MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Spring festivals 2020

March

  • (Mar. 13 – 15)Canoecopia

    Madison, WI

    It's the world's largest paddlesports expo, according to host Rutabaga, with dozens of demonstrations, workshops and presentations plus discounts on boats and gear. Bike-O-Rama, with discounts on bicycles and gear, is next door. At Alliant Energy Center.


  • (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. 14)St. Patrick's Day Parade

    Chicago, IL

    In Chicago, they really do dye the river green. Watch the dye job at 9 a.m. from the Michigan Avenue or Columbus Drive bridges, then watch the noon parade through Grant Park.


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

    Around the region

    Here's our list of the best St. Pat's parades, pub crawls, dances and inns, with a few St. Urho's Day festivities thrown in for good measure.


  • (Mar. 14 – 15)McHenry ShamRocks the Fox

    McHenry, IL

    In this northeast Illinois town, the Fox River is dyed green at 9 a.m. Saturday and there's a St. Patrick's Day parade at 11 a.m. Children's activities and Irish music and dancing continue through Sunday, ending with fireworks at 7 p.m.


  • (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. 17)St. Patrick's Day parade

    St. Paul, MN

    In this traditionally Irish city, the noon parade runs along Fourth Street to Rice Park.


  • (Mar. 21 – 22)Soar With Eagles

    Wabasha, MN

    The National Eagle Center holds live-bird programs and nature presentations weekends in March, when bald eagles migrate northward along the Mississippi.


  • (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.


  • (Mar. 28 – 29)Maple-syrup festivals

    Around the region

    At nature centers around the region, tour the sugarbush and learn how to tap trees and boil sap. Then, eat a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup.


April

  • (Apr. 1 – 4)Mission Creek Festival

    Iowa City, IA

    Dozens of musicians, artists and writers perform and read at downtown venues. On Friday evening, there's a literature crawl. 


  • (Apr. 2 – 9)Wisconsin Film Festival

    Madison, WI

    See 150 independent films from Wisconsin and around the world in seven theaters in and around State Street.


  • (Apr. 4)Maple Syrup Festival

    Poynette, WI

    The MacKenzie Environmental Center, between the Wisconsin Dells and Madison, offers a pancake breakfast, guided tours of the sugarbush, demonstrations of tapping and syrup-making, intrepretive talks about how Indians and pioneers made syrup, old-time music and horse-drawn wagon rides.


  • (Apr. 4 – 5)World War I Encampment

    Rockford, IL

    At Midway Village, more than 225 re-enactors portray soldiers and civilians from the United States and Europe and stage narrated battles.


  • (Apr. 4)Maple Syrup Fest

    Phelps, WI

    In the northeast corner of Wisconsin, tour the sugarbush, tap trees, make maple taffy in the snow and shop at an arts and crafts fair.


  • (Apr. 4)Museum Day

    Every state

    Smithsonian magazine and participating museums in every state offer free admission for two people. Tickets are available for download on the website.


  • (Apr. 9 – 25)Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    More than 350 films from more than 60 countries are shown at St. Anthony Main Theatre on the Minneapolis riverfront and at other venues.


  • (Apr. 11)Egg Day

    Milwaukee, WI

    There will be crafts, face-painting, bubble art and treats at the Hop-to-it Bunny Hunt, plus a parade at the Milwaukee County Zoo.


  • (Apr. 11)Easter Egg Hunt

    St. Paul, MN

    Children ages 2-7 can hunt for eggs on the lawn of the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue. Visitors can win prizes, get a small snack and look around the first floor of the mansion. Reserve in advance.


  • (Apr. 11)Easter at the Castle

    Minneapolis, MN

    The American Swedish Institute hosts an Easter egg hunt in the 33-room Turnblad Mansion. There will also be crafts, storytelling and Easter tree-decorating. Tickets go on sale Jan. 6.


