MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Great summer festivals

Here are the best of the fests in the Upper Midwest.

Fourth of July on Madeline Island.

© Beth Gauper

On Madeline Island, the Fourth of July parade follows the Lake Superior shoreline.

When summer comes, there's no time to waste.

Everyone is throwing a party, and you're invited. 

For even more festivals, see Celebrating roots, a comprehensive list of ethnic festivals.

For food festivals, see A feast of festivals.

For outdoor art fairs, see Art al fresco.

For beer festivals, see Best brew fests.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.

Here are some of the best in 2022.

Always check before you go to verify dates and to make sure you catch the best parts of a festival, especially the parades.

Memorial Day weekend

Duluth Dylan Festival in Duluth, MN The town in which Bob Dylan was born celebrates the singer's 81st birthday with a Blood on the Tracks train ride, a singer-songwriter contest, a bus tour, films, music and a trivia contest.   May 21–29.

North Iowa Band Festival in 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 26–30.

World's Largest Brat Fest in 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 27–29.

Native American Festival in St. Ignace, MI This family-friendly festival at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture features drumming, dancing, singing, Ojibwa games, artisan workshops and mass in Ojibwa. May 28.

BobFest in Spring Green, WI The Spring Green General Store in this artistic town on the Wisconsin River celebrates Bob Dylan's 81st birthday with free outdoor music. May 29.

Street Faire at the Lakes in Detroit Lakes, MN This western-Minnesota lake town hosts a juried arts show with music, fair food and a beer garden. June 3–4.

Sun Drop Dayz in Shawano, WI This northwoods town offers music, kids' activities, a car show, flea market, magic show and craft fair, plus samples of the locally made Sun Drops soda. June 3–4.

Buffalo Days in Luverne, MN This festival in the southwest corner of Minnesota features a cow-chip throwing contest, fire-truck ladder rides, duck races, an arts show and a big parade on Saturday.   June 3–5.

Edina Art Fair in Edina, MN The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people. June 3–5.

Spring Art Tour in Mount Horeb, WI Artists open their studios in Mount Horeb and other towns in the Wisconsin River valley: Mazomanie, Black Earth, Cross Plains, Blue Mounds and Verona. June 3–5.

Festa Italia in 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 3–5.

Lilac Festival in Mackinac Island, MI There are concerts, lilac walking tours, a dog and pony show, a family fun area and, on the last day, a big parade. June 3–12.

Aquafest in Rice Lake, WI The festival in this northwest Wisconsin lakes town includes a carnival, art fair, kids' fishing derby, car show, live bands and, on the last day, a parade followed by a water-ski show. June 3–12.

Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro, MN There’s a Rhubarb Olympics, featuring the Rhubarb Stalk Throw and Green Eggs and Rhubarb, and a Rhubarb Rant Speakers Corner for opinionated folks. The Rhubarb Sisters entertain.  June 4.

Milwaukee Highland Games in Wauwatosa, WI Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes. June 4.

Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kenosha, WI See giant show kites and stunt-flying demonstrations along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park. There will be kite-making workshops and kite-flying lessons and contests, and the first 100 kids will receive free kites. June 4–5.

Ride the Drive in Madison, WI This year, the car-free routes are spread out between Marlborough, Wingra, Kennedy and Warner parks, with stops for activities, food and music. You can ride, walk or skate. June 5.

Butterfest in Sparta, WI There's an arts and crafts show, flea market and carnival but also a milking contest, firemen's water fight and a parade Sunday. June 9–12.

Mount Horeb Summer Frolic in Mount Horeb, WI Just west of Madison, this town celebrates with a bean-bag toss, dog show, volleyball, craft-beer tent, Saturday fireworks and Sunday parade.    June 9–12.

Polish Fest in Milwaukee, WI This big festival on the lakefront features lots of hearty food, a piano contest, storytelling, vodka-tasting, folk arts and polka dancing. June 10–12.

Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac, WI In addition to a fishing tournament, this free family fest features live music on four stages, a Friday parade and strongman, volleyball and cornhole competitions, plus a Familyland for small children and a Teen Village with a climbing wall and giant obstacle course. June 10–12.

Country Thunder Iowa Music Festival in Forest City, IA The country-music festival in this town near Clear Lake features Lee Brice, Kip Moore and Chris Young. There's camping (and glamping) onsite. June 10–12.

Northern Spark in St. Paul, MN This nighttime arts festival takes place along University Avenue from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and on Raspberry Island on the Mississippi 2-5:30 a.m.  June 11.

Free Entrance Day at Minnesota state parks in All state parks, MN Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is free today. June 11.

Old Town Art Fair in Chicago, IL In the Old Town neighborhood, there will be more than 200 juried fine artists, a garden walk, live music and children's activities. June 11–12.

