25 Milwaukee Festivals Happening This Summer (2023)

Milwaukee is truly the city of festivals!

Summer in Milwaukee is a time for fun, food, and festivities.

From music and art to culture and cuisine, Milwaukee festivals offers a wide range of events that draw crowds from near and far.

Wisconsin State Fair
The Wisconsin State Fair ferris wheel.

But with so many happening throughout the summer months, it’s easy to miss one or two.

That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive guide to Milwaukee’s summer festivals – so you don’t have to worry about missing out on any of the excitement.

In this post, we’ve gathered all the information you need to plan your summer calendar, from the big names like Summerfest and State Fair to lesser-known gems like the Water Lantern Festival and the Waterford Balloonfest.

So sit back and let us take you on a tour of Milwaukee’s summer festival scene.

Bookmark this page and use it as a reference throughout the festival season!


Kite Festival

International Kite Festival Veterans Park Milwaukee Wisconsin

May 27-28, 2023
Veterans Park

The Wilde Subaru Kite Festival returns to Veterans Park this weekend, Saturday, May 27th and Sunday, May 28th, 2023. 

The free event will run from 10:00-6:00 on Saturday and 10:00-5:00 on Sunday. There is plenty of free parking for attendees.

It will be the 36th year of the free festival on Milwaukee’s Lakefront.

One highlight of the event is the Grand Launch of hundreds of kites that takes place at noon.



Milwaukee Highland Games

June 3, 2023
Croatian Park (9100 S. 76th Street, Franklin, WI 53132)

Milwaukee Highland Games

Embrace Scottish culture with unique athletic events, bagpipe bands, highland dancing, Scottish food, working sheepdogs in action, and more.

Children 12 and under get in free.


June 1-3, 2023
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Milwaukee Pridefest face painting
Photo credit: Shelly Herrmann

The nation’s largest LGBT+ festival, Pridefest has been operated entirely by volunteers since 1987. Children 12 and under get in free.

Polish Fest

June 9-11, 2022
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Polish Fest Maier Festival ParkMilwaukee Wisconsin

This is just one of many popular cultural festivals happening in Milwaukee this year on the summerfest grounds along the city’s lakefront. Besides reveling in the lively polka, colorful folk costumes, and traditional polish sausage, you can head to the children’s stage that often features comedians, magicians, escape artists, dance shows and more.

Stop by the Cultural Village to see demonstrations of traditional Polish crafts such as wycinanki (paper cutting), pisanki (decorated eggs), and wianki (floral head wreaths). The Maly Sklep (little store) sells traditional Polish pottery and other folk art. There are even live sheepdogs.

Did you know? Kosciuszko Park is named after Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko. He was an engineer and military mastermind in the 18th century and supported the American Revolution. In his will, he designated large funds to be used for freeing and educating African-American slaves. Polish Fest celebrates this national figure, and gives Milwaukee an opportunity to learn more about Polish culture.

Water Lantern Festival

June 10, 2023
Water Lantern Festival Website

Milwaukee Water Lantern Festival

The Milwaukee Water Lantern Festival is a beautiful family-friendly event that lights up Veterans Park with stunning floating lanterns.

Locust Street Festival of Music and Art

June 11, 2023
Locust Street Festival Website

Locust Street Festival of Music and Art

After a hiatus, the Locust Street Festival is back in 2023. There will be local music bands, vendors, food and a Beer Run.

Lakefront Festival of Art

June 16-18. 2023
LFOA Website

Lakefront Festival of Art

Details TBD. Check back for updates!

Summer Soulstice (Free!)

June 19, 2023
2122 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202

Summer Solstice

The Summer Soulstice music festival is back on the East Side, and you won’t want to miss this FREE showcase of local favorites – bands, visual artists, Milwaukee makers, creation stations, food vendors, family-friendly crafts and activities and more.

There’s no better way to celebrate the longest day of the year!

Juneteenth Day (Free!)

June 19, 2023, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
2460 N. 6th St., Milwaukee, WI 53212

Juneteenth Day is June 19th, and it commemorates emancipation, or the ending of slavery in the United States. Today, it is a celebration of African-American achievement.

Juneteenth Day

This community-wide event is organized as a street festival with various family-friendly activities taking place over the course of a day.

