MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Music festivals 2016

May

  • (May 26 – 30)North Iowa Band Festival

    Mason City, IA

    There's a carnival, craft show and car cruise, but don't miss the 10 a.m. Saturday band parade in this northern Iowa town, which Meredith Willson made famous in "The Music Man.''


  • (May 27 – 30)Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival

    Oak Forest, IL

    In this west Chicago suburb, there's lots of music, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests.


  • (May 29)Soundset

    St. Paul, MN

    This hiphop festival will be held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds this year.


June

  • (Jun 10 – 11)Northwoods Bluegrass Festival

    Ladysmith, WI

    Six bluegrass bands play at this festival at the Washburn County Fairgrounds. On-site camping is available.


  • (Jun 17 – 18)Blues on the Fox

    Aurora, IL

    Blues artists perform at the festival grounds on the Fox River, in the town where Chicago blues musicians recorded for RCA's Bluebird label in the 1930s.


  • (Jun 24 – 26)Cedar Basin Jazz Festival

    Cedar Falls, IA

    There will be 42 hours of free entertainment in Sturgis Park, including a Sunday morning gospel set and a jazz brunch.


July

  • (Jul 1 – 2)Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

    Davenport, IA

    In LeClaire Park on the river, blues musicians celebrate the music that traveled up the Mississippi.


  • (Jul 1 – 3)Iowa City Jazz Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This downtown festival features a Culinary Row, Fun Zone for kids and Sunday fireworks in addition to music.


  • (Jul 1 – 3)Ribfest

    Naperville, IL

    Headliners include Sheryl Crow, Lee Brice, 3 Doors Down and the Gin Blossoms in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening.


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Blues Festival

    Thunder Bay, ON

    This festival has a scenic location in Marina Park, on the Lake Superior waterfront.


  • (Jul 8 – 9)80/35 Music Festival

    Des Moines, IA

    This indie and jam music festival (named for the junction of two interstates) is at Western Gateway Park.


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Blissfest

    Cross Village, MI

    This family-friendly folk and roots festival on a farm includes reggae, country, zydeco, jazz and Celtic music on three stages and four workshop areas. There's also a juried arts and crafts fair. Rustic camping is available.


  • (Jul 8 – 10)Square Roots Festival

    Chicago, IL

    The Old Town School of Folk Music presents this Lincoln Square festival, which includes more than 60 acts on four stages plus 30 local and regional craft beers and food from neighborhood restaurants.


  • (Jul 8 – 9)Basilica Block Party

    Minneapolis, MN

    Praise the Loud at this ticketed rock-music fest at the Basilica of St. Mary on the edge of downtown.


  • (Jul 15 – 16)RiverSong Music Festival

    Hutchinson, MN

    This family-friendly festival on the Crow River, west of the Twin Cities, features folk, blues, jazz and other grassroots music on three stages, including one for children. There's onsite camping and food.


  • (Jul 16)Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

    Hear island music on Lake Superior, from Bayfront Festival Park.


  • (Jul 16)Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    This music and arts festival in the Longfellow neighborhood, near Harriet Brewery and Midtown light-rail station, features five stages and 20 bands, including Charlie Parr, "Spider'' John Koerner, Black Eyed Snakes and Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders. 


  • (Jul 17)Woodstock Folk Festival

    Woodstock, IL

    Listen to music on the square in this town just over the Wisconsin border from Lake Geneva.


  • (Jul 21 – 23)Burning Cow Music Festival

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    This second annual fest features 17 emerging and established rock, bluegrass and alt country bands. There's on-site camping.


August

  • (Aug. 11 – 13)Ashley for the Arts music festival

    Arcadia, WI

    This nonprofit festival is in the southwest Wisconsin bluffs, half an hour north of Winona, Minn.

    Headliners include Chicago and Kellie Pickler. Tickets for all three days are $10. In addition to music, there will be a hot-air balloon launch, car show, arts, children's activities and Saturday fireworks.


  • (Aug. 16 – 20)Grant Park Music Festival

    Chicago, IL

    Professional musicians, many of them world-famous, offer free classical concerts in Millennium Park's beautiful Pritzker Pavilion.