Ice Cream Days in Le Mars, IA The festival in this northwest Iowa town, home of Blue Bunny ice cream, includes an art fair, old-fashioned children's games, architectural tours, a polo match, airplane and helicopter stunts and a parade at 9 a.m. Saturday. And the ice cream is free. June 15–18.

Steamboat Days in Winona, MN The main event is the 12:31 p.m. Sunday parade, one of the region's largest. There's also a carnival, craft show, music, power-boat races, a car show and fireworks. June 15–19.

Bridgefest in Houghton/Hancock, MI There will be helicopter rides, a water-ski show, a Friday parade and Saturday fireworks. The two towns are linked by the Keweenaw Peninsula's massive Portage Lift Bridge. June 16–19.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Jake Owen and Tim McGraw headline this festival just west of Minneapolis. June 17–18.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI The blues festival is at Riverfront Park.  June 17–18.

Sol Grass Music Festival in Washington Island, WI This bluegrass festival is off the Door Peninsula, and tickets include tent camping. June 17–18.

Great Galena Balloon Race in Galena, IL Eagle Ridge Resort hosts two balloon races, two night glows and rides for the public. There's also live music, inflatables for kids, a Saturday art fair and a classic car show Saturday night. June 17–19.

Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival in Grand Marais, MN The harbor-side North House Folk School on Lake Superior kicks off summer with a boat parade, dancing, craft demonstrations, mini-courses and a solstice parade.   June 17–19.

Fyr Bal Festival in Ephraim, WI It's the annual Scandinavian midsummer festival in this Door County village. There's a regatta, historic walking tours, artisan market, trolley rides, Fur Ball pet parade, cake walk and ice-cream and cherry-pie eating contests. June 18.

Wurst Festival in Amana, IA Besides sausage sampling, there will be music, a dachshund derby, a beer-stein holding contest and hotdog games. June 18.

Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis, MN On the banks of the Mississippi, 200 artists show their wares. There will also be music, art for kids and a car show. The fair is not on the Stone Arch Bridge but on the west side of the river between Portland and North Fourth Avenue.   June 18–19.

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Lee Brice. June 23–25.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Tesla, Jon Pardi and Cole Swindell are among the headliners at this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway. June 23–25.

Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire. There's camping onsite. June 23–25.

Wings Over Wausau in Wausau, WI This air show at Downtown Airport also features live music, children's activities, food and fireworks both nights. June 24–25.

Musky Fest in Hayward, WI There will be a carnival, crafts, watermelon- and ice cream-eating contests and lots of festivities downtown, capped by the 1 p.m. Sunday parade. June 24–26.

Des Moines Arts Festival in Des Moines, IA This big, juried arts fair at Western Gateway Park downtown includes street theater, live music and a film festival. June 24–26.

Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration in Baraboo, WI In the downtown square, there will be circus-themed performances, walking tours, music, children's activities and a Big Top parade. June 25.

Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, WI During this popular event in an old mill town north of Milwaukee, there's music, kids' games, a rubber-duck race, shortcake-eating and bubblegum-blowing contests and strawberries in everything — brats, wine, slush.  June 25–26.

Afton Strawberry Festival in Afton, MN This village on the St. Croix River offers an art fair, music, games, raptor demos and a strawberry shortcake-eating contest.   June 25–26.

ChalkFest in Wausau, WI Artists of all ages decorate the 400 Block of downtown. June 25–26.

National Women's Music Festival in Middleton, WI In addition to concerts, this musical and cultural festival at the Marriott Madison West features comedy, theater, film and writers' workshops. June 30–July 3.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. June 30–July 3.

Catfish River Music Festival in Stoughton, WI More than 20 bands perform in Rotary Park during this free festival, which includes artisans, food, beer, wine and fireworks. June 30–July 3.

Canada Day in Thunder Bay, ON On Canada Day at Fort William Historical Park, the continent's largest reconstructed fur post, admission is free to the first 500 visitors. There's also free corn on the cob, an inflatable obstacle course, axe-throwing, paintball, canoe rides, dance performances and bannock-making, log-sawing and lacrosse contests. July 1.

Riverfront Rendezvous in Stevens Point, WI There will be lumberjack and magic shows, bands, kids' games, a lighted boat parade and fireworks. July 1–3.

A steamboat float in Winona's Steamboat Days parade.

© Beth Gauper

Winona royalty rides a float during the town's Steamboat Days.

First weekend in June

Street Faire at the Lakes in Detroit Lakes, MN This western-Minnesota lake town hosts a juried arts show with music, fair food and a beer garden. June 3–4.

