Labor Day Weekend in Milwaukee

Downtown Milwaukee


Raymond Boyd/Getty Images 

Most schools are back in session the week of Labor Day, and so the three-day stretch over Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah of summer. Thankfully there are plenty of outdoor events and festivals that celebrate the weekend—as well as our country's hard working culture. Whether you enjoy live music, food festivals, art walks or cultural events, there is an easy getaway for you that doesn't require long travel or lots of money (many of these events are free).

  • 01 of 07
    milwaukee rally

     Milwaukee Rally

    Even if you’re not into motorcycles, there’s lots of fun to be had at this outdoor festival, including food and drink for purchase, live music, and rides on Harleys. Pick your location—or toggle between a few.


  • 02 of 07
    Bagpipers at the Wisconsin Highland Games

     Wisconsin Highland Games

    “The Games” here include highland dancing, axe and knife throw, longbow, piping and drumming, and single-stick fencing. Celtic dogs are available for petting, too, such as Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, West Highland Terriers and Golden Retrievers. Note that the festival is open late—until 10 p.m. on Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sunday—but food vendors and many of the exhibits begin closing around 5 p.m. Live music and drinks extend later into the evening. During the opening ceremonies on Friday, admission and parking is free.

  • 03 of 07

    There’s a whole hodge-podge of events here, from a Martial Arts demonstration on Saturday at 2 p.m. to a polka mass Sunday at 11 a.m. There is live music nightly and the city’s largest parade kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday.  Food options include a fish fry at 6 p.m. on Friday, a rib dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and a chicken dinner at noon on Sunday.

  • 04 of 07

    Hosted by the Oak Creek Lions Club, live music is hosted at two stages: one indoor and one outdoor. Be sure to come hungry as the food choices range from turkey legs corn on the cob, plus chicken tenders, cheese and burgers. Non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks alike are served. Kids can enjoy the carnival rides after 1 p.m. daily. Veterans receive a free meal—with military ID—thanks to the Lions Club.

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  • 05 of 07
    Big Big BBQ burnt ends

    Big Gig BBQ 

    If you’re a ‘cue fan, this is where you need to be on Labor Day weekend because all of Milwaukee’s best BBQ restaurants are serving food in one place. Paired with the meats are live-music shows by bands and performers like Chris Janson, Tucker Beathard, Danny Miller Band and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

    Sponsored by Meijer and Miller Lite, the event also includes a bacon-eating contest, with the winner receiving a $100 gift card.

  • 06 of 07

    This flea market near downtown Cedarburg's historic district is held several times each year, and Labor Day weekend is no exception. About 600 vendors sell a mix of antiques, crafts, seasonal items, art and more. Food and beverage for sale keep you nourished and hydrated (this is a festival where you're going to want to pore over all the items!). The market's hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • 07 of 07

    The day starts at 11 a.m. with a parade kicking off at Carl Zeidler Square Wisconsin Union Memorial and ending at the Summerfest grounds. Laborfest starts as soon at the parade ends until 5 p.m. There will be a classic-car show, live music, food and drink for purchase, and family-friendly entertainment shows all for free.

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