Soon, it’s time to say “Hello!” to Bastille Day in downtown Milwaukee again.
Free French-themed street festivals have been canceled for the past two summers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s scheduled to make a grand return Thursday through Sunday.
From food to entertainment to the wildly popular Bastille Storm 5K, here’s what to expect from this year’s installments.
When is Bastille Day?
Thursday-Saturday 11am-11:30pm, Sunday 11am-8pm.
Where is Bastille Day?
Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St. and surroundings. There will also be a stage on Wells Street between Flannery’s and This Is It bar.
The attack on the Bastille, what it means
The popular Storm the Bastille 5K run/walk by Union Bank will begin at 9pm on Thursday.
The event commemorates the attack on the Bastille, a French prison in the 18th century, which helped spark the French Revolution.
The 5K begins on North Jefferson Street, adjacent to Cathedral Square Park, and will travel through downtown Milwaukee and the historic 3rd Ward.
Registration is $35 and can be done at easttown.com/bastille-days/2022-storm-the-bastille-5k. This year’s race will be timed by Silver Circle Sports Events for the first time.
food and wine
Many Bastille Day favorites will be returning, including Beignets Francais, Lake Park Bistro, Lagniappe Brasserie and Crème & Crepe Café, according to the release.
New additions will include Crawdaddy’s on Greenfield, Milwaukee Pretzel Company and Smokin’ Jack’s BBQ.
Door Peninsula Winery will be sponsoring wine tastings throughout the event.
entertainment, events, markets
There will be three stages of entertainment: the Educators Credit Union Main Stage; the Gruber LLP “One Call…That’s It” stage; and the Kilbourn East Stage, according to the event’s website.
The full lineup can be found here, easttown.com/bastille-days/entertainment-and-music. Highlights include acclaimed singer Robin Pluer, two-time Grammy winner Terrance Simien and The Zydeco Experience, and Madame Gigi’s outrageous French cancan dancers, according to the release.
There will also be street performers and musicians.
The Bastille Day Market will showcase the handicrafts and products of artisans from all over the world. A list of vendors can be found here, https://www.easttown.com/bastille-days/marketplace.
There will also be a Love Locks sculpture on which attendees can place padlocks.
St. John the Evangelist Cathedral at 812 Jackson Street will offer tours, coffee in the garden, a free concert featuring historic organic wind compositions and sacred vocals by French composers, and Friday prayers by candlelight.
Children’s Day from Saturday 10am to 2pm. There will be breakfast, French classes, a performance by the Milwaukee Ballet and an event at the Cole Art Studio, according to the press release.
How is it different from previous years?
The festival will be “slightly smaller” than it has been in years past. A 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower, the festival’s unofficial symbol, will not be part of this year’s event. According to a previous Sentinel report, the East Side Association is “reviewing options” on how to bring it back in 2023, the 40th anniversary of Bastille Day.
According to the event’s website, attendees can purchase parking at the BMO Tower Garage at 771 North Broadway, a block from the festival. People can use Honk Mobile to pre-purchase parking spaces for a $5 discount. For instructions on this, visit easttown.com/bastille-days.
Hop’s M-Line stops in the middle of the festival grounds.
Milwaukee Art Museum Collaboration
The Milwaukee Art Museum, located at 700 N. Art Museum Drive, in partnership with the festival, will be hosting a Parisian street event Thursday through Sunday. According to the museum’s website, it was inspired by the museum’s thematic exhibition “Always New: Posters by Jules Chéret.”
“Through art, storytelling, dance, music, and more, it was transported to France and to Mali, Senegal, Haiti and other French-speaking African diaspora countries,” the museum’s website says.
The museum’s programming will include Thursday night film screenings and panel discussions of “The French Myth of Color Blindness”; free museum admission on Fridays from 5-8 p.m. with shows and beer gardens on Baumgartner Terrace; and more.
For the daily lineup, visit mam.org/events/streets-of-paris.php.
More Bastille info/updates
For more information or updates on Bastille Days, visit easttown.com/bastille-days.
Chris Foran of Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.