Sun Drop Dayz in Shawano, WI This northwoods town offers music, kids' activities, a car show, flea market, magic show and craft fair, plus samples of the locally made Sun Drops soda. June 3–4.

Buffalo Days in Luverne, MN This festival in the southwest corner of Minnesota features a cow-chip throwing contest, fire-truck ladder rides, duck races, an arts show and a big parade on Saturday.   June 3–5.

Edina Art Fair in Edina, MN The juried show in this posh southern Minneapolis suburb draws 375 exhibitors and 60,000 people. June 3–5.

Spring Art Tour in Mount Horeb, WI Artists open their studios in Mount Horeb and other towns in the Wisconsin River valley: Mazomanie, Black Earth, Cross Plains, Blue Mounds and Verona. June 3–5.

Festa Italia in 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 3–5.

Lilac Festival in Mackinac Island, MI There are concerts, lilac walking tours, a dog and pony show, a family fun area and, on the last day, a big parade. June 3–12.

Aquafest in Rice Lake, WI The festival in this northwest Wisconsin lakes town includes a carnival, art fair, kids' fishing derby, car show, live bands and, on the last day, a parade followed by a water-ski show. June 3–12.

Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro, MN There’s a Rhubarb Olympics, featuring the Rhubarb Stalk Throw and Green Eggs and Rhubarb, and a Rhubarb Rant Speakers Corner for opinionated folks. The Rhubarb Sisters entertain.  June 4.

Milwaukee Highland Games in Wauwatosa, WI Listen to bagpipe bands, eat Scottish food and watch sheepdogs, Highland dancers and athletes. June 4.

Outta Sight Kite Flight in Kenosha, WI See giant show kites and stunt-flying demonstrations along Lake Michigan in Kennedy Park. There will be kite-making workshops and kite-flying lessons and contests, and the first 100 kids will receive free kites. June 4–5.

Ride the Drive in Madison, WI This year, the car-free routes are spread out between Marlborough, Wingra, Kennedy and Warner parks, with stops for activities, food and music. You can ride, walk or skate. June 5.

Second weekend in June

Lilac Festival in Mackinac Island, MI There are concerts, lilac walking tours, a dog and pony show, a family fun area and, on the last day, a big parade. June 3–12.

Aquafest in Rice Lake, WI The festival in this northwest Wisconsin lakes town includes a carnival, art fair, kids' fishing derby, car show, live bands and, on the last day, a parade followed by a water-ski show. June 3–12.

Butterfest in Sparta, WI There's an arts and crafts show, flea market and carnival but also a milking contest, firemen's water fight and a parade Sunday. June 9–12.

Mount Horeb Summer Frolic in Mount Horeb, WI Just west of Madison, this town celebrates with a bean-bag toss, dog show, volleyball, craft-beer tent, Saturday fireworks and Sunday parade.    June 9–12.

Polish Fest in Milwaukee, WI This big festival on the lakefront features lots of hearty food, a piano contest, storytelling, vodka-tasting, folk arts and polka dancing. June 10–12.

Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac, WI In addition to a fishing tournament, this free family fest features live music on four stages, a Friday parade and strongman, volleyball and cornhole competitions, plus a Familyland for small children and a Teen Village with a climbing wall and giant obstacle course. June 10–12.

Country Thunder Iowa Music Festival in Forest City, IA The country-music festival in this town near Clear Lake features Lee Brice, Kip Moore and Chris Young. There's camping (and glamping) onsite. June 10–12.

Northern Spark in St. Paul, MN This nighttime arts festival takes place along University Avenue from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and on Raspberry Island on the Mississippi 2-5:30 a.m.  June 11.

Free Entrance Day at Minnesota state parks in All state parks, MN Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is free today. June 11.

Old Town Art Fair in Chicago, IL In the Old Town neighborhood, there will be more than 200 juried fine artists, a garden walk, live music and children's activities. June 11–12.

Scottville Clown Band.

© Beth Gauper

The Clown Band from Scottville, Mich., marches in Mackinac Island's Lilac Festival parade.

Third weekend in June

Ice Cream Days in Le Mars, IA The festival in this northwest Iowa town, home of Blue Bunny ice cream, includes an art fair, old-fashioned children's games, architectural tours, a polo match, airplane and helicopter stunts and a parade at 9 a.m. Saturday. And the ice cream is free. June 15–18.

Steamboat Days in Winona, MN The main event is the 12:31 p.m. Sunday parade, one of the region's largest. There's also a carnival, craft show, music, power-boat races, a car show and fireworks. June 15–19.

Bridgefest in Houghton/Hancock, MI There will be helicopter rides, a water-ski show, a Friday parade and Saturday fireworks. The two towns are linked by the Keweenaw Peninsula's massive Portage Lift Bridge. June 16–19.