The annual summer block party encourages anyone and everyone to attend and join in the festivities, which include a lively parade, a Miss Juneteenth Day Pageant, live music, kids’ games, exhibits, soul food and more.


June 22-24, June 29-July 1, July 6-8, 2023
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Summerfest Fireworks

Every year, Milwaukeeans of all ages flock to the Henry Maier Festival Park for one of the longest running music festivals in the world – Summerfest!

And although your memories of the Big Gig may not be kid-friendly, the world’s largest music festival itself most certainly is.

Here are some of the best family activities:

  • Northwestern Mutual Community Park: This entirely redeveloped entertainment space for families offers inclusive and accessible play for children ages 2-12. Besides colorful, enhanced play equipment and a toddler play area (“Giggle Grounds”), the centrally located site also has a permanent stage structure where you’ll find family-friendly programming throughout the day.

  • The Elizabeth “Bo” Black family fountain: Hopping around in this iconic splash pad is the perfect way to keep cool on a hot summer day.

  • Ferris Wheel: The Summerfest “Wheel in the Sky” on the north end of the grounds offers spectacular views of Summerfest, Milwaukee’s downtown, and Lake Michigan. It operates from noon to 11:30 p.m. daily.

  • Paddleboat rides: Worried your kids’ little legs will get tired from walking around? Relax and take in views of the festival and downtown Milwaukee on a 30-minute paddleboat ride. Check it out from noon to 7:00 p.m. each day at the boat dock on the north end of the grounds. Boats can hold up to four people.
Northwestern Mutual Community Park Summerfest
Northwestern Mutual Community Park is the hub for families at Summerfest.
  • Skyglider: There’s nothing like your first ride on the sky glider. The gentle ride offers a scenic view of Henry Maier Festival Park, Lake Michigan, and the entertainment below. One-way and round-trip fares are available. Kids must be 48 inches tall to ride.

  • Big Bang Fireworks: For those who can stay up a little later, the fireworks show that kicks off Summerfest is always a hit!

Helpful hints:

  • Get in free: Discounted or free tickets are available on most days during the festival. Check out the promotions details on their website.

  • Be aware of the Lost Children’s Area near the Mid Gate for children who become separated from their parents. Children are brought to this secure area and checked in by a member of the Summerfest staff.

  • Create an identification wristband for your child at any main gate.

  • Nursing? Look for the Mother’s Nursing Suites in the Northwestern Community Park area and on the south end of the grounds.

Greek Fest (Free!)

TBD 2023
Wisconsin State Fair Park (640 S. 84th St., West Allis, WI 53214)

Be entertained by traditional Greek music and dancing, along with a Greek Market full of imported goods and artifacts.

Taste fresh, authentic Greek food including gyros, Greek chicken (also available via drive-thru), lamb, saganaki (fried cheese), souvlaki (skewers), baklava (sweet dessert made with phyllo dough) and loukoumades (fried dough).

Games and rides for children of all ages are available. Admission is free, but you’ll have to pay $10 for parking.

Strawberry Fest (Free!)

June 24-25, 2023
Downtown Cedarburg – Washington Ave.

Strawberry Fest Cedarburg

An annual celebration of the fruit of the season located in downtown Historic Cedarburg, you’ll find tons for the kids to do (as long as you don’t mind weaving through the crowds).  

Enjoy everything strawberry, from strawberry shortcake to strawberry wine.

Stroll along historic main street and explore the white-topped booths, or head over to Cedar Creek Park, where the bulk of the kids’ activities take place.

You’ll typically find kid-friendly live entertainment, a duck race, a petting zoo, plus lots of games and prizes. There are also live music stages all over town.  


Fireworks Kite Festival (Free!)

TBD 2023
Veterans Park (1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Milwaukee Kite Festival Veterans Park

The Fireworks Kite Festival is a just-for-fun kite fly of which everyone is welcome to participate.

See giant kites flying above the park and give kite-flying a try at free lessons! A huge area of Veterans Park is set aside just for kite-fliers, and the kite-filled sky is an impressive sight to behold.

Plus, it’s the perfect way to get the best seat in the house to the fireworks show along the lakefront. Bring your own kite or buy one at the Gift of Wings kite store. 

