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10 Great Spots to Enjoy the Arts Outdoors


July 2018

Many people wonder how Wisconsinites can endure the long winter months filled with short, dark days and below-zero temperatures. But most who ponder this have never experienced summer in Wisconsin. With warm temperatures, lush greenery and more lakes than Minnesota, Wisconsin summers are nothing short of magical. The residents of southeastern Wisconsin often celebrate the season by spending as much time outdoors as possible. And thanks to a wide array of concerts, plays and art exhibits, the outdoors have never been so colorful and classy!

Café Sopra Mare, Sundays, 6/3-9/30

Imagine living in an Italian villa with a lake view and spending Sunday mornings nibbling on pastries while you listen to live music in your courtyard. Or just visit the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum for its Café Sopra Mare concerts. The Mercury Courtyard features a statue of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and plush plants imported from Italy. Coffee, tea and pastries are available for purchase. The event is held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with performances beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Chill on the Hill, Tuesdays, 6/5-9/28

All you need to hear is the name to know that Chill on the Hill is one of the hottest and hippest free concert series in Milwaukee. Carry in your food and beverage or purchase your refreshments from one of the many vendors on site. Concerts begin at 6 p.m. with headliners performing at 6:30 p.m.

Gala in the Park, Thursdays, 7/13-8/24

Watch the Milwaukee River flow as you listen to music, munch on popcorn and pizza, and sip a cool beverage at Gala in the Park, held on Thursday evenings at Grafton’s Veterans Memorial Park. Concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and go until 9 p.m.

Holy Hill Art Barn, 6/15-8/31

At Holy Hill Art Barn, guests can spend an evening in a century-old historic barn, sitting on vintage chairs at old farm tables and watching the sunset filter through the weathered boards. The farm schedules special themed nights featuring dinner, music or dancing—and sometimes a mix of all three.

Jazz in the Park, Thursdays, 5/31-8/30

One of Milwaukee’s most popular outdoor music events, Jazz in the Park, offers a summer lineup featuring a diverse group of performers, including jazz, R&B, reggae, blues and funk. Don’t be shy—plenty of people get up and dance to the music. Food and beverage trucks will be on hand to provide delicious food and refreshing drinks. Happy hour starts at 5 p.m. with specials on beverages; the music kicks off at 6. Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St.,

Musical Mondays, 6/2-8/27 and Wonderful Wednesdays, 6/20-9/8

Lake Park Friends sponsor Musical Mondays on the Lake Park Summer Stage, a wonderful variety of vocal and instrumental concerts underneath the trees of Lake Park. The Monday concerts are from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wonderful Wednesdays provides seven concerts for children and their families on Wednesdays from June through August (excluding July 4). Held in the same venue, children are encouraged to dance and wiggle through the performances. The concerts are from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Sculpture Milwaukee, 6/1-10/21

For the second summer in a row, Sculpture Milwaukee provides visitors and residents of Milwaukee with a unique public art experience. Spearheaded by Steve Marcus, chairman of the board of The Marcus Corporation, Sculpture Milwaukee brings remarkable art to the streets of Milwaukee. Plan an afternoon or evening to walk the streets of the city and admire the art.

Starry Nights, 6/29-9/10

Pack your picnic basket, dig out your lawn chairs and get ready for a night of music under the stars. For Starry Nights, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts has lined up an array of local and regional musicians playing a wide variety of music styles including Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, bluegrass, country and more. All performances begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Gerlach/Haack Outdoor Theater.

Summer Sounds, Fridays, 6/15-8/17

On Friday evenings at Cedarburg’s Cedar Creek Park, visitors can hear well-known local bands and nationally known touring bands at Summer Sounds. Nearly 3,000 people attend this weekly party that includes beverage vendors and plenty of food for feasting.  The opening band plays at 7 p.m. and the headliner starts at 8 or 8:30 p.m.

SummerStage of Delafield

Nestled in woods in the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, SummerStage of Delafield provides a unique outdoor arts venue. Every summer the stage hosts a variety of performances including plays, concerts and special family themed events, like Kohl’s Wild Theater.

This story ran in the July 2018 issue of: