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 9 – 12
Cream City Comedy Festival @ various locations
The donation-based comedy festival returns for a fourth year with close to 70 local and national comics. Comedians include Carmen Lagala and Langston Kerman, as well as local standouts like A.J. Grill, Dana Ehrmann, Elijah Holbrook, Regan Niemela, and Carter Deems. Kainalu, Immortal Girlfriend, Caley Conway, and Yung Zucchini will provide the music.

Thursdays, May 9 – September 26
Bike Night @ Harley-Davidson Museum
All summer long, riders and non-riders alike are invited to check out Harley-Davidson Museum’s free, Thursday-night Bike Night series. High-octane live music from the likes of Devil Met Contention, The WhiskeyBelles, The Young Revelators, and many more are on the docket.

May 19 – November 30
Milwaukee Makers Market @ various locations
The city’s largest and longest-running makers market returns for a handful of dates throughout the summer and fall. Browse the talents and wares of local crafters and hobbyists, artists, freelance designers, performance artists, and small business owners.

May 25
Frühling Fest @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
The Brewery District will be alive with food, art, music, and beer when Pabst Brewery & Taproom, Milwaukee Brewing Company, and Glass + Grill host the inaugural Frühling Fest. In addition to rare tappings of special beers from the breweries, food from local vendors, live art, a makers market, and a Preservation Park beer garden, the block party will host tons of bands from 12-7 p.m.

May 25 – 26
Family Kite Festival @ Veterans Park
What’s better than flying a kite? Flying hundreds and hundreds of kites. The 32nd installment of the Family Kite Festival launches at noon with, well, a Grand Launch of more than 500 kites. All kites are welcome: professional rigs, mid-level rigs, cheap Paw Patrol kites, whatever!

May 26 – June 2
Riverwest FemFest @ various locations
The fifth annual Riverwest FemFest benefit once again celebrates the power of feminine empowerment with a week’s worth of music, visual art, film and video, comedy and poetry, arts and crafts, and workshops. This year’s fest benefits Diverse & Resilient and the Milwaukee Women’s Center.

May 30 – June 6
Downtown Dining Week @ various locations
For one delicious week, downtown’s top steakhouses, bistros, and ethnic eateries offer multi-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, May 30 – August 29
Jazz In The Park @ Cathedral Square Park
What would summer in Milwaukee be without Jazz In The Park? The 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. Altered Five Blues Band and Eddie Butts Band open and close the series’ 28th season, respectively.

May 31
Bay View Gallery Night @ various locations
BVGN 2019 features more than 50 neighborhood businesses hosting hundreds of artists and musicians. Highlights include a Food Truck Friday event at Morgan Park, a Bay View Rollout bike ride leaving from the Cycle Loft Gallery, and a post-Rollout dance party at The Mothership. Oh, and a ton of art.

May 31
Bay View Jazz Fest @ various locations
Want even more action in Bay View the night of Bay View Gallery Night? Then check out the accompanying Bay View Jazz Fest, which features a slew of acts performing at Tonic Tavern, The Highbury, Revel, Magnet Factory, Twisted Path, At Random, Morgan Park, and Colectivo.

June 1
Milwaukee Highland Games/Scottish Fest @ Hart Park
If you plan on attending only one summer festival featuring oodles 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. Rain or shine!

June 2
Brewtown Rumble @ Fuel Cafe 5th Street
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 fifth annual Brewtown Rumble features a ride-in vintage motorcycle show complete with live music, a pin-up show, food trucks, vendors, and more.

June 2
UPAF Ride for the Arts @ Henry Maier Festival Park
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 38th UPAF Ride for the Arts includes various routes tailored to various skill levels (including routes perfect for kids), and a starting line at the south gate of the Summerfest grounds.

Tuesdays, June 4 – August 27
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 terrific 2019 lineup (Rose Of The West, Trapper Schoepp, Vincent Van Great, Buffalo Gospel, more), there’s bound to be something for most every taste.

