There’s something about live music being carried on a summer breeze that just makes you want to celebrate. And as we know so well in Wisconsin, just the fact that it’s summer is something to be celebrated. That’s why it’s fitting that on any given night in the Milwaukee area, you will probably be able to find a venue for outdoor live music. These concerts bring communities together, support local businesses, artists, and culture, and introduce listeners to music they might not otherwise be familiar with. Outdoor music is frequently a hidden gem in communities, so we thought we would compile a list of our favorite outdoor music venues to share with you. The extra benefit? These concerts are generally FREE unless otherwise noted.
Musical Mondays – Lake Park – July 3 to August 28 at 6:30pm. Musical Mondays offers a variety of music genres including woodwind quartets, folk, celtic, and barbershop quartets.
Chill on the Hill – Humboldt Park – June 6 to August 29 at 6pm (Main Stage Act at 6:30pm). Chill on the Hill features local musicians. Bring your own food and drink or patron one of the food or beverage vendors on site.
Skyline Music Series – Kadish Park – July 11 to August 22 at 5:30pm. This community music series is provided by COA Youth & Family Centers and features family-friendly food, fun and music in the Riverwest neighborhood.
River Rhythms – Pere Marquette Park – June 14 to August 30 at 6:00pm. Priding itself in being Milwaukee’s most diverse outdoor concert series, River Rhythms features everything from salsa to reggae to cover bands. Both local and national artists are featured.
Tosa Tonight – Rotary Performance Pavillion (68th and State) – June 14, 21; July 4, 12, 26; August 9, 16, & 30 at 6:00pm. Tosa Tonight features a unique blend of genres and artists. Concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and come hungry. Food and beverage purchases from vendors directly raise money for the operation of the Rotary Performance Pavilion and Tosa Tonight concerts.
Waterfront Wednesdays – Lakefront Park, Pewaukee – June 7 to August 23 at 6:00pm. Everything from classic rock to Irish music can be enjoyed on the beach of Pewaukee Lake.
Wednesdays at the Shell – Washington Park – Wednesdays in July & August at 6:00pm. A variety of local artists of various sorts (including dancers, musicians, children’s performances and more make up this concert series. Follow their Facebook page for specifics as they are released.
Wonderful Wednesdays – Lake Park – June 21 to July 26 at 6:30pm. Wonderful Wednesdays is a series of seven concerts specifically geared toward children and their families.
Concerts on the Green – Enderis Park – June 22, July 13, July 27, & August 17th. A multi-genre four concert series in Ederis Park. This year features Pat McCurdy, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchastra, and others.
Concerts in the Garden – Boerner Botanical Gardens – June 22 to August 30 at 6:30pm. This concert series offers a wide variety to please every musical palette, featuring dance, blues, soul, classical, and indie-infused rock to name a few. Admission to the gardens is free to concert goers after 6:00pm and attendees are invited to explore the gardens during the concert.
Jazz in the Park – Cathedral Square – June 1 to August 31 at 5pm. This unique lineup includes jazz, big band, funk, R & B, reggae, blues and more. Vendors offer Happy Hour from 5-6pm with the music starting at 6pm.
Música del Lago/Florentine Opera – Colectivo – 7pm. This unique concert series alternates between highlighting Milwaukee’s finest Latin music (June 21, July 12 & 26) and music from the Florentine Opera at Colectivo Lakefront on Thursday nights (June 8 & 22; July 13 & 27). See their website for specifics and Wednesday series locations.
Music On/Off Main – Old Settlers Park, West Bend – June 1 to August 31 at 6:30pm. Also featuring a variety of locally and nationally acclaimed artists of various genres, this concert series also offers an indoor venue in the case of inclement weather.
Friday Night Live – Historic Downtown Waukesha – June 2 to September 30 at 6:30pm. Park on the outskirts of downtown and walk your way into the heart of Waukesha. Roam the streets listening to live, local music from numerous artists on different stages. Grab some snacks along the way at the open vendors. For 2017, the event will include 10 stages featuring over 70 musical performers from all genres.
Summer Sounds – Cedar Creek Park, Cedarburg – July to August at 6:30pm. Celebrating their 15th season with a brand new bandshell, enjoy Cedarburg’s beautiful Cedar Creek Park for music, food, and fun. Pack a picnic or enjoy one of many vendors and food trucks. 2017 schedule with by posted on the website June 23.
Sounds of Summer – East Silver Spring, Whitefish Bay – August, Date TBD from 5:30-10pm. A musical street festival on the east end of Silver Spring presented by Whitefish Bay’s Civic Foundation.
And of course, no post about music in the summer in Milwaukee would be complete without mentioning The Big Gig. What would Milwaukee be without Summerfest? Know as the world’s largest music festival, this annual event draws crowds from far and wide to the famous Summerfest grounds for a music experience unlike any other! . Point to note :: Definitely does NOT fall into the FREE category. But, they do offer Children’s Fest on July 5th. Admission that day is FREE from 12-3pm. Summerfest is definitely a Bucket List kind of activity, but be ready to pay a pretty penny. June 28 – July 2 / July 4 – 9.