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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bonjour Bastille Days

A weekend of France in Milwaukee

Bastille Days
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There are many street festivals in Milwaukee, but Bastille Days may be the biggest and brightest of all. From July 10-13, more than 250,000 visitors will come to Cathedral Square and several streets around it, to celebrate all things French. This free festival focuses on French food, music and culture, plus a whole lot of other entertainment.

There is never a shortage of great food at Bastille Days, and this year is no different. More than 25 restaurants and food vendors will be serving up French and Cajun cuisine as well as a nice selection of other foods ranging from Mexican and Middle Eastern to American and Irish. New this year, long-time Milwaukee favorite for French cuisine, Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro will be on site turning out delicious food for festivalgoers.

Throughout the festival there will be chef-led cooking demonstrations. These chefs, from some of Milwaukee's top restaurants, will prepare signature dishes in front of the public. Lucky spectators will have opportunities to sample some of the dishes prepared as well as learn a few tricks and tips from the experts.

Bastille Days is also a great place for libation lovers. Milwaukee Brewing Company will be selling an exclusive ale made just for the festival. If you’re on hand at the Firkin Tapping ceremony, 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, you may even score a free sample. For those who are interested in an in-depth wine tasting, plan to attend one of four expert-led wine tasting sessions. Tickets for the tastings include eight 2-ounce pours and invaluable knowledge shared by professional sommeliers. Save $10 and get your tickets in advance online for $25.

Daily demos by Bastille Whisky, Door Peninsula Winery, WineMasters and BeerMasters will highlight production processes and offer insights into the finer pleasures of wine, craft beer and spirits. As with the cooking demonstrations, the audience will be able to sample some of the products discussed on stage.

Bastille Days is not just about food and drink though. The annual Storm the Bastille 5K run/walk is the main event on Thursday, July 10, at 9 p.m. More than 5,000 runners and walkers will make their way through Downtown streets as a tribute to the 18th-century Parisians who stormed the notorious Bastille prison at the start of the French Revolution. Participants can register in advance online for $20, or $25 at the event.

Mardi Gras is the name of the game on Friday, July 11. New Orleans-style music and Creole food will put you in the mood for the three Mardi Gras parades at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. The parades are such a hit, they’ll repeat at the same times on Saturday evening too.

Kids take over during the day on Saturday, July 12. Dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet, games with the Bucks and Admirals, magic tricks, mini French lessons and a special French breakfast are just a sample of the fun things for families to do throughout the day. Sunday, July 13, is highlighted with a much-loved Waiter/Waitress Race, where local servers compete on an obstacle course while balancing a tray of wine glasses—hilarity guaranteed.

Boasting a solid line-up of live music every day of the festival, Bastille Days has a little something for everyone. You’ll hear everything from French ballads, Cajun and zydeco to folk, world and rock music. Festival favorites like Willy Porter, I’m Not A Pilot, Rebel Grace and the 5 Card Studs will perform along with returning acts like the Extra Crispy Brass Band, Robin Pluer and The Love Monkeys.

For a complete list of entertainment, food and other Bastille Days information, visit www.bastilledaysfestival.com