June 6 – 8
Triple Eye Industries Fest IV @ Club Garibaldi
In just under four 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, and Soup Moat have all released records on Triple Eye. This year’s fest is a big one, and features three nights of shows at Club Garibaldi preceded by two nights of shows at Chicago’s Burlington Bar.

June 6 – 9
PrideFest Milwaukee @ Henry Maier Festival Park
What better way to (officially) kick off Milwaukee’s big-time festival season than with PrideFest Milwaukee? Not only is the LGBTQ celebration the first real-deal summer festival of the season to set up shop on the lakefront, it’s one of the best. Last year, PrideFest broke attendance records by drawing in 45,400 visitors.

Fridays, June 7 – August 30
Friday Nite Music @ Colectivo Coffee Lakefront Cafe
For a second year, Colectivo Coffee has asked Milwaukee Record to put together a free, weekly concert series called Friday Nite Music. Every—you guessed it!—Friday night, we bring you a different Wisconsin singer-songwriter or band outside Colectivo’s Lakefront Cafe from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Stay tuned for the full lineup!

June 8
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. 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.

June 8 – 9
CrusherFest @ South Milwaukee
South Milwaukee native Reggie “Da Crusher” Lisowski died in 2005, but his wrestling legacy lives on at CrusherFest. Two days of food, polka, and beer accompany the unveiling of a full-sized bronze statue of “Da Crusher” on the corner of 11th and Milwaukee in South Milwaukee.

June 9
Locust Street Festival Of Music And Art @ Locust Street
Returning for its 43rd (!) 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.

June 12; July 10; August 14; September 11
Newaukee Night Market @ West 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, West Wisconsin Avenue is transformed into a party-slash-arts-and-crafts-fair, giving the city’s creative class a venue to shine.

Wednesdays, June 12 – August 21
Washington Park Wednesdays @ Washington Park
This free mid-week music series features a wide range of local acts performing under the gorgeous Washington Park bandshell. If the scenery alone isn’t worth the trip, this year’s downright awesome list of performers—Zed Kenzo, Immortal Girlfriend, Klassik, Ruth B8r Ginsburg, many more—certainly is.

Wednesdays, June 12 – August 28
River Rhythms @ Pere Marquette Park
Some weekly summer music series like to go big with fresh new acts and big surprises. Others are just happy to book an ’80s cover band and/or the 5 Card Studs and call it a day. The ever-reliable River Rhythms is an example of the latter. And that’s great! Eighties cover band Bad Medicine opens June 12, and the 5 Card Studs close August 28.

June 14 – 16
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. Traditional Polish cuisine and culture are on the menu for the 38th annual fest, along with polka, perogies, more polka, fireworks, somehow more polka, and beer.

June 15
Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival @ Bayshore Town Center
If you’re looking to mix summer festivals, beer, food, and shopping at soon-to-be-redeveloped outdoor malls, then the Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival is for you. Dozens upon dozens of Wisconsin breweries are pouring dozens upon dozens of samples to be paired with local food and cheeses again this year, all at the once-mighty Bayshore Town Center.

June 19
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 48th annual fest, expect a free assortment of parades, car shows, Miss Juneteenth beauty pageants, music, food, vendors, and more.

Wednesdays, June 19 – August 14 (excluding July 3)
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. Look for a nice mix of blues, jazz, and soft rock every Wednesday night beginning at 6:30 p.m. Oh, and the Traveling Beer Garden will be in Lake Park July 10-28!

June 21 – 22
Hart Fest @ Hart Park
Wauwatosa comes alive with all the things that make Wisconsin summer festivals so summer festival-y: food, drinks, skateboard demos, martial arts demos, half marathons, stuff for the kids, and music from the likes of Hot & Dirty Brass Band, The Cheap Shots, and The Love Monkeys.

June 21 – 23
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 more than 170 regional artists.

June 21 – 23
Greek Fest @ Wisconsin State Fair Park
Organized by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Greek Fest fills Wisconsin State Fair Park with gyros, Greek music and dancers, gyros, games and rides, gyros, a Greek marketplace, a WHOLE GREEK CHICKEN DRIVE THRU, and much more. All proceeds benefit the church.

