Thinking of a short road trip? There are plenty of celebrations along the I-94 corridor from Milwaukee to Chicago. This week’s big event is Polish Fest in Milwaukee:


River Rhythms

When: 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, through Aug. 28

Where: Pere Marquette Park, 950 N. Old World Third St. in Milwaukee

Known for: Great view of the river during the free outdoor performances featuring local musicians.

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Cathedral Square Marketplace

When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, June 15 to Oct. 12

Where: Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee

Known for: Fresh produce from more than 100 Wisconsin farmers, locally made crafts, live local entertainment, crafters, bakers and chefs, plus dance workshops and a free outdoor yoga class.

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Polish Fest

When: June 14 to 16

Where: Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive in Milwaukee

Known for: Billed as America’s largest Polish festival, the three-day festival has brought the best of Polish culture and heritage to Milwaukee’s lakefront for nearly 36 years. Includes traditional food and music, as well as vodka tastings, the Chopin youth piano competition and the Little Miss Polish Fest pageants, ages 4 to 17.

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Music in the Park

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, June 19 to Aug. 14 (no concert on July 3) and Mondays, July 8 to Aug. 26

Where: Lake Park Summer Stage, 2975 N. Lake Park Road in Milwaukee

Known for: Musical Mondays is celebrating its 22nd season of free concerts, with a diverse lineup. The Wednesday performances (also free) are geared toward children and families. Note: Concerts move inside if the weather is bad.

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Concerts in the Gardens

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 20 to Aug. 29

Where: Boerner Botanical Gardens, 9400 Boerner Drive in Hales Corners

Known for: The Concord Chamber Orchestra will kick off this free summer series, which invites music lovers to pack a picnic along with their blankets and lawn chairs. Admission to the Boerner Botanical Gardens is free for concertgoers after 6 p.m.

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Lakefront Festival of Art

When: June 21 to 23

Where: Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Drive in Milwaukee

Known for: Beautiful art from 170 jury-selected artists from across the nation on the lakefront

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Cedarburg Strawberry Festival

When: June 22 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and 23 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Where: Downtown Cedarburg

Known for: This free festival features strawberry brats, strawberry chicken wraps, strawberry shortcakes, strawberry wine. Did we mention there will be strawberries? If that’s not enough, visitors can enjoy a pancake breakfast, an art show with more than 300 artists and the CedarQuack 500 rubber duck launch.

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Taste of Chicago

When: July 10 to 14

Where: Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St. in Chicago

Known for: An enormous variety of food — and enormous crowds. Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival and the largest festival in Chicago. Non-food-related events include live music on multiple stages. Admission is free.

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Bastille Days

When: July 11 to 14

Where: Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee

Known for: This French-themed celebration kicks off with the Storming of the Bastille 5K Run, possibly the best name for a fun run. The free street fest also features live music, French cuisine, wine tastings and a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica.

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Milwaukee Air and Water Show

When: July 27-28

Where: Milwaukee’s lakefront

Known for: Thrills in air and on the water. The show features the U.S. Air Force Jet Demonstration Squadron, the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, the U.S. Navy Seals Parachute Team and the U.S.A.F. A-10 Warthog Formation among others.

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Festa Italiana

When: July 19 to 21

Where: Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive in Milwaukee

Known for: Cannoli eating contest, cooking demonstrations, bocce tournament and live music on four separate stages.

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German Fest

When: July 26 to 28

Where: Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive in Milwaukee

Known for: Festival mainstays are Bratwurst, beer and potato pancakes. You’ll also find plenty of oompah-pah bands and the annual Dachshund Derby.

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Brady Street Festival

When: 11 a.m. to midnight July 27

Where: Brady Street, between Van Buren Street and Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee

Known for: Four stages featuring local bands during the annual Brady Street Festival. The one-day festival offers Division BMX shows, The Milwaukee Flyers and wrestling matches from the Great Lakes Wrestling Club.

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Chicago Air and Water Show

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 17-18

Where: North Avenue Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago

Known for: Thrilling formation flying and water stunts — and enormous crowds. There’s a reason this is billed as “the largest spectator event in the United States.” Admission is free.

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Mexican Fiesta

When: Aug. 23 to 25

Where: Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive in Milwaukee

Known for: Since it began in 1973 as a south side street festival to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, Mexican Fiesta has evolved into one of Wisconsin’s largest Mexican festivals and a showcase for the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, which sponsors the event in an effort to award scholarships for young Hispanic men and women.

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Chicago Jazz Festival

When: Aug. 23 to Sept. 1

Where: Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., and Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St. in Chicago along with other venues across the city

Known for: Free admission to dozens of performances with the best of the best in jazz.

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Milwaukee Rally

When: Aug. 29 to Sept. 2

Where: Multiple locations, including Harley-Davidson Museum, 400 W. Canal St., and Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive, both in Milwaukee

Known for: The rally commemorates the American motorcycle manufacturer’s journey with group rides, custom bike exhibitions, live music and more.

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