  • (Aug. 18 – 21)Boundary Waters Blues Festival

    Ely, MN

    Ten bands play Friday and Saturday on Fall Lake, five miles east of Ely. There's camping on-site.


  • (Aug. 20)Square Lake Film & Music Festival

    Stillwater, MN

    This festival near Square Lake County Park, north of Stillwater, alternates short independent films with live music. Festgoers arriving by bicycle get half-price tickets, which sell out in advance.


  • (Aug. 24 – 28)Lakes Bluegrass Festival

    Pine River, MN

    This family-friendly festival at the Cass County Fairgrounds, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 40 bluegrass shows and free workshops.


  • (Aug. 26 – 27)River Roots Live

    Davenport, IA

    This music festival in LeClaire Park, on the banks of the Mississippi, also features Rib Festival.

     


  • (Aug. 26 – 28)Great River Folk Festival

    La Crosse, WI

    This festival in Riverside Park includes children's activities, a traditional arts and crafts fair and music performances and workshops.


  • (Aug. 26 – 27)Summer Microbrew & Music Festival

    Traverse City, MI

    This festival at Grand Traverse Commons features music and more than 200 craft beers.


  • (Aug. 29 – Sep 4)National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival

    LeMars, IA

    More than 600 musicians perform on 10 stages in this town in northwest Iowa.


September

  • (Sep. 1 – 4)Chicago Jazz Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This free festival features music at the Chicago Cultural Center and  Millennium Park.


  • (Sep. 2 – 4)Marquette Area Blues Fest

    Marquette, MI

    Enjoy two days of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior.


  • (Sep. 3 – 4)Fox Jazz Festival

    Menasha, WI

    This free Fox Cities jazz festival is in Jefferson Park, on the shores of Lake Winnebago.


  • (Sep. 4 – 5)Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival

    Geneva, IL

    Musicians and storytellers perform on eight stages at this festival in Island Park on the Fox River.


  • (Sep. 9 – 25)World Music Festival

    Chicago, IL

    There will be more than 80 artists performing at more than 30 venues across the city, with some performances free and some ticketed.


  • (Sep. 9 – 11)Radio Waves Music Festival

    Grand Marais, MN

    WTIP, North Shore Community Radio, hosts this outdoor fest of more than 25 local and regional music acts next to the municipal campground.


  • (Sep. 10)Rock Bend Folk Festival

    St. Peter, MN

    This free, easygoing festival in this Minnesota River town's Minnesota Square Park includes local favorites The Divers.


  • (Sep. 10)Washington County Bluegrass Festival

    Lake Elmo, MN

    Bluegrass bands will play at this family festival at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, free with $5 vehicle permit. There also will be camping and food vendors.


  • (Sep. 10 – 11)East Troy Bluegrass Festival

    East Troy, WI

    Listen to bluegrass bands and contests in the historic village square. There's also a food court and marketplace.


  • (Sep. 15 – 18)Michigan Irish Music Festival

    Muskegon, MI

    There's music on three stages, plus dance and session tents, a cultural village, Celtic Kitchen and limerick contest.


  • (Sep. 15 – 17)World Music Festival

    Madison, WI

    Wisconsin Memorial Union hosts free concerts by bands from Tibet, Israel Sudan, India, Zanzibar, Italy, Argentina and Mexico.


  • (Sep. 16 – 18)Riot Fest

    Chicago, IL

    This Douglas Park music festival also features a circus sideshow revue and carnival.


  • (Sep. 22 – 25)Boats and Bluegrass

    Winona, MN

    This family-oriented festival in Prairie Island Park, on the Mississippi River, features disc golf, paddling and airplane rides as well as music. A weekend pass includes camping and canoeing, and kids under 16 are free with an adult ticket.


  • (Sep. 24 – 25)Hyde Park Jazz Festival

    Chicago, IL

    Listen to non-stop music during this free festival at venues in and around Midway Plaisance, near the Museum of Science and Industry and Lake Michigan.


October

November

  • (Nov. 4 – 5)Witching Hour Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    This festival features the creative processes of musicians, artists, comedians, writers, thinkers, scientists, magicians. Russian activists Pussy Riot will speak, and musicians include Wu Fei and the Duluth band Low.