June 22
Summer Soulstice Music Festival @ North Avenue
For nearly two decades, the East Side’s annual Summer Soulstice Music Festival has celebrated the first day of summer with music, food, drinks, and general North Avenue revelry. Yes, the neighborhood is changing—two words: poke restaurants—but it still knows how to throw a party. Lex Allen, B~Free, Chicken Wire Empire, and Surgeons In Heat highlight this year’s lineup.

June 22
Dummerfest @ X-Ray Arcade
After a year off, Dummerfest returns to Cudahy and makes its debut at the newly minted X-Ray Arcade. The all-ages event features more than a dozen bands on both indoor and outdoor stages—including one booked by Milwaukee Record—and a performance by legendary Chicago punk band The Lawrence Arms. It will be the group’s first metro Milwaukee show in more than 15 years.

June 22
Milwaukee Taco Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
The sixth annual Milwaukee Taco Fest finds itself moving from Wisconsin State Fair to the Summerfest grounds. The fest once again aims to “[bring] together local Milwaukee restaurants for a day of taco tasting, tequila, margaritas, cervezas, and tons of great entertainment.” Lucha libre wrestling from Mondo Lucha is also on the docket.

June 22
World Of Beer Festival @ Bavarien Bierhaus
Beer Barons’ World Of Beer Festival moves to the Bavarian Bierhaus for its 16th installment, but its mission statement (“By beer nuts, for beer nuts”) remains the same. Expect more than 350 beers, meads, and ciders from local outfits like Third Space, Central Waters, Revolution Brewing Company, and many more.

June 22
The Bloody Mary Festival @ Fiserv Forum Plaza
The country-wide Bloody Mary Festival makes its Milwaukee debut at Fiserv Forum this year, promising “tastes of all participating bloody marys, local food and beverage samples, temp tattoos, and more!” Find out who/what will be crowned the Best Bloody Mary in Milwaukee.

June 23
Garlic Fest @ Braise
Braise’s delightfully stinky Garlic Fest returns for its eighth year in 2019. 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 26 – 30; July 2 – 7
Summerfest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Perhaps you’ve heard of this thing called Summerfest. Perhaps you’ve heard that this year’s amphitheater headliners include Jennifer Lopez, Billie Eilish, Bon Iver, and some country stuff. Perhaps you’ve heard that this year’s grounds stage headliners include Lizzo, The National, Courtney Barnett, Guided By Voices, The Roots, First Aid Kit, Andrew W.K., The Lonely Island, and some more country stuff. Buckle up, because The Big Gig is back.

June 29
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. Past installments of this fest 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.

Weekends, July 6 – September 2
Bristol Renaissance Faire @ Bristol, off I-94 at the IL/WI Border
For many folks in the Milwaukee area, summer doesn’t begin with Summerfest or fireworks. It begins when they strap on a rapier, peel on some leather gloves, and hoist a giant turkey leg down at the Bristol Renaissance Faire over the weekends of July and August. Huzzah!

Mondays, July 8 – August 26
Musical Mondays @ Lake Park
Along with Wonderful Wednesdays, the Summer Stage in Lake Park hosts Musical Mondays for the bulk of the summer season. Music for this beginning-of-the-week series’ 22nd installment begins at 6:30 p.m. Robbie Fulks kicks things off July 8, with groups like De La Buena, The R&B Cadets, and The Tritonics filling out the lineup.

Tuesdays, July 9 – August 20
Skyline Music Series @ Kadish Park
Skyline Music Series finds musical acts performing under the bandshell at the Selig-Joseph-Folz Amphitheater in Kadish Park each Tuesday between early July and late August. The scheduled performers offer an eclectic mix of folk, soul, reggae, R&B, blues, and more. Each week’s free and family-friendly show runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and those who attend are encouraged to bring a picnic.

July 11 – 14
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.

July 19 – 21
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, including headliners KC And The Sunshine Band.

July 21
Armenian Fest @ St. John The Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church
Sick of summertime brats and hamburgers? Neither are we, but at least Armenian Fest offers up plenty of alternatives. With roots as a family picnic, this free fest features chicken and beef kebob, cheese and spinach burek, lahmajoun, humus, tabouleh, choreg, veggie and meat sarma, and plenty of other traditional dishes.