Winstock Country Festival in Winsted, MN Jake Owen and Tim McGraw headline this festival just west of Minneapolis. June 17–18.

Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI The blues festival is at Riverfront Park.  June 17–18.

Sol Grass Music Festival in Washington Island, WI This bluegrass festival is off the Door Peninsula, and tickets include tent camping. June 17–18.

Great Galena Balloon Race in Galena, IL Eagle Ridge Resort hosts two balloon races, two night glows and rides for the public. There's also live music, inflatables for kids, a Saturday art fair and a classic car show Saturday night. June 17–19.

Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival in Grand Marais, MN The harbor-side North House Folk School on Lake Superior kicks off summer with a boat parade, dancing, craft demonstrations, mini-courses and a solstice parade.   June 17–19.

Fyr Bal Festival in Ephraim, WI It's the annual Scandinavian midsummer festival in this Door County village. There's a regatta, historic walking tours, artisan market, trolley rides, Fur Ball pet parade, cake walk and ice-cream and cherry-pie eating contests. June 18.

Wurst Festival in Amana, IA Besides sausage sampling, there will be music, a dachshund derby, a beer-stein holding contest and hotdog games. June 18.

Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis, MN On the banks of the Mississippi, 200 artists show their wares. There will also be music, art for kids and a car show. The fair is not on the Stone Arch Bridge but on the west side of the river between Portland and North Fourth Avenue.   June 18–19.

Belly dancers at Bastille Days.

© Beth Gauper

Belly dancers perform at Bastille Days in Milwaukee.

Fourth weekend in June

Country Fest in Cadott, WI This year's big outdoor festival near Chippewa Falls features Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Lee Brice. June 23–25.

Lakes Jam in Brainerd, MN Tesla, Jon Pardi and Cole Swindell are among the headliners at this music-and-camping festival at Brainerd International Raceway. June 23–25.

Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI This family-friendly acoustic festival is near Eau Claire. There's camping onsite. June 23–25.

Wings Over Wausau in Wausau, WI This air show at Downtown Airport also features live music, children's activities, food and fireworks both nights. June 24–25.

Musky Fest in Hayward, WI There will be a carnival, crafts, watermelon- and ice cream-eating contests and lots of festivities downtown, capped by the 1 p.m. Sunday parade. June 24–26.

Des Moines Arts Festival in Des Moines, IA This big, juried arts fair at Western Gateway Park downtown includes street theater, live music and a film festival. June 24–26.

Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration in Baraboo, WI In the downtown square, there will be circus-themed performances, walking tours, music, children's activities and a Big Top parade. June 25.

Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, WI During this popular event in an old mill town north of Milwaukee, there's music, kids' games, a rubber-duck race, shortcake-eating and bubblegum-blowing contests and strawberries in everything — brats, wine, slush.  June 25–26.

Afton Strawberry Festival in Afton, MN This village on the St. Croix River offers an art fair, music, games, raptor demos and a strawberry shortcake-eating contest.   June 25–26.

ChalkFest in Wausau, WI Artists of all ages decorate the 400 Block of downtown. June 25–26.

Fourth of July weekend

National Women's Music Festival in Middleton, WI In addition to concerts, this musical and cultural festival at the Marriott Madison West features comedy, theater, film and writers' workshops. June 30–July 3.

Petunia Festival in Dixon, IL This festival in the Hometown of Ronald Reagan features music, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. June 30–July 3.

Catfish River Music Festival in Stoughton, WI More than 20 bands perform in Rotary Park during this free festival, which includes artisans, food, beer, wine and fireworks. June 30–July 3.

Canada Day in Thunder Bay, ON On Canada Day at Fort William Historical Park, the continent's largest reconstructed fur post, admission is free to the first 500 visitors. There's also free corn on the cob, an inflatable obstacle course, axe-throwing, paintball, canoe rides, dance performances and bannock-making, log-sawing and lacrosse contests. July 1.

Riverfront Rendezvous in Stevens Point, WI There will be lumberjack and magic shows, bands, kids' games, a lighted boat parade and fireworks. July 1–3.

National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI This town on Lake Michigan attracts half a million people to events that include air shows, an arts fair, music, races, the big Cherry Royale Parade and many contests, including pie-eating and pit-spitting. July 2–9.

Sub Fest in Manitowoc, WI The fest at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, home of the USS Cobia, features music and a lighted boat parade on Sunday and a parade, music and fireworks on the Fourth. July 3–4.

Little girls dance on a stage at Luverne's Buffalo Days.

© Beth Gauper

At Buffalo Days in Luverne, Minn., tiny dancers perform to the tune "On the Good Ship Lollipop.''

Second weekend in July

National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI This town on Lake Michigan attracts half a million people to events that include air shows, an arts fair, music, races, the big Cherry Royale Parade and many contests, including pie-eating and pit-spitting. July 2–9.