  • (Apr. 11)Eggstravaganza

    Racine, WI

    At the Racine Zoo, the all-day Eggstravaganza includes a candy hunt, bounce houses, an egg dig, a dance party, egg- and cookie-decorating, crafts and games. Included with admission.


  • (Apr. 17 – 19)Midwest Horse Fair

    Madison, WI

    There's a Friday-night rodeo, blacksmith championships, stagecoach rides, Texas trick riders, music and performances, including the Wisconsin Mounted Police Team. At Alliant Energy Center.


  • (Apr. 17 – 19)Roots and Bluegrass Festival

    River Falls, WI

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


  • (Apr. 17 – 19)U.S. Grant's Birthday

    Galena, IL

    The former home of the Civil War general and president celebrates his 198th birthday with free admission to the Grant Museum, Main Street walking tours with Gen. Grant, a pie auction, a spy trial and cake.


  • (Apr. 19)Traverse City Chocolate Festival

    Traverse City, MI

    Sample wares of the region's finest chocolatiers, listen to music and shop for sweets.


  • (Apr. 22 – 26)Julien Dubuque Film Festival

    Dubuque, IA

    See 70 films and a silent-film showcase. There's a red-carpet awards show Saturday.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)Spring Outdoor Adventure Expo

    Minneapolis, MN

    A spring kickoff for outdoor enthusiasts, with presentations on outdoor adventures and destinations and a gear sale and auction of used canoes and kayaks.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)Minnesota Horse Expo

    St. Paul, MN

    There's a parade of breeds daily at noon, free horse, pony and carriage rides and a rodeo Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. At the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine and Cheese Festival

    La Crosse, WI

    Sample cheese and more than 200 beers and 45 wines at the Oktoberfest grounds Saturday.

    There's also a Toaster's Eve on Friday and a Bacon Bloody Brunch on Sunday.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)Bluff Country Studio Art Tour

    Northeast IA/Southeast, MN

    Take a spring drive through southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa and visit artists in and around Winona, Lanesboro, Spring Grove and Harmony in Minnesota and Decorah in Iowa.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)Behind the Arts Studio Tour

    Racine and Kenosha, WI

    Visit more than 85 artists at 45 studios, in Racine on Saturday and in Kenosha on Sunday. On Friday evening, there's a Preview Party.


  • (Apr. 24 – 26)St. Paul Art Crawl

    St. Paul, MN

    Tour the studios of more than 300 artists in 17 buildings in the Lowertown and downtown neighborhoods.


  • (Apr. 25)Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival

    Kenosha, WI

    There's cheese and beer from around the state plus live music at the Brat Stop.


  • (Apr. 25)Taylor County Maple Fest

    Medford, WI

    This festival at the fairgrounds features maple syrup in a breakfast, a baking contest, a cooking demonstration and crafts plus music, children's activities and door prizes.


  • (Apr. 25)Earth Day Birding Festival

    Hastings, MN

    Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, this festival at Carpenter Nature Center includes bird-banding demonstrations, a raptor class and guided birding trips. Reservations are required.


  • (Apr. 25)Free Entrance Day at Minnesota state parks

    All state parks, MN

    Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks is free today and also on June 13 and Nov. 27.


  • (Apr. 26 – May 3)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.


  • (Apr. 30 – May 3)Festival of Nations

    St. Paul, MN

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


  • (Apr. 30 – May 3)100-Mile Garage Sale

    Lake Pepin

    This big garage sale is a good excuse to make the scenic, 70-mile drive around this wide spot in the Mississippi, in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.


May

  • (May 1 – 3)Kettle River Paddle Festival

    Sandstone, MN

    Watch a kayak whitewater rodeo, take a paddling clinic, make your own paddle or join a group float. There's hiking and rock-climbing, too. In Sandstone's Robinson Park and Banning State Park.

     


  • (May 1 – 3)Earth Arts Spring Art Tour

    Upper St. Croix Valley, WI

    Visit artists at 28 studios and sites in and around St. Croix Falls, Osceola and Amery.


