Is there anything better than summer in Milwaukee? No, no there is not. For four months out of the year, Milwaukee becomes a warm and joyous place stocked with an improbable number of summer festivals, street parties, and general outdoor-drinking mayhem. Looking for a roadmap to this year’s summer fun? Look no further.
May 11 – 14
Milwaukee Psych Fest V: Resistance @ various locations
Since 2013, Moss Folk’s Andrew Shelp has organized an undertaking of all things psychedelic. Milwaukee Psych Fest has evolved into a multi-day, multi-venue celebration of the reverb-y, droned out, and trippy elements of the catch-all genre. The fest returns in 2017 with acts from across the globe, as well as local support from the likes of Calliope, Moss Folk, Dirty Dancing, Moon Rats, Ravi/Lola, Drug Dragons, Mark Waldoch, Def Harmonic, and Milwaukee psych lords Vocokesh. Boone & Crockett, Cactus Club, and Company Brewing will host.
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery Grand Opening Street Festival @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery
The highly anticipated Pabst Milwaukee Brewery opened its doors to the public, breathing life into a 144-year-old building that was once the First German Methodist Church. To celebrate, the brewery is hosting a free family-friendly fest stocked with beer (for those over 21, natch) art, games, and food. Oh, and music from Arrested Development, IshDARR, Hugh Masterson, Masked Intruder, New Age Narcissism, Abby Jeanne, and D’Amato.
Saturdays, May 13 – September 19
Bay View Art In The Park @ Humboldt Park
Every second Saturday throughout the summer, a rotating cast of more than 70 Milwaukee area painters, jewelers, ceramic artists, photographers, and more showcase and sell their work at Bay View’s Humboldt Park. Browse some locally made renderings whilst enjoying food, music, art, and the nearby St. Francis Brewery Beer Garden.
May 18 – 21
Cream City Comedy Festival @ various locations
The second annual Cream City Comedy Festival begins with a Kick-Off Show at Club Garibaldi, headlined by New York comedian Ben Kronberg (Comedy Central Presents, Late Night With Seth Meyers, @midnight). The rest of the lineup hasn’t been set yet, but, once again, all shows are free, and any donations raised are donated to charity. This year’s beneficiary is the ACLU.
WMSE Presents: Art & Music @ Pritzlaff Building
Independent radio station WMSE is a Milwaukee treasure, and any opportunity to support it should be seized posthaste. The inaugural Art & Music fundraiser features the work of more than 200 artists, figure drawing classes from Charles Dwyer, live art from Jeff Redmon and Fernando, and live music from VoodooHoney artists B-Free, Kyndal J, Klassik, Jay Anderson, and SistaStrings.
May 19 – 21
Gloss Weekend @ various locations
Milwaukee is currently home to many DIY record labels, and one of the best is Gloss Records. Founded in February 2015 by Harrison Colby (NO/NO) and Joe Peterson (Rio Turbo, Platinum Boys), Gloss has spent the past few years releasing (mostly) cassettes from oodles of top-shelf Milwaukee groups. The label’s second annual Gloss Weekend features The Fatty Acids, Soul Low, Lorde Fredd33, Foreign Goods, NO/NO, Rio Turbo, Marielle Allschwang, and more performing at the Cactus Club, Jazz Gallery, Riverwest Public House, and High Dive.
June 1 – 8
Downtown Dining Week @ various locations
“How do you Downtown?” asks the Milwaukee Downtown website. Well, for one week out of the year, Milwaukee “Downtowns” by eating downtown. The area’s top restaurants are again offering up discounted meals for the eight-day Downtown Dining Week, typically three-course meals at $12.50 for lunch, and $25 or $35 for dinner. Like Mad magazine used to say: Cheap! (Don’t forget to tip on the non-discounted price, though.)
Thursdays, June 1 – August 31
Jazz In The Park @ Cathedral Square Park
What would summer in Milwaukee be without Jazz In The Park? Love it or avoid it, this free music series has been bringing bodies to Cathedral Square Park since 1991, and has been inspiring those bodies to creatively get around the “no carry-ins” policy since 2009. Extra Crispy Brass Band and Streetlife with Warren Wiegratz open and close the series’ 26th season, respectively, though we’re most looking forward to Foreign Goods and Roxi Copland on August 17.
