MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Heritage festivals 2018

March

  • (Mar. 10)St. Patrick's Day parade

    Milwaukee, WI

    The big parade starts at noon, starting at Third and Wisconsin downtown and followed by music, dancing and pipes and drums at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center.


  • (Mar. 10)Celtic Fest

    Moorhead, MN

    This free festival at the Hjemkomst Center includes two entertainment stages, heritage programs, arts and crafts, interactive booths and Celtic food and treats.


  • (Mar. 10 – 11)Winter Powwow

    West Allis, WI

    This traditional powwow with drumming, singing and food is the winter version of Indian Summer Festival. At Wisconsin State Fair Park. Grand entries are 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.


  • (Mar. 12 – 17)St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Fest

    New London, WI

    This town west of Appleton becomes "New Dublin'' for the week, with festivities that include a big Grand Parade at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed with Irish music, food and marketplace under a heated big-top tent.


  • (Mar. 15 – 17)St. Patrick's Day Festival

    Emmetsburg, IA

    In northwest Iowa, this is the state's Irish capital, and it celebrates with many festivities, including a parade at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.


  • (Mar. 17)St. Patrick's Day parade

    Madison, WI

    The parade is at 1:30 p.m. and runs from Capitol Square.


May

  • (May 3 – 6)Festival of Nations

    St. Paul, MN

    Enjoy food, music, crafts and dance from 90 different ethnic groups at the downtown RiverCentre.


  • (May 3 – 5)Pella Tulip Time

    Pella, IA

    This big Dutch heritage fest features daily historical tours, a craft market and afternoon and evening parades.


  • (May 5 – 13)Tulip Time

    Holland, MI

    More than 6 million tulips bloom during this festival, which features a Dutch market, dancers, trolley tours, big-name performers and three parades, ending with the Muziekparade, with 40 bands and 40 floats.


  • (May 5)Cinco de Mayo

    St. Paul, MN

    This fiesta on the West Side (just south of downtown) features a parade, low-rider car show and lots of food, music and dancing.


  • (May 5 – 6)Maifest

    Amana, IA

    There's a lot going on in this former communal society in eastern Iowa — a 10 a.m. Saturday parade, polka music, keg-tapping, food-sampling, artisan demonstrations and pony rides.


  • (May 17 – 19)Tulip Festival

    Orange City, IA

    The popular festival in this Dutch town in northwest Iowa celebrates its 77th anniversary with dance, music, street scrubbing and parades at 2:15 and 6 p.m. daily.


  • (May 18 – 20)Syttende Mai

    Stoughton, WI

    The festival in this town south of Madison, which celebrates Norwegian constitution day, is the largest in North America and probably the world. It features Norwegian dancing, Viking games, fjord horses, a canoe race, an arts fair and a big parade at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.


  • (May 18 – 20)Syttende Mai

    Spring Grove, MN

    In Minnesota, Norwegians settled first in this town in bluff country. There's Norwegian food, music and dance, and a big parade at noon Saturday.


  • (May 19 – 20)Syttende Mai

    Westby, WI

    This Norwegian town, southeast of La Crosse, holds a bicycle tour, troll hunt, rommegrot-eating contest, old-time music, children's tractor pull and a big parade at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.


  • (May 26 – 28)Fort Michilimackinac Pageant

    Mackinaw City, MI

    This free pageant at Colonial Michilimackinac features a cast of more than 400, re-enacting events that took place between the French, British and Indian tribes on June 2, 1763.

    There are also 18th-century fashion shows, voyageur contests, kids' games, a Saturday parade and fireworks.


  • (May 26 – 27)Native American Festival

    St. Ignace, MI

    This family-friendly festival at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture features drumming, dancing, singing, Ojibwa games, artisan workshops and Sunday mass in Ojibwa.


June

  • (Jun 2)Milwaukee Highland Games

    Wauwatosa, WI

    Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes.


  • (Jun 15 – 17)Polish Fest

    Milwaukee, WI

    This big festival on the lakefront features lots of hearty food, a piano contest, storytelling, vodka-tasting, folk arts and polka dancing.


  • (Jun 16)Midsummer Fest

    Coon Valley, WI

    This family festival at Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center, in the coulees near La Crosse, features the best of Scandinavian culture: food, music and crafts. For children, there will be a visit from the trolls by the bridge, fjord horses and a scavenger hunt.


  • (Jun 19 – 24)Swedish Days Festival

    Geneva, IL

    This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music, a carnival, a Swedish cottage walk and a big parade Sunday. 


  • (Jun 22 – 23)Midwest Viking/Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival

    Moorhead, MN

    This festival at the Hjemkomst Center includes demonstrations, performances and goods that tell about society and culture in Viking-age Scandinavia and beyond.


July

  • (Jul 12 – 15)Bastille Days

    Milwaukee, WI

    Look for minstrels, cancan dancers, French lessons, a Mardi Gras parade and a 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower in Cathedral Square Park.


  • (Jul 15)Chinatown Summer Fair

    Chicago, IL

    There's a Lion Dance, Chinese classical dance and music, demonstrations of martial arts and displays of ancient art forms and disciplines plus a petting zoo, pony rides and cutest baby and a "hot legs" contest for men.