July 26 – 27
Riverwest 24 @ Riverwest
The Riverwest 24 can seem like an overwhelming experience. It is a 24-hour bike race, after all. But the so-called “People’s Holiday” is much more than just a bicycling competition. It offers an opportunity to see the neighborhood like never before, and it essentially forces participants to work together to help out the community. It’s also the best party of the summer.

July 26 – 28
German Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Milwaukee’s German roots are undeniable, as the area 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.

July 27
Brady Street Festival @ Brady Street
Brady Street may no longer be Milwaukee’s answer to Haight-Ashbury, but it’s still an eclectic slice of the city. The nine-block parcel of shops, restaurants, bars, juggling emporiums, and encroaching 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.

July 27
Milwaukee Brewfest @ McKinley Park
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, Milwaukee Brewfest offers hopheads an opportunity to enjoy unlimited samples from more than 100 craft breweries over the course of one summer afternoon. This year’s beverage selection hasn’t been announced yet, but have we mentioned that the lakefront beer bash offers unlimited beer? Because it does.

July 27 – 28
Milwaukee Air & Water Show @ lakefront
Board your pets and make some plans out of town (Mauthe Lake is nice this time of year), because the Milwaukee Air & Water Show is back. Again. Countless screeching death machines buzzing your apartment for days on end? Check. Severely frayed nerves? You bet. Thank you, United States Air Force’s Thunderbirds. Thank you.

July 29
Milwaukee Record’s 5th Annual Roast Of Milwaukee @ Club Garibaldi
Okay, it’s not a festival, but our annual Roast Of Milwaukee does informally kick off the Milwaukee Comedy Festival. Once again, we’ve asked local comedians, improvisers, and media personalities to gently (or, in some cases, straight-up viciously) rib the city they love.

July 31 – August 4
Milwaukee Comedy Festival @ various locations
The Milwaukee Comedy Festival has been a summer fixture since before Milwaukee even had a 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), the 2019 installment will boast headliners like Todd Barry, Beth Stelling, and Ari Shaffir.

August 1 – 11
Wisconsin State Fair @ Wisconsin State Fair Park
One doesn’t hit up the Wisconsin State Fair to eat organic small plate cuisine and witness evocative performance art. People go to the fair to eat cream puffs, watch pig races, compete in livestock competitions, and catch performances from acts like REO Speedwagon, Melissa Etheridge, and the lead singer of Herman’s Hermits. It’s glorious.

August 3
Black Arts Fest MKE @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Last year’s inaugural Black Arts Fest MKE was a welcome addition to the city’s summer festival season—a summer festival season still smarting from the absence of African World Festival. MC Lyte, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Bobby Rush headlined in 2018; this year’s headliners include R&B trio Sisters With Voices (SWV).

August 3 – 4
Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance @ Veterans Park
A classic car show entering its 15th year, this Veterans Park shindig is perfect for visiting dads, visiting fathers-in-law, and anyone else really, really into cars. The 2019 edition features a return of past Best of Show winners, as well as a focus on the Roaring ’20s.

August 10
Center Street Daze @ Center Street
Riverwest’s long-running Center Street Daze has moved around the calendar a lot in its 22 years (it used to more or less close out the summer), but it’s a great party any time of the year. Expect dozens of bands, nearly 100 vendors, and the return of the ever-popular cart race.

August 15 – 17
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 $40,000 in prizes) and headliner concerts with performances from international talent. New this year, the competitions have expanded to five genres: blues, classical, fingerstyle, jazz, and rock.

August 15 – 18
Milwaukee Irish Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
If the blur of whisky, corned beef, and green beer every mid-March isn’t enough Irish heritage for you, Irish Fest strives to extend the celebration into August. 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 Gaelic Storm and the trusty Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

August 15 – 18
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.

August 16 -18
American Lobster Fest @ Fiserv Forum Plaza
The largest lobster and seafood festival in the Midwest finally makes its way to Milwaukee. Finally! Buckle up for food, drinks, live music, family-friendly activities, and, of course, “live lobster flown in fresh from the cold waters of the East Coast.”

