No matter where you're from, there's a festival for you.
© Beth Gauper
Irish dancers step in a parade.
In general, I like my heritage. It involves Vikings and trolls and populist politics. At festivals, tow-headed children dance
around in cute outfits.
But the food . . . not so much. When it comes to herring and lutefisk, I'd rather be Polish. Plump pierogi with sour cream
and sauteed onions — now, there's an ethnic food I can love.
Luckily, it's easy to piggyback on other cultures in the Upper Midwest. Yes, many of us came from Germany, Ireland and
But we also came from Greece, Ghana, Switzerland, Iceland, Scotland, Ukraine — and there are festivals honoring those cultures and those of the Dakota, Ojibwe, Cree and Ho-Chunk, who already were here.
Some of these festivals are the biggest in the region — Decorah's Nordic Fest brings 75,000 people to a town of 8,000
— so it's a good idea to plan far in advance.
If you’d like to reconnect with your heritage, or explore someone else’s, here's a list of summer and fall festivals.
And for stories about ethnic communities in the Upper Midwest — Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, German, Dutch, Swiss, Dakota and Ojibwe — see Heritage Travel.For more on towns that celebrate their heritage, see our Ethnic towns stories.
For exploring the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago, see Globe-trotting in Chicago.
Here are some of the best festivals in 2013.
June 15, Juneteenth Day in Minneapolis. At North Mississippi Regional Park.
June 19, Juneteenth Day Festival in Milwaukee. On Martin Luther King Drive.
Aug. 10, Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic in Chicago. On the South Side, ending in
© Chicago Chinatown
Dragons parade through Chinatown in Chicago.
Sept. 6-8, Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee. At Maier Festival Park.
For more about Dakota and Ojibwe culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Dakota and Ojibwe.
May 11, CelebrAsian: The Annual Asian Heritage Festival in Des Moines. At the State
July 13-14, Belgian Days in Brussels, Wis., in Door
July 4-7, African-Caribbean International Festival of Life in
Chicago. In Union Park.
Aug. 4, Belize Day in the Park in Chicago. In Washington Park.
For St. Patrick's Day festivals, see Toasting St.
Sept., Michiana Celtic Festival and Highland Games in South Bend, Ind. In Howard Park.
Sept. 21, Celtic Highland Games of the Quad Cities at Centennial Park in downtown Davenport.
Sept., Celtic Festival and Copper Hammer Highland Games in Hancock, Mich. At the
Houghton County Fairgrounds.
Sept. 27-28, Cornish Festival in Mineral Point, Wis. At Pendarvis and around town.
Sept., All Things Scottish Celtic Fest in Middle Amana, Iowa. At
July 21, Chinatown Summer Fair in Chicago.
May 17-19, Houby Days in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In Czech Village.
June 8-9, Cesky Den in Hillsboro, Wis.
June 14-16, Czech-Slovak Festival in Phillips, Wis.
Sept., Dozinky in New Prague, Minn.
© Hoskovec Photo
Guitarists play at Cinco de Mayo in St. Paul.
May 25-26, Tivoli Fest in Elk Horn, Iowa, at the Danish Museum.
July, Aebleskiver Days in Tyler, Minn.
For more about Danish culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
May 2-4, Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa.
May 3-4, Dutch Days in Fulton,
May 4-11, Tulip Time in Holland, Mich.
May 16-18, Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa.
July 12-13, Dutch Festival in Edgerton, Minn.
July 26-27, Holland Festival in Cedar Grove, Wis., near Lake Michigan just south of
Sept. 21, Kermis Dutch Festival in Little Chute, Wis., just east of Appleton on the Fox River.
June 8, Finnish-American Summer Festival in Embarrass, Minn.
June 19-23, FinnFest USA in Hancock, Mich.
For more about Finnish culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
July 11-14, Bastille Days in Milwaukee. On Cathedral Square.
May, Maifest in Chicago. In the Lincoln Square neighborhood.
July 19-21, Bavarian Blast in New Ulm, Minn..
July 25-28, German Fest in Milwaukee. At Maier Festival Park.
Sept. 6-8, German-American Festival in Chicago. In Lincoln Square.
Sept. 20-21, German Fest in Guttenberg, Iowa.
© Beth Gauper
The Narren of New Ulm, Minn., folk figures with wooden masks, appear at many German festivals.
For more, see Toasting Oktoberfest .
For more about German culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Germany.
July, Ghana Fest in Chicago. In Washington Park.
June 21-23, Greek Fest in West Allis, Wis. At Wisconsin State
Aug. 24-25, Taste of Greece in Chicago. In Greektown.
Aug. 2-5, the 124th Islendingadagurinn in Gimli, Manitoba, the largest Icelandic community outside Iceland.
May 31-June 2, Irish Festival in Oshkosh, Wis. In Riverside Park on the Fox
July, Irish Fest in Chicago. At the Irish American Heritage Center.
