11-day party begins

Milwaukee

Summerfest, one of the nation's biggest summer music festivals, is set for Thursday through July 6 and includes hundreds of bands performing on 11 stages at Milwaukee's Maier Festival Park. Concerts featuring country, rhythm and blues, pop, rock and folk are scheduled from noon to midnight daily. This year's lineup includes Alicia Keys, John Mayer, LeAnn Rimes, Rascal Flatts with Taylor Swift, the Jonas Brothers and others. There will also be recreational sporting events, lake tours, a carnival, food vendors and fireworks. Hours and ticket prices vary (1-800-273-3378; www.summerfest.com).

Caribbean rhythms go north

Duluth

Immerse yourself in the Caribbean through music, food and art at the Bayfront Reggae Festival July 12 in Duluth. Scheduled performers include Tinga Stewart, Tony Rebel, Queen Omega and Steele. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate and the Electric Fetus; $29 for adults, $15 for youths (1-218-834-5037; www.bayfrontreggae.com).

Weekend fest starts Thursday

St. Cloud, Minn.

A "Lemonade Concert" and art fair Thursday at St. Cloud State University mark the start of Granite City Days. The citywide celebration will continue through next Sunday with a block party Friday at Whitney Park with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a historic home tour, fishing derby, parades and more (1-320-650-3103; www.granitecitydays.com).

Red, white, blue on Lake Michigan

Chicago

Celebrate the July 4th holiday early with fireworks over Lake Michigan during the Taste of Chicago July 3 at Grant Park in downtown Chicago. The free festival will move into full swing on the 4th and continue through July 6 with food and beverages, a battle of the bands, cooking demonstrations and a family village. The grounds will open at 11 a.m. daily (1-312-744-3315; www.tasteofchicago.us).