Karl Oskar Days in Lindstrom, MN The festival in this Swedish town just north of the Twin Cities features fireworks, a car show, children's activities and a parade. July 6–10.

Heart of the North Rodeo in Spooner, WI Look for the four R's in this western Wisconsin town: roping, bull riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing. A parade is on Saturday. July 7–9.

Iola Car Show in Iola, WI This show and swap meet brings up to 130,000 people to this village east of Stevens Point. July 7–9.

Winnipeg Folk Festival in 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. July 7–10.

Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, WI This year, performers at this big fest include Neal McCoy, Jon Pardi, Kip Moore and Sam Hunt. There's a band contest, too. July 7–10.

Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in Walnut Grove, MN The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.''  July 8–9.

80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, IA This indie and jam music festival (named for the junction of two interstates) is at Western Gateway Park. July 8–9.

Bigfoot Days in Remer, MN This town in Chippewa National Forest, between Walker and Grand Rapids, calls itself the Home of Bigfoot. There will be a Bigfoot Olympics, a Bigfoot-calling contest, Bigfoot storytelling, a scavenger hunt and a petting zoo. July 8–9.

Blissfest in 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. July 8–10.

Taste and Glow Balloon Fest in Wausau, WI This festival features hot-air balloons and also music, kids' activities, craft and flea markets and sampling at Taste of Marathon County. July 8–10.

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 86th year with a sand-castle contest, water fights, ship-building (in less than 30 minutes), beer tasting, watermelon feed, bike tour and more. On the last day, there's a big parade at 1 p.m. July 8–17.

Driftless Music Festival in Viroqua, WI This free folk and roots festival is in Viroqua's Eckhart Park. July 9.

Phelps Mill Festival in Phelps, MN There's a juried arts and crafts fair, children's activities and music in this bucolic, tucked-away park along the Otter Tail River, next to an 1889 brick and clapboard mill that's open for tours. The hamlet of Phelps is just west of Otter Tail Lake and north of Underwood. July 9–10.

Grand Marais Arts Festival in Grand Marais, MN This juried art show along the Lake Superior harbor includes children's activities, art demonstrations, a pie social and live music. July 9–10.

An entertainer at the Phelps Mill Festival.

© Beth Gauper

An aerialist entertains children and their parents at Phelps Mill Festival in Minnesota.

Third weekend in July

Northwest Water Carnival in Detroit Lakes, MN This big festival celebrates its 86th year with a sand-castle contest, water fights, ship-building (in less than 30 minutes), beer tasting, watermelon feed, bike tour and more. On the last day, there's a big parade at 1 p.m. July 8–17.

Rock Fest in Cadott, WI This outdoor festival is near Chippewa Falls. July 14–16.

Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in Walnut Grove, MN The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.''  July 15–16.

Honor the Earth Pow-wow in Hayward, WI The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa holds the 50th anniversary of one of the largest powwows in North America, with dancing, singing and crafts plus a cooking contest, run/walk and softball tournament.  July 15–17.

Lumberjack Days in Stillwater, MN This music festival along the St. Croix River also features lumberjack shows and such attractions as a downhill derby, hammerschlagen, helicopter rides and a parade.  July 15–17.

Wannigan Days in St. Croix Falls, WI St. Croix Falls and its cross-river neighbor, Taylors Falls, pay tribute to lumberjacks and river pigs with rock and country music, an arts and crafts fair, a Saturday parade and fireworks. July 15–17.

Rivertown Days in Hastings, MN In this river town south of St. Paul, there will be 25 bands on four stages, plus a carnival, arts & crafts fair and classic-car show. July 15–17.

Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games in Eagan, MN This fest south of St. Paul features Celtic music, a British car show, a harp competition and heavy games, such as hammer throwing, sheaf tossing, caber turning and the stone put. July 16.

Port Fish Day in Port Washington, WI The world's largest one-day outdoor fish fry also includes classic car and arts and crafts shows, soccer water fights, a smoked-fish eating contest, music on three stages, a parade and fireworks. July 16.

Civil War Encampment and Battle in Menomonee Falls, WI This event at Old Falls Village features Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, storytelling and a soldier encampment with medical and cooking demonstration. General Grant narrates the Battle of Cedar Run, 2 p.m. both days. July 16–17.

Charlevoix Venetian Festival in Charlevoix, MI A week of music and games winds up with an 11 a.m. street parade and, at dusk, a lighted boat parade followed by fireworks. July 16–24.

A dragon boat races past Fairlawn Mansion in Superior.

© Beth Gauper

A boat races past Fairlawn Mansion at the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival in Superior.

