By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published May 09, 2024 at 6:01 PM Photography: Visit Milwaukee

We're barely a month and a half away from the start of Summerfest – and while you're planning out all the stages you're going to hit and the headliners you're going to see, don't forget to also plan out how you're getting into the Big Gig for an absolute bargain.

The only thing better than tickets is free tickets, so as is tradition, Summerfest will offer a number of ways to get into the Big Gig for the smallest price – from donating food or books, to wearing your favorite school's swag to ... just showing up on the right day at the right time!

Newly announced today, here are Big Gig's admisison promos for 2024, featuring all sorts of ways to make your wallet as happy as the iconic Summerfest smiley logo.

Thursday, June 20 – Stomp Out Hunger Day

The Summerfest deals begin with a classic great deal for a great cause: Those who bring in three shelf-stable food items to any of the three gates between noon and 3 p.m. will receive free admission, one per person. You get into the Big Gig for free, while Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin gets delicious donations to help feed your fellow Wisconsinites in need – that's a win across the board for everyone.

Friday, June 21 – Children's Fest Day

It may be called Children's Fest Day, but everyone of all ages benefits on Summerfest's first Friday as all folks arriving between noon and 3 p.m. will get admitted for free. Plus, there will be deals and discounts on food and drinks at select vendors around the grounds as well as even more kid-friendly fun to find all across the festival during the day.

Saturday, June 22 – Mary Lou's Closet Supply Drive

It's another way to give AND get during Summerfest's opening weekend! With this admission promo, the first 1,500 attendees who arrive between noon and 3 p.m. with at least $10 worth of new socks, deodorant or oral hygiene items like toothbrushes or toothpaste to donate to the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership will get in for free. 

Thursday, June 27 – Throwback Thursday

Summerfest isn't just rolling back the clock with some of its headliners to start the second weekend: It's rolling back the prices, too, as admission will cost just $5 from noon until 6 p.m. and select beverages – including all beer, seltzers, soda, cherry vodka lemonades and Aquafina waters – will be half off.

But wait, there's more: You can score a discount right now as, between April 24 and May 14, for every $50 you spend on qualifying items at Pick 'n' Save or Metro Market (which, considering grocery prices these days, not too hard of a number to hit), you can earn four free Summerfest tickets. Just bring your receipt with the offer printed at the bottom to a Summerfest ticket window on Throwback Thursday between noon and 6 p.m., and you'll nab the free tickets (limit three deals – so 12 total free admissions – per person). For more info on the deal and qualifying items, click here

Friday, June 28 – Show Your College Pride Day

School may be out for the summer, but it'll be very in on day five of Summerfest as those who rep one of the participating universities or colleges with a shirt or hat – or who present a valid high school ID – will get into the Big Gig for free between noon and 3 p.m. This year's participating schools include:

  • Herzing University
  • Marquette University
  • MATC
  • UW-Milwaukee
  • UW-Parkside
  • UW-Whitewater

Just pop over to the midgate promotions booth in your school spirit to snag your free ticket. If only finals were that easy ... 

For more school-related savings, high school students who start their FAFSA before July 6 can also score free Summerfest admission. For more information, click here

Saturday, June 29 – Military and First Responder Appreciation Day

To pay tribute to military and first responders in our community, from noon until 6 p.m., all military veterans, active-duty members, police, fire and EMT workers who present valid ID credentials at the gate will receive free admission for themselves and up to four family members. For more information on accepted ID materials, click here

Saturday, June 29 – Make a Child Smile Day

Book it over to the Big Gig on this second Saturday, as the first 2,500 attendees who arrive between noon and 3 p.m. with new or gently used children's books to donate totaling at least $10 in value will get into the fest for free. Donations will all go toward Next Door – and picture books or early readers for kids up to ten years old are preferred. 

Thursday, July 4 – Celebrate July 4th at Summerfest with M&Ms

In case M&Ms weren't tasty enough, the brand is sponsoring free Big Gig admission for all those who arrive between noon and 6 p.m. on the Fourth of July. And if that deal alone wasn't sweet enough, there will be free M&Ms samples inside the midgate.

Friday, July 5 – Seniorfest Day

Seniors get seniority on this final Friday of Summerfest, as those attendees aged 60 and older will get in for the low, low price of nothing between noon and 4 p.m. Just show your ID at the designated turnstile at any gate, and you're in – and as you're going through the gates, you'll also receive a voucher worth $2 off any food or non-alcoholic beverage order over $10.

Friday, July 5 – Silgan Community Food Drive

Here's some more food for thought (and savings): The first 2,000 attendees who bring three shelf-stable food items to donate at the midgate promotions booth between noon and 3 p.m. will get into Summerfest for free. Once again, all donations will go toward Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin – and will go toward helping those in need.

Saturday, July 6 – Fan Appreciation Day

This one's easy: Everyone who shows up to Summerfest between noon and 3 p.m. gets in free! And if that wasn't enough, the first 30,000 folks through the gates will not only score an admission ticket for next year's Big Gig but also get an entry ticket into this year's Big Win drawing – with some big winnings up for grabs. All you have to do to enter is take your entry ticket to the marked bin at the midgate and drop it in between noon and 3 p.m., and you might just end the Big Gig a big winner!

And somehow, there are even more ways to get into the Big Gig for free or discounted prices beyond these gate deals.

For instance, if you're one of the first 15,000 people to download the Summerfest app, not only will you score a great guide to the stages, schedules and more at your fingertips, but you'll also earn a free digital ticket to the opening weekend of the festival. Or if you donate blood at a Versiti Blood Center location (minus their Marshfield and Manitowoc spots) between June 1-7 – or you're one of the first 500 people each day to show a 2024 donation in the Versiti app at the midgate box office – you can snag a free admission ticket. 

There's also Summerfeast, running from May 22 through June 11 at Pick 'n' Save, Mariano's and Metro Market locations. With this deal, if you spend $25 on participating items (including brands like Pepsi, Red Bull, Johnsonville, Sargento and many more) on your Fresh Perks card in a single transaction, you'll also stock up on two free admission tickets. For more information on the Summerfeast deal, click here

For more information on these admission promos and other things Summerfest, visit the Big Gig's website. And to resume mapping out your concert-going plan during the festival, here's where you can find the entire day-by-day Summerfest stage schedule.

And stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for more Big Gig updates – as, again, we're only a month and a half away! Brace yourself for the Big Gig everyone!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.