MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Music festivals 2019

January

  • (Jan. 30 – Feb 2)Winter Dance Party

    Clear Lake, IA

    The Surf Ballroom marks the 60th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours. Performers include Chubby Checker and the Wildcats, the Chiffons and Wendy and Carnie Wilson. 


February

April

  • (Apr. 12 – 14)Roots and Bluegrass Festival

    River Falls, WI

    Hear music at half a dozen venues in the downtown of this western Wisconsin college town.


  • (Apr. 26 – 27)Eau Claire Jazz Festival

    Eau Claire, WI

    Headliners play the State Theatre, and on Friday, more than 50 bands play acoustic jazz, ragtime, big-band and blues along Barstow Street downtown, recreating New York's 52nd Street.


  • (Apr. 28 – May 5)Homegrown Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

    More than 100 musical acts will perform in venues around the Twin Ports, and there also will be film, visual arts and craft beer.


May

  • (May 3 – 4)Midwest Music Fest

    Winona, MN

    Dozens of musical groups in all genres play in museums, galleries, cafes and arts centers across town. There are arts workshops for children, too.


  • (May 11)Reggae Fest

    Trempealeau, WI

    The Trempealeau Hotel hosts this easygoing festival on the banks of the Mississippi. 


  • (May 19 – 26)Duluth Dylan Festival

    Duluth, MN

    The town in which Bob Dylan was born celebrates the singer's 77th birthday with a Blood on the Tracks train ride, a singer-songwriter contest, a bus tour, films, music and a trivia contest.

     

     

     


  • (May 23 – 27)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 23 – 26)Tree Town Music Festival

    Forest City, IA

    The country-music festival in this town near Clear Lake features Jake Owens, Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. There's camping (and glamping) onsite.


  • (May 24 – 26)World's Largest Brat Fest

    Madison, WI

    There's music on four stages, plus kids' games, a sports zone, carnival rides and Sunday fireworks. Headliners include Smash Mouth. Admission is free. Outside the Alliant Energy Center.


  • (May 24 – 27)Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival

    Oak Forest, IL

    In this south Chicago suburb, there's music on five stages, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests.


  • (May 26)BobFest

    Spring Green, WI

    The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 78th birthday with free outdoor music.


  • (May 26)Soundset

    St. Paul, MN

    This hiphop festival is at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.


  • (May 31 – Jun 1)Gospel Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This free music festival is in Millennium Park and across the street at the Cultural Center.


June

  • (Jun 7 – 9)Blues Festival

    Chicago, IL

    The largest of Chicago's free music festivals draws 750,000 people to Millennium Park. 


  • (Jun 7 – 8)Stamman Scandinavian Folk Festival

    Nisswa, MN

    This festival in the Brainerd Lakes area features visiting musicians from Denmark, Sweden and Norway as well as many North American folk musicians.


  • (Jun 7 – 9)2 Rivers Wine & Jazz Festival

    Ottawa, IL

    The festival in this town on the Fox and Illinois rivers features wine from 25 Illinois vineyards and jazz and blues in Washington Park.


  • (Jun 8)PorchFest

    Mount Morris, IL

    During this afternoon music festival, 19 bands perform for 45 minutes each on porches around town. There will be food vendors, too.


  • (Jun 13 – 16)Steel Bridge SongFest

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    More than 150 musicians and songwriters perform in more than 15 venues around town to benefit the historic Michigan Avenue canal bridge.


  • (Jun 13 – 15)Blue Ox Music Festival

    Eau Claire, WI

    This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire.

    There's camping onsite.


  • (Jun 14 – 16)Ribfest Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    This street festival in the Northcenter neighborhood, on Lincoln Avenue between Irving Park Road and Warner Avenue, features barbecue plus indie, roots, rock and alt country music.

    There's a Kids Square with games and a rib-eating contest Friday with professional eaters.


  • (Jun 14 – 15)Winstock Country Festival

    Winsted, MN

    Jason Aldean and Old Dominion headline this festival just west of Minneapolis.


  • (Jun 20 – 22)Twin Cities Jazz Festival

    St. Paul, MN

    Listen to jazz in Mears Park, in St. Paul's Lowertown.


  • (Jun 21 – 22)America's River Festival

    Dubuque, IA

    This riverside music festival includes a Clint Black concert, motocross show, movie tent and children's games and rides. 


  • (Jun 21 – 22)Northwoods Blues Festival

    Chippewa Falls, WI

    This year, the blues festival is at Chippewa Riverfront Park. 


  • (Jun 27 – 29)Country Fest

    Cadott, WI

    This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Sugarland, Luke Bryan and Little Big Town.


  • (Jun 27 – 29)Country USA

    Oshkosh, WI

    Alabama, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley are among the headliners of this year's big festival at Ford Festival Park.


  • (Jun 27 – 29)Lakes Jam

    Brainerd, MN

    Justin Moore, Gary Allan and 3 Doors Down are among the headliners at this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway.


  • (Jun 28 – 30)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 2 – 7)Summerfest

    Milwaukee, WI

    They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan.


