The following piece is in partnership with VISIT Milwaukee and Giving Fest.
We’ve now entered that dreary phase of winter where we all need things to look forward to – especially in this year’s case with a global pandemic on top of everything. Giving Fest, a one-of-a-kind virtual festival, is designed to do just that: help us beat the winter doldrums with 100-plus online local experiences including workshops, games, behind-the-scenes tours and more.
Running now through Feb. 28, Giving Fest offers participants a chance to learn fresh skills in an array of fields from local professionals – all for free or for a small fee donation, with all proceeds going toward the performer or organization sponsoring the event.
“The purpose of Giving Fest is to engage everyone in donating directly to our hospitality community while having some fun at the same time,” says VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith. “These are virtual events that will have a real impact to help struggling businesses get through these next few months.”
To see the full list of available opportunities, go to the Giving Fest website. But here are just a few of the events that caught our eye:
For the foodies
Cook up Comfort Food: Chef Alex Schubert from Milwaukee Marriott Downtown Hotel’s East Town Kitchen and Bar teaches the art of making perfect fried chicken. Go here for access to the class.
Make ravioli: Glorioso’s Italian Market chefs will teach you to create your own dough from scratch and whip up your own ravioli. Students will master making and rolling the dough, then filling and cooking the ravioli. Click here for more deets about the class on Saturday, Jan. 23, including the necessary tools to participate. Mangia!
For the perpetually curious
Tour the Custard Capital of the World: During this live, interactive one-hour workshop on Saturday, Jan. 23, you’ll hear highlights from the book “Milwaukee Frozen Custard” from the author, OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo. Plus, you’ll see behind-the-scenes videos, hear lively stories and custard trivia and learn about legendary local stands. Register right here.
Stroll though Major Goolsby’s: The staff of Major Goolsby’s will walk you through the historic bar and restaurant, sharing backstories on all the memorabilia and other items of note. Wander through places usually off-limits to customers and learn some food and drink recipe secrets during this free tour. Find out more here.
For the movers and shakers
Barre Workout Class with Danceworks: Ballet meets aerobics with this trendy form of physical exercise. This one-hour barre class, taught by Danceworks’ director of engagement Kim Johnson, is free (donations are accepted) throughout the entirety of Giving Fest. Go here to access the video for a barre workout.
Start the process of learning to sail: The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center offers a one-hour virtual lesson that introduces you to the excitement of cruising along the lake. Bring all of your sailing questions so you can take your new knowledge to the water this summer. The class is Friday, Jan. 29 and $10 per household. Register here.
For art and music buffs
Make Paper Poppies: Wisconsin paper artist Laura Gillespie leads this virtual art workshop hosted by the Racine Art Museum (RAM). During this workshop, create dainty, realistic-looking paper poppies using fine crêpe paper in cheerful shades. This class takes place Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. and costs $35/$28 for RAM members. Go here to sign up.
Zach Pietrini’s Ivy House Concert: Feed your need for live music with this concert from local Americana musician Zach Pietrini. Inspired by Graham Parson and Jason Isbell, Pietrini performed live shows regularly at the Ivy House, an intimate venue in Walker’s Point, and now offers this livestream video throughout the duration of Giving Fest. $10 donation recommended; all proceeds go directly to Pietrini.
For the imbibers
History of Lakefront Brewery: This free, one-hour live webinar takes place Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. (Any donations will go toward Eastshore Humane Association.) Explore the history of Lakefront Brewery through photos, videos and conversations with founders and brothers Russ and Jim Klisch, who will also lead a trip down memory lane from the humble beginnings in Riverwest to the current digs on Commerce Street. Sign up here.
Champagne/Sparkling 101: Story Hill BKC presents this casual beginner’s class from Black Shoe Hospitality beverage director Jason Kerstein. Pick up a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine from the Story Hill BKC liquor store to participate (curbside pickup available). Go here for more info.
For the lovers and dreamers
Stories of deadly love affairs: Milwaukee Gothic brings tales of true romances from Wisconsin history that ended in murder, just in time for Valentine’s Day. And some of these deadly love affairs created ghostly presences that might still linger! The live event takes place Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. and tickets are $5 per household.
Virtual Wisconsin Stargazing: Explore spectacular sights as you go on a 45-minute journey from sunset to sunrise on a live virtual tour of the current night sky. Plus, cosmic sky requests are welcome when you make your reservation. $10 for the entire household (Milwaukee Public Museum members are free.) For dates, times and registration, go here.