its gorgeous Peck Pavilion, Marcus Center is bringing concerts and family-friendly film screenings back in 2021. Moreover, they’re doing so by reviving its “Rainbow Summer” series, which Marcus Center says was the city’s “original outdoor entertainment series.”

The series started as the Alewives Jazz Festival in 1975 before being renamed Rainbow Summer in 1981. The series continued to offer live programming in Downtown Milwaukee each summer until 2003. This year’s return will bring a total of 11 events, which range from performances by an eclectic cast of musicians to free screenings of family-friendly films. Check out Marcus Center’s “Rainbow Summer” lineup:

July 15Cinderella (1997)
July 22 — Marc Broussard
July 25 — Kids From Wisconsin
July 29Center Stage (2000)
August 5 — Chicken Wire Empire
August 12Footloose (1984)
August 19 — Billy McGuigan & The Downliners
August 26 — KLASS & The Student Body present “Back 2 Skool”
September 2 — De La Buena
September 9 — DLC Dance
September 16 — Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience

We repeat: the film screenings are free to the public. Tickets to concerts go on sale starting Thursday, June 17. Go here for more information on Marcus Center’s “Rainbow Summer” series.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.