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Irish Fest Milwaukee 2020 Cancelled

CelticMKE, the host and organizer of Milwaukee Irish Fest, has cancelled the 2020 Irish Fest. This is the first time in the event’s history that it has had to cancel. According to its website (, the decision was made in April to help mitigate the growing challenges of the significant planning and upfront logistics required to successfully execute the festival.

Irish Fest, which is the world’s largest Irish music festival, was scheduled for August 13 - 16 at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds on Milwaukee’s lakefront.

The Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School, which takes place the week leading into the festival, is also cancelled. “We don’t take this decision lightly, but our main priority is the safety and health of our community, patrons, and volunteers,” said Mike Mitchell, executive director of CelticMKE.

“To be fair to all of those involved in the planning process, including our partners, vendors, and entertainers, we needed to make this decision sooner rather than later.”

Note to Irish Fest Ticket Holders: Anyone who purchased their tickets in advance can either transfer their ticket to the 2021 festival, donate their ticket money back to Irish Fest to help their non-profit or receive a refund or the cost of their ticket.

Ticket purchasers could expect an email from Irish Fest outlining the three options. The organizers emphasized that Milwaukee Irish Fest will miss seeing everyone celebrate Irish culture together, but looks forward to returning to the lakefront at the Henry Maier Festival Park the third weekend in August (19- 22), 2021.

Ed Ward shook hands with Summerfest director Rod Lanser during a lakefront contract signing ceremony on April 25, 1981. Among the well-wishers in the background was the applauding Lorraine Murphy. (photo courtesy of Irish Fest)

A crowd of Irish Fest fans, volunteers and supporters gathered April 21, 1981, for the contract signing signaling the official launch of the fest. The festival needed to be cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic but will return in 2021. (photo courtesy of Irish Fest)

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