By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Sep 04, 2023 at 9:11 AM Photography: Visit Milwaukee

Festival City is hopping this summer! OnMilwaukee's Festival Guide is brought to you by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Escape the heat and step inside! 

The Great Milwaukee Summer has finally arrived – and with all sorts of fabulous festivals and glorious gatherings in tow. We've survived the winter and whatever grey cold nonsense we allegedly call spring: Now it's time to start planning out your summer fun! 

With seemingly a festival or live music event every weekend, however, it can be overwhelming to try and keep track of all the terrific options headed your way.

Luckily, the OnMilwaukee summer festivals guide is here to help.

Here's what you'll be doing, where you'll be drinking, who you'll be hearing and how you'll be getting a sweet tan this summer – and stay tuned for updates as more festivals announce their official dates, musical lineups and more. (If you're looking for even more live music, check out OnMilwaukee's free summer live music series guide as well!)

Now get out there and have some Milwaukee summer fun!

Bristol Renaissance Faire
Now through Sept. 4
Grab your corset or your homemade chainmail armor: The Bristol Renaissance Faire is set to make its annual return. Open rain or shine every Saturday, Sunday and on Labor Day, the Bristol Faire takes visitors for a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., complete with 16th-century arts, crafts, games, rides, food, music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a colorful cast of characters from the era. Don't miss out on its theme weekends either, like Steampunk Weekend from July 15-16 or Pirate Weekend on Aug. 5-6.

Festa Italiana
Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Ave.
Sept. 8-10

Viva Festa! This year's event sticks with last year's return to its roots, celebrating once again in and around the Italian Community Center with all the terrific traditions Festa friends know and love, from bocce to Italian dance to traditional ceremonies to the delicious food and drink, and so much more. It's one of the last cultural festivals of the Great Milwaukee Summer – but by no means the least!

Milwaukee Night Market
Wisconsin Avenue between 2nd Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue
Sept. 13
Milwaukee Night Market is a glorious once-a-month collision of all wonder things Milwaukee has to offer. From 5-10 p.m., the Night Market puts on a free, open-air market that offers a wide variety of experiences for people of all backgrounds and ages, featuring a mash-up of art, craft and food vendors, live art creation, local music, Milwaukee businesses, tasty beverages and much more. Any day that ends with a Night Market is a good day.

Bay View Bash
Between Potter and Clement on Kinnickinnic Avenue
Sept. 16
The Bay View Bash is back, delivering a community festival filled with food, art, music, crafts, books, community organizations and entertainment from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Kick it down Kinnickinnic with everything outstanding the Bay View neighborhood has to offer. 

Henry Maier Festival Park
Sept. 23
You've had all the festival fun this summer; it's only fair your cats, puppers and other furry friends have one dedicated to them as well. That's Fromm Petfest, a free festival running from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and featuring all sorts of fun activities and excitement for all your four-legged friends – from dock-diving to agility to just happy summery snacking. The best part: It's a festival for your pets, but you'll probably have a hoot too!

Doors Open Milwaukee
Sept. 23-24
Historic Milwaukee gets well over 100 buildings – big and small, new and old, landmarks and hidden gems – to quite literally open their doors to the city of Milwaukee for this adventure-minded early fall event. Guided tours are often times offered free of charge with no entry fee required – but if there is somewhere particularly interesting to you, check out the in-depth tours that are ticketed. Get out there and be a tourist in your hometown!

Harbor Fest
UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences, 600 E. Greenfield Ave.
Sept. 24
We've spent a lot of time soaking in the sun this summer – let's give our water some shine too! That's Harbor Fest, returning from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. to celebrate all things aquatic with a number of performers, vendors, boat parades and more gathering around our great waters. 

Milwaukee Comedy Festival
Venues across the city
Oct. 1-8
Show of hands: Who's in need of a good laugh these days? Alright, let's tally this up, looks like ... yep, literally everybody. Luckily, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival is coming back around for its annual week-long run of tight fives, with performers ranging in experience and style – from stand-up to sketch to improv and beyond – but all certain to hit your funny bone. This year's headliners include Kyle Kinane, Todd Barry and Kelly Ryan.