Bristol Renaissance Faire

July 8-September 4, 2023 (Saturdays, Sundays & Labor Day weekend)
12550 120th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53142

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Climb a castle wall, shoot a bow, and throw an axe – all in one day! If you love all things medieval, you should definitely step back in time to attend the Bristol Renaissance Faire spread across 30 acres and 20 stages. Medieval characters in full dress make for an authentic renaissance experience.

Families can watch fully armored jousts, parades, and entertainers in the streets all day long. You’ll also find plenty of rides, games, arts and crafts, food, drink, and music. Plus, check their website for special KidQuests.

Find out more >>

Bastille Days (Free!)

July 13-16, 2023 (40th anniversary!)
Cathedral Square Park (825 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Bastille Days Cathedral Square Park
Photo by Melissa Miller Music Photography

Marked by the signature 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica and hourly light shows, Milwaukee hosts one of the nation’s largest French-themed celebrations each July. The international marketplace comes alive with the sizzling sights and smells of French and Cajun cuisine.

The event is known for the impromptu street performers, roaming minstrels, and a variety of interactive and musical entertainment.

Pro Tip #1: Kids’ and Family Day is usually Saturday, offering kid-friendly performances, soccer and dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, and more.

Pro Tip #2: Park near a Hop station and hitch a free ride on Milwaukee’s streetcar. It stops right in the middle of the festival grounds!

Croatian Fest

July 15, 2023
Croatian Park (9100 S. 76th St., Franklin, WI)

The festival features Milwaukee area Croatian music and dance groups, and live music by Bravo Band. Traditional Croatian rotisserie (pre-orders recommended), Croatian beers, and homemade bakery and desserts will be for sale.

Festivities include bocce courts, Croatian cultural theater, raffle prizes and more.

Waterford Balloonfest (Free!)

July 15, 2023, Noon-8 p.m.
Waterford Town Park

hot air balloon launch at Waterford Balloonfest Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Facebook, @WaterfordBalloonfest

One of the only hot-air balloon festivals in the area, this one-day event is back in 2023.

Watch hot air balloons as they launch from the fields of Waterford and rise high above the village.

Many family-friendly activities will be available throughout the course of the day, including helicopter rides and drone races.

There will also be a variety of vendors offering food, beverages, crafts and more.

Admission to the event is free, but be prepared to pay cash for parking ($10 per car).

Pro Tip: Check the event schedule before you head out. You might miss the launch!

Waukesha County Fair

July 19-23, 2023
Waukesha County Exposition Center (1000 Northview Road, Waukesha, WI 53188)

Waukesha County Fair Ferris Wheel

The oldest county fair in Wisconsin AND the largest event in Waukesha County, the Waukesha County Fair celebrates our rural heritage with barnyard animals, crafts, foods, farm displays—and, of course, the midway!

Pro Tip: Purchase a Family Fun Bundle to get admission for two adults and two kids, plus two cream puffs, for $32. Must all be redeemed on the same day.

Milwaukee Air & Water Show (Free!)

July 22-23, 2022
Milwaukee Lakefront, Lincoln Memorial Drive

Blue Angels at MKE Air & Water Show Milwaukee Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Facebook, @MKEAirAndWaterShow

You won’t be able to miss it (even if you want to!).

Milwaukee’s lakefront roars with impressive military aircrafts like the Blue Angels during the Air & Water Show, and it’s free to watch from afar. You can also purchase tickets for front row center seats.

Washington County Fair

July 25-30, 2023
3000 Pleasant Valley Rd, West Bend, WI 53095

Washington County Fair merry go round

There’s nothing like a mid-summer county fair. Carnival rides, fun games, live music, great food, farm animals and more!

The Family Expo Center is a hub of kid-friendly activities. Enjoy horse shows, the small animal tents, contests, 4-H performances, tractor pulls, and much more.

German Fest

July 28-30, 2023
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Dachshund Derby at Milwaukee German Fest

The sounds of carousel organs and the smell of German cuisine – sausage, sauerkraut, and schnitzel, and craft beers – float through the festival grounds, bringing German culture to life.

Families head here each year for the Dachshund Derby and costume contest, the Glockenspiel clock that comes to life every few hours, traditional “tracht” clothing, German dance performances, a Children’s Activity Area with German crafts and language games, plus mascots, parades and more.

Pro Tips: Kids under 12 are always free. Friday admission is only $3. Check the website for updated information.