Aug. 2-4, Iowa Irish Fest in Waterloo. In Lincoln Park.
Aug. 9-11, Irish Fair in St. Paul. On Harriet Island.
Aug. 9-11, Irishfest in La Crosse, Wis. On the Southside Fest grounds.
Aug. 15-18, Irish Fest in Milwaukee. In Maier Festival Park.
© Beth Gauper
At Pella's Tulip Time, descendants of Dutch immigrants wear lace hats called poeffers.
Sept. 13-15, Michigan Irish Music Festival in Muskegon, Mich. At Heritage Landing
on Muskegon Lake.
June, Festa Italia in Madison. At McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg, presented by
the Italian Workmen's Club.
July 18-21, Festa Italiana in Milwaukee. At Maier Festival Park.
July 26-27, Viva L'Italia in Des Moines. Court Avenue Bridge.
Aug. 2-4, Festa Italiana in Rockford, Ill. On the grounds of Boylan High School.
Sept., Festa Italiana Minnesota in St. Paul. On Harriet Island.
Aug. 9-11, Ginza Holiday Festival in Chicago. At the Midwest Buddhist Temple near
Aug. 8-11, Luxembourg Heritage Weekend in Belgium,
© Beth Gauper
Powwows are the linchpin of American Indian culture.
June 21-23, Fiesta Waukesha in Waukesha, Wis. In Frame Park on the Fox River, just west of Milwaukee.
July, Puerto Rican Heritage Festival in Aurora, Ill. In North River Street Park,
with a parade at noon Sunday.
Aug. 23-25, Mexican Fiesta in Milwaukee. At Maier Festival Park.
Sept. 7-8, Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines. At Water Works
July 19-21, Middle Eastern Festival in West St. Paul, Minn. At St. George
Antiochian Orthodox Church.
May 17-19, Syttende Mai in Stoughton, Wis.
June 22-23, Midsummer Festival near Westby, Wis. At Norskedalen heritage museum.
For more about Norwegian culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
© Torsten Muller
A Viking ship is part of the Syttende Mai parade in Spring Grove, Minnesota's first Norwegian settlement.
May 4, Polish Constitution Day parade in Chicago on Columbus Drive past Grant Park.
May 4-5, Polish Fest in Chicago at the Copernicus Center.
Aug. 1-4, Polish Festival in Boyne Falls, Mich.
Aug. 10-11, Twin Cities Polish Festival in Minneapolis, on the Mississippi riverfront across from downtown.
Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Taste of Polonia in Chicago. At the Copernicus
June 7-8, Nisswa-Stãmman Scandinavian Folk Festival in Nisswa, Minn.
June 22, Midsommar Festival in South Elgin, Ill. In Vasa Park on the Fox River.
© Beth Gauper
Residents of the Swiss town of New Glarus stage a Wilhelm Tell pageant over Labor Day weekend.
Sept. 8, Scandinavian Day in South Elgin, Ill. In Vasa Park on the Fox
For more about Scandinavian culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
May 4, Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games. On the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington.
June 1, Scottish Fest & Highland Games in Milwaukee. At Hart Park in the suburb of Wauwatosa.
June 22, Manitoba Highland Gathering in Selkirk.
Aug. 30-Sept. 1, Wisconsin Highland Games & Celtic Fling. At the Expo
Center in Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee.
June 7-9, Midsommarfest in Chicago. At the Swedish American Museum in the Andersonville neighborhood.
June 16, Swedish Day in Geneva, Ill., held since 1911. In Good Templar Park.
June 18-23, Midsommar Festival-Swedish Days in Geneva, Ill.
June 24, Svenskarnas Dag in Minneapolis. At Minnehaha Park.
© Beth Gauper
Polka dancing is a big part of Milwaukee's Polish Fest.
July 11-14, Karl Oskar Days in Lindstrom, Minn., in the Chisago Lakes area.
For more about Swedish culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
For more about Swiss culture in the Upper Midwest, see Heritage travel: Switzerland.
May 31-June 1, Turkish Festival in Chicago. At Pioneer Court on the Magnificent Mile.
Aug. 2-4, Canada's National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, Manitoba.
Sept., Twin Cities Ukrainian Heritage Festival in Minneapolis. At the
Ukrainian Event Center near Nicollet Island.
And everywhere else
Aug. 4-17, Winnipeg holds Folklorama, with 45 pavilions celebrating the nationalities
who have come to this melting pot on the Manitoba prairie.
Pavilions are devoted to the countries listed above as well as to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, India, Spain, Portugal, the Philippines, Serbia, Croatia, Cuba, El Salvador, Indochina, Russia, Slovenia and the Tamil region on the Indian Ocean.
Venues are throughout the city. For more about Winnipeg, see Bazaar on the prairie.
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