Bastille Days Milwaukee is held for one weekend a year in July, in and around the beloved Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee.
This is another FREE street festival with food, music, and artisans, which celebrates the French Independence Day.
And in celebration of the French culture, there is great wine and great French food available! My personal favorite...the Beignet! (Pronounced ‘ben-YAY’ however I’ve found that the French are particularly fond of mispronunciations...for several years, I've referred to it as the ‘BEG-net’, and have received many approving nods as a result. :)
What is the Beignet, you ask?? Oh, it is this delightful pastry that is deep-fried and warm when you order it! It is generally coated with powdered sugar, although I believe I’ve seen other sauces on it as well...perhaps chocolate sauce?
As hard as it is to believe, I did NOT opt for the Beignet this year, going instead for the almost as scrumptious Crepe! Mine was filled with coffee flavored ice cream, and covered with chocolate sauce and whipped cream...oh so good!
Another item I didn’t get this year, but something I look forward to almost every year is the Brie and Tomato Sandwich, which comes on a French roll (is there another type of roll??) and seasoned with basil leaves.
I’m not kidding when I say this, I could hang out at the booth that sells those little sandwiches and eat them all the live long day! But I’m guessing that “gorging myself at Bastille Days Milwaukee” would not really be the French thing to do. :)
Of course the relaxed, jazzy music is wonderful, and very reminiscent of Jazz in the Park which is featured every Thursday evening throughout the summer months at Cathedral Square, but the entire festival has something for everyone. Even the kids seem to be catered to a bit more than other street festivals.
Bastille Days Milwaukee overall tends to be a bit more low key than many of the other street festivals, even though the attendance is generally high.
I would recommend coming with a group of 3 or more people, setting up your chairs by your favorite stage (I suggest in the park itself) and then take turns walking around to all of the artisans, artists, and other street entertainers available.
Make sure during your tours you say ‘hello’ to Lady Liberty! I’m embarrassed to say that I did not know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the US from the French government...I know, I know...I barely passed American history when I was kid, what can I tell you? Anyways, this festival brought that fact to my attention, and for that I am eternally grateful.
There are several street artists drawing pictures in chalk on the street, or spray painting pictures that slowly evolve throughout the festival, along with several artists that perform caricatures underneath the Eiffel Tower.
Really, Bastille Days Milwaukee is truly one of my favorite yearly activities! Although I do have to admit that because of when it’s held, it is usually smoldering hot! Thankfully, this year was manageable.
To read more about the festival, and see the full schedule, visit the official festival website (opens new window).
Enjoy all of the festivals Milwaukee has to offer! Happy summer!