2019 Milwaukee summer festival guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Aug. 30, 2019 at 5:01 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.
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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
See website for location
Every third Sunday of the month, starting May 19
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 either Discovery World, Ivy House MKE or the Colectivo location in Bay View, in addition to two bonus dates on May 31 and Sept. 27 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 Faire
July 6-Sept. 2
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.
Punk Fest 9
Aug. 24-Sept. 7
MKE Punk Fest is alive and rocking, bringing together acts from across the city, state and even across the country. This year, the lineup includes the likes of The Red Flags, Faux Fiction, The Meatcurtains, Hi/Jack, Gas Station Sushi and many, many more. If you can't get enough of the punk, the fest will also be holding a before party on Aug. 24 and an after party on Sept. 7.
Aug. 29-Sept. 2
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.
Big BBQ Fest
Henry Maier Festival Park
Labor Day Weekend
Big BBQ Fest, formerly the Big Gig BBQ – and somehow still not called the Big Pig – will celebrate smoked meats at the Summerfest grounds, throwing one big final cookout over Labor Day weekend before the summer slides into fall. The fest will serve up a saucy combination of live entertainment, drink and, of course, barbecue. Bring your appetite!
Sunday, Sept. 8
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Harbor View Plaza and 600 East Greenfield Ave. (outside of the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences). Free activities for the entire family including the Milwaukee Boat Parade, bout tours, paddling lessons, fishing, bike tours, boat building, tours of the UWM research vessel - the Neeskey, live music, rock-climbing, local food and more.
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.
Bay View Bash
Between Potter and Clement on Kinnickinnic Avenue
The Bay View Bash is back with its 15th annual event, delivering a community festival filled with food, art, music, crafts, books and community organizations that's also striving to be waste free!
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. 17-Oct. 31
2019 marks a big year for the Milwaukee Film. No matter what time of year it takes place, 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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