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This year, go outside your summer festival comfort zone and check out something new. These 8 off-the-beaten-path summer happenings in Milwaukee are worth checking out.

We’ve all trudged through the happy, sweaty crowds of revelers at Summerfest. We block off Thursday nights in the summer each year because we don’t want to miss a chance for mingling and music at Jazz in the Park. And we look forward to the tasty fare and fun at Irish Fest, Festa Italiana and all the other great culturally-infused celebrations. But there are dozens of other festivals you may not have heard of yet.

In Milwaukee, no one has any excuse to say they’re bored between the months of June and September. The city is alive – with music, food, culture and booze.

Add These to Your Milwaukee Festival Bucket List

Photo by Dana Emold

Kilts have never looked so good. Milwaukee’s Highland Games, aka Scottish Fest, will take place Saturday, June 3 in Hart Park in Wauwatosa. Come for ax throwing (!), sheepdogs, highland dancing and, of course, bagpipes. Join in for the 80th year of this tartan-tastic celebration.


See Milwaukee from two wheels, via UPAF Ride for the Arts on Sunday, June 4. Whether you’re an avid rider or a more casual cruiser, consider hopping on two wheels and signing up for this ride with fantastic views of Milwaukee and neighboring areas. Billed as “the nation’s largest one-day recreational bike ride to support the performing arts,” there are options for everyone: a five-mile youth ride, a 12-mile family route, the 25-miler than spans the Hoan Bridge and longer 45- and 70-mile options as well.


River Rhythms in Westown often doesn’t get quite the same exposure as its East Town cousin Jazz in the Park, but on Wednesday evenings from June 14 to August 30, folks flock to Pere Marquette Park, where they can pull a blanket or chair up to the bank of the Milwaukee River and enjoy some great tunes.

Add These to Your Milwaukee Festival Bucket List

Photo by Dana Emold


Summertime and the living’s easy. Kick off summer with East Side’s Summer Soulstice on Saturday, June 24. From noon to midnight, welcome the summer season on Milwaukee’s East Side by perusing local arts and crafts vendors, sampling tasty food and enjoying music and good times with friends while meandering along East North and Murray Avenues. Did we mention there’s also a BMX stunt show? Here’s to summer!

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Keep the vampires away, or just add a little flavor to your favorite dish. Garlic Fest is brought to us by Braise Restaurant in Walker’s Point, with help from some other favorite neighborhood eateries. Come out Sunday, June 25 to consume garlic-infused food and beverage – Braise’s Green Garlic Bloody Mary, anyone? – and listen to some music.


You’ve gotta be firkin crazy if you miss Firkin Fest Saturday, July 22 in Cathedral Square. Named after “a small wooden barrel or covered vessel”–for containing our favorite adult beverage–this downtown gathering is for beer lovers of the most discerning variety (okay, and perhaps the less discerning as well), with more than 150 brews to be sampled from dozens of different brewers. It’s a great chance to try new brews with pals at one of your favorite Milwaukee parks.


Put your cowboy boots on and head to Cudahy’s third annual City Limits Fest Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15. Catch country favorite Parmalee and up-and-comers Granger Smith, Raelynn and more–plus an after-party each night.

Add These to Your Milwaukee Festival Bucket List

Photo by Alex Ahamd


Life’s always a little more fun on a lake. Schedule some time to unwind by the water, and enjoy Taste of Lake Country in Pewaukee Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29. Sample delicious local cuisine, enjoy some live music and peruse the wares of some great local vendors, too.

Make a point to check a new item off your Milwaukee Summertime Bucket List this year. You won’t regret it!

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