MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Heritage festivals 2020

March

  • (Mar. 13 – 15)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. 14)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. 15)St. Patrick's Day parade

    Madison, WI

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


  • (Mar. 16 – 21)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. 21)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.


April

May

  • (May 2 – 10)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.

    It's canceled in 2020.


  • (May 2)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.

    The festival is virtual this year -- watch it online.


  • (May 2)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 7 – 9)Pella Tulip Time

    Pella, IA

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


  • (May 14 – 16)Tulip Festival

    Orange City, IA

    The popular festival in this Dutch town in northwest Iowa celebrates its 80th anniversary with dance, music, street scrubbing and parades at 2:15 and 6 p.m. daily.


  • (May 15 – 17)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 15 – 17)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 16 – 17)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 22 – 23)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.


  • (May 23 – 25)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 29 – 31)Festa Italia

    Fitchburg, WI

    The heritage festival at McKee Farms Park in this Madison suburb features such things as folk dancing, a puppet show, a pasta-eating contest and vintage baseball as well as bocce ball.


June

  • (Jun 6)Milwaukee Highland Games

    Wauwatosa, WI

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


  • (Jun 12 – 14)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 23 – 28)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 26 – 27)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 9 – 12)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 16 – 19)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 Sunday parade.


  • (Jul 17 – 19)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 18 – 19)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 23 – 25)Nordic Fest

    Decorah, IA

    It's the 54th 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 24 – 25)Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant

    Walnut Grove, MN

    The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.'' 


  • (Jul 24 – 26)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.

    Canceled in 2020.


  • (Jul 30 – Aug 1)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 31 – Aug 2)Festa Italiana

    Naperville, IL

    This festival at the Naper Settlement is a showcase for Italian culture, food, music and artisans and has two entertainment stages.


August

  • (Aug. 2 – 15)Folklorama

    Winnipeg, MB

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


  • (Aug. 7 – 9)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. 7 – 9)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.

    Canceled in 2020.


  • (Aug. 13 – 16)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. 21 – 23)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.


September

  • (Sep. 4 – 6)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.


  • (Sep. 26 – 27)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.


November

  • (Nov. 20 – 22)Virtual Holiday Folk Fair International

    West Allis, WI

    More than 50 ethnic groups present music, dance, food and crafts from around the world. At the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center.

    This year, it will be online.