Bay View Gallery Night/Jazz Fest @ various locations
For the fourth year running, the organizers of Bay View Gallery Night are making their summer installment two fests for the price of one. (That price, incidentally, is free.) Joining forces with Bay View Jazz Fest, BVGN features over 50 neighborhood businesses hosting oodles of artists and musicians. Highlights include the always-excellent Maker Market in the parking lot of the Bay View Colectivo, art from L. Chapelle at Dock18 Cocktail Lab, and an after-party at Frank’s Power Plant.
Beer Barons’ World Of Beer Festival @ Schwabenhof Pavilion
Entering its 14th year, Beer Barons’ World Of Beer Festival (dubbed “The best beer festival you never heard of!”) has so much dad-pop on hand, it has to stretch to Menomonee Falls to fit it all in. Expect more than 350 beers, meads, and ciders from some microbrew heavy hitters like Goose Island, Surly, and Founders, as well as established in-state outfits like Central Waters, 3 Sheeps, and Lakefront.
Milwaukee Highland Games/Scottish Fest @ Hart Park
If you plan on attending only one summer festival featuring a hammer throw and a shitload of sheepdogs, why not make it the annual Milwaukee Highland Games? The celebration of all things Scottish returns to Wauwatosa’s Hart Park for a full day of food, music, demonstrations, feats of strength, and plenty of bagpipes.
Brewtown Rumble @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery
Milwaukee is steeped in motorcycle culture—perhaps you’ve heard of Harley-Davidson?—and recent years have seen a welcome resurgence of homegrown bike shows and races. The third annual Brewtown Rumble features a ride-in vintage motorcycle show complete with music, food trucks, vendors, and more. The free fun kicks off at 11 a.m. outside the newly invigorated Pabst Milwaukee Brewery.
Milwaukee Taco Fest @ Harley-Davidson Museum
The fourth annual Milwaukee Taco Fest finds itself once again setting up shop at the Harley-Davidson Museum in 2016. Presented by SWARMM Events (creators of Milwaukee’s Shamrock Shuffle), the fest aims to “[bring] together local Milwaukee restaurants for a day of taco tasting, tequila, margaritas, cervezas, and tons of great entertainment.” Lucha libre wrestling is also on the docket, though the chihuahua beauty pageant seems to thankfully be a thing of the past.
UPAFF Ride for the Arts @ downtown
Riding your bike all summer long is great, but riding your bike while supporting world-class performing arts organizations is the way to go. The 36th UPAFF Ride for the Arts includes five routes tailored to various skill levels (including routes perfect for the kids) and an after-party at the Summerfest grounds.
Tuesdays, June 6 – August 29
Chill On The Hill @ Humboldt Park
The concept of Bay View’s mid-week Chill On The Hill is simple: laying out on a blanket and imbibing food and beverages brought from home (or purchased from a series of vendors on site) whilst enjoying a diverse bevy of homegrown talent. With a solid 2017 lineup, we’re sure there’s something for most every taste under the Humboldt Park amphitheater at least one Tuesday this summer.
June 9 – 11
PrideFest Milwaukee @ Henry Maier Festival Park
What better way to (officially) kick off Milwaukee’s festival season than PrideFest Milwaukee? Not only is the LGBT celebration the first summer festival of the season to set up shop on the lakefront, it’s one of the best. 10,000 Maniacs, Betty Who, Randy Rainbow, and Steve Grand are slated to perform, and Milwaukee Record will be back with an all-local stage of music and comedy.
Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Run @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Remember that part in Back To The Future III when the Old West barfly says “Run for fun? What the hell kinda fun is that?!” We’re with you, partner, but for those who do enjoy running for fun, the Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Run is for you. The event features a half marathon, quarter marathon, and a 5k. Have…fun?
