ELMS: Get festive this summer, with these great Milwaukee options

Summer in Milwaukee is my favorite.

I know, it barely feels like spring outside, but with roughly two weeks of school left, summer break is just around the corner – and I’m getting antsy.

It’s not only that school will be out and I’ll have more free time (although that is a HUGE plus), it’s what I plan to fill my free time with that I’m looking forward to. There is so much going on in Brew City during the summer, and I aim to make the most of it all.

First on the list is Summerfest. This one is pretty obvious – it is the world’s largest music festival, spanning 11 days with 11 stages and over 700 artists performing. Enough said.

If you like live music and you’re in Milwaukee, it would be silly for you not to go at least one Summerfest show. The only downside is, depending on who you want to see, tickets can get a little pricy.

But there are also summer entertainment options that are easier on the wallet, which is especially important for me and the rest of you poor college students.

Take all of the different cultural festivals held at the Summerfest grounds. Each may be up to $15 admission at the gate, but there are always deals that can get you in for much less, sometimes even for free.

The first calendar-wise is Polish Fest, June 17 to 19, featuring Polish crafts, food, drink and polka music and dance. There will be cooking demonstrations, vodka tastings, the Polish Fest Pageant and a special Polish mass. Count me in.

Up next is Festa Italiana, the country’s largest Italian-American festival, held July 21 to 24. Special guests include Buddy Valastro of TLC’s “Cake Boss” and musicians Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I’m not even Italian and I want to go.

July 28 to 31 marks German Fest, followed by Irish Fest Aug 18 to 21. Good beer and good food twice in two months? Perfect.

The Mexican Fiesta, Aug 26 to 28 and Indian Summer Festival, Sept 9 to 11, close out the summer’s series of festivals with more delicious food and lively music and dance. If I manage to hit all of these, I’ll have six different cultural experiences without even getting on a plane.

Another popular summer Milwaukee festival is Bastille Days, July 14 to 17, at Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St. This summer marks the 30th anniversary of Milwaukee’s celebration of the French Independence Day, with four days of entertainment and vendors throughout the park. The highlight of the fest is the popular Storming of the Bastille 5k run downtown to kick off the celebration.

If you’ve had your fill of cultural festivals and want to mix things up, check out the Brady Street Festival on July 30, located where else but Brady Street. The folks on the East Side are still solidifying the lineup, but it will be a good excuse to get off campus no matter who is performing.

A relatively new summer event is the Milwaukee Domes Art Festival. The dates and schedule of events are still in the works, but it promises to include food, live music and lots of art. And if you’re looking for something fun and relaxing that’s close to campus, there’s always Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square every Thursday night starting in June.

Wherever you are this summer, make the most of your time off of school. You have no reason to be bored. Go exploring, check out local events and embrace the city around you.

For those of you who aren’t hanging around here, I highly suggest you plan on visiting. For those of you who are, you’re in for a treat.