Brady Street Festival (Free!)

July 29, 2023
Brady Street, Milwaukee

Brady Street Festival

Head to funky Brady Street for live entertainment all day and night from local bands on three stages. Stunt bike and tumbling shows, arts and crafts, and a rock climbing wall make this a family-friendly event.


Ozaukee County Fair (Free!)

August 2-6, 2023
Firemen’s Park (W67N866 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, WI 53012)

Ozaukee County Fair antique car
Photo Credit: Facebook, @OzaukeeCountyFair

Held each year in Cedarburg, the Ozaukee County Fair is one of the last free county fairs in Wisconsin. You’ll find games, rides, animals, fair food, truck pulls, demonstrations, and live music. (Admission fees apply for the Truck & Tractor Pull and Demolition Derby.)

Wisconsin State Fair

August 3-13, 2023
Wisconsin State Fair Park (640 S 84th St, West Allis, WI 53214)

Wisconsin State Fair is a celebration of agriculture and livestock, local delicacies, and fried food.

The smell of corn on the cob (and manure) is in the air, and so is a sense of pride for all things Wisconsin.

Wisconsin State Fair ferris wheel

Every family seems to have small traditions in place around this event. If your family doesn’t, or you’d like some fresh ideas for your annual trip, read on.

Of the many barns and animals to visit, a must-visit stop is the Discovery Barnyard, where you’ll get to see cuddly baby animals of all kinds. There are also hands-on sensory tables for young kids and other child-friendly activities.

Outside of the wonderfully smelly animal barns, activities for kids are at every turn. The Kohl’s Activity Zone is a free area with a number of white tented booths offering children’s crafts, design projects, conservation-themed theater performances, and educational activities for kids.

Be on the lookout for strolling street entertainers who claim some serious talents from guessing your weight accurately to juggling fire.

Wisconsin State Fair big yellow slide

It will be difficult to resist the big yellow slide, which has been around for more than 50 years. Hop onto a burlap sack and take a ride down the 200-foot slide for $3.00 per person.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, the Wisconsin Products Pavilion offers higher-quality local fare like Door County cherry products and artisan jerky, as well as kid favorites like grilled cheese and pizza. But the more traditional fair food, and the more adventurous options, lie outside.

Other areas to visit that are sure to offer plenty of fun for the kids are the WE Energies Energy Park, the K-9 Sports Arena, and the Farm and Family Building.

Helpful Hints:

  • Children 5 and under get in free.
  • Get a free identification wristband for your child near any main entrance or at We Energies Energy Park.
  • Save money on food on Crazy Grazin’ Day. Check the website for details about vendors and specials.

Milwaukee Dragon Boat Festival (Free!)

August 12, 2023
Lakeshore State Park (500 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Milwaukee Dragon Boat Festival

Vibrant colored boats race across the water during this exciting festival put on by the Milwaukee Chinese Community Center. The event also showcases traditional Chinese folk music, dance, games, martial arts, and lantern making.

A la Carte at the Zoo

August 17-20, 2023
Milwaukee County Zoo (10001 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226)

Grab your lawn chairs and spend a relaxing summer day at the Zoo.

girl eating corn on the cob at Milwaukee a la Carte at the County Zoo

This annual event showcases the best flavors Milwaukee has to offer, plus top local and national bands performing throughout the grounds. Find your perfect grassy spot or picnic table, and try food from many of the area’s best restaurants.

Kids will love the arts and crafts projects (Thursday and Friday) and special animal exhibits. Zoo rides are available for purchase.

Irish Fest

August 17-20, 2023
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Did you know that Milwaukee Irish Fest is the largest celebration of its kind, anywhere in the world?

Pick up a Pirate Paddy Passport and collect stamps throughout the grounds. You’ll be rewarded with kid-friendly activities and prizes at each stop. En route, you may catch a parade packed with Celtic Canines, pipe and drum units, vikings, and more.

Mini golf at Milwaukee Irish Fest

One of the most beloved areas at Irish Fest is the Leprechaun Village, where families can explore tiny structures, including a workshop, pub, performance stage, and bank vault.

