Milwaukee is known as the “City Of Festivals” for good reason. The city and its surrounding suburbs routinely play host to dozens upon dozens of ambitious undertakings that range from festivals, block parties, conventions, ethnic celebrations, recurring music series, and various other events that help make Milwaukee a special place to live, work, and visit.

While the vast majority of happenings that land under the broad “festival” umbrella occur in the summer months, the spring season is far from lacking when it comes to fests and fest-like events. With winter officially ending this week, we’ve already assembled a massive list of standout spring shows. Now we’re following that up with a guide to Milwaukee-area festivals taking place between mid-March and the end of May. Think spring and check out these events!

(Editor’s note: Though we know June 20 is the last day of spring, we’re going to feature all festivals that begin in June in our upcoming Summer Festival Guide, so hold those comments!)

March 17-24

MSO Bach Fest @ Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Celebrate the birthday and the timeless works of Johann Sebastian Bach with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural “MSO Bach Fest” which is going on now! Beyond large-scale MSO performances at Bradley Symphony Center on March 18 and March 22-24, Bach’s music can be heard at a wide variety of performance sites throughout Milwaukee (most of which are free and open to the public). Check out the full list of MSO Bach Fest events HERE.

March 30

Sour Fest @ MobCraft Beer
MobCraft’s sixth annual Sour Fest will feature Wisconsin Wild & Sour sessions with dozens of samples from 1840 Brewing Company, Brewer’s Kitchen, MobCraft Beer, Oliphant Brewing, Ope! Brewing Co., Pilot Project Brewing, Radix Fermentation, Rookery Brewing Company, Sahale Ale Works, Supermoon Beer Company, Sway Brewing + Blending, and Young Blood Beer Company.

April 5-7

Midwest Gaming Classic @ Baird Center
In a city absolutely stuffed with events, the annual Midwest Gaming Classic is one of our favorites. Want to relive the 2023 installment? Read our one-day minute-by-minute report HERE. Want to experience all the video games, pinball, tabletop games, panels, music, and more for yourself? Then drop by the downtown Baird Center April 5-7. Yep, MGC is BACK.

April 7

Pours for Parks @ Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery
On Sunday, April 7, a new beer festival will highlight local breweries while also raising funds for parks in the process. The inaugural “Pours for Parks” will bring more than 20 local breweries to Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery (917 W. Juneau Ave.) for a day of beer-related fun that also happens to support Milwaukee County Parks. During their session, attendees can expect to unlimited samples, and each ticket includes a custom taster glass featuring the Pour for Parks 2024 logo. This year’s funds will be allocated to the restoration of both educational placards and the shoreline of the Humboldt Park pond.

WMSE’s Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser @ MSOE Kern Center
Rockabilly Chili will return to the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Kern Center (1245 N. Broadway) on Sunday, April 7. Doors open at 11 a.m. The 22nd installment of the wildly popular and delicious event will feature more than 40 restaurants competing in a variety of chili categories: best meat, best veggie, best heat, most unique, and “hottest display.” And yes, there will be a new hot sauce to go along with the event: Formula917, developed exclusively for WMSE by A&M Provisions.

Donut & Coffee Fest @ Turner Hall
Before Rockabilly Chili and the Pours for Parks beer festival, start your indulgent Sunday with OnMilwaukee‘s Donut & Coffee Fest. Entry includes donut and coffee samples, a hard seltzer, a Summerfest admission ticket, a bakery book, a plate with a cup holder, a branded beer glass, and other goodies.

April 11-25

Milwaukee Film Festival @ various locations
The 16th installment of Milwaukee Film Festival is set for April 11-25. The full lineup of the annual cinematic blowout won’t be revealed until late March (early ticket packages are available now), but you can expect a total of nearly 300 feature films and shorts being shown on screens throughout Milwaukee. And, as always, Milwaukee Record will be the proud sponsor of the Cinema Hooligante program, which rules.

April 13-14

Brickworld Milwaukee @ State Fair Park
LEGO enthusiasts unite! Block off some time April 13-14, when Brickworld Milwaukee brings LEGO fans, builders, and vendors together at State Fair Park. The Exposition Center will be filled with more than 50,000 square feet of LEGO creations the whole family will love. Whether you’re an avid builder, a fan, or you’re just looking for a fun place to bring the kids on a weekend in early spring, Brickworld Milwaukee is the place to be.

April 19

The 11th Annual Milwaukee Blues Festival @ Riverside Theater
They might be playing the blues, but you’ll be happy to see the likes of Tucka, King George, Pokey Bear, Lenny Williams, Theodis Ealey, and J’Wonn when Milwaukee Blues Festival returns to Riverside Theater for an 11th installment on Friday, April 19.

