We absolutely love a festival here in Wisconsin. Sure, Milwaukee known is known as the city of festivals, but there are actually events all across the state that celebrate the cultures of the people that settled and now live here. We have a pretty amazing group of people that makes up the community we call “Wisconsinites” and we’re so lucky that they’re all willing and wanting to share their backgrounds with us.
From learning new cultures to eating some amazing food and everything in between, you’ll want to make plans to attend some of these amazing festivals.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Holiday Folk Fair International - Milwaukee
If you go to one festival all year, make it this one. It's an amazing mix of cultures that are showcase through food, dancing, theater and shopping all under one roof. It's a beautiful collection of all the pieces that make up the tapestry of our state. It takes place at Wisconsin State Fair Park on November 17-19, 2017. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the gate.
2. Oktoberfest - LaCrosse
There are few places outside of Munich that put together an Oktoberfest celebration like LaCrosse does. Pulling on the deep German roots of Wisconsin, this bacchanalia is overwhelming in it's size and exuberance. Next year, the celebration is on September 28-30, 2018.
3. Irish Fest - Milwaukee
This Irish Festival is so giant, it often draws dignitaries straight from Ireland, including the president herself a few years back. Save up your pennies and purchase a fair-special-priced flight to Dublin. Gorgeous dancers, lots of red hair and freckles, a surprisingly diverse set of music and the most fun you'll have all summer. Located at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds on August 16-19, 2019. Tickets are $5 on Thursday, $10 on Friday and $20 for Saturday and Sunday.
4. Syttende Mai - Stoughton
This celebration of Norwegian Culture takes place from May 18, 19 & 20, 2018. "Syttende Mai" means "17th of May," and is Norway’s Constitution Day, a national holiday celebrated in Norway with parades, red white and blue ribbons and flags, national costumes, and lots of fun. It's similar to our 4th of July. At the festival you'll find authentic Norwegian meatballs, krumkake, and lefse, the Sunday parade, hardanger fiddle music, even cheese curds! You’ll see people of Norwegian ancestry dressed in bunads, traditional folk costumes. You’ll find demonstrations of the traditional Norwegian arts of rosemaling and hardanger embroidery. You’ll also see performances by our Norwegian Dancers, students from Stoughton High School, who practice and perform authentic Scandinavian dances throughout the year. There are also Viking Canoe Races and strongman competitions.
5. Cornish Festival - Mineral Point
This area of the state drew immigrants from Cornwall to work in their mines as they had back in England. This festival celebrates all things Cornwall, from history to food and music. It takes place in conjunction with Taste of Mineral Point and is a great way to spend a fall weekend. September 28, 29 and 30, 2018
6. German Fest - Milwaukee
Come for the beer, brats and polka, stay for the glockenspiel, Dachshund races and potato pancakes! Takes place on July 27, 28 and 29, 2018. Tickets on Friday are just $3. Saturday and Sunday are $12. At the Henry Maier Festival grounds on Milwaukee's Lakefront.
7. Czech-Slovak Festival - Phillips
Always on the third full weekend in June, this celebration is just $2, or free to anyone in a traditional ethnic costume. There's an old world beer garden, arts and crafts, vendors and of course a whole lot of polka. Takes place at Phillips High School on June 15-17, 2018.
8. Asia Fest - Milwaukee
Unable to put on in 2017, but hoping to be back in 2018. Part delicious food festival and part celebration of the things that make India, China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka and many more countries unique, you'll experience dance, music, live band and different performances plus an amazing fusion of all these cultures. Fingers crossed this one returns - there's nothing else like it in the state.
9. Fyr Bal Festival - Ephraim
On June 16, 2018, plan to be in Door County for this awesome festival that re-creates traditions of early Norwegians celebrating Midsummer’s Eve. Enjoy entertainment throughout the city and along the shore during the day, but stay for the evening bonfires that represent the burning of the ‘Winter Witch’ and usher in the long days of summer. Fireworks complete a perfect day.
10. Greek Fest - Milwaukee
This festival used to be held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on MIlwaukee's northwest side, but outgrew the space. Now you have all the room you could want to sing, dance and eat. Takes place on June 22-24, 2018 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis.
11. Midsummer Festival - Coon Valley
The Norskedelen Norwegian Valley in the driftless region celebrates Midsummer as it is considered the second most important yearly celebration in Norway. It's a part for the equinox that is both happy and sad. It marks the full return of the light but the next day is the beginning of the descent into darkness. The celebration includes woodcarving, pioneer demonstrations, classic Norwegian food, music and more. Takes place on June 16, 2018.
12. Festa Italiana - Milwaukee
If you have one ethnic festival you visit for the food, make it this one. You'll be stuffed full of pasta and cannoli and be so, so happy. Tickets are $13. There's always some amazing and interesting concerts, as well. Festa takes places July 21-23 at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds on MIlwaukee's Lakefront.
13. Volkfest - New Glarus
New Glarus has plenty of festivals and other reasons to draw you to their door, but this celebration of Swiss Independence will be on Sunday, August 5, 2018 from 1:00 PM 3:30 PM at Wilhelm Tell Shooting Park. The entertainment includes choral folklore music, yodeling, flag throwing, thalerschwingen, alphorn playing, and accordion music. They say they charge a modest admission fee, but do not give a monetary value.
14. Wisconsin Highland Games - Waukesha
Celebrating the culture of all the British Isles, you'll find caber tossing, Irish dancing, plenty of beer and a whole lot more at this state-wide event. From pipes and drums to a longbow competition and everything else you can imagine, this festival is truly not to be missed. Takes place August 31, September 1 and 2, 2018 at the Waukesha County Expo Center.
15. Mexican Fiesta - Milwaukee
This festival is an amazing visual feast. There's so much color and movement and dancing will fascinate you. Plus, the food is amazing. Takes place August 24-16, 2017 at Henry Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee's Lakefront.
16. Holland Festival - Cedar Grove
Taking place on July 27 and 28, 2018, you can leave this festival with your own hand-carved pair of wooden shoes. There's also plenty of music, food and other entertainment to keep you busy.
17. Indian Summer Festival - Milwaukee
This one sort of closes the big ethnic festival season in Milwaukee and what a festival to go out on. If you have never been, put this one on your calendar. It's an amazing experience like nothing you've ever seen. Takes place September 7-9, 2018. at the Henry Maier Festival Park Tickets are $5 on Friday evening and $15 the rest of the weekend.