Locust Street Festival Of Music And Art @ Locust Street
Returning for its 41tst(!) year, the annual Locust Street shindig is one of the city’s best street fests, celebrating all that is good, right, and drum circle-y in Riverwest. The ever-popular 1.8-mile Beer Run kicks things off at 11:30 a.m., followed by eight hours of music, food, drinks, crafts, and stellar people-watching. The full musical lineup has yet to be announced (though expect sets from the likes of Soul Low, Whips, Zed Kenzo, and more), so we can only repeat the fest’s oft-ignored slogan: “No dogs. No carry-ins. No drama.”
June 14; July 12; August 16; September 13
Newaukee Night Market @ Wisconsin Avenue
“Placemaking” projects come and go, but Newaukee’s wildly successful Night Market series proves that good ideas are just that: good ideas. For four Wednesday’s out of the year, W. Wisconsin Avenue is transformed into a party-slash-arts-and-crafts-fair, giving the city’s creative folks a venue to shine, and the oft-deserted stretch of downtown real estate a chance to show its viability.
Wednesdays, June 14 – August 30
River Rhythms @ Pere Marquette Park
When marketing people talk about “activating space,” they’re basically describing what events like River Rhythms do every year: make something happen in an area that doesn’t usually see a lot of action. (In this case, Pere Marquette Park.) The lineup for this year’s free music series includes plenty of reliable standbys like King Solomon (July 19), De La Buena (August 9), and 5 Card Studs (August 30). Music begins at 6:30 p.m.
June 15 – 17
Filth Fest 5
A week after PrideFest, the fifth iteration of Filth Fest brings about a convergence of punk mentalities, grass roots music and art, and a self-described “political subversion” that—to quote organizers—”create an inclusive, intentionally Queer and Trans centered space while raising money for Queer and Trans organizations.”
June 16 – 18
Polish Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Milwaukee has the fourth-largest Polish population in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that the annual Polish Fest bills itself as America’s largest. With that being said, it’s one of the more unassuming cultural fests to take over the Summerfest grounds, which, when you consider the insanity that grips the lakefront three months out of the year, is a good thing. Traditional Polish cuisine and culture are on the menu for the 36th annual fest, along with polka, perogies, more polka, fireworks, somehow more polka, and beer.
June 16 – 18
Lakefront Festival Of Art @ Milwaukee Art Museum
Milwaukee Art Museum’s Lakefront Festival Of Art has always been one of the city’s classier summer festivals—no beer runs or zany street performers here! Still, per Milwaukee summer festival regulations, there will be plenty of beer, wine, and food to go along with some great live music, as well as the work of over 170 regional artists.
Good City Fest 2017 @ Good City Brewing
With all the talk (and hard evidence) of the demise of the East Side, Good City Brewing is doing really, really well. Since opening in the summer of 2016, the upstart craft brewery has filled a hole in the increasingly hole-filled neighborhood, whipped up some tasty brews, and unveiled plans for a big expansion. The inaugural Good City Fest boasts beer and food (natch), and music from Fever Marlene, Klassik, Platinum Boys, Sat. Nite Duets, Twin Brother and The Quilz.
Curd Fest @ Drink Wisconsinbly Pub
Is it possible that Milwaukee has been without a festival celebrating the state’s favorite delicacy, the cheese curd? Yep, it’s possible, so leave it up to the folks at Drink Wisconsinbly Pub to finally come up with one. What’s in store for the inaugural celebration of all things cheese curd? How about a “5Curdk” run/walk through the streets of Walker’s Point, plenty of beer, live polka music, a cheese curd eating competition, and a Best Cheese Curd in Milwaukee competition. Finally.
Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival @ Bayshore Town Center
If you’re looking to mix summer festivals, beer, food, and shopping—all in a shopping mall/town square hybrid—then the Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival is for you. More than 40 Wisconsin breweries are pouring more than 100 samples to be paired with local food and cheeses this year at the Bayshore Town Center. Poking around the Board Game Barrister while nursing an afternoon buzz isn’t part of the fest, though we highly recommend it.
