The 37th annual Bastille Days, July 12-15 at Cathedral Square Park, will offer delicious food, entertainment and plenty of wine. Here’s what we think makes the event worth adding to your calendar.
1) You can storm the Bastille
Before enjoying the rest of the festivities, kick off Bastille Days by participating in the annual Storm the Bastille 5K run/walk. Working out beforehand basically guarantees a guilt-free mindset when sampling that sixth French delicacy. The 5K run and 2-mile walk mark the beginning of the festival, as they take place Thursday, July 12, at 9 p.m. The course begins on Jefferson and Wells and takes participants through downtown Milwaukee and the Historic Third Ward. Online registration closes June 30.
2) Pretend it’s Mardi Gras
Get out your beads and all your purple/green/gold gear, because the Mardi Gras Friday Parade is returning in 2018. The parade will weave around the Bastille Days grounds on Friday, June 13, at 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., so everyone in attendance can feel like they’re in New Orleans.
3) So much live entertainment
Bastille Days differentiates itself from other festivals with its Parisian-style of entertainment: mimes, buskers and learning how to speak French. In addition to these specialty entertainers, there are four different stages throughout the festival grounds, with acts ranging from jazz artists to brass bands to chef demos. Bring out the kids on Saturday, July 14, for the annual Kid’s Day with a French-themed breakfast, ballet lessons, soccer drills and more.
4) Meet some cute Frenchies
Do you have the cutest French Bulldog in all of Milwaukee? We’re excited to kick off our second annual #MKECutestFrenchie Contest. If you’d like your furry friend to be in the running, take a pic of your pup and post to Instagram with the tag #MKECutestFrenchie by June 30. Starting on July 2, it’s up to the rest of Milwaukee to vote on their favorite Frenchie online. The top 5 dogs will then get a special prize from Frenchie Bulldog and will be invited to our Bastille Days’ VIP tent on Sunday, July 15. Fest-goers are welcome to meet the dogs at the VIP tent and vote for their favorite. We’ll announce the winner and crown one lucky Frenchie “Milwaukee’s Cutest Frenchie” with a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue of Milwaukee Magazine!
5) Preview ‘The Hop’
Milwaukee’s newest streetcar, The Hop, is ready for Bastille Days. Although The Hop will not be fully running until fall, Potawatomi Hotel and Casino is sponsoring an open house on the Kilbourn St. platform on Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.
6) Wine-tasting? Yes, please
What’s Paris without wine? Bastille Days will host three different wine tastings: one on Friday, July 13, and two on Saturday, July 13. Each wine tasting will take you across the world, with wines from France, Australia, New Zealand and more. Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 the day of, and each tasting requires its own ticket.
7) Champagne, beignets and more: Oh, la la!
The most essential Bastille Days tip: come hungry. With over 25 food tents from local restaurants, there’s something for every palate, from authentic French cuisine to spicy Cajun. Participating restaurants include Saz’s, Le Reve and Maxie’s. For dessert, grab a flute of champagne while nibbling a crepe or a beignet. And don’t forget to check out other vendors selling French goodies like art, fabrics, berets and soap.
8) Watch the Waiter/Waitress Challenge
Have you been practicing your skills for years? Or do you think you’ve mastered the talent as a newbie? Either way, Bastille Days will host its annual Waiter/Waitress Challenge with local servers competing in a complex obstacle course that challenges their skills. The challenge takes place on Sunday, July 15 with only one prestigious champion.