Summer is in full swing in Milwaukee, and locals know what that means: festivals! Known as the “City of Festivals,” Milwaukee is host to a wide variety of celebrations throughout the summer. Looking for the world’s largest music festival? Got it. Awesome neighborhood street fairs? Sure thing. Cultural celebrations complete with food, music and dancing? Yup. Bike races? Free festivals? Two fests just for beer? Yes, yes and definitely yes! So many great festivals have already happened, but there are still so many more to come! If you’re looking for the inside scoop, who better to ask than the VISIT Milwaukee team? I asked a few of my coworkers to tell me about their favorite upcoming Milwaukee summer festival, and here’s what they said:
I like Bastille Days, since it’s different from the other ethnic festivals. You don’t feel boxed in, and it’s free!
Brady Street Festival is another one I like a lot. It’s good for people watching and getting that random/quirky Brady Street vibe. I always run into unexpected people I know too, which is fun (mostly).
Last one is State Fair. Can’t beat the crazy foods on a stick!
It’s tough to pick a favorite festival, since they all are so unique and fun. Last year I really enjoyed going to Milwaukee Brewfest. It was fun hanging out in the afternoon in the sunshine on the lakefront with a crowd of people that love beer. There were so many unique craft beers to sample, and afterwards it was an easy walk up the street to Brady Street Festival. We walked up and down the street sightseeing at all the vendor booths and listened to the bands playing in the evening on the stages.
Actually, that’s just an awesome day in the city whether you live in town or are visiting, because the Riverwest 24 is taking place that weekend too. So Saturday morning before hitting up Brewfest and Brady Street, you can check out all the bikers that have been biking all through the night in the Riverwest 24 race. There is a Colectivo Coffee on the bike route, and it’s a nice start to the morning grabbing a cup of coffee on their patio and watching the bikers race by and just thinking how crazy it is that they’ve been riding nonstop for all those hours.
Bastille Days is my favorite for many reasons, but I think the reason I love it more than the rest is because of the people there. It is by far the most diverse festival I can think in terms of attendees – old/young, families/couples, college kids/professionals, you name it they’re all there. Everyone seems to be so happy as well, everyone is there to enjoy the same things. Good music, good food, good drinks and great vendors.
Oh and the beignets!
Irish Fest speaks to my Irish soul! I’ve been involved in the theater tent at the festival for years, both acting in shows and organizing. I love the way Irish Fest with its numerous offerings, from music to culture to sports, retail and more, appeals to all ages and sends spirits soaring! Thousands of people singing “Wild Mountain Thyme” together on the last night? Thousands more dancing to Gaelic Storm? Hundreds of colorful Irish dancers? Who doesn’t love that?
Irish Fest is one of my favorite festivals, but I also love Bastille Days. As a local, I don’t think there’s anything more fun than a night run through the city with hundreds of your closest neighbors. To help bridge the gap after Summerfest, Bastille Days sets up shop near Cathedral Square for a weekend filled with amazing food and the city’s best 5K.
And as for myself? German Fest all the way! I love to get myself a big plate of Spanferkel, join in a rousing rendition of “Ein Prosit” and polka the night away. Plus the people-watching can't be beat (hooray for lederhosen!).
Which summer festivals are still on your list? Get the scoop on what's still to come with our festival itinerary.