Juneteenth Day @ Martin Luther King Drive, between Burleigh and Center streets
Juneteenth marks the day U.S. Marshals liberated that final American slaves, on June 19, 1865. Coincidentally, Milwaukee holds the distinction of being home to one of the oldest Juneteenth celebrations in the country. For the 46th annual fest, expect a free assortment of parades, car shows, Miss Juneteenth beauty pageants, music, food, vendors, and positive vibes.
Wednesdays, June 21 – July 26
Wonderful Wednesdays @ Lake Park
Family-friendly fun may be the name of the game for this free concert series on Lake Park’s Summer Stage, but the music isn’t all Raffi-esque. Milwaukee’s Twang Dragons (July 12) and Cash Box Kings (July 19) play alongside more kiddie fare like Jim Gill (June 21) and Fox And Branch (July 26). Music begins at 6:30 p.m.
Summer Soulstice Music Festival @ North Avenue
For the past 17 years, the East Side’s annual Summer Soulstice Music Festival has celebrated the first day of summer with music, food, drinks, general North Avenue revelry, and that one guy who always shows up carrying a giant lizard. Sure, four bars in the fest’s footprint may be currently empty—BBC, Rosati’s, Rascal’s, The Winchester—but the neighborhood still knows how to throw a party. WebsterX, Midwest Death Rattle, Marielle Allschwang, De La Buena, Luxi, The Fatty Acids, Lex Allen, Whips, and many more are set to perform.
Dummerfest @ The Metal Grill (Cudahy)
Following a year off, Dummerfest will return for a second year—this time with bigger bands and sights set on addressing the few hiccups the first-year fest faced. The Metal Grill will host more than a dozen bands, including acts with ties to Fat Wreck Chords, Red Scare, and Epitaph Records. Advance tickets to see the likes of Off With Their Heads, Negative Approach, PEARS, The Copyrights, Direct Hit!, and more are on sale now.
88Nine Block Party @ 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Has it really been 10 years since 88Nine Radio Milwaukee took to the local airwaves? Yes, it really has been 10 years (the station launched on February 26, 2007). To celebrate the big anniversary, 88Nine is throwing a free block party outside its Walker’s Point studios. Folks can hang out in the station’s recently renovated Studio 1 and contribute to the 88Nine Block Party playlist, or play a round of “Milwaukee-themed games.” Interactive art installations, local food vendors, and music from Noname, Strand Of Oaks, Field Report, REYNA, D’Amato, and Abby Jeanne round out the fun.
Garlic Fest @ Braise
Summer in Milwaukee is a lot of things, but pleasant-smelling it isn’t, what with all the sweat and garbage cans teeming with plastic Miller Lite cups. Add to that stinky list Braise’s annual Garlic Fest, which returns for its sixth year in 2017. Enjoy garlic-rific food from a host of Walker’s Point restaurants, garlic-themed games for kids, live music, beer, Bloody Marys, art, and complementary Altoids. (Not really on that last one, but c’mon, Braise, you should totally do that.)
June 28 – July 2; July 4 – 9
Summerfest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Perhaps you’ve heard of this thing called Summerfest. Perhaps you’ve heard that Summerfest is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. Perhaps you’re stoked for American Family Insurance headliners like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink, Future, Tom Petty, and Tom Petty. Perhaps you’re more pumped for grounds stage headliners like Spin Doctors, Car Seat Headrest, Hanson, T-Pain, Danny Gokey, and Tegan & Sara. Perhaps you’re just in it for the Pizza-Cones and picnic table dancing. Whatever the reason, The Big Gig is here.
Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party @ Burnhearts
Each summer of Burnhearts’ existence, the Bay View beer bastion has simultaneously celebrated summer and one of the most iconic (formerly) Milwaukee-made beers with the annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party. Past installments have found acts like Sylvan Esso, GGOOLLDD, Klassik, Platinum Boys, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, and more taking the stage at the corner of Logan and Potter avenues. The lineup for the 10th annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party will be announced soon.
Downtown Milwaukee Fireworks @ lakefront
Just in case you’re dying for one more night of fireworks this summer, Milwaukee’s official Fourth of July fireworks are here for you. Camp out now!
