Summer is festival season in Wisconsin. From small-town fairs to big-city music festivals, Wisconsinites pack the precious warm months with plenty of fun.
Need help deciding what to do? Here’s a selection of festivals across the state for every weekend this summer.
Muscoda Morel Mushroom Festival: May 16-18, Muscoda
Mushroom mania hits Wisconsin’s Driftless Region every spring when hardcore hunters head for the woods in search of morels. The small town of Muscoda celebrates the elusive mushroom every May during its annual Morel Mushroom Festival, complete with a mushroom contest (biggest, smallest, most unique, etc.), mushrooms for sale, fried morels and more.
World’s Largest Brat Fest: May 23-26, Madison
Nothing signals summer like a sizzling grill. Madison fires up loads of them every Memorial Day weekend for the city’s annual Brat Fest. Dig in to Johnsonville brats, Oscar Meyer hot dogs and corn on the cob, all for a good cause: Local charities are paid to help staff the event.
Others in May:
Wisconsin State Polka Festival: May 16-18, Oconomowoc
Syttende Mai Folk Festival: May 16-18, Stoughton
Festival of Spring: May 17, Oshkosh
Door County Festival of Nature: May 22-24, Baileys Harbor
Maifest: May 24-25, Jacksonport
June Dairy Days: May 31-June 1, West Salem
Celebrate Dairy Month in Wisconsin at this weekend festival, which includes a fun run, bike tour, car show, fishing tournament, parade and more. Find more Dairy Month events here.
Door County Lighthouse Festival: June 13-15, throughout Door County
During this annual festival in Door County visitors can access lighthouses normally off-limits, including Chambers Island, Plum Island, Sherwood Point and the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouses. Choose from 11 land- or water-based tours, or explore the Cana Island and Eagle Bluff lighthouses on your own.
Door County Beer Festival: June 14, Baileys Harbor
Beer lovers can sample more than 120 varieties at this third annual festival, including Wisconsin craft favorites like Central Waters, Capital, Milwaukee Brewing Co., and O’So. The festival also includes seminars, an off-site Rare and Cellar Beer Swap and a homebrewing competition.
Strawberry Festival: June 28-29, Cedarburg
People from around the Midwest flock to Cedarburg in June to fill up on that sweet summer favorite - strawberries. Choose from classics like strawberry shortcake and chocolate-covered strawberries, or give something new a try, like strawberry brats. Live music and a plein air painting competition round out the weekend.
Summerfest: June 25-29, July 1-6, Milwaukee
For two weeks every summer, Milwaukee rocks. Well, it might rock pretty much all summer (according to this completely impartial Milwaukee resident), but nothing permeates the city like Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival. More than 800 national and local acts take to 11 stages during the 11-day festival, filling the grounds along Lake Michigan with everything from blues and country to rock and punk.
Others in June:
Monument Square Art Festival: May 31-June 1, Racine
June Bloom: May 31-June 1, Minocqua
Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival: June 6-9, Little Chute
Walleye Weekend: June 6-9, Fond du Lac
Kohler Festival of Beer: June 7, Kohler
Beer Barons’ World of Beer Festival: June 7, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Highland Games: June 7, Wauwatosa
Sparta Butterfest: June 5-8, Sparta
Midsummer Music Festival: June 13-Sept. 1, throughout Door County
Great Northern Beer Festival: June 14, Eagle River
Monroe Balloon Rally and Blues Festival: June 13-14, Monroe
Polish Fest: June 13-15, Milwaukee
Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival: June 14, Glendale
Musky Festival: June 19-22, Hayward
Cranberry Blossom Festival: June 19-22, Wisconsin Rapids
Cheese Curd Festival: June 20-21, Ellsworth
Northwoods Blues Festival: June 20-21, Spooner
Savour Green Bay: June 20-21, Green Bay
Greek Fest: June 20-22, Milwaukee
Lakefront Festival of the Arts: June 20-22, Milwaukee
Brews N’ Blues: June 21, Oshkosh
Fyr Bal Festival: June 21, Ephraim
Milwaukee Air and Water Show: June 21-22, Milwaukee
Country USA: June 24-28, Oshkosh
Country Fest: June 26-29, Cadott
Audacious Beer and Barbecue Celebration: June 27-29, Hartland
Rhythm & Booms: June 28, Madison
Riverfest: July 2-5, La Crosse
Rick Springfield is scheduled to perform live in Riverside Park to kickoff this festival on July 2. The festival along the Mississippi River includes dragon boat races, arts and crafts vendors, childrens activities, food and drink, a fun run, parade, live music and an outdoor movie.
