The summers in Milwaukee make the long cold winters all worth it. There is always something going on in Milwaukee, but our favorite thing to do in the summer is Summerfest. Every year on the shores of Lake Michigan is the World’s Largest Outdoor Music Festival, Summerfest!
Starting the last Wednesday in June for 11 days over 800 acts play on 11 stages all types of music from rap, country, rock, indie, reggae, jazz, and more there is something for every music lover. With so much going on, and so many good acts to see it can be tough to navigate for a first-time festival goer. Here are our top 7 Summerfest tips to ensure you have an amazing time.
2019 Summerfest Music Festival Dates: June 26-30th and July 2-7th
Below is a quick video from our time at Summerfest with BMO Harris Bank during the 2018 festival.
Must Know Summerfest Tips & Hacks
Here is a list of tips form lifelong locals on how to maximize your Summerfest experience with a little bit of help from BMO Harris Bank. Follow these tips to have the best time and keep a little extra money in your wallet.
1. Get to the Show Early
One of the best things about the BMO Harris Pavilion (besides the lineup!) is the fact that all concerts are included with your Summerfest admission ticket! Showing up a little early for a headliner show can score you some awesome seats without any extra cost. Don’t worry, you won’t be bored either because there is music all day and all night long! Come for the headliners and stay for the rest of the amazing acts!
2. Ride The Sky Glide Between Shows
While there are some great shows this year at the BMO Harris Pavilion, with so many great acts you may find yourself stage hopping a little bit to catch them all. The Summerfest grounds are big and if you’re going from a concert at the BMO Harris Pavilion over to a concert on the Northside of the grounds it could take you 20 minutes to walk there. The Sky Glide is not only is the fastest way from one end of Summerfest to the other, but it also has some amazing views of the park, Lake Michigan, and Downtown Milwaukee.
On a hot summer day in Milwaukee, you won’t want to walk it. The Sky Glide at Summerfest costs $5 one-way or $8 round-trip, TIP you don’t have to ride it round trip right away. You can get off explore the other side of the park and then show the return ticket to ride it back over by the BMO Harris Pavilion.
3. Reserve Your Seats in Advance at the BMO Pavilion
The majority of BMO Harris seats are FREE on a first come first serve basis. There is a select number of reserved tickets for the headliners for $30 plus fees. The reserved BMO Harris Pavilion ticket includes admission (value $20). If there is a musician you really want to see this is a great deal and a way to secure a seat. Tickets are available online and at the Summerfest Box Office. So, for just a few extra bucks you’ll have a great seat waiting for you for your favorite acts.
Every year BMO Harris brings in some great musicians. Summerfest 2018 the stage will be featuring: Steven Tyler, Rachel Patten, The Pixies, and more. Click here to see the complete BMO Harris Pavilion Summerfest lineup. Their stage & pavilion is mainly covered so if you happen to visit on a rainy day don’t worry you shouldn’t get too wet. Not many of the stages at Summerfest have covered area for festivalgoers.
4. Exclusive Entrance For BMO Harris Customers
There can often be long lines for security at Summerfest, but there is an exclusive entrance for BMO Harris Bank customers just south of the box office. Getting into to Summerfest here is a breeze!
5. Summerfest Merchandise 15% Discount
Another perk for BMO Harris customers, if you use your BMO Harris credit or bank card at the Summerfest store locations you’ll get 15% off regular priced merchandise.
6. Free ATM Fee’s
All ATM fees are waived for BMO Harris customers. You’ll see their ATM’s at Summerfest throughout the grounds. No one likes to pay for their money, save yours for festival food or another local brew before the concert.
7. Free Bar & Restaurant Shuttles
Many local restaurants and bars in the Milwaukee area offer a free shuttle to & from Summerfest. The shuttles have scheduled times and they’ll let you know where to catch the shuttle back. Parking at Summerfest can easily cost you $20+ depending on how close you want to get to the festival grounds. Skip the hassle of parking and traffic getting in and out and instead take a free shuttle. Just make sure to tip the drivers a little something and don’t forget to stop in and buy a drink or meal before boarding the shuttle.
Must-Try Local Favorites at Summerfest
Summerfest is full of great local eats. Just about every restaurant in Milwaukee has a spot at Summerfest, but there are a few things we never miss while we are at “The Big Gig”. So, if you are from out of town, out of state, or even out of the country – here’s what you want to try if you want to eat like a Milwaukeean.
Related Article: Top Things To Do In Milwaukee
Find Your Favorite Local Brew
Milwaukee is known as Brew City and like all festivals in Milwaukee, the beer will be flowing. Many of the local Milwaukee breweries have beer tents. Keep an eye out for the following beer tents: Water Street Brewery, Lakefront Brewery, Leinenkugel’s, and there are plenty of Miller Lite beer tents. If you aren’t a beer drinker there are vendors with wine, wine coolers, and other mixers. Make sure to sip your way through some of the best Milwaukee brewery tours on another day.
Eat Some Cheese Curds
To go along with that beer grab an order of cheese curds. If you’re a cheesehead like us, deep-fried cheese curds are a must. Many of the vendors at Summerfest serve up the Wisconsin tradition. We like to grab an order at Saz’s which serves their curds with marinara sauce. Other places to get cheese curds at Summerfest: Flannery’s, Miss Katie’s Diner, Major Goolsby’s, Famous Dave’s, and Vagabond. Basically, you’re never far from cheese curds!
Recommended Hotels Near Milwaukee Summerfest
Make it a long weekend in Milwaukee and spend the night or two. We suggest staying at a hotel near Summerfest so you can easily walk, plus there are a ton of good restaurant & bar options in downtown Milwaukee. Here are a few of our favorite Milwaukee hotels within walking distance to Summerfest:
When is Summerfest?
Summerfest in Milwaukee is always the last Wednesday in June for 11 days but closed Monday. The festival runs every day from noon until midnight. Summerfest 2018 is July 27th – July 1st and July 3rd – July 8th.
Other Things To Know About Summerfest
No backpacks or large bags (max size 9x10x12). Everyone and all bags go through security any bags that are larger than the bag policy won’t be allowed in. You’ll either have to bring it back to your car/home or hand over the bag and it’ll be donated to Goodwill. It’s best to review the Summerfest bag policy ahead of time.
No Outside Food or Drink
No Selfie Sticks or Professional Cameras
No Pets – Service animals are allowed with proper certification
*Thanks to BMO Harris Bank for inviting us as always all opinions are our own.
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