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Summer Festival Guide

May. 30, 2012
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Jazz in the Park

June 7-Sept. 6

Thursdays, 5-9 p.m.

Cathedral Square Park


This weekly summer mainstay draws some of the Midwest's finest jazz musicians. Pack your own picnic basket or sample food and drinks from local vendors and enjoy cool jazz in the summer heat.

Port Pirate Festival

June 1-3

Port Washington Lakefront


About 20 minutes north of Milwaukee, the Port Pirate Festival is a family-friendly event with simulated pirate invasions, a Thieves Marketplace, a Gruel Galley, a Buccaneer Bash, fireworks, children's activities, demonstrations, educational exhibits, a parade and live music.

Historic Mitchell Street Sun Fair

June 1-3

Mitchell Street (Between Eighth and 11th Streets)


One of Milwaukee's most historic neighborhoods celebrates with a free street festival that includes live music, games, raffles, family-friendly activities and a staggering selection of great ethnic food from area restaurants and food vendors.

Kohler Festival of Beer

June 1-3

Village of Kohler


This three-day event is dedicated to craft beer, with local, national and international brewers offering their samples. Live music and delectable food pairings make this a "must" for the beer enthusiast.

World of Beer Festival

June 2

Schwabenhof Pavilion, Menomonee Falls


Another event for the beer enthusiast, this festival offers tastes of more than 200 beers from the Milwaukee area and around the world. After you buy a brat to go with the brew of your choice, listen to presentations on beer, brewing and tasting by professionals in the industry.

Milwaukee Highland Games / Scottish Fest

June 2

Hart Park


Scottish Fest features a host of authentic entertainment from the Highlands, including bagpipe, drum and dance performances. Grab a meat pie, don your favorite kilt and join the festivities in the Parade of Tartans.

Miller Lite UPAF Ride for the Arts

June 3

Downtown Milwaukee


Strap on your bike helmet and support the United Performing Arts Fund. Choose from a 5-, 12-, 25-, 50- or 75-mile ride that begins and ends at the Summerfest grounds. For the first time, the route will traverse the Hoan Bridge. Participants can enjoy food and entertainment at the finish line.


June 8-10

Henry Maier Festival Park


Celebrating the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and community, this three-day event features local LGBT-friendly merchants and food vendors, engaging performers and a pageant.

Summer Stage

June through August

Lapham Peak State Park

W329 N846 County Highway C, Delafield


This series features music, theater, comedy and dance performances on an outdoor stage in a natural setting in beautiful Lapham Peak State Park.

Locust Street Festival

June 10

Locust Street (Between Holton Street and Humboldt Boulevard)


One of the city's longest-running street parties kicks off with a Beer Run past stages of live music, crafts, food and, of course, beer in Milwaukee's hip Riverwest neighborhood (from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.).

Lakefront Festival of Arts

June 15-17

Milwaukee Art Museum


Browse tents full of work from talented national artists while sampling food from local vendors. Stick around for live music before circling back to purchase that perfect piece to complete your living space.

Polish Fest

June 15-17

Henry Maier Festival Park


Enjoy three days of authentic food, folk art and traditional dance and music performances. Dine on top-notch Polish sausages and other cultural fare, then kick up your heels to a rousing rendition of "Roll Out the Barrel."

Juneteenth Day

June 19

Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (Between Burleigh & Center Streets)


Join the festivities commemorating the date in 1865 on which the freedom granted in the Emancipation Proclamation finally took hold in Texas. The celebration will feature local food and live entertainment.

Shorewood Criterium Cycling Classic

June 21

Oakland Avenue and Marion Street


A part of the Tour of America's Dairyland, the Shorewood Criterium Cycling Classic is the first race of the largest competitive cycling event in America. Taking place in the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood, this race for Pro Men and Pro Women is sure to get your adrenaline going.

Greek Fest

June 22-24

Wisconsin State Fair Park


Patrons of this Greek extravaganza can expect cultural performances and top traditional fare, including baklava and all the spicy lamb chops you can eat.

Summer Soulstice Music Festival

June 23

North Avenue (Between Prospect and Oakland Avenues, Noon-Midnight)


Two stages of bands plus magicians, jugglers, kids' activities and
Bernie Brewer and the Racing Sausages make for a fine way to greet the official start of summer.

Cedarburg Strawberry Festival

June 23-24

Downtown Historic Cedarburg


Listen to live bands while you sample all things strawberry, including schaum tortes and wine, and then stroll down Washington Avenue for the art fair. Join in the "Berry Big" 5K run/walk on Saturday morning, or enjoy a tractor-pulled hayride. There will be plenty of kids' activities and a Sunday morning strawberry pancake breakfast.

Waukesha Carl Zach Cycling Classic

June 24

379 W. Main St., Waukesha


On day four of the Tour of America's Dairyland, cyclists come together for the Waukesha Carl Zach Cycling Classic in downtown Waukesha. The classic features races for professionals, amateurs and juniors (ages 10 to 18). Head over Sunday afternoon to cheer them on.


June 27-July 1 & July 3-8

Henry Maier Festival Park


The "world's largest music festival" celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2012. In addition to local and national music acts, you can enjoy a wide variety of top Milwaukee food vendors.

