2018 Milwaukee summer festival guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Sept. 3, 2018 at 1:01 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
The Milwaukee summer festival season has finally arrived, and now it's time to start planning out your fun. But with seemingly a festival or live music event every weekend, it can be overwhelming to try and keep track of all the terrific options headed your way. Luckily, the OnMilwaukee summer festivals guide is here to help.
Here's what you'll be doing, where you'll be drinking, who you'll be hearing and how you'll be getting a sweet tan this summer. (And stay tuned for updates as more festivals announce their official dates, musical lineups and more.)
Now get out there and have some Milwaukee summer fun!
Milwaukee Makers Market
Colectivo - Bay View
Every third Sunday of the month, starting May 20
The Milwaukee Makers Market is the perfect seasonal stop for lovers of art, crafts, alliteration, designers and almost any other hobby. The market meets every third Sunday of the month at the Colectivo location in Bay View, in addition to two bonus dates on June 1 and Sept. 28 for Bay View Gallery Night. So drop by and find your new favorite living room conversation piece, artistic inspiration or something else completely unexpected.
Bristol Renaissance Fair
July 7-Sept. 3
Grab your corset or your homemade chainmail armor; the Bristol Renaissance Faire is set to make its annual return. Open rain or shine, every Saturday, Sunday and on Labor Day, the Bristol Faire takes visitors for a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., complete with 16th-century arts, crafts, games, rides, food, music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a colorful cast of characters from the era.
NEWaukee Night Markets
Wisconsin Ave. between 2nd and 4th Streets
NEWaukee's Night Market is a collision of all Milwaukee has to offer. The Night Market is a free, open-air market that offers a wide variety of experiences for people of all backgrounds and ages. The Night Market features a mash up of art, craft and food vendors, live art creation, local music and a beer garden!
Aug. 29-Sept. 3
Don't let summer go away quietly. Instead, rev your engines with the signature sound of rumbling Harley-Davidson V-twin engines over at this year's Milwaukee Rally – the Midwest's largest free motorcycle rally, featuring events at several venues across the region including musical acts, giant vendor villages, bike nights, street parties, tattoo contests and more.
Rotary Park/Hart Park
For two nights in Wauwatosa, catch live music performances at one of three stages – this year including the likes of Sam Llanas, King Solomon, The WhiskeyBelles. Greg Koch, Phat Phunktion and more – a cupcake and chili competition, petting zoo, arts and crafts, and local eats and treats. Plus, over the past eleven years, Tosa Fest proceeds have donated over $150,000 to local organizations. So be sure to bring some spare change in exchange for a fun weekend!
Indian Summer Festival
Henry Maier Festival Park
Now celebrating its 32nd year, Indian Summer Festival is still Milwaukee's favorite way to close out the summer festival season. Attend a moving prayer ceremony, clap along with a traditional pow wow or visit the circle of art featuring Native American-inspired art which you can admire and purchase. Indian Summer Festival will be both an educational and exciting experience.
East end of Greenfield Avenue
For a long time, Milwaukee's harbor has been seen as "off limits" or unwelcoming, but it's time to show everyone its true potential. This family-friendly festival includes fun activities like a boat parade, paddling lessons, fishing lessons, a bike tour, street games, music, and food & drink.
Bay View Bash
Between Potter and Clement on Kinnickinnic Avenue
The Bay View Bash is back with its 14th annual event, delivering a community festival filled with food, art, music, crafts, books and community organizations that's also striving to be waste free!
Cedarburg Wine & Harvest Festival
Forget Wine Wednesday and have a wine weekend at the Cedarburg Wine & Harvest Festival, a two-day celebration of the greatness of grape squeezings (and also the start of autumn and the harvest season, but let's be honest, we're mostly here for the vino).
Henry Maier Festival Park
You've had all the festival fun this summer; it's only fair your cats, puppers and other nature friends had one dedicated to them. That's Fromm Petfest, a free festival featuring all sorts of fun activities and excitement for all your four-legged friends. The best part: It's a festival for them, but you'll probably have a hoot too!
Doors Open Milwaukee
Historic Milwaukee quite literally gets 150 buildings – big and small, new and old, landmarks and hidden gems – to open their doors to the city of Milwaukee for this adventure-minded early fall event. Guided tours are often times offered free of charge with no entry fee required – but if there is somewhere particularly interesting to you, check out the in-depth tours that are ticketed. Doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so get out there and be a tourist in your hometown!
Milwaukee Film Festival
Various theaters in the Milwaukee area
Oct. 18-Nov. 1
2018 marks a big year for the Milwaukee Film – and not only because it's literally taking over a theater this summer. The Milwaukee Film Festival also moved back its start date a whole month to Oct. 18, a seemingly small change that could end up bringing in a whole slew of nationwide festival favorites and buzzy awards season picks that otherwise might've missed the two-week cinema-palooza back in September.
No matter what time of year it takes place, however, come out and see countless eclectic films from all sorts of genres, delivered from all across the globe – and many right from your backyard too. It's almost a guarantee that a few of the films will pop up again a few months later at the Oscars – and will probably pop up on your own personal top ten list for the year!
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