Going to Summerfest from Chicago? Read This!

June 29, 2011

I know so many Chicago residents that make the trek up north each year to Milwaukee for Summerfest, that I felt a post about it was appropriate.

After all, it is the world’s largest music festival. And, you won’t just find local bands there.

Summerfest 2011, also known as the ‘Big Gig,’  features more than 700 acts on 11 stages over its 11-day run.


Some of the huge voices you’ll hear at this year’s 44th annual Summerfest include:

*Kanye West

summerfest*Katy Perry

*Britney Spears

*Jason Mraz

*Sara Bareilles

*Maroon 5

*Ben Harper

*Michael Franti

*Kid Rock

*Los Lobos

*Buddy Guy

*Yonder Mountain String Band

Looking for some nostalgia? Then you’ll want to hear Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Def Leppard, Heart, Kansas, Peter Frampton and Loretta Lynn.

Still interested in going north? Then let me get you the lowdown so you can be on your way. It is at least an hour-and-a-half drive from Chicago, you know.

Getting there

If you drive, there are many lots and shuttles around the park, but if you don’t want to drive, consider hopping on the train. Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service connects Chicago to Milwaukee. You can pick up the train at Chicago’s Union Station or Glenview Station in the northern suburbs. Visit amtrakhiawatha.com for information.


General admission to Summerfest is $15; $8 if you get there before 4 p.m. on a weekday. Seniors and children under 10 are $3; kids under two are free. You can also purchase a 3-day pass for $33. Access to the 23,000-seat Marcus Amphitheater for the bigger headliners costs extra.

But don’t pay full price. There are daily discounts to the Fest. Find the right one for you:

*Wednesday, June 29: Bring three non-perishable food items to the Mid or North Gate between noon and 3:30 p.m. and you’ll get one free general admission ticket. All donations will benefit the Hunger Task Force. Also, be one of the first 5,000 patrons in the doors after 5 p.m. and you’ll get a Hall & Oates reusable tote bag.

*Thursday, June 30: You’ll need a copy of the June 26 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for this promotion: The first 4,400 people to present the coupon between noon and 3 p.m. from that paper will get in free.

*Friday, July 1: The first 5,000 people will get a free bandana compliments of U.S. Cellular (not the ballpark), and the first 2,000 patrons 21 and older will get free admission with six Miller High Life or High Life Light bottles caps as part of the “Give a Veteran a Piece of the High Life” promotion.

*Saturday, July 2: The first 1,500 people who make a donation to a Goodwill Store & Donation Center between June 1 and July 2 and can present the original donation receipt will get in for free between noon and 3 p.m.

*Sunday, July 3: The first 1,500 who donate three non-perishable food items for kids will receive free general admission between noon and 3 p.m., thanks to Kohl’s Department Stores. All food items will benefit the Hunger Task Force.

*Tuesday, July 5: Just get there between noon and 3 p.m. and you’ll get in for free as part of Children’s Fest Day. Some food vendors will offer discounts as well.

*Wednesday, July 6: The first 1,500 people to show up with a label from any 8 ounce or larger Klement’s product, along with a non-perishable food item, will get in for free between noon and 3 p.m. Also, the first 5,000 in after 5 p.m. will get a free Hooters/Summerfest Cup Koozie.

*Thursday, July 7: The first 1,500 between noon and 3 p.m. to donate a new, indoor children’s toy, art supply or children’s movie valued at $5 or more will get in for free. Harley Owners Group members will also get in free between 12 and 3 when they show their H.O.G. card.

*Friday, July 8: The first 1,500 with a Wisconsin receipt dated June 29-July 8 that shows the purchase of any two Malt-O-Meal bag cereals will get one free admission between noon and 3.

*Saturday, July 9: The first 1,500 who make a $10 or greater donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association will get a free ticket between noon and 3.

*Sunday, July 10: Everyone gets in free between — you guessed it — noon and 3 p.m., compliments of NYCE and Summerfest.


Families get a place of their own at Summerfest. Kohl’s Department Stores are sponsoring the Kohl’s Captivation Station, a new area that will feature live performances, hands-on musical experiences, mini-clinics, art projects and educational demonstrations each day. Located on the south end of the park, the kid’s tent will be open from noon to 8 p.m. each day.

In addition, the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater and Playzone is open each day from noon to 8 p.m. and will offer family focused entertainment and activities toward the northern section of the fest.

Bring your App

Yes, there will be food and beverage options galore to whet your appetite, along with tons of other vendors. In fact, there is so much to do, see and hear at Summerfest, that there is an App for that. Visit summerfest.com/app to get the app for the iPhone or Android.

What: Summerfest 2011

Where: Henry W. Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

When: Wednesday, June 29 through Sunday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 5 through Sunday, July 10; noon to midnight each day. Summerfest will be closed on Monday, July 4.

More: Visit summerfest.com if you have Adobe Flash Player 9 on your computer, or summerfest.com/alt if you don’t. There you can get the entire lowdown, including musical lineups and times, vendor locations and activities, driving directions, even weather forecasts. You can also purchase tickets in advance without fees.

Prepare: Here’s a map of Summerfest. Print it out and go have a great, safe trip!

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