Downer Classic

June 30

2608 N. Downer Ave.


Join the neighborhood on Milwaukee's East Side for the ISCorp Downer Classic, the 10th day of the Tour of America's Dairyland. The Downer Classic is another event in which juniors can race and receive prizes. See race teams gather from around the world before the tour ends July 1.


U.S. Bank Fireworks

July 3

Veterans Park

The U.S. Bank fireworks display has become a must-see celebration, with each successive year outdoing the previous one. People begin arriving early in the day to stake out the best viewing locations.

Bristol Renaissance Faire

July 7-Sept. 3

Off I-94 at Wisconsin/Illinois border


Strumming minstrels and court jesters mix with kings, queens, ne'er-do-wells and wenches at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which operates on weekends throughout the summer. Re-enact the days of yore with era-appropriate food and beverages, kids' activities and feats of strength.

Skyline Music

July 10-Aug. 21

Kadish Park in Riverwest, on North Avenue

The COA is bringing back its free, family-oriented summer music series on Tuesday evenings. Enjoy Milwaukee-based bands performing blues, jazz, reggae and more. There will also be activities for kids and snacks from local vendors.

Bastille Days

July 12-15

Cathedral Square Park


Be sure to highlight Bastille Days on your summer calendar. Start things off right by lacing up your running shoes for the Storm the Bastille 5K run/2-mile walk, then relax and enjoy a weekend of live Cajun, zydeco, jazz, blues, reggae, folk and rock performances with authentic French cuisine.

Gathering on the Green

July 13-14

Rotary Park, Mequon


Festival programs aim not only to entertain families, but also to educate children in music and arts through orchestra, ballet, opera and art activities that are sure to provide an enriching weekend.

South Shore Frolics

July 13-15

2900 S. Shore Drive, Bay View


A Milwaukee tradition, these three fun-filled days of food, drinks and friends begin with a parade through Bay View's business district. Held at the festival are annual events such as the Classic Car Show and Festival of Arts, and every night ends with an incredible display of fireworks. With proceeds going toward services for those in need, you can have a great time supporting a good cause.

Tour de Fat

July 14

1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive


As part of a cycling tour through 15 U.S. cities, the Tour de Fat bicycle festival is coming to Milwaukee to parade through and emphasize the benefits of bicycles. A main event is the famous Car for Bike Trade, which aims to inspire others to choose a pollution-free mode of transportation.

Port Fish Day

July 21

Port Washington Lakefront


More than 60,000 people flock to Port Washington for the annual Port Fish Day, the "World's Largest One-Day Outdoor Fish Fry." Live music abounds on multiple stages, and that's just the beginning. Also featured are fireworks, a craft fair and a parade.

Festa Italiana

July 19-22

Henry Maier Festival Park



Whether you're Italian or just wish you were, Festa Italiana will make you crave cannoli and marinara. Check out nightly fireworks, live music, rousing games of bocce, cultural exhibits and authentic Italian cuisine.

Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival

July 21

Cathedral Square Park


Local microbreweries showcase the craft that made Milwaukee famous with plentiful pints of ales, stouts and lagers. Enjoy local and regional suds and live music at Cathedral Square Park.

EAA AirVenture

July 23-29

Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh


Travel to Oshkosh for an international gathering of 800,000-plus aviation enthusiasts. Attend a workshop or catch a lecture from a notable flight pro, then take in the daily afternoon air show, where top-flight pilots dazzle onlookers with aerial acrobatics.

Washington County Fair

July 24-29

Washington County Fair Park, West Bend


This annual fair offers a carnival, crafts and numerous other events, including main stage acts every evening.

German Fest

July 26-29

Henry Maier Festival Park


The largest annual German cultural celebration in North America, Milwaukee's German Fest offers an array of activities, music and traditional food and drink for the whole family.

Brady Street Festival

July 28


The Brady Street Festival offers attendees a chance to taste prize-winning cheeses and other delicious food from area restaurants. This longtime favorite also includes vendors, three stages of local bands, a show by the Division BMX Stunt Team and a pro-wrestling ring.

Armenian Fest

July 29

St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church,

7825 W. Layton Ave.


Sample homemade shish-kebab, grape leaves, baklava and other Mediterranean dishes, listen to live Near Eastern music and check out the cultural booth highlighting one of the world's oldest civilizations.


Wisconsin State Fair

Aug. 2-12

Wisconsin State Fair Park


Now in its 161st year, the State Fair boasts 30 entertainment stages featuring local and national acts, a host of exhibits and enough food and shopping to keep you busy for days. Did we mention there will be cream puffs?

Milwaukee Comedy Festival

Aug. 3-11

Next Act Theatre


Comedy teams from across the country are coming to give you a week full of laughs with stand-up, sketch and improvisational comedy. Every show will be different, but you'll always be guaranteed a good time.

African World Festival

Aug. 4-5

Henry Maier Festival Park


This festival celebrating African culture has so much to offer as an educational and entertainment event. With the cultural village to explore, the Children's Village for your kids to play in, ethnic foods to enjoy, and the Marketplace to shop, African Word Festival is a wonderful and enriching experience for everyone.


