Milwaukee comes alive in the summer with festivals all over the city. Lots of them are kid-friendly! Here’s a list to bookmark and reference throughout the festival season.
Search by month or scroll through them all.
All (in chronological order)
Locust Street Festival of Music & Art (Free!)
Sunday, June 9th from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Locust Street between Humboldt and Holton
Local music and art lovers will love the six outdoor music stages and dozens of artists and vendors featured at the Locust Street Festival. The festival also hosts a thunderous drum circle, children’s activities, and food and drink vendors.
June 13-15, 2019
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
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, Kohl’s Wild Theater, 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.
Free admission for dads! Polish Fest is usually held over Father’s Day week, and dads are typically offered free admission when accompanied by their child. Check their website for other admission deals.
Juneteenth Day Parade (Free!)
2460 N. 6th St., Milwaukee, WI 53212
Juneteenth Day is June 19th, and it commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. Today, it is a celebration of African American achievement. The celebration in Milwaukee includes a lively parade, a Miss Juneteenth Day Pageant, and food vendors.
Greek Fest (Free admission!)
June 21 – 23, 2019
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, 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 for parking.
Summer Soulstice (Free!)
Saturday, June 22nd, 2019 from noon – midnight
2122 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202
The trendy East Side hosts Summer Soulstice, a free showcase of local bands, visual artists, Milwaukee makers, creation stations, East Side restaurants, dodgeball and BMX stunt bikes, and family-friendly crafts and activities such as an adventure rock wall.
Top pick: Strawberry Fest (Free!)
Saturday, June 22nd and Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
Downtown Cedarburg – Washington Ave.
If you can handle the crowds, you’ll find tons for the kids to do at Cedarburg’s free annual Strawberry Fest, and you’ll get to enjoy some tasty summer treats while you’re there. You can try the original strawberry brat, or some sweet strawberry shortcake, among seemingly endless options. Stroll down the 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, lots of games, and prizes.
Cuban Day Street Festival (Free!)
Sunday, June 23 at 12 PM – 7 PM
New location: Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek
Each year, local restaurant Cubanitas hosts the lively Cuban Day Street Festival. It includes live music, free dance instruction, kids activities, and delicious Cuban food for sale.
Summerfest with kids
June 26 – July 7, 2018
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 this cream city tradition may not be kid-friendly, the festival itself most certainly is. Here are some of the best things to do with kids:
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.
Children’s Theater & Playzone: Visit the daily lineup pages for information on daily, family-focused performers and show times.
Kohl’s Captivation Station: This area lives up to its name, captivating children of all ages with hands on art projects, live theater and family friendly performers. Families can meet new characters and puppets and enjoy wildlife adventures and songs in conservation-themed performances by Kohl’s Wild Theater, part of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. You can also create a one-of-a-kind art project with Kohl’s Color Wheels, an extension of the Milwaukee Art Museum. For innovative design projects, stop by the Kohl’s Design it! Mobile Lab. You’ll learn techniques and methods from design professionals from Discovery World.
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 – 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 – 7:00 p.m. each day at the boat dock on the north end of the grounds. Boats can hold up to four people.
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.
Get in free: To save on admission and take advantage of food and beverage deals, check the schedule for Kohl’s Family Day and Children’s Fest Day.
-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? No problem. Look for a Nursing Mothers Station in the Children’s Area and at the South Gate Information Booth. These pods provide a comfortable, private and convenient space for nursing moms.
Fireworks Kite Festival (Free!)
Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019
Veterans Park (1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
The Fireworks Kite Festival is a just-for-fun kite fly of which everyone is welcome to participate. 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.
Bristol Renaissance Faire
Saturdays, Sundays & Labor Day
July 6th – September 2nd, 2019
12550 120th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53142
Climb a castle wall, shoot bow and arrows, and throw an axe all in one day. If you love all things medieval, you should definitely step back in time to attend this festival 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.
Bastille Days (Free!)
July 11 – 14, 2019
Cathedral Square Park (825 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
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.
Pro tip: Kids’ and Family Day is usually Saturday, offering soccer and dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, and more.
CANCELLED FOR 2019 Top pick: Waterford Hot Air Balloon Festival (Free!)