  • (Jul 19 – 21)Lumberjack World Championships

    Hayward, WI

    You can't see this kind of thing just anywhere: cut-throat log rolling, boom running, springboard chopping and speed climbing.


  • (Jul 19 – 21)Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant

    Walnut Grove, MN

    The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.'' Family Festivals are held each Saturday.


  • (Jul 20 – 22)Bavarian Blast

    New Ulm, MN

    In addition to German music, food and beer, this festival at the Brown County Fair Grounds features stein-holding, barrel-rolling and sauerkraut-eating contests, plus a parade at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.


  • (Jul 20 – 22)Festa Italiana

    Milwaukee, WI

    At the lakefront Henry Maier Festival Park, there's cannoli-eating and pizza-making contests, celebrity chefs, a bocce ball tournament, parades at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, nightly fireworks and music and dance on five stages and an opera tent.


  • (Jul 26 – 28)Nordic Fest

    Decorah, IA

    It's the 52nd year of this friendly, authentic and very large festival of Scandinavian culture. It features a Viking encampment, kids' games, artisan demonstrations, lutefisk-eating and Nordic rock-throwing contests and a big parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.


  • (Jul 27 – 29)German Fest

    Milwaukee, WI

    Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan.


August

  • (Aug. 5 – 18)Folklorama

    Winnipeg, MB

    This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues.


  • (Aug. 10 – 12)Grand Portage Powwow & Rendezvous

    Grand Portage, MN

    Re-enactors from across the continent gather at Grand Portage National Monument for the annual fur-trade rendezvous; next door, the  Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa holds a powwow. Reserve lodgings far in advance.


  • (Aug. 10 – 12)Irish Fair

    St. Paul, MN

    This big heritage fest on the banks of the Mississippi includes Irish Got Talent and best legs in a kilt contests, hurling demonstrations, dancing and lots of music.


  • (Aug. 10 – 12)Twin Cities Polish Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    This celebration of Polish culture is on the St. Anthony Main riverfront across from downtown, with music, art, food and free polka lessons.


  • (Aug. 16 – 19)Irish Fest

    Milwaukee, WI

    The nation's largest Irish festival features 100 acts on 16 stages, plus children's activities, red hair and freckle contests and demonstrations by Irish dog breeds. In Henry Maier Festival Park.


  • (Aug. 24 – 26)Mexican Fiesta

    Milwaukee, WI

    Enjoy the best of Mexican culture at the Henry Maier Festival Park: mariachi, arts and crafts, spicy foods and contests: dance, costume, jalapeno-eating and el grito, or shouting.


  • (Aug. 31 – Sep 2)Wilhelm Tell Festival

    New Glarus, WI

    This Swiss town near Madison has been putting on an outdoor William Tell pageant since 1938. Festivities include a children's lantern parade, yodeling, an arts show and ethnic fashions.


September

  • (Sep. 7 – 9)Indian Summer Festival

    Milwaukee, WI

    This lakefront festival features a powwow, canoe rides, cooking demonstrataions, Aztec dancers and lacrosse lessons.


  • (Sep. 9)Scandinavian Day

    South Elgin, IL

    This festival in Vasa Park, along the Fox River, features music, dancing, food and crafts from the Nordic countries.


  • (Sep. 15 – 16)Festival of the Voyageur

    Pine City, MN

    No one's more fun than a voyageur, and they'll be dancing, boasting and trying to best one another at this family-friendly event at the Snake River (formerly North West Company) Fur Post, an hour north of the Twin Cities. For the kids, there's a bead scramble, candle-dipping and a scavenger hunt.


  • (Sep. 15)Parade of Nations and Multicultural Festival

    Hancock/Houghton, MI

    The parade begins in Hancock and ends in Houghton at Dee Stadium, where there's a festival with music, dancing and food from around the world.


  • (Sep. 21 – 22)German Fest

    Guttenberg, IA

    There will be music, dancing, children's games and lock and dam tours in this antebellum town on the Mississippi River.


  • (Sep. 22 – 23)All-State Barn Tour in Iowa

    Across the state, IA

    It's the Iowa Barn Foundation's annual free, self-guided tour of restored historic barns.


  • (Sep. 28 – 30)Cornish Festival

    Mineral Point, WI

    In the old lead-mining district in southwest Wisconsin, play shove ha'penny in the Kiddleywink Pub, eat figgyhobbin and pasties, listen to tommyknocker tales and tour Cornish miners' cottages.


October

  • (Oct. 7)Harvest Fest

    New Glarus, WI

    See old-time artisanry at the Swiss Historical Village, including sausage-stuffing and cheese-making in the 1890s cheese factory.


  • (Oct. 13 – 14)Civil War Immersion Weekend at Norskedalen

    Coon Valley, WI

    This pioneer farmstead in the coulees southeast of La Crosse is wonderfully atmospheric, and the crackerjack re-enactors of the Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry's Company B give the region's most affecting portrayal of war.


November

  • (Nov. 16 – 18)Holiday Folk Fair International

    West Allis, WI

    More than 50 ethnic groups are represented with music, dance, food and crafts. At the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center.


December

  • (Dec. 1)Norwegian Christmas Weekend

    Decorah, IA

    In the northeast Iowa bluffs, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum will have Scandinavian food, theater, music, folk-art demonstrations, singing around the Jule tree and appearances by Julenisse and Julebukker.