Fourth weekend in July

Charlevoix Venetian Festival in Charlevoix, MI A week of music and games winds up with an 11 a.m. street parade and, at dusk, a lighted boat parade followed by fireworks. July 16–24.

Aquatennial in Minneapolis, MN The City of Lakes holds a Wednesday Torchlight Parade, water-ski shows and Saturday fireworks. July 20–23.

Country Jam in Eau Claire, WI Little Big Town, Dustin Lynch and Cody Johnson are  among the headliners of this fest. There's camping on-site. July 21–23.

Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant in Walnut Grove, MN The festival in this western Minnesota town revolves around the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek.''  July 22–23.

La Crosse Storytelling Festival in La Crosse, WI Listen to local, regional and national storytellers spin tales at the Pump House. There will also be music and arts and crafts. July 22–23.

Air and Water Show in Milwaukee, WI This show, between Bradford and McKinley beaches on the lakefront, features the Blue Angels in the air and ski teams on the water. July 23–24.

Wenonga Days in Battle Lake, MN The festival in this lake-resort town near Glendalough State Park features walking tours, human foosball, turtle races, Civil War reenactors, a water-ski show and a parade at 7 p.m. Saturday, followed by a street dance and fireworks.     July 23–24.

EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI This huge Experimental Aircraft Association festival includes air shows, fireworks, big-name concerts, children's activities, workshops, exhibits and rides in historic aircraft. Reserve lodgings early; it fills rooms within a 60-mile radius. July 25–31.

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

© Beth Gauper

Fans listen to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Fifth weekend in July

EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI This huge Experimental Aircraft Association festival includes air shows, fireworks, big-name concerts, children's activities, workshops, exhibits and rides in historic aircraft. Reserve lodgings early; it fills rooms within a 60-mile radius. July 25–31.

Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, WI You can't see this kind of thing just anywhere: cut-throat log rolling, boom running, springboard chopping and speed climbing. July 28–30.

Nordic Fest in Decorah, IA This friendly, authentic and very large festival of Scandinavian culture 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. July 28–30.

Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL This big music festival features dozens of bands and, unlike other Grant Park festivals, is not free. Reserve rooms far in advance. July 28–31.

Sweet Corn Days in Elkader, IA In addition to free sweet corn, there will be Friday fireworks, a doughnut-hole eating contest, a kiddie tractor pull, carnival rides and a parade Saturday. July 28–31.

Blueberry Festival in Marquette, MI Eat blueberry pizza and drink blueberry beer while listening to live music and watching dancers and medieval armored combat. There are also pony rides and games for kids. July 29.

Prairie Dog Blues Festival in Prairie du Chien, WI This Mississippi River festival on historic St. Feriole Island features 12 bands on two stages, with onsite camping. July 29–30.

Pierogi Fest in Whiting, IN This suburb of Chicago exalts the plump Eastern European dumplings, filled with cheese, mashed potatoes or sauerkraut, with pierogi-eating and -tossing contests, a Mr. Pierogi songfest and a Polka Parade.   July 29–31.

German Fest in Milwaukee, WI Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan.   July 29–31.

Taste of Wisconsin in Kenosha, WI This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages. July 29–31.

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, IA This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows and closing fireworks. July 29–Aug. 6.

Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, MI There's nightly entertainment on the waterfront, a downtown carnival, tours of Coast Guard cutters, a Grand Parade and fireworks.   July 29–Aug. 7.

Cardboard Cup Regatta in Crystal Lake, IL Watch or enter the cardboard-boat races on Main Beach, where prizes are awarded in many categories. July 30.

Folklorama in Winnipeg, MB This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues. July 31–Aug. 13.

Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, IA There are chainsaw artists and alligator shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians.  Aug. 2–7.

The hamburger man in Seymour.

© Torsten Muller

Near Green Bay, Seymour celebrates Burger Fest.

First weekend in August

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, IA This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows and closing fireworks. July 29–Aug. 6.

Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, MI There's nightly entertainment on the waterfront, a downtown carnival, tours of Coast Guard cutters, a Grand Parade and fireworks.   July 29–Aug. 7.

Folklorama in Winnipeg, MB This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues. July 31–Aug. 13.

Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, IA There are chainsaw artists and alligator shows as well as a carnival and grandstand acts that include national country musicians.  Aug. 2–7.

Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival in Bemidji, MN In addition to boat races, there will be kids' activities, cultural performances, music and a parade of teams. Aug. 3–6.

Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, IA Since 1972, fans of this Jazz Age cornetist and composer have held this festival in his hometown on the Mississippi. Aug. 4–6.

WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan are among the headliners at this big country festival in west-central Minnesota. Aug. 4–6.