  • (Jul 3 – 6)Ribfest

    Naperville, IL

    Headliners include Billy Idol and Brantley Gilbert in Knoch Park, where there's also magic shows, kids' games, food and fireworks on the last evening.


  • (Jul 4 – 7)National Women's Music Festival

    Middleton, WI

    In addition to concerts, this musical and cultural festival at the Marriott Madison West features comedy, theater, film and writers' workshops.


  • (Jul 5 – 7)Blues Festival

    Thunder Bay, ON

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


  • (Jul 5 – 6)Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

    Davenport, IA

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


  • (Jul 5 – 6)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 11 – 14)Winnipeg Folk Festival

    Winnipeg, MB

    This easy-going, family-friendly festival features more than 70 performers from eight countries, food and hand-made art from around the world plus a fun play area for children. 

    Many people camp on-site at Birds Hill Provincial Park. Tickets are cheapest when bought in advance.


  • (Jul 11 – 14)Hodag Country Festival

    Rhinelander, WI

    This year, performers at this big fest include Lady Antebellum and Neal McCoy. There's a band contest, too.


  • (Jul 12 – 13)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 12 – 14)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 12 – 13)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 12 – 14)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 12 – 13)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 13)Driftless Music Festival

    Viroqua, WI

    This free folk and roots festival is in Viroqua's Eckhart Park.


  • (Jul 17 – 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.


  • (Jul 18 – 20)Rock Fest

    Cadott, WI

    This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features top national musicians.


  • (Jul 18 – 20)Rock USA

    Oshkosh, WI

    This big rock festival is held in Ford Festival Park.


  • (Jul 18 – 20)Country Jam

    Eau Claire, WI

    Toby Keith, Jake Owen and Keith Urban are  among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site.


  • (Jul 19 – 20)Lowertown Blues & Funk Festival

    St. Paul, MN

    This free, all-ages festival is in Mears Park.


  • (Jul 20)Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

    Listen to island music on the shore of Lake Superior.


  • (Jul 21)Woodstock Folk Festival

    Woodstock, IL

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


  • (Jul 26 – 27)Prairie Dog Blues Festival

    Prairie du Chien, WI

    This Mississippi River festival on historic St. Feriole Island features 12 bands on two stages, with onsite camping.


August

  • (Aug. 1 – 3)Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival

    Davenport, IA

    Since 1972, fans of this Jazz Age cornetist and composer have held this festival in his hometown on the Mississippi.


  • (Aug. 1 – 3)WE Fest

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Brooks & Dunn are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota.


  • (Aug. 1 – 4)Lollapalooza

    Chicago, IL

    This big music festival features dozens of bands and, unlike other Grant Park festivals, is not free. Reserve rooms far in advance.


  • (Aug. 1 – 4)Mile of Music

    Appleton, WI

    More than 180 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown.


  • (Aug. 2 – 4)Blues on the Chippewa

    Durand, WI

    Just up the Chippewa River from Lake Pepin, this free blues festival in Memorial Park features 16 bands.


  • (Aug. 2 – 3)Soul & Blues Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    Summer of the Arts adds this new festival to its offerings.


  • (Aug. 8 – 11)Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival

    Richmond, MN

    This 39th annual family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud. Headliners include Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.


  • (Aug. 8 – 10)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 3 Doors Down and Lady Antebellum. Tickets for all three days are $15. In addition to music, there will be a hot-air balloon launch, circus acts, car show, arts, children's activities and Saturday fireworks.


  • (Aug. 9 – 11)Bayfront Blues Festival

    Duluth, MN

    The 31st annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages.


  • (Aug. 16 – 17)Big Bull Falls Blues Fest

    Wausau, WI

    Enjoy national and local blues musicians in Fern Island Park. There's a beer garden, of course.


  • (Aug. 16 – 18)Blues, Brews & BBQ

    McHenry, IL

    Listen to the blues and eat barbecued foods in Petersen Park on McCollum Lake.


  • (Aug. 17)HarborPark Jazz & Blues Festival

    Kenosha, WI

    This free festival is in the lakefront Celebration Place.


  • (Aug. 21 – 25)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. 23 – Sep 1)Chicago Jazz Festival

    Chicago, IL

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


  • (Aug. 23 – 25)Porcupine Mountains Music Festival

    Silver City, MI

    Few settings are more beautiful than Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on Lake Superior; 25 national and regional blues, folk and bluegrass acts perform.


  • (Aug. 23 – 25)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. 24)Crossroads Blues Festival

    Rockford, IL

    Enjoy a day of blues in Lyran Park, with food from local restaurants.


  • (Aug. 30 – Sep 1)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. 31 – Sep 1)Fox Jazz Festival

    Menasha, WI

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


September

  • (Sep. 7 – 8)Rock Bend Folk Festival

    St. Peter, MN

    This free, easygoing festival is in this Minnesota River town's Minnesota Square Park.


  • (Sep. 12 – 15)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. 13 – 29)World Music Festival

    Chicago, IL

    There will be more than 80 artists performing at more than 30 venues across the city, including the Chicago Cultural Center. Admission is free.


  • (Sep. 26 – 29)Boats and Bluegrass

    Winona, MN

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


October