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Your Summerfest 2012 Guide

It’s hard to believe it’s that time, but easily Milwaukee’s biggest festival, Summerfest, kicks off tomorrow! The “Big Gig,” as it’s affectionately known, has an 11-day run with over 700 bands performing. The “World’s Largest Music Festival” has plenty packed in to entertain the entire family, whether you’re rocking out, pigging out or just spending the day people watching. Here, we’ve assembled a quick Summerfest Guide highlighting some of the biggest musical acts, tastiest grub, fun family entertainment and ways you can save on daily admission, ensuring you won’t miss a beat of fun throughout the fest.

Musical Acts

Above all else, Summerfest is a music festival – and a HUGE one. Hundreds of bands, from local acts to national headliners, take the stage each day of the festival. From country acts like Lady Antebellum to metal legends Iron Maiden, the Big Gig’s got a versatile lineup to please all tastes. Some of the biggest names to take the stage over the next week and a half include the Foo Fighters, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kelly Clarkson, the Beach Boys, the Roots, Ben Folds Five, ZZ Top, Three Dog Night, Iron Maiden with Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Neil Diamond and Bush.

And these are only a small, small handful of all the talent scheduled! To see the full lineup, including which dates, times and stages to catch your favorite acts, click here.



Because rocking out in the summer sun works up quite an appetite, you’ll undoubtedly be indulging in some Summerfest fare. You’ll find typical festival foods like funnel cakes, candy apples, popcorn and a handful of variations on “stuff on a stick,” but there’s plenty more offered than those treats from a truck (not that there’s anything wrong with such confections). Enjoy grilled corn on the cob, frozen custard, toasty panini and even healthy fruit while you stroll the grounds. Plenty of the city’s most popular restaurants also serve hungry Summerfest patrons throughout the festival, including Saz’s, Usingers, Botana, La Perla, Sabor, Maders, Charcoal Grill, Peter Sciortino’s bakery, Sil’s Mini Donuts and more! There’s no excuse in going hungry during Summerfest. For a full list of food vendors, click here.


For the Kids

If your children aren’t exactly ready to bang their heads along to Scorpion, don’t worry – there’s plenty of children’s entertainment away from the main stages your kids will get a kick out of. The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Northwestern Mutual’s Children’s Theater and PlayZone offers musical entertainment, shows and activities for kids of all ages. is a fun and educational exhibit that runs all festival long on the grounds. Kids will also love live magic shows, funny comedians and amazing yo-yo tricks. If your son or daughter is inspired by the music going on around them they can even take the stage in a pretend interactive band experience, at Target’s Kids Activity Tent’s UB the Band, where they can select popular songs and “perform” themselves! Click here for more details on fun family activities offered at Summerfest.


Special Attractions

Summerfest has much more to offer than music and food. There are also plenty of special attractions that won’t make your ears ring after. If you’re a golf nut, check out the Hole-in-One contest for a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to Mexico. Summerfest is also the ultimate spot to people watch, and what better way to see everyone on the grounds than to take in a bird’s eye view from the iconic SkyGlider, presented by NHPCO, a family-favorite gondola ride that glides above the park. And of course, you can’t miss out on the Big Bang, an unforgettable fireworks display that kicks off the festival on opening night at 9:30.


Admission Promotions

There’s no reason to miss out on the fun of Summerfest because of ticket prices. While general admission is $8 on weekdays and $15 on evenings and weekends, there are free or reduced-price admission promotions daily. Sponsors also give away plenty of goodies at the gates upon admission, as well. To learn how you can score a reduced-price or free ticket to Summerfest, click here.

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