Festivals and Parades

Milwaukee, the City of Festivals, holds more festivals than any other city in the United States.  There isn't an idle weekend in Milwaukee from Memorial Day through Labor Day.Every week, the metro area hosts at least one major celebration. THe largest of these festivals is Summerfest,  “The World’s Largest Music Festival”. Over its 11-day run at the 75-acre Henry W. Maier Festival Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, Summerfest enthralls nearly 900,000 music lovers. It offers a veritable buffet of the music industry’s hottest stars, classic icons, emerging talent and local favorites. Among the artists featured this year are: Dave Matthews, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, Imagine Dragons, Halsley and Logic, Florida Georgia Line, Journey and Def Leppard, Shawn Mendes and Lady Antebellum. The live music is accompanied by great food and beverages, as well as shopping at four marketplaces. General and weekday admissions, 11-day Power Passes and 3-day passes are available. summerfest.com

The festival park also is used to stage the many events organized by local ethnic groups, including Festa Italiana, German Fest, Irish Fest, Mexican Fiesta, PrideFest, Indian Summer, and Polish Fest.

Festivals and parades, however, aren’t confined to the lakefront. Parade season kicks off in March with the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Westown Milwaukee. In July, Milwaukeeans celebrate the beginning of the French Revolution at Bastille Days, a downtown block party that is considered to be the largest celebration of its kind in the country. Greek Fest is an annual celebration held at State Fair Park. In addition, Catholic parishes hold weekend galas throughout the city, while River Rhythms draws hundreds of people to the Milwaukee River in the summer. The annual Kettle Moraine Jazz Festival attracts thousands of jazz lovers to West Bend every September.

Racine’s 1,000-slip marina is a focal point of activity throughout the summer. The city’s nationally famous fishing contest, Salmon-A-Rama, draws participants from around the country in July.

The Wisconsin State Fair is the premier family fun event of the summer, featuring something for everyone. The fair is held each August at State Fair Park in West Allis and is the area's largest event, attracting close to 910,000 people over 11 days. 

Summer doesn’t have a monopoly on area activities. The Milwaukee Film Festival brings internationally acclaimed films to local theaters in the fall. The annual Holiday Folk Fair International, the nation’s oldest and largest indoor ethnic festival, is held around Thanksgiving each year at the Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park.

Racine is noted for its lavish Christmas displays and holiday parades. You’ll want to check out “Christmas House,” which consists of two turn-of-the-century mansions bathed in more than 200,000 lights. The Festival of Trees features 30 professionally decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses. Then there is the outdoor ice skating at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee, where you can enjoy coffee or hot chocolate while you glide away in the city’s theater district.

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