Just beyond the giant rainbow, check out the Children’s Area with Lili-Putt mini golf, crafts, Highland games, and prizes at the Pot O’ Gold. Explore the Children’s Cultural Area on the playground, including a Children’s Tea Room, the Irish Discovery Zone, and interactive demonstrations.

The Celtic Canine area is another must-see, where you can meet and pet some of Ireland’s most popular dog breeds, talk with the Midwest’s top breeders, and learn about grooming, general care, and training. There’s also a demonstration area highlighting obedience, agility, and hunting skills.

Traditional Irish fare includes bridies (turnovers), sausage rolls, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, and a variety of stuffed baked potatoes. For a sweet dessert, try Bailey’s cheesecake, shamrock cookies or Irish cream puffs.

Get in free: Children 12 and under always get in free, and the festival typically offers free admission on Sunday after attending mass or with a non-perishable food item. You can also get free admission with a donation of school supplies on Thursday.

IndiaFest Milwaukee

TBD 2023
Humboldt Park (3000 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207)
Facebook Page

Indiafest Milwaukee

IndiaFest Milwaukee has become a tradition, bringing communities together beyond borders, boundaries, languages, region and religion; celebrating ‘India’ in a grand fashion in the land of Wisconsin. Festivities usually include a fashion show and Bollywood music and dancing.

MOWA Art & Chalk Fest (Free!)

August 19-20, 2023
Museum of Wisconsin Art (205 Veterans Ave, West Bend, WI 53095)

MOWA Art and Chalk Festival West Bend Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Facebook, @MuseumofWiArt

This free outdoor fine arts and crafts festival features artist booths as well as chalk artists, art activities for all ages, live entertainment and music, food trucks, a beer garden, and more.

Located on the museum’s four-acre campus, this event features artists from the Wisconsin arts community. Experience live art demonstrations from artists who specialize in glass blowing, pottery and ceramics, plein air painting, and, of course, chalk art.

Watch artists demo their craft right before your eyes, or walk away with a henna tattoo, caricature drawing, tintype portrait, or flower crown. Perhaps encounter a live poetry reading. Kids will flock to the balloon artist and kids activity area.

Mexican Fiesta

August 25-27, 2023
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)

Discover Mexican culture at Mexican Fiesta. You’ll find upbeat mariachi music, vibrant folk costumes, and steaming tamales. You can browse authentic folk art for sale, and visit the impressive, colorful sanctuary honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mexican Fiesta at Summerfest Grounds

Mexican Fiesta is a cultural foundation concentrating on providing education and cultural events for the growing Hispanic community. The festival honors culture, tradition, and family.

Children 8 and under get in free with a paid adult, and everyone enjoys free admission on Friday from noon until 3 p.m.

Bronzeville Week

TBD 2023
Bronzeville Week website

Bronzeville Cultural and Arts Festival
Bronzeville Cultural & Arts Festival Sunday August 5, 2018. Pat A. Robinson photo for the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development

Bronzeville Week is the City of Milwaukee’s annual celebration of African-American culture, history, art, commerce, and entertainment.

Root Beer Bash

August 5, 2023
Root Beer Bash Website

Root Beer Bash in Glendale Wisconsin

Float on in for free! This festival is brewed for all ages, with live music, unique shopping, kids activities, giveaways, an art and makers market, festival food, and much more.


Third Ward Art Festival

Festival Website

Free and open to the public, the 11th Annual Third Ward Art Festival, in partnership with the Historic Third Ward Association, will showcase the work of more than 130 juried artists from around the country in a variety of mediums including ceramics, fiber, glass jewelry, sculpture, mixed media, paintings, drawings, photography, printmaking, wood and furniture.

Third Wart Art Festival

The festival features an interactive kid’s art tent, face painting, live music on two stages, and great food and drink options from neighboring restaurants and festival food vendors. The Historic Third Ward Association will also be selling beer and seltzer.

Plenty of nearby parking is available. The show is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Dogs are welcome if they are leashed and friendly!


Port Fish Day

Festa Italiana (Last year it was held at the Italian Community Center.)

Taste of the Islands

Lakefront Festival of the Arts (Virtual)

Related: 5 Hot Air Balloon Festivals Happening in Wisconsin

In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place. In 2019, she published "Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids", a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids. She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee', B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News. Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.

About the author

In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place. In 2019, she published "Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids", a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids. She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee', B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News. Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.

Related Posts