Milwaukee Irish Fest :: A Quick Guide for Families

I first started going to Irish Fest with my family, before I was married. Two kids later, I think I’ve got it down. Here are my tips to make the most of my favorite festival of the year! 

Milwaukee Irish Fest

Milwaukee Irish Fest is North America’s largest celebration of Irish music and culture. The four-day festival, which occurs every third weekend in August, showcases more than 100 entertainment acts on 16-stages.

A Quick Family Guide to Milwaukee Irish Fest


When I was first married (pre-kids), I lived in the Third Ward and walked to the festival grounds. Boy, those were the days. Now, however, I live in the suburbs and actually have to drive. Thankfully, we are members of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, and one of the member privileges is the ability to pre-buy parking passes for the O’Donnell parking structure. So instead of paying $20, we pay $3. That’s money I can put towards a pint later.

Use SpotHero to Reserve a Parking Spot – Irish Fest has a pretty sweet deal going with SpotHero. Head to the Irish Fest SpotHero Parking page and book a spot with rates up to 50% off the drive-up charge! New to SpotHero? Download the app for iPhone or Android and enter the promo code IRISHFEST17 for an extra $5 off your first park!

If you plan to try your luck at finding a parking spot, you can search for nearby street parking or check out some of the nearby bars and restaurants that will allow parking in their lots and offer a shuttle to the festival grounds. 

Getting In:

The folks at Irish Fest do try to keep it affordable, so there are some pretty sweet entrance deals. The best deals are on Thursday and Sunday, where if you bring in a donation, you get in for FREE!

Thursday – Bring in school supplies to donate to the children served by Hope House. (Keep in mind this is a preview night and not all portions of the grounds will be open.) 

Sunday – Anyone donating a non-perishable food item by 11 am will receive free admission to the festival! All donations go to Hunger Task Force.

Now, when it comes to physically getting in they’re pretty chill, but you still have to go through security. The wheelchair entrances are stroller-friendly and are located at each gate. NOTE: wagons are not allowed in.

If, like me, you have to bring in a diaper bag that resembles a small suitcase, I recommend organizing your stuff in Ziploc bags to make the bag check easier on you and the security staff. Food and drinks cannot be carried in.

Milwaukee Irish Fest

Things my Kids Love:

Do not. I repeat, DO NOT miss out on the dogs. The Celtic Canines are easily our family favorite.You’ll get a chance to see different Irish breeds up close and even watch obedience and agility demonstrations.

I could make an entire post out of the family friendly activities, but I’m just going to share the ones I’m most looking forward to this year. They are, (in no particular order) the parades, the family passport, and the children’s stage. They are not to be missed and best of they are all FREE!

Music, Music, Music!

Okay, of course, you should see Gaelic Storm. If you don’t know who they are, they were the band from the steerage party in Titanic. They are AWESOME. If, however, your kids are not able to stay up that late and you couldn’t book a sitter, there are plenty of artists throughout the afternoon hours. Personally, I love Ian Gould, the Gleasons, and Tis. For a complete lineup, check here.

Irish Fest is the last blast of our summer, and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the season. Hope to see you there!

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