Milwaukee rocks for Harley-Davidson homecoming

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Harley-Davidson’s hometown of Milwaukee was cloaked beneath a relentless tide of bikes, people, noise and action over the weekend to mark the firm’s 120th Homecoming.

In the city that’s globally renowned for birthing the world’s most famous motorcycle brand, the constant rumble of H-Ds barely abated at any hour throughout last weekend, and streets, pavements, parking lots and Wisconsin’s highways were saturated with only one brand’s output.

The party stretched without break from the superb factory museum all the way to Veterans Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, where a huge temporary stadium played host to headline gigs from the Foo Fighters and Green Day, supported by The Cult, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Cody Jinks and more.

Harley-Davidson homecoming main stage

The sold-out capacity stadium saw 45,000 Harley-Davidson homecomers rock late into the night on Friday and Saturday while Nitro Circus wowed festival goers with death-defying stunt shows. Away from the lakeside, the museum was a frantic hive of activity, with pilgrims soaking up the wealth of history that occupies every square inch of the hugely impressive facility.

Thursday night’s Museum bike night was undoubtedly the busiest of the year, with bikes parked for miles in all directions. A special Mama Tried exhibition added an extra dimension to the indoor exhibitions, while the main courtyard outside also played host to a stunning array of custom builds and rare bikes.

But it wasn’t all about looking backwards, with sister brand LiveWire also running demo rides throughout the weekend.

Harley-Davidson homecoming rideout

The festivities weren’t constrained to the Museum and Vets Park, either, with a constant steam of brand addicts getting a rare opportunity tour the Powertrain Operations production facility at Menomonee Falls, where every internal combustion engine and electric Harley ‘heart’ is born, before being shipped to York, Pennsylvania where the bikes are assembled.

Milwaukee’s multiple Harley-Davidson dealers were also supporting the celebrations with street food, test rides and live music. There was also a Women’s Ride from the Museum to House of Harley, with participants each paying $25 to take part – all of which was then donated to Susan G Komen to support the fight against breast cancer.

The long weekend of celebrations culminated is a mass rideout through downtown Milwaukee, terminating at Vets Park to mark the end of the special 120th anniversary Homecoming. But Harley fans will no longer have to wait five years for another opportunity to immerse themselves in the brand at its birthplace as CEO, Jochan Zeitz – along with Bill and Karen Davidson – confirmed to MCN that henceforth the Homecoming will be annual.

Harley-Davidson homecoming Foo Fighters

“I’m having so much fun with this event that I knew we wanted to do it every year,” said Zeitz. “Why wait five years when we can do it every year? I love going to rallies, I love going to Sturgis, to Daytona and Faak Am See in Europe – so why would we only have a rally every five years in our home town? We want to make this one of the biggest rallies every year.”

The 2024 Homecoming event will run from July 25-28. Get planning.