14 Fun Things to Do in Milwaukee This Summer

What to do around Milwaukee every week this summer


Photo by Bruce Berna, courtesy of Brewcity Bruisers

Week 1: Midwest Brewhaha

June 1-3
UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena

Curious about roller derby? Cruise on over to the Panther Arena, where the Brewcity Bruisers will be battling it out with teams from around the country over the course of this three-day tournament.

Week 2: Man/Woman of the Year Milwaukee

June 9
The Pfister Hotel

Don your best tux or gown and sashay over to this gala event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. After an evening of drinking, dining and dancing, the organizers will announce who managed to raise the most money for the charity and crown its man and woman of the year.

Week 3: Sculpture Milwaukee

Through Oct. 21
Wisconsin Avenue

More than 20 sculptures will take up temporary residence along Wisconsin Avenue again this year, for the second iteration of the city’s free outdoor sculpture exhibition, open all summer long. A couple of highlights? Stunning figurative works by Sanford Biggers and Kiki Smith.

Photo courtesy of Present Music

Week 4: Sound and Sight

June 23
Lynden Sculpture Garden

Present Music will end its 2018 season with a moving (we mean that literally, not figuratively) concert set amidst the rolling hills and avant-garde works of art on view at the Lynden Sculpture Garden. The Afro-Brazilian sextet Arcomusical will make an appearance, as will many other acclaimed chamber musicians.

Week 5: Footlights Awards

June 25
Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Last year the city’s top theatrical talent took a bow at Milwaukee’s first-ever performing arts awards ceremony, which recognized technical and artistic excellence across dozens of categories. There’ll be an encore event this year, and you’re invited to attend to cheer on your favorite performers.


Week 6: Independence Day

July 4
Lake Park

For more than a century, the city has been ringing in Independence Day with brass bands, fireworks displays and other festivities. This year, there’ll be more than a dozen official celebrations, but you’d be hard-pressed to beat the one at Lake Park, which begins with a 9 a.m. parade and ends with a literal boom – when a round of fireworks lights up the lakefront.

Week 7: As You Like It

Chris Klopatek, American Players Theatre

July 11
American Players Theatre

Originally, Shakespeare’s plays were performed outside, in sun-soaked amphitheaters. You can channel your inner Elizabethan by taking in one of the Bard’s most beloved comedies at the country’s second-largest outdoor theater devoted to classic works. (The play is being staged periodically throughout the summer – check the theater’s website for additional dates.)

Week 8: Sylvan Esso

July 21-22
The Pabst Theater

Since wowing crowds at Justin Vernon’s inaugural Eaux Claires festival, Sylvan Esso (whose members met at a Cactus Club concert in 2010!) has become a fixture of the indie rock scene. Unsurprisingly, the band’s Pabst performances have already sold out, but motivated fans can still find resale tickets online.

Week 9: Milwaukee Brewfest

photo via Getty Images

July 28
McKinley Park

More than 100 breweries poured samples for thirsty patrons at the 2017 incarnation of Brewfest, and we can expect about as many to return this year. Ticket holders will once again be able to taste pours from each brewery, and there’ll be plenty to eat between rounds of beers, ciders and meads.


photo courtesy of State Fair

Week 10: Montgomery Gentry

Aug. 2
Wisconsin State Fair

Tip your (cowboy) hats to the platinum-selling country powerhouse Eddie Montgomery, of Montgomery Gentry, headlining the opening night of the Wisconsin State Fair’s 2018 lineup. Then listen to the Kentucky-born musician belt out hits like “Gone” and “Something to Be Proud Of.”

Week 11: Morning Glory Fine Craft Fair

Aug. 11-12
Marcus Center Grounds

For more than 40 years, this free fair has showcased works by artists and crafters from around the world. Fine art, ceramics, woodworking, jewelry and leather goods are all well represented.

Week 12: Weezer

Aug. 17
Eagles Club

Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So,” gave a generation of angst-ridden teenagers a voice. And Rivers Cuomo still sounds as good as he did 25 years ago – sing along with him while dancing around the concert venue’s 25,000-square-foot floor.

Week 13: Cake & Ben Folds

Aug. 23
BMO Harris Pavilion

Today you can have your Cake, and your Ben Folds too. The two alt-rock icons, which both rose to prominence in the 1990s, are co-headlining one of the biggest shows of the season. So dust off your Doc Martens, break out your favorite flannel shirt and get ready to party like it’s 1999 again.

Photo by Doug Cheever

Week 14: The Milwaukee Fringe Festival

Aug. 25-26
Marcus Center

The Milwaukee Fringe Festival is only 3 years old, but it’s already become one of the city’s biggest performing arts events. Dozens of actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists descend on Downtown Milwaukee the Weekend of the festival to stage free outdoor shows and ticketed performances alike.

“Agenda” appears in the June 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning May 28th, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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