817 W. Main St., Waterford, WI 53185
Top pick: Festa Italiana
July 19-21, 2019
Henry Maier Festival Park
639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202
For the littlest bambinos, Festa Italiana offers FREE carnival rides for the whole family all three days! Sponsored by Catholic Financial Life, rides include: Giant Slide, Go-Gator, Rio Grande Train, Merry Go Round, Tilt-a-Whirl, Paratrooper, Round Up and Sky Fighter. The Pinocchio Parade will wind its way through the festival Saturday and Sunday evening! Led by Pinocchio, Geppetto, the Blue Fairy and Topo Gigio, the beloved parade celebrates the music, culture and spirit of Italy – plus many surprises along the way! The annual Kids Pizza Making Contest is a fun way for children of all ages to create fresh, made-from-scratch pizza in front of the live Cucina Showcase audience. Winners for each age group will receive a commemorative t-shirt. Visit the Children’s Stage all three days for a variety family acts, including a magician, juggling act, ventriloquist and Children’s Italian Dance Group! Check out the schedule. Other family fun activities include the flag throwers, bocce ball, a splash zone and fireworks every night around 10:00 p.m. Families can also enjoy a gondola ride to view Festa from the water’s view. Tickets for Festa Italiana are now on sale. Purchase your advance ticket for $10 now through July 19 online. Tickets are $13 at the Gate. Children 12 and under free.
Get in free: Children under 12 are admitted free during the entire festival, and they typically offer free admission for all on Sunday.
Milwaukee Air & Water Show (Free!)
July 27 & 28, 2019
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 23 – 28, 2019
3000 Pleasant Valley Rd, West Bend, WI 53095
The Family Expo Center is the center of kid-friendly activities. Enjoy horse shows, the small animal tents, contests, 4-H performances, tractor pulls, and much more.
July 26-28, 2019
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
The sounds of carousel organs and the smell of German cuisine – sausage, sauerkraut, and schnitzel – float through the festival grounds, bringing German culture to life. Families head there each year for the Dachsund Derby and costume contest, the Glockenspiel clock that comes to life every few hours, traditional “tracht” clothing, German dance performances, mascots, and parades.
Get in free: Kids under 12 are always free. Sunday is typically free during specified times for those who bring non-perishable food items. Check the website for updated information.
Brady Street Festival (Free!)
July 27th, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. to midnight
Head to funky Brady Street for live entertainment all day and night from local bands on four stages. Stunt bike and tumbling shows, arts and crafts, and a rock climbing wall make this a family-friendly event.
Art and Chalk Fest at MOWA (Free!)
July 27 & 28, 2019
Museum of Wisconsin Art (205 Veterans Ave, West Bend, WI 53095)
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 vendors, a beer garden, and more.
Ozaukee County Fair (Free!)
July 31st – August 4, 2019
W67N866 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, WI 53012
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.
Wisconsin State Fair
August 1-11, 2019
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. 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. You might also catch a parade which take place daily and feature mascots, tractors, marching bands, and more.
It will be difficult to resist the big yellow slide, which has been around for over fifty years. Hop onto a burlap sack and take a ride down the 200 foot slide for $2.50 per person.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, the Wisconsin Expo Center 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.
The Machine Shed will usually satisfy the latter, serving up the likes of donut cheeseburgers and deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For old favorites, search for pork chops and corn on the cob, capped off with a cream puff.
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.
-Check the State Fair’s website for Kohl’s Family Value Day, when all fairgoers receive discounted admission.
-Children five and under are free throughout the fair.
-Get a free identification wristband for your children near a main entrance or at We Energies Energy Park.
-Save money on food on Crazy Grazin’ Day. Check their website for details about vendors and specials.
Milwaukee Dragon Festival (Free!)
August 10, 2019
Lakeshore State Park
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.
August 15 – 18, 2019
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.
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.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a la Carte
August 15 – 18, 2019
10001 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226
Grab your lawn chairs and spend a relaxing summer evening at the 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 dozens of the area’s best restaurants. Parents can enjoy a glass of wine and live music in the Giraffe Village Wine Tent. Kids will love the arts and crafts projects and special animal exhibits. Zoo rides are available for purchase.
August 23 – 25, 2018
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.
Taste of the Islands
Saturday, August 25th, 2019 from 2:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (929 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
The annual Taste of the Islands event at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts celebrates the ending of the Live at Peck Pavilion series. It focuses on a different island each year and includes live music and entertainment, themed food and beverages, and activities for kids such as crafts and face painting.
Indian Summer Festival
CANCELLED FOR 2019
200 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202