Balloon Rally and Glow and Big Bull Falls BBQ Rib Fest: July 10-13, Wausau
Barbecue ribs and hot air balloons. Sounds like a recipe for a winning summer event. Take in more than 20 hot air balloons, splurge on a biplane ride, enjoy live music and fill up on finger-lickin’-good ribs during this annual event.
Pulaski Polka Days: July 17-20, Pulaski
This festival has grown into one of the largest celebrations of Polish heritage in a state with the highest percentage of people claiming Polish ancestry in the country. The bands play until 1 a.m., and performers this year include the Maroszek Brothers band, which has played at the festival every year of its existence.
German Fest: July 25-27, Milwaukee
Wisconsin’s largest ethnic group celebrates its heritage in the city where the largest population of German immigrants settled in the late 19th century. Dubbed “Milwaukee’s Original Haus Party,” the festival includes authentic German food - including brats and beer, of course - live music - including daily glockenspeil performances - family activities and more.
Others in July:
Namekagon Arts Festival: July 5, Seeley
Door County Folk Festival: July 9-13, Door County
Hodag Country Festival: July 10-13, Rhinelander
Art Fair on the Square: July 12-13, Madison
Wausau Chalkfest: July 12-13, Wausau
Rock USA: July 16-19, Oshkosh
Rock Fest: July 17-20, Cadott
Festa Italiana: July 18-20, Milwaukee
Artarama: July 19, Eagle River
Dragonboat Festival: July 19, Kenosha
Milwaukee Firkin Beer Festival: July 19, Milwaukee
Bayfield Festival of the Arts: July 19-20, Bayfield
Midsummer Festival of the Arts: July 19-20, Sheboygan
Plein Air Festival: July 21-26, Door County
Taste of Wisconsin: July 25-27, Kenosha
Prairie Dog Blues Festival: July 25-26, Prairie du Chien
Milwaukee Brewfest: July 26, Milwaukee
Wisconsin State Fair: July 31-Aug. 10, West Allis
Even the most dedicated dieters set aside all food inhibitions for this annual gluttonous gala. Fried foods (much of it on a stick) - everything from pickles and corn dogs to ice cream and twinkies - are abundant, as are wacky concoctions: chocolate-covered bacon, Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers, pork donuts. Oh, and don’t miss the rides, games, animals and crafts, too.
Hamburger Fest and Balloon Rally: Aug. 8-10, Seymour
The birthplace of the hamburger celebrated a quarter century of quarter pounders in 2013. The annual festival includes hot air balloons, the World’s Largest Hamburger Parade, a ketchup slide and plenty of hamburgers.
Maritime Heritage Festival: Aug. 15-17, Port Washington
Celebrate this harbor town's heritage at this annual maritime festival. See tug boats and trawlers, restored and handcrafted wooden boats; take part in interactive harbor tours and historic activities; and enjoy live music and food and beverages.
Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival: Aug. 22-23, Superior
Ancient Chinese tradition meets modern Wisconsin celebration at this annual festival on Barker’s Island in Superior. A crew of 20, plus a steersperson and a drummer to set the pace, race a 40-foot fiberglass-and-wood dragon-dressed boat across a 400-meter bay. The entertainment continues with a parade, fireworks and live music.
Others in August:
Johnsonville Brat Days: July 31-Aug. 2, Shebogyan
African World Festival: Aug. 3, Milwaukee
Country on the River: Aug. 7-9, Prairie du Chien
Waukesha Blues Fest: Aug. 8-9, Waukesha
Cranes of the World Festival: Aug. 10, Baraboo
Door County Festival of Fine Arts: Aug. 9, Sister Bay
Great Taste of the Midwest: Aug. 9, Madison
Musky Jamboree: Aug. 8-10, Boulder Junction
Venetian Festival: Aug. 13-17, Lake Geneva
Irish Fest: Aug. 14-17, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Zoo A La Carte: Aug. 14-17, Milwaukee
Larry Fest: Aug. 15-16, Kickapoo Valley
Big Bull Falls Blues Fest: Aug. 15-16, Wausau
Harbor Park Jazz & Blues Festival: Aug. 16, Kenosha
Artstreet: Aug. 22-24, Green Bay
Great River Folk Festival: Aug. 22-24, La Crosse
Mexican Fiesta: Aug. 22-24, Milwaukee
Riverfront Jazz Festival: Aug. 30-31, Stevens Point
Updated: May 12, 2014
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