  • (May 1 – 2)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 2)Kids & Kites Festival

    Chicago, IL

    This festival on Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park includes free kite kits for kids, games and a candy drop from kites.


  • (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.


  • (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.


  • (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 7 – 11)Horicon Marsh Bird Festival

    Horicon, WI

    This large festival in east-central Wisconsin is around a large marsh often called the Everglades of the North. There are bird hikes, bird-banding demonstrations, pontoon-boat tours, canoe and kayak tours, bus tours and a round-the-clock Big Sit, in which participants try to identify as many birds as possible. Register early for field trips.


  • (May 8 – 10)Spring Festival & Folk Fest

    Gays Mills, WI

    This Kickapoo Valley village in southwest Wisconsin offers a rodeo, tractor pull, Maypole dancing and a Saturday-night folk concert.


  • (May 8 – 10)Mushroom Festival

    Mesick, MI

    This northwest Michigan town is morel central in May, celebrating the spring hunt with a carnival, carriage rides, flea market, duck races and a parade at noon Saturday.


  • (May 9)Cinco de Mayo

    Darlington, WI

    This southwest Wisconsin town celebrates with mariachi music, a salsa contest, a soccer tournament and children's activities.


  • (May 9)Wordplay Book Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    The Loft Literary Center hosts this family-friendly festival, featuring dozens of authors.


  • (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 14 – 16)Festival of Birds

    Detroit Lakes, MN

    This festival in northwest Minnesota is near the convergence of prairie with northern pine forest and eastern hardwood forest. Space in field trips to local refuges fills quickly.


  • (May 14 – 16)Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival

    Ashland, WI

    Based out of the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center, activities include bird-banding, hikes and expeditions, hatchery tours and kayaking tours of estuaries.


  • (May 14 – 17)National Morel Mushroom Festival

    Boyne City, MI

    This town on the east end of Lake Charlevoix is all about morels in May, with a guided mushroom hunt, a competition with prizes, drawings for free morels and The Taste of Morels, with morsels provided by local restaurants.


  • (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 15 – 17)Art-A-Whirl Studio and Gallery Tour

    Minneapolis, MN

    More than 500 artists take part in this tour of 60 locations in the northeast Minneapolis arts district.

     


  • (May 15 – 17)Trout Days

    Preston, MN

    This town on the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail celebrates spring with a car show, a petting zoo, bungee run and parade.


  • (May 16)Stand Still Parade

    Whalan, MN

    In this village on the Root River State Trail, just east of Lanesboro, it's the spectators who do the parading. There's music, food and games.


  • (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 16)BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass

    St. Joseph, MI

    This town on Lake Michigan welcomes summer with craft beer, barbecue and five blues bands. In Whirlpool Centennial Park.


  • (May 16 – 17)Civil War Living History Festival

    Milton, WI

    In this town near Janesville, this free festival is at the Milton House Museum, once a stop on the Underground Railroad. It features an encampment of soldiers, military drills, cannon firing and an historic walking tour. Sign up in advance for living-history tours of the hotel, where guests will go back to 1861 and meet a freedom-seeker hidden in the cellar.


  • (May 16 – 17)Doors Open Minneapolis

    Minneapolis, MN

    Get a free, behind-the-scenes look at 115 historic theaters, hotels, courthouses and mansions as well as new buildings and venues, including Target Field, Surly Brewing, the Prospect Park water tower and the Pillsbury A Mill. On-site docents lead tours or answer questions.


  • (May 17)Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon

    Libertyville, IL

    This 18.5-mile race and tour through forest preserves to Mount Prospect is for families and first-timers as well as competitors. There's also a 5.25-mile Minithon, and boats can be rented.


June

  • (Jun 6)Blessing of the Fleet Festival

    Baileys Harbor, WI

    Tour fishing boats, meet local fishing legends and watch a boat parade. There will also be a Scottish-terrier rally, music and arts and crafts.


September

  • (Sep. 11 – 12)Midwest Music Fest

    La Crosse, WI

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