April 20

High Score: A 4/20 Market @ X-Ray Arcade
Milwaukee Record is proud to present the inaugural High Score. This “4/20 Market” will feature a wide variety of local and regional vendors who offer botanical, plant-infused products with “added ingredients” that are 100 percent legal to purchase and consume in Wisconsin. The 21+ event is a great opportunity to both sample and stock up on (we repeat: totally legal) items while also learning more about a rapidly growing industry from those in the know. Tickets—which include samples of various products—cost $12 in advance and $18 at the door. All advance ticket purchases also include a free gift courtesy of Milwaukee Record and Kind Oasis.

Milwaukee Zine Fest @ Milwaukee Central Library
The Bindery’s annual Milwaukee Zine Fest will take to the Milwaukee Central Library from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. As always, the eventwhich has been around more than 15 years, making it one of the Midwest’s longest-running zine festswill celebrate and promote “zine culture, DIY creative literary work, small press publishing, and other independent, self-created wonders in magazine-like format” with more than 100 vendors showcasing and selling their work on site. Milwaukee Zine Fest is free and suitable for folks of all ages to attend.

Joint Beer Fest @ Eagle Park Brewing (Muskego)
Eagle Park’s annual Joint Beer Fest will be a full-fledged beef festival. The aptly-named April 20 event that not-so-subtly references 4/20 activities and lifestyle will bring munchies, holiday-appropriate music, and collaboration beers with 12 other breweries to Eagle Park’s sprawling Muskego taproom. There are three ticket levels for this 21+ indoor event.

April 26-28

Milwaukee Tattoo Festival @ Baird Center
Not to be confused with Milwaukee Tattoo Arts Festival (which is happening at Baird Center October 4-6 this fall), Milwaukee Tattoo Festival is a celebration of all things needles and ink that will offer “a selection of over 200 of the best artists from all over the world right here in Milwaukee for three days of tattooing, art making, merch selling, and much more” April 26-28.

May 10-11

Milwaukee Psych Fest @ The Cooperage
Milwaukee Psych Fest IX will feature a total of 19 acts from all over the world performing at The Cooperage over a two-day span. Beyond the live music on stage May 10-11, there will also be “live rhythm painted visuals” provided by Mad Alchemy and Luminacidy. Gear up for the festival’s return and check out the full list of Milwaukee Psych Fest IX performers HERE.

May 16-19

Milwaukee Metal Fest @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Wisconsin metalheads rejoice! After the successful 2023 reincarnation of Milwaukee Metal Fest, the festival—which had previously been dormant since 2007 before it was revived by Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta last year—announced it would be returning to The Rave/Eagles Club from May 16 through May 19. Things will kick off with a Thursday night pre-party (which is free for those who purchase three-day passes for the rest of the fest) headed up by Jasta And Friends. Subsequent dates will feature Blind Gaurdian, Mr. Bungle, Kamelot, Hatebreed, Municipal Waste, Slaughter To Prevail, Avatar, and dozens of other accomplished metal and metal-adjacent acts. You can check out the full daily lineups HERE.

Saturday, May 25

A Horrifying Book Fair @ X-Ray Arcade
We’ll just let the official event listing explain this one to you:

“Spooky Frog presents A Horrifying Book Fair! Meet and mingle with over a dozen independent horror authors as they bring their horror stories to life. Local vendors such as Omen Alternative Music and Media, Visible Artifacts, Goth and Green, and Electric Garbage will showcase their unique wares, and the Goth Barge DJs will be setting the perfect mood! Experience the fusion of horror and creativity at X-Ray Arcade on Saturday, May 25th, from 11am-4pm. Admission is free—curiosity required.”

Friday, May 31

Bay View Gallery Night @ various locations
Since 2011, Bay View Gallery Night has organized “Milwaukee’s largest annual celebration of art, local business, music, and community.” The massive neighborhood-wide event brings together talented area artists and musicians, along with an eclectic mix of Milwaukee bars, restaurants and retailers for a large-scale happening that has quickly become a part of the Bay View tradition. It’s free. It’s fun. It’s locally-focused. What more can you ask for? We’re pleased to report Bay View Gallery Night will return for an 13th installment on Friday, May 31.

May 31 – June 2

Festa Italiana @ Henry Maier Festival Park
For the first time since 2019, Milwaukee festival staple Festa Italiana will return to the Summerfest grounds in 2024. And there’s more: the summertime staple will move to late spring, doing its thing the weekend after Memorial Day, May 31 – June 2. Festa was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 and 2023 installments were held at the Italian Community Center in late summer.