16 Things to Do in Milwaukee This Weekend: May 20-22

From elephants to aliens, this weekend is jam-packed with outstanding events.

1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

OPENS FRIDAY | CABOT THEATRE

This musical adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel was written by Dennis DeYoung – yes the singer/songwriter/keyboardist from Styx. He composed the score, wrote the script, and brought the show to Milwaukee to premier with the Skylight Music Theatre. Artistic Director Michael Unger told Milwaukee Magazine that the production is stuffed with local talent, tremendous set design and emotion. The show opens Friday and will be running through June 12. 

2. Elephant Day at the Zoo

FRIDAY FROM 10:30 A.M.-2:30 P.M. | MILWAUKEE COUNTY ZOO 

It’s Elephant Day at the zoo! To celebrate, the zoo is offering hay room tours, special paintings of the elephants for sale in the marketplace (all proceeds go to elephant conservation efforts), toy elephant ears, a zookeeper display and more. The Animals in Action Talk will be at 11:30 a.m. if you want to learn more about the massive animals. 

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee County Zoo.

3. Uncooped Block Party & Bottle Release

FRIDAY FROM 6-10 P.M. | GREAT LAKES DISTILLERY

Great Lakes Distillery is hosting a block party to celebrate the release of its Chicken Shack Straight Rye Whiskey. There will be live music from Chicken Wire Empire and Chrissy Clobes from the WhiskeyBelles. Flour Girl & Flame will be slinging wood-fired pizzas, and Central Waters Brewing will be serving beer. 

4. Cathedral Music

FRIDAY AT 7:30 P.M. | BASILICA OF ST. JOSAPHAT

A concert that is as much about the music as it is the stunning cathedral it’s performed in. This is choral group Bel Canto’s season finale and will feature pieces from the early 1600s to today. Expect amazing acoustics as the music bounces around the domed ceiling of the church.  Read our preview here

Richard Hynson conducts Bel Canto at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, 2019; Photo by Melissa Miller

5. Big Bag Used Books Sale

SATURDAY FROM 10 A.M.-2 P.M. | ST. FRANCIS PUBLIC LIBRARY

Head to the St. Francis Public Library for a deal on used books. Fill a “big bag” – which are, in fact, provided paper bags – up to the brim and get all the books inside for just $10. Plus, you can buy half-off CDs and DVDs. The events is put on by Friends of the St. Francis Library. 

6. Armed Forces Day Celebration at the Harley-Davidson Museum

SATURDAY FROM 10 A.M.-3 P.M. | HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM

The Harley-Davidson Museum is bringing in active military and veterans from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy to help honor those serving in the United States Armed Forces. There will be military equipment and interactive displays to check out at this free event. Kids and young adults can try the Wisconsin Warrior Challenge, which puts them through obstacle courses, survival skills challenges, drill marching and more. 

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

7. Nō Studios Social Justice Summit: Immigrant Voices

SATURDAY FROM 10 A.M.-10:30 P.M. | NŌ STUDIOS

This summit will showcase the lived experience of the immigrant community through art, music and film. There will be a screening of Missing in Brooks County, a documentary about missing migrants in southern Texas, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, Jeff Bemiss. Other events include panel discussions, live music and more. This is a hybrid summit, so all events include a virtual attendance option as well. 

8. Big Truck Day

SATURDAY FROM 11 A.M.-2 P.M. | RED ARROW PARK

The City of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works and Fire Department put together this free event as part of National Public Works Week. A fleet of impressively large vehicles will park around Red Arrow, giving kids the chance to get an up-close look at the equipment, while also learning more about city jobs. There will be other activities, too, including bubble art, a free-throw contest, coloring books, face painting and more. 

9. “On Site: Derrick Adams”: Block Party

SATURDAY FROM 11 A.M.-4 P.M. | MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM LAWN AND LAKEFRONT

This lakefront party celebrates one of the museum’s newest exhibitions, “On Site: Derrick Adams: Our Time Together.” Attendees will have the chance to “play, dance, explore and unwind.” Some of the activities include bingo, art-making, yoga, line dancing and more. As of right now, the event is moving forward rain or shine. 

Derrick Adams in front of his mural; Photo by Alli Watters

10. Saws & Suds

SATURDAY AT NOON | BLACK HUSKY BREWING

Yes, it is risky to mix brews and chainsaws, but don’t worry, they won’t be handing you one with your drink. Chainsaw artists Bob Younger and Kai McNulty will be carving sculptures out of logs during this brewery event. Four sculptures carved from the City of Milwaukee’s most recent Christmas tree will be auctioned off at the end of the night, with proceeds going to the Milwaukee Urban Forestry Fund. There will also be a vendor fair, featuring unique wooden goods, including pieces from Milwaukee’s Urban Wood Lab. Snacks will come from Shorty’s Grilled Cheese and Style Pop Cafe. 

11. Bubble Run

SATURDAY FROM 1-7 P.M. | MILWAUKEE MILE AT WISCONSIN STATE FAIR PARK

What makes this 5K special is its “Bubble Bogs,” which are mounds of bubbles the runners cross through. The course is flat, making it suitable for runners of all ages and fitness levels – even stroller-pushers are welcome. Show up just to watch, or participate by running, walking or dancing your way through the bubble-strewn Milwaukee Mile racetrack. Register by end of day Friday for a deal on your ticket price. 

12. Ways of Being Celebration

SATURDAY FROM 6-7 P.M. | JOHN MICHAEL KOHLER ARTS CENTER

“During the past year-and-a-half, the world – and our lives – changed in ways that we never imagined. Suddenly, the familiar became strange and unfamiliar.” This thought launched the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s “Ways of Being” themed exhibitions. The gallery asked artists to consider alternative ways of existing in the world and to craft pieces inspired by their thoughts. This event celebrates the work that was created as a result and it includes artist-led tours, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. 

13. Brew City Birding Festival

THROUGH SATURDAY | URBAN ECOLOGY CENTER, RIVERSIDE PARK

The fest’s been running all week long, but there’s still a lot of “feathered fun” left on the docket this weekend. Friday features the Backyard Naturalist lecture, “Lost in Migration.” The talk looks at the amazing migration stories of birds and other animals. On Saturday, the highlight is “Beaks and Boats.” Bird watchers paddle along the Milwaukee River looking for late spring migrant birds and early nesters. BYOB – bring your own binoculars – and make sure to register online in advance.  

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

14. Maifest Germantown Celebration

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY | MARKETPLATZ II 

Consider this traditional celebration of spring’s arrival your German Fest pre-game. Enjoy live music, dancing and plentiful food options, like fish fry, brats, frankfurters, spaetzle, Bavarian pretzels and more. 

15. Wine and Wag Around the Ward

SUNDAY FROM 1-4 P.M. | HISTORIC THIRD WARD

Sip curated wines while your pup plays in Catalano Square. Tastings will be available in flights or by-the-glass. Local vendors will also be on-site including Mac’s Pet Depot Bakery, Playful Pup Bakery, Pete’s Pops, Ollydog Threads and El Famous Falisco’s Food Truck. Proceeds from wine and T-shirt sales will benefit the MKE Dog Park. 

16. Ancient Aliens to Land In Milwaukee

SUNDAY AT 7:30 P.M. | THE PABST THEATER

The History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” has a live show and it’s coming to Milwaukee. The show includes a 90-minute interactive conversation with ancient astronaut theorist Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, author David Childress and investigative mythologist William Henry. They’ll be covering extraterrestrial theories, from ancient Egypt to the modern day. 

 

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Allison Garcia is the Digital Editor for Milwaukee Magazine.