Beautiful scenery, countless beaches, eight historic lighthouses, intriguing wildlife, and intricate sea caves all make up Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The Apostle Islands are a group of 22 islands in Lake Superior, off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. Discover the rugged charm of the Apostle Islands, where the vastness of Lake Superior meets the whispers of old forests and the bustle of thriving wildlife. Wondering about when the best time to visit the Apostle Islands is? Find the biggest events in the Bayfield area and near the Apostle Islands with this guide.

Why the Apostle Islands are the “Crown Jewel” of Wisconsin


Bayfield – Charming Gateway to The Apostle Islands

Bayfield forms a gateway to music, art, and the Northern wilderness of the Apostle Islands.

Bayfield, WI is the closest town to the archipelago and offers wonderful opportunities to experience the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Fun at summer music festivals, take your pick at thriving fruit orchards and soak up the area’s history at the maritime museum in this harbor town. Bayfield hosts a variety of annual events and happenings, in each season.

See All Events in Bayfield


April-September: Big Top Chautauqua Concerts

Located at the base of Mt Ashwabay Ski Hill along the Lake Superior shoreline, Big Top Chautauqua is a picturesque outdoor venue. Essentially, it is a big, blue circus tent that can house up to 900 attendants and has astounding acoustics. It has hosted talents such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and B.B. King. The venue starts its season in April and offers a diverse range of performances, from nationally-recognized musical acts to captivating storytelling events.

See their Event Calendar


Early/Mid-May: Apostle Islands Cruises’ Grand Tour Begins

One of the highlights of a Grand Tour is the Devils Island Lighthouse.

Apostle Islands Cruises’ most popular, narrated boat tour, the “Grand Tour” begins just as the season is starting in Bayfield around the second week of May. Lodging, restaurants, and attractions that closed for winter begin to open their doors again once the cruise begins. Along with delightful history, the Grand Tour allows sightseers to take in lighthouses, incredible sea caves, and more.

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Late May/Early June: Bayfield in Bloom

The Spring Flower Festival is a wonderful place to take in the beauty, fragrance, and magic of Spring! Be dazzled by 50,000 blooming daffodils, roadside lupine and rolling orchards of apple blossoms bursting color during our week-long celebration of spring. Special events include a live broadcast of Garden Talk with Larry Meiller, Garden Tours and the annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Spring Flower Festival


June-September: Summer Concerts

All type of music can be enjoyed throughout the summer months. From mid-June through to the end of August, “Concerts by the Lake” take place on Tuesday and Thursdays. Local music and entertainment, classical performances on Wednesdays, and a variety of concerts for all tastes. There’s even an open mic night for those wanting to share the stage.

Summer Concert Fun


Mid-June: Madeline Island: Eat, Skate, Stay & Play

Photo credit to Sajith T S (left) & Tim Wilson (right).

Madeline Island is technically the largest island of the Apostle Island archipelago, although it’s not part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. This is because it’s open to commercial development and private ownership. It’s reachable by ferry and has a downtown. In June, the island hosts its “Eat, Skate, Stay and Play” event, which includes Chequamegon Chefs’ Exhibition and Apostle Islands Inline Skate Marathon.

Eat, Skate, Stay and Play


Late June: Lighthouses Up Close

Step back in time to an era of maritime heritage and immerse yourself in the captivating history of Apostle Islands’ iconic lighthouses aboard an Apostle Island Cruise, on a Lighthouse Tour. These experiences combine breathtaking scenery with fascinating stories as you explore Michigan Island Lighthouse and Raspberry Island Lighthouse. Once on either island, guest can opt to climb to the top of these maritime icons. Tours begin in late June and end in early September.

Explore Lighthouse Tours

Late June: Hiking & Camping on the Apostle Islands

When the lighthouse tours start, hiking and camping becomes easier. Apostle Island Cruise shuttles allows people to spend time exploring beaches on gorgeous Stockton Island, where the sand sings and nature flourishes. The island sports several hiking trails for those that like adventure. You can also choose to camp on Stockton Island or Oak Island, a serene experience.

Camping & Hiking Shuttles


4th of July: Bayfield Fireworks Madeline Island Parade

The Fourth of July brings at least ways to celebrate. The City of Bayfield launches fireworks over Lake Superior, while Madeline Island hosts a parade.


Early September: Bayfield Festival of Arts

In early September, the community celebrates its connection to the arts during the annual Bayfield Festival of Arts weekend. Treasures can be found by the artists who are inspired by the Big Lake. Some choose to live here surrounded by the peace and beauty of the Northwoods; others visit seeking inspiration from the natural wonders of the Apostle Islands, sea caves and Lake Superior.

Bayfield Festival of Arts


Early October: The Bayfield Apple Festival

Around the first weekend in October, Bayfield’s annual Apple Festival takes best. It’s one of the best in the country, with various apple orchard events and tours, live music, food and craft vendors, and the Spectrum Carnival. Celebrate the fall harvest in Bayfield, Wisconsin!

Annual Bayfield Apple Festival


Year Round: Adventures & Activities for All Ages

Bayfield Maritime Museum. Credit to Paul Swansen.

Children and adults alike can choose from a wide variety of activities. Bayfield has two wonderful playgrounds, East Dock Park Playground and Cooper Hill Playground. Bayfield Maritime Museum offers many interactive exhibits for kids to learn about the rich history of Bayfield and Lake Superior.

Things to Do with Kids in Bayfield


Apostle Islands and Bayfield Experiences for Everyone

Enjoy a variety of guided boat tours filled with rich history while experiencing amazing views accessible by water during your Apostle Island Cruise. Immerse your senses in beautiful blooms, spend time getting sand between your toes, take an adventurous hike or relax at a fun outdoor concert. Make your own experience in Bayfield and the Apostle Islands this summer.

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