Free October 2016 Events in Milwaukee

Bay View Neighborhood Association

The city of Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs are filled with free events and activities--you just have to know where to look. From author readings to gospel music, and free museum days, too, here are some options.

The Arts

Gallery Night & Day is held four times a year, always the third Friday night and Saturday of the month in January, April, July and October. In the fall, it's on Oct. 21-22. Check out a listing of the participating 50 galleries and shops here in a booklet available at venues during the event; most venues are in the Third Ward, Walker's Point and downtown Milwaukee. Live music, snacks, and complimentary glasses of wine and beer are at most every venue. The Milwaukee Art Museum is free the first Friday of the month, sponsored by Meijer.

In October that date is Friday Oct. 7. Also free in October is the Harley-Davidson Museum, on Oct. 21 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, at 13th and Clybourn Streets, is always free. October shows at the Haggerty--which is open daily, although hours vary--include "Watermarks: An Atlas of Water and the City of Milwaukee" (through Dec. 23, 2016) and a three-channel video installation ("Happiness-Home-Milwaukee: (Re)Housing the American Dream") by Kirsten Leenaars, about the relationship between home and happiness on Milwaukee's near West Side. 

Book and literary lovers will want to head to an author appearance/reading at Boswell Books on the East Side. These are always free. During the month of October, events include Robert Olen Butler, author of "Perfume River," at Boswell on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.; Candace Millard, author of "Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill," on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.; Margot Livesey, author of "Mercury," on Friday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.; Phyllis Piano, author of "Hostile Takeover: A Love Story," on Friday, Oct.

14 at 7 p.m.; America's Test Kitchen Jack Bishop talking about "Cook's Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of our Favorite Ingredients," on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m.; and Antoine Laurain, author of "French Rhapsody," on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 3 p.m.

Hosted at the Milwaukee Public Library in downtown Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m., will be an appearance and reading by Jacqueline Woodson, author of the recently published "Another Brooklyn."


Live Music

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, Oct. 16. And at Colectivo Coffee's Lakefront cafe, also on the East Side, the Florentine Opera gives a free outdoor performance on Monday, Oct. 3, weather permitting.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino hosts quite a few free live-music shows in October, spanning modern country, singer-songwriters and more. A full calendar is here. Shows are in the evenings, a mix of weeknights and weekend nights.



Urban Ecology Center's three locations (East Side, Menonomee Valley and Washington Heights) welcomes the public to many free events that are geared for nature, environmental and science lovers. In October they include an early-morning bird walk on Tuesday, Oct. 4 and 11 at Menomonee Valley; and an early-morning bird walk on Thursday, Oct. 13 at Riverside Park. All begin at 8 a.m. and end at 10:30 a.m.

Check out the full calendar for all three locations here; some are adults-oriented while others cater to families.



In terms of story times and literary events, one free option in October is at the Cudahy Family Library on Tuesday, Oct. 4 when New York Times best-selling author Ben Hatke reads from his book Mighty Jack, a fantasy-adventure retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. At the Milwaukee Public Museum, admission is waived the first Thursday of the month, thanks to Kohl's. In October that will be Thursday, Oct. 6.

Milwaukee County Zoo's free day in October, sponsored by North Shore Bank, is Saturday, Oct. 8. On Family Free Days, hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Celebrate Halloween by visiting the Humboldt Park Pumpkin Pavilion on Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22 in Bay View's Humboldt Park. In addition to pumpkins on display, there will also be live music and food (for purchase).