Summerfest: The World’s Largest Music Festival

[NOTE: UPDATED LIST Includes Newly Announced Headliners]
[NOTE: SECOND UPDATE Adds 11 Additional Headliners]

Every year Milwaukee, Wisconsin hosts the world’s largest music festival – Summerfest. Despite running continuously since 1968 and drawing crowds between 800 thousand & 1 million in annual attendance, it’s still a good bet you’ve never heard of it. That’s a shame because you’ve missed some great music.

Summerfest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee’s annual Big Gig may be your best option if you are seeking an 11-day party filled with a wide range of great music

11 days, 11 stages, 700+ bands pretty much sums up Summerfest. The festival is held on the Milwaukee’s Lake Michigan Lakefront in a specially designed festival park that also includes over 40 food & beverage vendors, offering a variety of local and ethnic fare, plus shopping bazaars and interactive exhibits that appeal to the whole family.

One complaint of festival goers is deciding which acts to watch due to conflicting performance times. For example, on opening night, June 29, while Peter Gabriel will be finishing up his set on the main Amphitheater stage, at 10:00pm the following acts be starting headlining sets on separate stages:

  • Buddy Guy (Blues)
  • Hall & Oates (Classic Rock)
  • Jack’s Mannequin (Alternative)
  • Matisyahu (Hasidic Jewish Reggae)
  • Max Weinberg Experience (Big Band)
  • Meatloaf (Classic Rock)
  • Saving Abel (Rock)

Note that this lineup represents only a single time slot on a single night. Plus, this is a partial listing because additional stage headliners are still being announced.

Another great aspect of Summerfest is the affordable ticket prices:

  • Daily Ticket – Admission to grounds $8.00 (before 4:00pm) – $15.00 (after 4:00pm) includes all stages except for Marcus Amphitheater shows.
  • Amphitheater Shows – Seats range from $39.00-$93.00 including taxes & fees, depending on the show

At these prices, Summerfest is not only the world’s largest music festival, but also the best value of any major music festival. I challenge you to name an event with a wider range of musical talent or a better value for your concert-going dollar:

Below is a partial listing of the bands announced thus far as headliners for Summerfest 2011 (94109120 so far):

NOTE: Underline Indicates New Updates
100 Monkeys
5 Card Studs
Alejandro Escovedo
Alkaline Trio
Amos Lee
Ben Harper
Better Than Ezra
Blackberry Smoke
Blue Oyster Cult
Brighton, MA
Buddy Guy
Cage the Elephant
Cerfus Project
Chris Young and Thompson Square*
Civil Twilight
Cold Sweat and The Brew City Horns
Cowboy Mouth
Crash Kings
Danny Gokey
De La Soul
Def Leppard*
Don Felder
Dropkick Murphys
Eddie Butts
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Eric Church*
Finger Eleven
Florence + The Machine
G. Love & Special Sauce
Gaelic Storm
George Clinton
Girl Talk
Goo Goo Dolls
Grupo Niche
Hall & Oates
Here Come the Mummies
Hollywood Undead
Hot Sauce
I’m Not A Pilot
Into Arcadia
Jack’s Mannequin
Jason Aldean*
John The Savage
Kanye West*
Katy Perry*
Kid Cudi*
Kid Rock*
Leon Russell
Leroy Powell and The Messengers*
Loretta Lynn
Los Lobos
Los Lonely Boys
Love Monkeys
Mark Mallman
Maroon 5
Max Weinberg Experience
Meat Loaf
Meat Puppets
Michael Franti
Middle Class Rut
Morris Day and the Time
My Darkest Days
Neon Trees
Old Mil
Owl City
Panic! at the Disco
Pat McCurdy
Paul Rodgers
Peter Frampton
Peter Gabriel and the New Blood Orchestra*
Phil Vassar
Pop Evil
Raphael Saadiq
REO Speedwagon
Rise Against
Rhythm Kings
Sara Bareilles*
Saving Abel
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Sheryl Crow*
Sick Puppies
Stephen Marley
Surgeons In Heat
Sweet Tarts
Taj Mahal
Ten Years
The Airborne Toxic Event
The Black Keys*
The BoDeans
The Bravery
The Crisis
The Fatty Acids
The Flaming Lips
The Ike Reilly Assassination
The Invaders
The Jeanna Salzer Band
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
The Right Now
The Spinners
The Toys
The Uptown Savages
The Wailers
Third Eye Blind
Toby Keith*
Todd Rundgren
Toots and the Maytals
Urge Overkill
Wanda Jackson
Wiz Khalifa
Yonder Mountain String Band
Young the Giant

* Indicates Marcus Amphitheater Show – Tickets Sold Separately

This year, Summerfest 2011 runs from June 29 through July 10, 2011. In a change from prior years, the festival is closed on July 4th.

Worried about coming up with something to do on July 4? What could be more American than watching the Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball team play the Arizona Diamondbacks in a home afternoon game at nearby Miller Park? Don’t like baseball? Go anyway to witness the world famous Klement’s Racing Sausages competing at the bottom of the sixth inning, or stick around until the 7th inning stretch to hear The Beer Barrel Polka played after Take Me Out to the Ballgame. After all, this IS Milwaukee, the home of Beer and Brats.

If Summerfest wasn’t enough, Milwaukee’s Henry Maier Festival Park hosts a number of other summer festivals that prominently feature music acts:

  • Pridefest – June 10-12, 2011
  • Polishfest – June 17-19, 2011
  • Festa Italiana – July 21-24, 2011
  • German Fest – July 28-31, 2011
  • African World Festival – August 6, 2011
  • Irish Fest – August 18-20, 2011
  • Mexican Fiesta – August 26-28, 2011
  • Laborfest – September 5, 2011
  • Indian Summer Festival – September 9-11, 2011

For more information on Summerfest, check the website:
For tickets, contact Ticketmaster:
For airfares, try AirTran, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, or US Airways – You’ll be pleased to discover that Milwaukee is one of the most competitive airline markets in the country.

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.