Aug. 4

Center Street (Between Humboldt Boulevard and Booth Street)


Rockerbox is a free motorcycle show and street party that offers an eclectic mix of Euro, Japanese and American café racers, vintage bikes, sport bikes, street fighters, choppers, super motos, scooters, sidecars and cruisers.

Historic Third Ward Summer Sizzle

Aug. 4


Head to the Third Ward this August for an entire day of free live jazz from all over the region. Third Ward restaurants provide you with their best dishes while you groove to traditional, Latin, swing, Dixieland and blues.

Waukesha BluesFest

Aug. 10-11

Naga-Waukee Park, Delafield


Under a large tent on the green of the park, blues musicians will gather this summer for a fun weekend of music.

Irish Fest

Aug. 16-19

Henry Maier Festival Park


Grab a pint (or two) and shop a marketplace featuring one of the largest gatherings of Irish vendors in the world. Check out the Celtic Canine Area showcasing popular dog breeds in Ireland or join in a game of hurling or a tug-of-war contest. And, of course, the festival will feature the musical traditions of Ireland, with traditional and contemporary sounds emanating from more than a dozen stages.

Wine & Vine Etc.

Aug. 18

St. Francis of Assisi Convent grounds, St. Francis


Local restaurants and vendors are gathering at the Wine & Vine event to let you sample their wine, beer, coffee, tea and food. Relax on the convent grounds and know that your contributions will be going toward refurbishing the historic Grape Arbor, which is celebrating its 100th birthday.

Mexican Fiesta

Aug. 24-26

Henry Maier Festival Park


Not that we need an excuse to sip margaritas and devour tostadas, but Mexican Fiesta promises more than just three days of blissful eating and drinking. With traditional dancing, live salsa, mariachi and merengue music, and interactive exhibits, this fiesta is a "must" on any summer schedule.

Walk & Run for Wishes

Aug. 25

Henry Maier Festival Park


It's not too late to revive your long-forgotten New Year's resolution to start running. Do your body—and children in need—a favor by registering for the Walk & Run for Wishes, with proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin.



Sept. 3

Henry Maier Festival Park


Celebrate the end of summer with the annual tribute to the working men and women of Wisconsin at Laborfest, which boasts a one-of-a-kind parade, great food from local vendors, fun performances and music for all ages.

Indian Summer Festival

Sept. 7-9

Henry Maier Festival Park


Listen to a traditional storyteller, take in a musical show, watch a dance performance or game of lacrosse and sample indigenous foods at this celebration of American-Indian cultures, past and present.

Kettle Moraine Jazz Festival

Sept. 7-8

Riverside Park, West Bend


Escape to the rolling hills of West Bend for an outdoor jazz festival featuring many well-known national artists. Enjoy Cajun and international food offerings while strolling through the immense arts marketplace and interactive sponsor exhibits.


Sept. 7-8

76th and State Streets, Wauwatosa


Now in its third decade, Tosafest is a community festival that draws crowds eager for two stages of music, great food and fun activities for the whole family.


Sept. 7-8, 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29

Bavarian Complex, Glendale


The United German Societies of Milwaukee invites you to this German festival of singing, dancing and, of course, eating, where traditional German festival food such as spanferkel and rollbraten are there to enjoy.

Paramount Blues Festival

Sept. 7-8

Lime Kiln Park, Grafton


Once a mecca of the blues recording universe, Grafton hosts the seventh annual Paramount Blues Festival at Lime Kiln Park on the banks of the Milwaukee River. A two-day admission ticket gets you the chance to see scores of local and national blues acts.

Hidden River Art Festival

Sept. 14-16

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts


Discover the fine talents of Wisconsin artists at this three-day juried festival featuring painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, ceramics and fiber art. Enjoy interactive art activities and delicious food and beverages.

Briggs and Al's Run & Walk for Children's Hospital

Sept. 15

Henry Maier Festival Park


Briggs & Al's Run & Walk is an 8K run or a 3- or 5-mile walk benefiting Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The event draws between 13,000 and 16,000 participants each year and remains one of the largest run and walk fund-raising events in the Midwest.

Cedarburg Wine & Harvest Festival

Sept. 15-16

Historic Downtown Cedarburg


At the Wine & Harvest Festival, the streets of Cedarburg come alive with crowds sampling food and wine, much of it made locally, and enjoying family activities and live music. Attendees can join the scarecrow-building contest, enjoy hayrides and listen to live rock, bluegrass and folk music.

Rock the Green

September 15

Veterans Park


Rock the Green, Milwaukee's near-zero waste music festival, will take place on Milwaukee's lakefront at Veterans Park on Saturday, September 15, 2012, from 2-9 p.m. Rock the Green, a nonprofit with a results-based model for minimizing environmental impact, will present a world-class concert and an interactive experience to raise awareness of the benefits of an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. The festival's entertainment lineup of nationally reknowned artists will be announced this spring. Rock the Green, presented by Veolia Environmental Services, bridges the gap between entertainment and a sustainable lifestyle.


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