Fisherman's Picnic in Grand Marais, MN There's a lot going on at the North Shore's biggest festival, including loon-calling, log-rolling, herring-eating and rock-skipping contests; Saturday fireworks; and the grand parade on Sunday.   Aug. 4–7.

Mile of Music in Appleton, WI More than 180 singer-songwriters perform at more than 40 venues along College Avenue downtown. Aug. 4–7.

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, WI The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features big-name musicians, a sea-lion show, a daily parade and lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating.   Aug. 4–14.

Pie Day in Braham, MN Minnesota's official Pie Capital near Cambridge holds pie-eating contests, a pie trivia contest and performances of the Pie-Alleuia Chorus. Aug. 5.

Brat Days in Sheboygan, WI This town on Lake Michigan is sausage central. There's music, a carnival, beer and, of course, a brat-eating contest. The parade is Saturday. Aug. 5–6.

Pufferbilly Days in Boone, IA This festival in central Iowa, just west of Ames, is named for a steam engine and features a spike-driving contest, mud volleyball and rides on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. A parade is Saturday. Aug. 5–7.

Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis, MN This large juried art fair in the Uptown neighborhood draws crowds. Use a Nice Ride bike or download a free bus/train pass to avoid congestion. Aug. 5–7.

Festa Italiana in Naperville, IL This festival at the Naper Settlement is a showcase for Italian culture, food, music and artisans and has two entertainment stages. Aug. 5–7.

DubuqueFest in Dubuque, IA This downtown arts festival includes dance, music on two stages, storytelling, food and children's activities. Aug. 6–7.

Carrying cannoli at Festa Italiana.

© Festa Italiana

In Milwaukee, Festa Italiana celebrates the traditions of Italy.

Second weekend in August

Folklorama in Winnipeg, MB This Manitoba prairie town celebrates its heritage with pavilions representing 44 nationalities, offering music, dance and food at many venues. July 31–Aug. 13.

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, WI The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features big-name musicians, a sea-lion show, a daily parade and lots of contests, including hog-calling, cookie-stacking and cream puff-eating.   Aug. 4–14.

Cubs vs. Reds at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA The Chicago Cubs will play the Cincinnati Reds at the Field of Dreams movie site in a cornfield near Dubuque. Fans with an Iowa zip code can enter a lottery to buy tickets. Aug. 11.

Tug Fest in LeClaire and Port Byron, IAIL The two towns stretch a 680-pound, 2,400-foot rope across the Mississippi River for the ultimate tug of war. There's also a parade, fireworks, children's games, concerts and carnival rides. Score so far: Illinois 23, Iowa 11. Aug. 11–13.

Ashley for the Arts music festival in Arcadia, WI This nonprofit festival is in the southwest Wisconsin bluffs, half an hour north of Winona, Minn. Headliners include a variety of country and rock stars. Thursday admission is free, and Friday-Saturday tickets are $20-$30. In addition to music, there will be an arts fair, children's activities and Saturday fireworks. Aug. 11–13.

Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival in Richmond, MN This family-friendly festival includes music on five stages and workshops at El Rancho Mañana Campground, 20 miles west of St. Cloud.  Aug. 11–14.

National Blueberry Festival in South Haven, MI Eat until you're blue in the face during the festival in this Lake Michigan beach town. There's a pie-eating contest, riverfront concerts, an arts fair and a big parade on Saturday. Aug. 11–14.

Sweet Corn Festival in Mendota, IL The festival in this town between Rochelle and La Salle features nearly 50 tons of free buttered corn, live music, a flea market, a carnival and a parade. Aug. 11–14.

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, among many other contests, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 11–21.

Quad Cities Balloon Festival in East Moline, IL This festival at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds includes balloon glows, launches, tethered rides and a play area for children. Aug. 12–13.

Grand Portage Powwow & Rendezvous in 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. 12–14.

Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN The annual music fest on the Lake Superior harbor showcases national and regional acts on three stages. Aug. 12–14.

Irish Fair in 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.   Aug. 12–14.

Michigan Full Moon Fest in Grand Junction, MI There will be three days of blues music and camping in this village, 10 miles east of South Haven. Aug. 12–14.

Shawano Folk Music Festival in Shawano, WI The free, family-friendly festival in this northwoods town includes dance, crafts, children's activities and instruction in Franklin Park. Aug. 12–14.

Pure Water Days in Chippewa Falls, WI There's a big parade downtown, followed by Riverfest in Allen Park. Aug. 13.

Hayward's Musky Fest float.

© Beth Gauper

Hayward's Musky Fest celebrates the feisty fish.

Third weekend in August

Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, IA See a diaper derby, outhouse races and mullet contest, among many other contests, and don't miss the butter sculptures. Aug. 11–21.