Mondays, July 3 – August 28
Musical Mondays @ Lake Park
Along with Wonderful Wednesdays, the Summer Stage in Lake Park plays host to Musical Mondays for the bulk of summer. The beginning-of-the-week series’ 20th season opens with the Lakefront Brass Quintet on July 3, and closes with The Rhythm Aces on August 28. Music begins at 6:30 p.m.
July 13 – 16
Bastille Days @ Cathedral Square Park
Bastille Days has been a Milwaukee cultural mainstay since the early ’80s. The last three decades have seen the weekend-long French festival grow to feature a 5k run, solid local music, wine tasting, and delectable foodstuffs, all under the shadow of a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica. The 36th annual Bastille Days includes music from fest favorites like Robin Pluer, Nineteen Thirteen, Brett Newski, AUTOMatic, Eagle Trace, and more.
July 14 – 16
South Shore Frolics @ South Shore Drive
A spry 68 years young, the Bay View-based celebration is back with more of the same—but sometimes that’s a good thing. Amid the usual onslaught of classic cars, nightly fireworks, a Friday fish fry, and extreme chainsaw carving, South Shore Drive gets endearingly tacky with the musical accompaniment brought by an array of cover bands. Let’s do this, Strip ‘D: An Acoustic Trip Back To The ’80s Sunset Strip.
Garfield Jazz and Blues Festival @ W. Garfield Ave., from N. King Drive to N. 7th St.
Also simply known as “Garfield Days,” the Garfield Jazz and Blues Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2017. The free, family-friendly fest features multiple stages of music, tons of vendors, and plenty of food.
July 15 – 16
Milwaukee Air & Water Show @ lakefront
Board your pets and make some plans for out of town, because this thing is back. Endless screeching Blue Angels? Check. Severely frayed nerves? You bet.
July 21 – 23
Festa Italiana @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Picture what you love most about German Fest and Polish Fest, then add better food and more Dean Martin tribute acts. Toss in some of the best fireworks of the summer and BOOM! Festa Italiana! Oh, and don’t forget about the music: this year features Violin Femmes Starring Bella Electric Strings playing classic rock hits, and fest headliners the Gin Blossoms (!) playing their own classic hits.
Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest @ Cathedral Square Park
Already a place where beer is celebrated and enjoyed all year long, Milwaukee also holds specific celebrations for the region’s preferred beverage. Beyond having a name that lends itself to an iffy substitution for the word “fucking,” Firkin Beer Fest features unlimited samples from more than 150 local and national craft breweries and over 40 cask ales, as well as food and live music. Once again, it should be pretty fucking fun.
Vans Warped Tour @ Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee has been a part of most Warped Tour schedules in the traveling (primarily) pop-punk and ska festival’s 20-year run. This time around, the 8,000-act arsenal coming to the festival grounds features the likes of Save Ferris, Anti-Flag, CKY, and Hawthorne Heights. Oh, and GWAR!
July 28 – 29
Riverwest 24 @ Riverwest
VIVA LA RIVERWEST!
July 28 – 30
German Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
You may cringe at out-of-town generalizations that Milwaukeeans mainline beer and bratwursts while jamming out to polka, but that stereotype isn’t entirely without reference points. Our city’s Germanic contingent is undeniable, as Milwaukee was a major landing point for German immigrants in the late 1800s. German Fest, or “Milwaukee’s original haus party,” gives locals a chance to celebrate German-style with church services, a sheepshead tournament, a dachshund derby, and yes, brats and beer.
Brady Street Festival @ Brady Street
If you missed the Summer Solstice Music Festival and absolutely need to attend a similar East Side fest (with less emphasis on Earth’s tilt), head over to Brady Street Festival. The nine-block parcel of shops, restaurants, bars, juggling emporiums, and luxury apartments once again plays host to various local food/beverage and retail vendors, belly dancers, drag performers, and multiple stages worth of local music.
