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.
Live Music on the Patio – Harbor House – June 2 to September 16 at 3:00pm. Enjoy free live music on the patio overlooking Lake Michigan every Sunday and Monday night starting at 3 PM!
Musical Mondays – Lake Park – July 8 to August 26 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 4 to August 27 at 6:00pm. 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 9 to August 20 at 5:30pm. TheSkyline Music Series is a community music series provided by COA Youth & Family Centers. Family-friendly food, fun and music in the Riverwest neighborhood!
River Rhythms – Pere Marquette Park – June 12 to August 28 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 12, 26; July 4, 17, 24, 31; August 14, 21 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 5 to August 28 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 – June 12 to August 21 (excluding July 3) 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 19 to August 14 (excluding July 3) at 6:30pm. Wonderful Wednesdays is a series of seven concerts specifically geared toward children and their families.
Florentine Wednesdays– Colectivo – June 12 & July 24 (Humboldt) at 6:00pm. This unique concert series highlights music from the Florentine Opera. Can’t make a Wednesday? Check out Florentine Opera at the Lake on Thursdays!
Bay View Beats – South Shore Terrace – May 8 to September 25 at 5:00pm. Enjoy your brew with a view and your beats with some eats!
Music in the Glen – Richard E. Maslowski Community Park – June 19 to August 14 at 7:00pm. Fun for the whole family, you may purchase drinks and snacks at the Sprecher Brewing Outdoor Oasis Snack Bar on-site.
Wednesday Night Live – Budweiser Music Pavilion, Wisconsin State Fair Park – May 29 to August 29 at 7:00pm. With gates opening at 6:00pm, the Budweiser Pavilion prides itself on providing the best bands in southeast Wisconsin, having the best staff, and entertaining the best customers.
Wednesday Night Summer Concert Series – Fiserv Forum Beer Garden – May 29-August 28th from 5-8pm. The Milwaukee Bucks will host weekly live music acts at the Beer Garden all summer long. The series brings local acts to perform at the outdoor bar each Wednesday. Admission is free.
Concerts on the Green – Enderis Park – June 20, July 11, July 25, & August 15. A multi-genre four concert series in Enderis Park. This year features everything from cello-infused alt-rock to New Orleans style horns.
Concerts in the Gardens – Boerner Botanical Gardens – 2019 TBA. 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 – May 30 to August 29 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.
Florentine Opera at the Lake – Colectivo – June 13, 27; July 11, 25 at 7:00pm. This unique concert series highlights music from the Florentine Opera at Colectivo Lakefront on Thursday nights. Can’t make a Thursday? Check out a Florentine Wednesday!
Música del Lago – Colectivo – June 6, 20; July 18; August 1, 8, 15, 22 (rain date) at 7:00pm.Now in its fifteenth year, this series highlights some of our city’s finest Latin music groups.
Music On Main – Old Settlers Park, West Bend – June 6 to Sept 5 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.
Bike Night – Harley-Davidson Museum – May 9 to Sept 26 at 5:00pm. Join your fellow riders (and non-riders) for free live music from some of Milwaukee’s favorite bands, fun and drool-worthy rolling sculptures.
Friday Night Live – Historic Downtown Waukesha – June 7 to August 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 2018, the event will include 9 stages featuring over 70 musical performers from all genres.
Summer Sounds – Cedar Creek Park, Cedarburg – June 14 to August 16 at 6:30pm. Enjoy Cedarburg’s beautiful Cedar Creek Park for music, food, and fun. Pack a picnic or enjoy one of many vendors and food trucks.
Starry Nights Series – Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts – June 28 to August 16 (excluding July 5th) at 6:30pm. One of our most popular Wilson Center summertime traditions, Starry Nights boasts performances by acclaimed local and regional artists across a wide range of genres including big band, Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, bluegrass, polkas, and more—perfect for families and audiences of all ages.
First Fridays – Downtown Racine – June 7; July 5; August 2; September 6 at 4:00pm. First Fridays is a group of small business owners of boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries and museums who have worked together to put this event on nine times a year for 12 years. We all stay open late, put live music outdoors in 3 parks, have horse & carriage rides and an outdoor beer garden.
Umbrella Bar Concert Series – Rock Complex – June 1 to September 21 at 6:30pm. Featuring a tent-like umbrella structure with an open-air atmosphere and a spectacular 360 degree view, enjoy live music & scenic views from our newly branded ‘Callen Pavillion.’
Sounds of Summer – East Silver Spring, Whitefish Bay – August 17th 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? Known 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 2nd. Admission that day is FREE from 12-3pm. Summerfest is definitely a Bucket List kind of activity! June 26-30 / July 2-7.