It’s music festival season in Wisconsin, and for most of us, that means one thing: Summerfest. Summerfest is the festival we know and love, but the day the festival closes its doors for the summer doesn’t have to mark the end of the season for Wisconsin music lovers. Great music festivals in a variety of sizes and genres take place across the state throughout the summer, and these are the standouts you may not have heard of yet. Whether you prefer to see your favorite local artist play an intimate set or a popular national act in front of a roaring crowd, these Wisconsin music festivals have offerings to fit every music fan’s taste.
Milwaukee, June 26-30 and July 2-7
The start of Summerfest, “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” is a sure sign that summer in Milwaukee is in full swing. This year’s festival features more than 500 artists, including Bon Iver, Jason Aldean, The Lonely Island and Brandi Carlile. Local favorites such as GGOOLLDD, REYNA, LUXI, Lorde Fredd33 and New Vices will be representing Milwaukee’s music scene. Head over to the Emerging Artists Series at the Johnson Controls Sound Stage (hosted by 88Nine) to discover up-and-coming artists from across the country and abroad. (Here’s the complete daily Summerfest lineup).
Mile of Music
Appleton, Aug. 1-4
Sometimes called “the South by Southwest of the Midwest,” Mile of Music features shows at 70 venues in downtown Appleton. The long weekend of music is free, and offers opportunities to see more than 200 up-and-coming artists in a variety of genres, including Appleton native Cory Chisel and Milwaukee’s Nickel & Rose.
Eau Claire, Aug. 9-10
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon won’t not be hosting his celebrated Eau Claire festival Eaux Claires this year, but Oxbeaux III stands as a worthy alternative. Hosted at the Oxbeaux Hotel, artists like Jenny Lewis, The Shouting Matches and Sanborn & Rosenau will round out the two-day lineup. A local band showcase will kick off the festival on Friday, Aug. 9.
Mauston, Aug. 31- Sept. 1
Los Dells boasts the title of the largest Latin music and arts festival in the U.S, and is the first of its kind in the Midwest. Now in its third year, Los Dells includes art installations and a culinary program. The 2019 lineup is yet to be announced, but past headliners have included Bad Bunny, Flo Rida and Banda MS.
Cadott, June 26-29
Country Fest aims to celebrate the best of all things country, resulting in a unique event that falls somewhere between a state fair and a traditional music festival. This festival is the largest three day country music and camping event in the country, and the 2019 lineup features Luke Bryan, Sugarland and Little Big Town.
Country Jam USA
Eau Claire, July 18-20
Country Jam USA is three days of music and camping near the Chippewa River. 2019 marks its 30th year, making Country Jam one of the longest running music festivals in the state. Toby Keith, Jake Owen and Keith Urban will headline this year’s event. Check out its Spotify playlist here.
Twin Lakes, July 18-20
Country Thunder hosts festivals in Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Canada, and, of course, Wisconsin. Jake Owen, Tim McGraw and Luke Combs will perform at this festival that specializes in — you guessed it — country and camping. Unlike other country festivals of its kind, Country Thunder offers a special glamping section for those who prefer their country and camping experience to be further removed from the great outdoors.
Summerfest, June 27
Booked as part of this year’s Summerfest, the Outlaw Music Festival Tour encompasses 17 cities over a two-part tour. This year’s lineup includes Wille Nelson and Family, the Avett Brothers, Dawes and Wisconsin’s own Trapper Schoepp. The tour covers genres from country and rock to folk, and will return to Milwaukee for the second day of Summerfest.
Oshkosh, July 18-20
One of the largest rock and camping festivals in the nation, Rock USA covers 60 acres of concert grounds on the 300-acre Ford Festival Park. During the festival, the park fills with hard rock fans, campers and a unique variety of food and beverage vendors. The 2019 lineup includes Five Finger Death Punch, Rob Zombie, Marylyn Manson and Disturbed.
Driftless Music Festival
Viroqua, July 19
Viroqua, Wisconsin is known as the heart of the Driftless region, which also encloses parts of Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. The free festival is held annually in Eckhart park, and this year’s lineup includes musicians that come from traditions based in Texas dance hall, salsa, gospel and more.
Oshkosh, July 11-14
Lifest, the nation’s largest Christian music festival, is “A Party With A Purpose.” The festival celebrated 20 years of music and ministry in 2018, and is made up of over 100 musical acts on seven stages, as well as speakers, seminars and family friendly activities.