Venetian Festival in Lake Geneva, WI In this southeast Wisconsin vacation area, the festival includes a carnival, arts and crafts fair, firefighter water fight and, on Sunday, a water-ski show followed by a lighted boat parade and fireworks. Aug. 17–21.

Irish Fest in 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. 18–21.

Big Bull Falls Blues Fest in Wausau, WI Enjoy national and local blues musicians in Fern Island Park. There's a beer garden, of course. Aug. 19–20.

Oronoco Gold Rush in Oronoco, MN The antiques show and flea market in this friendly little village just north of Rochester off U.S. 52 includes more than 400 vendors and 1,200 booths. There's also pancakes for breakfast, homemade pie and music. Aug. 19–21.

Evanston Art Fest in Evanston, IL This downtown festival features more than 130 juried artists and art demonstrations.  Aug. 19–21.

Winnie The Pooh Festival in White River, ON The hometown of the famous children's-book bear celebrates with a block party, bounce houses, parades and fireworks. White River is on the east side of Lake Superior, on the Trans-Canada Highway between Marathon and Wawa. Aug. 19–21.

Soar on the Shore in Algoma, WI Learn about kite-flying from professionals on Lake Michigan's Crescent Beach. There will be giant-kite and stunt shows and crafts and a candy drop for kids.  Aug. 20.

PastyFest in Calumet, MI The humble miner's lunch — meat and rutabagas in a pocket of pie crust — has inspired this Keweenaw Peninsula festival, which includes such events as a PastyWalk, PastyPoetry contest and, of course, a PastyCook-Off. Toivo the walking and talking pasty will appear, and there will be games, such as a PastyPull, Rutabaga Shotput, Onion Pass and Egg Toss. There's also a PastyParade. Aug. 20.

Stage at a music festival.

© America's River Fest

Many outdoor music festivals feature on-site camping.

Fourth weekend in August

Lakes Bluegrass Festival in Pine River, MN This family-friendly festival, just off the Paul Bunyan State Trail, features more than 40 bluegrass shows and free workshops. Aug. 24–28.

Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN Try flights at the Craft Beer Hall, eat food on a stick, listen to free concerts and watch the 2 p.m. daily parade.   Aug. 25–Sept. 5.

Potato Days in Barnesville, MN This goofy central-Minnesota festival features mashed-potato wrestling, a golden potato hunt, potato car races, peeling and eating contests and a Saturday parade. Aug. 26–27.

Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival in Superior, WI The festival on Barker's Island begins Friday with a parade of teams, fireworks and a concert and continues Saturday with races in the harbor and family entertainment. Aug. 26–27.

Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in 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. 26–28.

Crossroads Blues Festival in Rockford, IL Enjoy a day of blues in Lyran Park, with food from local restaurants. Aug. 27.

A kids' ride at the Minnesota State Fair.

© Beth Gauper

The Minnesota State Fair includes rides on the Kidway.

Labor Day weekend

Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, MN Try flights at the Craft Beer Hall, eat food on a stick, listen to free concerts and watch the 2 p.m. daily parade.   Aug. 25–Sept. 5.

Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, IA This gathering of steam engines and antique cars, trucks and tractors also features a horse pull, concerts, square dancing and a parade. Sept. 1–5.

Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette, MI Enjoy a weekend of music in Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Lake Superior. Sept. 2–4.

Wilhelm Tell Festival in 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. Sept. 2–4.

Wisconsin Highland Games in Waukesha, WI In addition to heavy athletics — throwing weights, hammers, logs and sacks of hay — there will be piping, drumming, dancing, longbow competitions, dog demonstrations and traditional Scottish food. Sept. 2–4.

Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, MN Revel in the past during this show of antique machinery, which includes rides on trains and a carousel, square dancing, roving musicians and nightly jamborees.   Sept. 2–5.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw in Prairie du Sac, WI There's chip-chucking contests in this Wisconsin River town, but also music, kids' games and an arts and crafts fair.  Sept. 3.

Taste of Madison in Madison, WI This free benefit festival on Capitol Square includes 200 menu items from more than 80 restaurants, all priced at $1-$4. There's also music on three stages.   Sept. 3–4.

Fox Jazz Festival in Menasha, WI This free Fox Cities jazz festival is in Jefferson Park, on the shores of Lake Winnebago. Sept. 3–4.

Frankfort Fall Festival in Frankfort, IL The festival in this southern suburb of Chicago features more than 300 artisans, music, a carnival and a parade Sunday. Sept. 3–5.

Mackinac Bridge Walk in Mackinaw City, MI Once a year, on Labor Day, people can walk across the five-mile span, the third-longest suspension bridge in the world.   Sept. 5.

For the best events in autumn, see Great fall festivals.


Last updated on January 11, 2022