MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Spring festivals 2021


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

    Around the region

    A few St. Patrick's Day parades still are taking place this year, some in person, some drive-through and some virtual.


  • (Mar. 17)Irish Mask-arade

    St. Paul, MN

    In this traditionally Irish city, the St. Pat's parade goes on . . . but this year, it will be a drive-past parade in the parking lot of the old Sears building at 425 Rice St.

    Reserve a place by Feb. 17; only 150 vehicles are allowed. The noon "parade'' also will be broadcast live on Facebook.


  • (Mar. 18 – 21)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. 20)St. Urho's Day

    Finland, MN

    This North Shore village near Tettegouche State Park celebrates the Finnish saint with a tug-of-war over the Baptism River and a parade, craft fair, music and children's games.

  • (Mar. 20)Minneapolis St. Patrick's Day Parade

    Columbia Heights, MN

    This year, the parade moves from Nicollet Mall to this northern suburb and will be a drive-by parade from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Reserve a time slot to see it.

  • (Mar. 27 – 28)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.

    This year, it's offering a different online program each weekend to families, $10, free to members.


  • (Apr. 3)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. 3)Outdoor 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. Register by March 22.

  • (Apr. 3)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. 10)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.

  • (Apr. 10)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. 17 – 18)U.S. Grant's Birthday

    Galena, IL

    The former home of the Civil War general and president celebrates his 199th birthday with free admission to the Grant Museum, Main Street walking tours with Gen. Grant, a pie auction, a spy trial and cake.

  • (Apr. 18 – 25)Julien Dubuque Film Festival

    Dubuque, IA

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

  • (Apr. 23 – 25)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)Free Entrance Day at Minnesota state parks

    All state parks, MN

    Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is free today and also on June 12 and Nov. 26.


  • (May 1 – 9)Tulip Time

    Holland, MI

    More than 6 million tulips bloom during this festival, which this year features a Dutch market, walking tours, tall-ship tours and a carnival.

  • (May 1 – 2)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 – 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 2 – 9)Virtual Homegrown Music Festival

    Duluth, MN

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

    It's online again this year.

  • (May 2 – 8)Virtual Wordplay Book Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

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


  • (May 6 – 9)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 6 – 8)Pella Tulip Time

    Pella, IA

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

  • (May 6 – 20)Virtual Milwaukee Film Festival

    Milwaukee, WI

    Stream more than 200 films from around the globe.

  • (May 7 – 9)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 7 – 9)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. Normally, 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.

    In 2021, some activities will be altered.

  • (May 7 – 9)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 7 – 9)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 13 – 15)Tulip Festival

    Orange City, IA

    The popular festival in this Dutch town in northwest Iowa celebrates its 81st anniversary with dance, music, street scrubbing and parades at 2:15 and 6 p.m. daily.

  • (May 13 – 20)Wisconsin Film Festival

    Madison, WI

    See 150 independent films from Wisconsin and around the world.

  • (May 13 – 23)Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival

    Minneapolis, MN

    More than 180 films from around the world are streamed and/or shown live outdoors.

  • (May 14 – 16)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 14 – 16)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 14 – 16)Art-A-Whirl Studio Tour

    Minneapolis, MN

    Up to 800 artists are taking part in this tour of studios in the northeast Minneapolis arts district.

    Some studios are opening for in-person visits and others online only. Check for updates.


  • (May 14 – 16)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 14 – 15)Trout Days

    Preston, MN

    This town on the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail celebrates spring with a car show, kids' pedal pull, live music, fireworks and a parade at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

  • (May 15)Morel Mushroom Festival

    Muscoda, WI

    This town along the Wisconsin River calls itself the Morel Mushroom Capital of Wisconsin. There's a 3 p.m. parade and fireworks plus a flea market, arts fair and pedal-tractor pull.

  • (May 15)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 15)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.

  • (May 15 – 16)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 20 – 22)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 21 – 23)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.

    In 2021, some events may be virtual.

  • (May 22 – 23)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.

    Reserve your place in advance.


  • (Jul 23 – 25)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.


  • (Aug. 7 – 8)DubuqueFest

    Dubuque, IA

    This downtown arts festival includes dance, music on two stages, storytelling, food and children's activities.


  • (Sep. 18)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.