German Fest Milwaukee is a weekend that many people look forward to all year! German Fest is a vibrant annual celebration of German culture, heritage, and traditions held at the Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This lively event, usually occurring in late July, attracts thousands of visitors who come to immerse themselves in authentic German experiences. The festival features a rich array of activities, including traditional music performances by polka bands and folk groups, lively dance shows, and colorful parades showcasing German costumes and customs.

To help, here is my list of what should be on your German Fest Milwaukee Survival Guide!

Check the weather for this Milwaukee tradition

Keep an eye on the weather and pack appropriately. Pack a sunscreen with a higher SPF because a dirndl blouse burn is like a farmers-tan hopped up on schnapps! Nobody likes that sweetheart neckline for the rest of the summer! Also find ways to reapply sunscreen throughout the festival weekend

On the flip side... the open air Summer Fest grounds have plenty of tents, but if you want to grab some food, or another beer, you may need to venture out from under the shelter, so don't forget an umbrella while experiencing German culture.  

couple standing at german fest milwaukee wearing traditional bavarian costume

Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

Having water in between beers is key to keeping hydrated during the usually super hot German fest and having a safer experience (for you and your liver). There are drinking fountains (or bubblers as the Wisconsinites call it) outside each of the bathrooms throughout the the German fest grounds were you can re-fill any of your cups with some fresh Wasser!

woman wearing a plus size dirndl posing for a picture at german fest milwaukee

Keep cool by Lake Michigan's beautiful shoreline

The lakeshore at the Henry Maier Festival Park during German Fest is where the magic of Munich meets the beauty of Milwaukee! Picture this: the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan stretching out like a sparkling blue carpet, perfectly complementing the vibrant colors and sounds of the festival. It's not just a scenic spot—it’s the heartbeat of the fest, where the rhythm of traditional polka music and the clinking of steins fill the air. As you stroll along the waterfront, the scent of sizzling bratwursts and fresh pretzels mingles with the lake breeze from the beautiful shoreline, inviting you to indulge in every German delicacy.

couple standing by the lake at German fest milwaukee in traditional german clothing

Imagine raising your stein in a hearty "Prost!" with the lake as your backdrop, or dancing the Schuhplattler under the open sky. The lakeshore becomes a playground for festival-goers, with laughter echoing as kids enjoy carnival rides and adults cheer on the Dachshund Derby. As the sun sets, painting the sky in hues of gold and pink, the lakeside transforms into a glowing spectacle, with twinkling lights and joyous festivities that carry on into the night. At the lakeshore during German Fest, every moment feels like a jubilant celebration, blending the best of German tradition with the stunning beauty of Lake Michigan


Plus, if your fans of fireworks, there is a gorgeous fireworks display to celebrate German culture and the festival on Friday and Saturday nights! However being by the water in the middle of the summer can bring the bugs. I recommend packing some insect repellent. 

Wear Comfortable Footwear

Last but not least... a second pair of shoes in your survival kit may be cumbersome, but when you have a huge throbbing blister, nothing feels better! You'll want to be walking about the entire German fest grounds checking out all the great performances, participating in fun activities like culture village, trying delicious authentic food & drinks, and fully experiencing german culture. Since German fest is primarily outdoors walking barefoot is really not an option, so when your feet have had enough, sometimes a fresh pair of shoes is all it takes to feel like a million bucks. And good news, sneakers with dirndls are all the rage right now!

two women wearing dirndl dresses at german fest milwaukee - shop german clothing

Kill That Hangover with authentic food!

Lots of people have their own hangover remedies, so I'll share mine... 2 advil, plenty of water and some kartofflepuffer (potato pancakes). German fest potato pancake houses have the BEST potato pancakes ever and nothing helps me get through a Sunday like those for breakfast! Trust me -- you do not want to be hungover during the dachshund derby. 

German Potato Pancakes at german fest


a couple eating a big pretzel at german fest wearing dirndl and lederhosen

During German Fest weekend, don't forget to come visit the Rare Dirndl pop-up shop in the Marktplatz kiddy-corner from the first aid tent

three images of Rare Dirndl at German fest a milwaukee tradtion
BONUS TIP: While most pop up shops and vendors at German Fest have digital payment services, be sure to bring some cash with you in case there's a minimum spend limit or they don't take your credit card! 
Group of women at german fest wearing dirndl and lederhosen - dirndl dresses - women in lederhosen
Ever wonder which dirndl style you are? Click here to take out quiz and find out now! 

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