By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 12, 2022 at 1:06 PM Photography: Visit Milwaukee

The great Milwaukee summer is HERE! Don't miss all of our great coverage on local festivals and happenings. Click here for your full summer line-up! 

Your guide to having a great summer is brought to you by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and Peoples State Bank.

September 22 may mark the first day of fall, but Labor Day weekend tends to mark the official end of summer ... except in Milwaukee.

Sure, traditional autumn activities happen – the kids go back to school, school football season kicks off – but here, we know that September is actually secretly a summer month thanks to forecasts are some of the best during the entire year – not too hot, not too cool. The Milwaukee summer festival schedule has quietly gotten the memo about September too, with plenty of events making the most out of our fleeting sunny days and keeping summer alive and thriving long into pumpkin spice season. 

Here are seven such festivals, live music series and more that are keeping the festive Brew City summer spirit going even if the leaves are changing colors and Hallmark's starting its Christmas programming. (Which should be any day now.) And for even more festivals, click here

1. Jazz in the Park

  • Thursdays throughout September, 6-9 p.m., Cathedral Square Park

Hosted as always in Cathedral Square Park, the Downtown-set music series may have gotten off to a late start with its return from a two-year hiatus – but while many free live music programs have already come to a close for the season, this Downtown-set concert series still has much more left on its setlist for 2022. In the Before Times, Jazz in the Park typically wrapped up by Labor Day weekend, but thanks to this year's mid-summer start, the music series still has three more Thursdays to play – headlined by Steez, Nineteen Thirteen and The Eric Jacobson Latin Jazz Quintet. With wonderful live music, tasty food and drink vendors, and warm neighborly vibes, these final performances are a great way to simultaneously start the weekend early and keep the summer going late. 

2. MKE Film's Cultures & Communities Festival

  • Wednesday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 18, various locations

The summer movie blockbuster season wrapped up about a month ago, but thanks to Milwaukee Film, the big screen is still the place to be with its Cultures & Communities Festival. Five days of film and events focused on art, culture, health, wellness and the intersection of those elements, this year's festival will feature special screenings of a buzzy new Rosa Parks documentary, a doc about the iconic childrens program "Reading Rainbow" and much more – and that's just what's on screen. The Cultures & Communities Festival will also showcase live music performances, trivia nights, discussions with experts and a conversation with "P-Valley" star J. Alphonse Nicholson. The summer blockbusters may be all gone, but this is a blockbuster of a film festival not to be missed. 

3. Bay View Bash

  • Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., between Potter and Clement on Kinnickinnic Avenue

I say this as a TOTALLY unbiased former Bay View resident: Milwaukee's annual parade of neighborhood festivals saved the best for last in 2022, celebrating Bay View on Saturday, Sept. 17 with a full day of neighbors near and far kicking it down Kinnickinnic with local vendors, tasty eats, thirst-quenching drinks, loads of live music and friendly vibes almost as warm and sunny as these terrific late summer forecasts. 

4. Night Market

  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 5-10 p.m., Wisconsin Avenue between 2nd Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue

Even when the summer sun sets, Milwaukee knows how to keep the party going – just ask the Night Market, a monthly Milwaukee block party hosted in front of the 3rd Street Market Hall. The market is a melange of all things great about the city, with friends new and old, near and far, gathering together on a lovely night surrounded by crave-able local food, remarkable work from local artists and vendors, live performances and music, small businesses and organizations – all intertwining and mingling together. It's always an electric yet easy-going night – so get one final jovial jolt on Sept. 21!

5. Petfest

  • Saturday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Henry Maier Festival Park

Those with two legs aren't the only ones who love the summer; your four-legged friends love soaking up the sun, too, before the sidewalks get salty and the grassy fields turn into snowy wastelands. So hit "paws" on fall's fast approach by hitting up this free late summer fur festival, hosted at Henry Maier Festival Park on Saturday, Sept. 24. Your puppers can savor the summer by scampering around the fest's dog park, dock diving area, lure and agility courses, doggie dash sprinting space, and more – all while fueling up with plenty of treats and snacks. And while the doggos tucker themselves out with all the activities, their humans can enjoy live music, food and drink, and hopefully a lovely late summer day on the lakefront. 

6. Festa Italiana

  • Sept. 24-25, Italian Community Center

For its return from a COVID-induced hiatus, Festa Italiana not only went back into the calendar – moving from its usual late July timeslot to late September – but back in time, bringing its festival back to its original stomping grounds at the Italian Community Center. All the classics – bocce, dancing, live music, mass and, of course, ridiculously delicious food – will all be in attendance at this blast from the past, a look back at the history of Festa as well as a great time to look back at another terrific Milwaukee summer in the books. 

7. Harvest Fair

  • Sept. 23-25, Wisconsin State Fair Park

It's September 23: When you're officially a whole day into autumn, there's no more denying that summer's over. But ... what if we could combine the sunny joy of a summer festival with the cozy traditions of fall? What if we could Hannah Montana this month and get the best of both worlds? Enter Harvest Fair, hosted at State Fair Park from 5-11 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Bank Five Nine Amp will have awesome live music headliners, local artists and vendors will show off their incredible work, and all sorts of fall frivality – including lumberjack shows, pumpkin bowling and more – will decorate the fairgrounds, surrounded by that lovely September weather that's maybe a little summer and maybe a little fall, but all completely gorgeous. And the only thing better than a festival? A free festival – so admission is zero dollars. There may be no better way to salute summer farewell and usher in autumn. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.