August 17
Fat Fest @ Crafty Cow
Bay View’s Crafty Cow once again takes over a block of Lenox Street just off Kinnickinnic Avenue for the delightful Fat Fest. Formerly a June event, the fest is now a mid-August affair. Expect plenty of beer, plenty of Crafty Cow food, plenty of other food, and plenty of top-shelf Milwaukee music.

August 17
IndiaFest @ Humboldt Park
Authentic (and delicious) Indian food, authentic (and colorful) Indian outfits, and authentic (and terrific) Indian music dominate this summer celebration in Bay View’s Humboldt Park. Launched in 2013, IndiaFest is one of the newer cultural fests on the block, but its low-key vibe and inclusive spirit has already made it a favorite. Will there be some Bollywood-inspired dancing? You better believe it.

August 23 – 25
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.

August 23 – 25
Milwaukee Fringe Festival @ various locations
For the fourth year running, the Milwaukee Fringe Festival spotlights theatre, dance, and music performances that fall a wee bit off the beaten path. Check out shows at the Underground Collaborative on August 23 and August 25, and at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on August 24. Similar to past years, there are plenty of free outdoor performances, too.

Weekends, August 24 – September 7
MKE Punk Fest @ various locations
The Local (a.k.a. Club Anything) and Quarters are once again the main stomping grounds of this year’s MKE Punk Fest. The fest features six nights of shows (including a pre-party at Bremen Cafe) spread out over two weeks, and is hosted by Jess The Ska Kid. Want details on the September 7 after-party? Ask a punk!

August 29 – September 2
Milwaukee Rally @ various locations
Remember the big Harley-Davidson debacle of 2003, in which the secret headliner for the company’s 100th Anniversary Celebration was revealed to be…Elton John? Good times. Anyway, lots of bikes, bands, parties, tattoo contests, and more are lined up for this fest, which takes place at various Harley-Davidson locations.

August 30 – September 1
Fresh Coast Jazz Festival @ Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
A new tradition begins in 2019 with the inaugural Fresh Coast Jazz Festival. Jazz superstars and newcomers like Ronnie Laws, Lindsey Webster, and Lee Ritenour will play the event, along with a bevy of local artists.

August 31 – September 1
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—a.k.a. “Milwaukee’s Arts and Fashion District”—the eighth annual Third Ward Art Festival is for you. Art, more art, live music, food, and family-friendly activities are included.

Labor Day weekend (date TBA)
Big Gig BBQ @ Henry Maier Festival Park
It’s Labor Day weekend and you’re hungry. Really hungry. Then stop by the Summerfest grounds for the return of the Big Gig BBQ (now organized by Swarmm Events). The event is a barbecue-tastic cookout that, in past years, has featured a ton of food, live music, the Big Gig Pig Award for best professional barbecue, and an open-to-the-public rib competition.

September 8
Harbor Fest @ UWM School of Freshwater Sciences
Music, art, and ethnicities all get their own festivals in Milwaukee, so why not water? The city is the self-proclaimed Freshwater Capital of the World, after all. This free, pro-water fest features the Milwaukee Boat Parade, pontoon tours, bike rides, nature walks, a peek at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences building, and beer from Sprecher and Enlightened. Oh, and a DNR demonstration of how to fillet a fish!

September 21
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. But whatever: Bay View Bash is amazing, and Milwaukee Record is booking another stage this year. We can’t wait!

September 21
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? 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 – 29
Doors Open Milwaukee @ various locations
For nearly a decade, Historic Milwaukee’s incredibly 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.

October 17 – 31
Milwaukee Film Festival @ various locations
Okay, the annual Milwaukee Film Festival doesn’t land in summer at all, but who cares? It’s still great. The 15-day extravaganza features hundreds of films lighting up the screens of the Oriental Theatre, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, Times Cinema, and Avalon Theater. Look for crowd-pleasing features, all-too-timely social documentaries, plenty of local love, and messed-up midnight screamers.