PrideFest returns to Milwaukee’s summer festival calendar.
The festival, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, has been held in Milwaukee for more than 30 years and has grown significantly since its beginnings in the late 1980s.
Here’s what to know about the event in 2022 and other facts about PrideFest in Milwaukee and beyond.
When is PrideFest 2022 in Milwaukee?
Where is PrideFest held?
It is held at Maier Festival Park, on the Summerfest grounds at 200 N. Harbor Drive.
When was the first PrideFest in Milwaukee?
Pridefest began in 1988 with several hundred people in attendance, according to mkelgbthist.org.
This festival was held in September at Mitchell Park. The Milwaukee Lesbian/Gay Pride Committee was also founded that year.
What is the other story of PrideFest?
In 1989, after the mayor and county executive of Milwaukee issued proclamations recognizing Pride celebrations in the city, religiously-based conservative groups called for a recall, according to mkelgbthist.org. A rally that year drew hundreds of people to Cathedral Square Park. The rallies continued into the early 1990s, and as the crowds grew, they moved to Juneau Park and then to Veterans Park.
After the first PrideFest, the event moved to June, aligning it with Pride Month. PrideFest Inc. took over in 1994 after the Milwaukee Gay/Lesbian Pride Committee disbanded. Entertainment offerings continued to expand, and in 1995 a fireworks show was added for the first time.
The festival moved to Maier Festival Park in 1996.
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PrideFest ran into financial problems in the early 2000s
PrideFest ran into financial difficulties after the 2003 event. According to a Journal Sentinel article, the festival closed in 2003 owing $150,000 to vendors and other investors. The board was eventually disbanded and the Cream City Foundation took over. The festival made changes in 2004 that helped it recover, including cutting the festival from three days to two (it later reverted to a three-day schedule) and dropping the festival parade. (A separate organization later took over running the parade.) This helped PrideFest end with a profit.
PrideFest was hugely successful before COVID-19
The festival broke attendance records throughout the 2010s, peaking in 2019 at 45,787 during the three-day event. But the festival has been closed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is PrideFest Milwaukee the biggest celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in Wisconsin?
Yes, it’s Wisconsin‘s largest LGBTQ+ festival. It is also one of the largest and oldest LGBTQ+ festivals in the country.
Is there a pride parade in Milwaukee?
Yes. This year’s parade begins at 2 p.m. on June 5. The event is run by Milwaukee Pride Parade Inc., a non-profit organization founded in 2004, not affiliated with the festival. But the parade coincides with the festival.
The parade begins at South Second Street and West Greenfield Avenue and heads north on Second Street to West Oregon Street.
Who are the PrideFest headliners in 2022?
Over the years, Pridefest has hosted Cyndi Lauper, Leann Rimes, Indigo Girls, Betty Who and many more on stage. This year, The Original Weather Girl Martha Wash (9:45 p.m.) and Frenchie Davis (10:45 p.m.) headline the Skyyline main stage on June 4. There is also a drag show earlier in the evening on this stage.
On June 3, a tribute to Lady Gaga takes the stage before a comedy sketch closes the evening.
When is the fireworks?
The pyrotechnic show is from 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 4.
What are the ticket prices for PrideFest in Milwaukee?
You can purchase a three-day pass for $50 or one-day admission tickets. Thursday tickets are $15, while Saturday and Sunday admission is $25.
What are the hours for PrideFest 2022 in Milwaukee?
4 p.m. to midnight June 2, 3 p.m. to midnight June 3, noon to midnight June 4.
Does PrideFest Milwaukee take place during Pride Month?
Yes. June is Pride Month, which followed the Stonewall Riots in New York. The riots sparked the modern LGBTQ rights movement in 1969.
Are there Pride festivals in Chicago and Madison? When are they?
The Chicago Pride Celebration has a month of festivities in June, culminating in the Chicago Pride Parade on June 26. Chicago Pride Fest takes place June 18-19. The festivities continue with the Chicago Pride Parade on June 26. There’s also Pride in the Park at Chicago’s Grant Park on June 25 and 26.
The Magic Pride Festival in Madison will take place from 1-6 p.m. on August 21 at Warner Park. The event is hosted by OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center and includes a stage show, vendors and activities.