With the winter-holiday season just around the corner—but the threat of snow a non-issue—the month of November is filled with free events in Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs. From monthly free-admission days at local museums and the Milwaukee County Zoo, to a holiday-lights festival in downtown Milwaukee and a holiday parade, too, here’s where to go.
The Arts and Museums
Check out the new addition at the Milwaukee Art Museum, which debuted in November of 2015, on the museum’s monthly free day, which is always the first Friday of the month. In November it’s Friday, November 4. Normally admission is $17 for adults, $15 for students and free for kids 12 years of age and under.
The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, at 13th and Clybourn Streets, is always free. As part of “Kohl’s Thank You Thursday,” admission is waived at the Milwaukee Public Museum on the first Thursday of each month. In November that date is Thursday, November 3. Normally admission is $18 for adults and $12 for kids between the ages of five and 13.
Live Music and Comedy
At Colectivo Coffee's Prospect location on the East Side, a gospel brunch takes place in the Back Room on select Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Coffee and pastries available for (optional) purchase. The next show is on Sunday, November 6. And at Colectivo Coffee's Humboldt cafe, in Riverwest, the Florentine Opera gives a free outdoor performance on Monday, November 7, at 7 p.m.
Club Garibaldi (in Bay View) welcomes B-Free on Tuesday, November 1, as part of its free Local/Live series, sponsored by WMSE. Milwaukee’s Foreign Goods is the back-up band for this show, which begins at 6 p.m. and does not charge a cover.
Like jazz? Then you’ll want to head to The Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts in Riverwest on Tuesday nights. Upcoming free “jazz jam session” performances are on Tuesday, November 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 7 p.m.
Comedy fans will want to head to Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Casino for the Saturday, November 5 free show featuring Larry Reeb with Ed Bartko in the Fire Pit’s Side Bar. The show is free and begins at 7 p.m., followed by two more with the same performers at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. On Saturday, November 12, Brian Aldridge brings his jokes to the same venue, along with Nate Armbruster, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. There are also free comedy shows on Saturday, November 19 (Glen Gerard at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.) and Saturday, November 26 (Jersey “The Haitian” Situation with Shawn Shelnutt), at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Free early-morning bird walks hosted by Urban Ecology Center entice naturalists and birdwatchers alike. On Tuesday, November 1, the walk is at the Menomonee Valley center while on Thursday, November 3, it’s at Riverside Park. There is another free bird walk at Urban Ecology Center’s Washington Park location on Wednesday, November 2 at 8 a.m.
In November the “Family Free Day” at the Milwaukee County Zoo is Saturday, November 5. Note that rates for parking still apply. Get into the holiday spirit with the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival (https://www.everfest.com/e/milwaukee-holiday-lights-festival-milwaukee-wi), which kicks off on the evening of Thursday, November 17 at 6 p.m. and runs through Sunday, January 1. Opening night is at Pere Marquette Park, 900 N. Plankinton Ave., in downtown Milwaukee.
A free animal feeding at Urban Ecology Center in Riverside Park is on Saturday, November 5 at 1 p.m. Children can assist with staff’s feeding of resident turtles, fish and snakes.
The annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Milwaukee is on Saturday, November 5 this year. It kicks off at 11 a.m. from Pere Marquette Park, ending at the War Memorial. Expect floats, marching bands and baton twirlers. Then, on Saturday, November 19, head downtown for the 90th Annual Milwaukee Holiday Parade, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.