5 of the Coolest Events Happening in Wisconsin This November

Holiday Folk Fair

Holiday Folk Fair International at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. Photo courtesy of Holiday Folk Fair International

By Jessica Lee

October 31, 2022

November in the Badger State marks an eclectic mix of happenings and events with something for everyone to attend and enjoy.

With winter on the horizon, some of us want to retreat to our homes and get ready to hibernate, especially if the holiday season makes us nauseous instead of excited. However, Wisconsin has so many cool events going on in November, it’s hard to resist checking them out. There’s something for everyone to do. Here are some of the coolest events happening in Wisconsin this November:

Fall Bird Migration Day, Ferryville

Sat., Nov. 12, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Riverview Park
Free admission

Bird Migration Canvasback
<em>Photo courtesy of Clayton Ferrell via the US Fish Wildlife Service USFWS<em>

In Wisconsin, November is a month of transition between fall and winter weather, which means the birds prepare for and begin their seasonal journey south. There is no better place to observe the great migration than along Wisconsin’s portion of the Mississippi River. This portion of the Mississippi river is home to more than 300 species of birds, 165 bald eagle nests, 5,000 heron and egret nests, half of the world’s canvasback ducks, and 20 percent of the tundra swans found east of the Mississippi. Each year, Ferryville, located on Wisconsin’s Great River Road, hosts Fall Bird Migration Day. Attendees get to learn from Audubon Society birding experts and enjoy up-close looks from the special bird-spotting scopes at River View Park’s observation area. 

Trainfest, Wisconsin State Fairgrounds

Sat. and Sun., Nov. 12-13, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission $5 to $11 for children; $15 to $21 for adults; lowest ticket prices Sunday

<em>Photo courtesy of Trainfest Facebook Page<em>

Milwaukee’s Trainfest is the largest operating model railroad show in the U.S. After halting the festival during the height of the pandemic, Trainfest returns to the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee in November. It’s certain kids will love Trainfest, but it’s designed to entice all ages, including model enthusiasts and collectors. However, you don’t have to be a train enthusiast to enjoy Trainfest. Curious attendees looking for family fun will find hundreds of vendors including manufacturers, retailers, and exhibits. Trainfest also has kids’ activities, free seminars, and much more. 

Fox Valley Roots Music Festival, Appleton

Thurs. to Sun., Nov. 10-13, times and locations vary
Admission $20 Thurs. and Sun., $35 Fri. and Sat., $80 4-day pass 

The Fox Valley Roots and Music Festival is a celebration of music. The event supports Wisconsin artists, but they also welcome roots and folk artists from throughout the U.S. and the world. The event takes place at Appleton Beer Factory and Gibson Music Hall. Around 30 artists play during the four-day festival, with more artists joining the festival as the date approaches. The idea of “roots” is loosely interpreted for the festival. Performers represent various types of music from bluegrass to blues to stoner thrash to folk to country punk rock and much more. 

Holiday Folk Fair International, Wisconsin State Fairgrounds

Fri., Nov. 18, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 19, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission $6 and up, look for discounts and order advanced tickets here

We had to add another cool November event at Wisconsin State Fair Park. Even if you live outside the Milwaukee area, the Holiday Folk Fair International is well worth the drive. This year is its 79th year, and it’s finally returning to an in-person event after keeping things virtual for a couple of years since the pandemic. The festival is put on by the International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW) and exists as a celebration of the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of those who call Milwaukee and the surrounding areas home. More than 60 ethnic groups are represented at Holiday Folk Fair International. You can find various activities and exhibitions centered around food, dance, and culture in the All Nations Theater, World Cafe, the International Stage, the Chef’s Stage, and Heritage Lane. 

Fox Valley Vintage Fest, Oshkosh

Sun. Nov. 20, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, Oshkosh Convention Center, 2 N. Main St.
Early bird admission from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. is
$10 in advance and $15 at the door; general admission is free in advance and $1 at the door

Whether you want to do some holiday shopping or you simply love looking for vintage clothes and decor, Fox Valley Vintage Fest is easily one of the coolest events happening in Wisconsin this November. Sometimes the line gets blurry between flea markets with a lot of “junk” and stores or events with vintage goods. Those who run the Fox Valley Vintage Fest carefully curate the goods and choose vendors, with a special focus on items from the 60s through 2000. Attendees will find more than 70 vendors carrying an eclectic mix of hand-picked vintage clothing, accessories, home goods, and more.


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