Milwaukee Brewfest @ McKinley Park
Celebrating its eighth year in 2017, Milwaukee Brewfest offers hopheads an opportunity to enjoy unlimited samples from more than 100 craft breweries over the course of one summer afternoon. Though the beverage selection hasn’t been announced yet, an event paying homage to Milwaukee’s storied brewing history, “The Beers That Made Milwaukee Famous,” sounds like a lot of fun. Have we mentioned that the lakefront beer bash offers unlimited beer? Because it totally does.
Monday, July 31
Milwaukee Record‘s 3rd annual Roast Of Milwaukee @ Club Garibaldi
To help informally kick off the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, we’ve asked local comedians, improvisers, and media personalities to gently (or, in some cases, straight-up viciously) rib the city they love in our Roast Of Milwaukee. The laughs won’t just be at the expense of Milwaukee, patrons can get in for with a non-perishable food donation. Otherwise, it’s just $2. Static Eyes will perform before and after the Roast.
August 1 – 6
Milwaukee Comedy Festival @ various locations
The Milwaukee Comedy Festival has been a late-summer fixture in the city since, to be perfectly honest, before Milwaukee even had a viable comedy scene worth celebrating. More than a decade after what was jokingly referred to as “the first annual” fest (since a second wasn’t expected to occur) and the incalculable growth and development of local stand-up, festival founder, co-producer, and Milwaukee comedy godsend Matt Kemple is preparing yet another rib-tickling Milwaukee Comedy Festival. This year, Michael Ian Black will close out the fest at Turner Hall.
August 3 – 13
Wisconsin State Fair @ Wisconsin State Fair Park
You have to give the Wisconsin State Fair credit for its state fair-ness. One doesn’t hit up the event every August to catch cutting-edge bands, eat organic small plate cuisine, and witness evocative performance art. People go to the fair to eat cream puffs or random shit with an irresponsible amount of bacon on it, catch performers they faintly recall from a bygone era, and compete in livestock, textile, and horticultural contests. This year’s musical accompaniment includes the likes of John Mellencamp, The Beach Boys, and Alan Jackson. Oh, and the un-killable “I Love the ’90s” thing featuring Vanilla Ice, Kid ‘N Play, All-4-One, Tone Loc, and Young MC.
Center Street Daze @ Center Street
In 2014, stung by a few years of lousy late-summer/early-fall weather, the organizers of Center Street Daze decided to move their fest up to early August. The new date paid off, and what was once a bittersweet end-of-the-season blowout became a dog-days-of-summer celebration. The musical lineup for the 20th annual fest has yet to be announced, though, like Locust Street fest, you can count on it being especially Riverwest-y.
Bronzeville Cultural and Arts Festival @ between Martin Luther King Drive and 7th Street
Milwaukee’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood was once the epicenter of black Milwaukee culture. Nightclubs like the Metropole Club and the Moon Glow boasted performances from Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and more. These days, a renewed interest in that rich history has the area enjoying new signs of life. The Bronzeville Cultural and Arts Festival—featuring plenty of vendors, food, and entertainment—is part of the larger Bronzeville Week, August 5 – 12.
Wilson Center Guitar Festival @ Sharon Lynne Wilson Center
Since 2013, Sharon Lynn Wilson Center has hosted and organized a celebration of all things guitar. Wilson Center Guitar Festival features live competitions (with $32,000 in prizes) and headliner concerts with international talent performing. This year feature none other than longtime Tonight Show bandleader, Kevin Eubanks.
August 17 – 20
Milwaukee Irish Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
If the blur of whisky, corned beef, green beer, and “Blow me, I’m Irish” novelty shirts enjoyed every mid-March isn’t enough Irish heritage for you, Irish Fest strives to extend the celebration into August—without leaning on all the broad/borderline offensive generalizations of St. Paddy’s. Instead, attendees milling about the Summerfest grounds can imbibe in popular Irish fare and enjoy a heft of Irish and Celtic music from dozens upon dozens of acts (both North American and European), including Milwaukee favorites like Frogwater, The Gleasons, and Reilly.
August 17 – 20
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel A La Carte @ Milwaukee County Zoo
What do you get when you combine the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, food from around the city, and live music? The annual and ever-popular “Feast with the Beasts,” that’s what. Finally, a chance to chow down on some local food, take in some local music, and watch monkeys quietly groom themselves all at the same time.
IndiaFest @ Humboldt Park
Authentic (and delicious) Indian food, authentic (and colorful) Indian outfits, and authentic (and terrific) Indian music dominate this mid-summer celebration in Bay View’s Humboldt Park. Launched in 2013, IndiaFest is one of the newer fests on the block, but its low-key vibe and inclusive spirit has already made it a sleeper favorite. Will there also be some Bollywood-inspired dancing? You better believe it.
August 25 – 27
Mexican Fiesta @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Mexican Fiesta has called Henry Maier Festival Park home almost as long as Summerfest has. Starting on the south side in 1973, the fiesta moved to the lakefront grounds in 1977. The longstanding event is rooted in pillars of community, education, Mexican heritage, and cultural advancement. That’s cool and all, but we’re all about the delicious food and the jalapeño-eating contest. Watching the jalapeño-eating contest, of course, not competing in it.
August 25 -27
Triple Eye Industries Fest II @ Cactus Club
In just under three years, Triple Eye Industries has filled a “rock”-sized void in the Milwaukee music scene. Its roster of releases is as impressive as it is loud: Volunteer, Northless, Hot Coffin, Soup Moat have all released records on Triple Eye. This year’s three-day, three-year anniversary party features more than a dozen likeminded bands taking over Cactus Club and Club Garibaldi.
September 2 -3
Third Ward Art Festival @ Historic Third Ward
If Gallery Night and Day isn’t your thing, but you just can’t quit the art and fashion buzz of Milwaukee’s Third Ward, the sixth annual Third Ward Art Festival is for you. Art, more art, live music, food and family-friendly activities are included.
September 8 – 10
Indian Summer Festival @ Henry Maier Festival Park
There’s no better way to wind down the summer and prepare for the impending fall than by checking out the final cultural fest on the Summerfest grounds, Indian Summer Festival. Nationally recognized musicians, traditional dancers, hands-on demonstrations, and oodles of arts and crafts highlight this fest, along with festival-mandated fireworks. 2017 marks the fest’s 31st anniversary.
Bay View Bash @ Kinnickinnic Avenue
Bay View Bash is a bittersweet affair. The bitterness is brought by the stinging realization that festival season is almost over and yet another awful winter is on the way. We’re all going to die and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Ugh. The sweetness comes with the fun festival finale that’s taken root in the heart of Kinnickinnic Avenue. By this point in the summer, you’ve likely seen many of the acts taking the three stages. But have you seen them while eating an elephant ear?
September 23 – 24
Doors Open Milwaukee @ various locations
For the past six years, Historic Milwaukee’s insanely popular Doors Open event has given the public behind-the-scenes access to hundreds of Milwaukee-area buildings. Theaters, churches, office buildings, museums, hotels, Milwaukee City Hall, and indoor rock climbing facilities have all been on past Doors Open itineraries. How popular is it? In 2016 alone, 31,600 attendees made 138,681 site visits to Milwaukee locations.
Fromm Petfest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Want to see the Summerfest grounds go to the dogs? Perhaps you want to check out a fest that’s most decidedly the cat’s meow? Our maybe you’re that lizard guy from Summer Soulstice, and you just want an excuse to take that damn thing out one last time. Whatever the case, the obviously pet-friendly Petfest is for you. Doggie obstacle courses, dock diving, groom rooms, and adoption services highlight this furry function, which finds itself once again closing Henry Maier Festival Park for the season. Woof!
September 28 – October 12
Milwaukee Film Festival @ various locations
For nearly a decade, the Milwaukee Film Festival has transformed Milwaukee from a drab, black-and-white wasteland into a dazzling, Technicolor utopia every fall. (You know, like in The Wizard Of Oz and that one part in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” video.) The 15-day extravaganza features hundreds of films lighting up the screens of the Landmark Oriental and Downer theaters, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, and more. Look for crowd-pleasing features, all-too-timely social documentaries, plenty of local love, and fucked-up midnight screamers during the fest’s ninth year.