We've spent the last several weeks planning out our Big Gig concert plans and anxiously awaiting the next grounds stage update (and that final Amp headliner spot formerly belonging to Ozzy Osbourne), but we all know Summerfest isn't just about the music. It's everything else – the fireworks, the family events and the side entertainments – and today's announcement is all about those bonus elements of the Big Gig, from the special attractions to the family and kid-approved fun.
Here's the list of special attractions, family activities, contests and more, new and returning, coming to Summerfest next month:
Summerfest Big Bang Fireworks
As is tradition, the Big Gig will fire up its opening night festivities with some gigantic, sky-scorching fireworks. So eyes to the night sky on Wednesday, June 26 at 9:30 p.m. – or to WISN 12 for the taped airing of the colorful show at 10:30 p.m., if you couldn't make it down to the grounds.
Prance across the Big Gig with the Summerfest Parade, starting at the south end of Henry Maier Festival Park and taking an entire lap around the grounds. The parade takes off at 3 p.m. on June 26-28 as well as July 2-3.
Klement's $1 Brat Day
The only thing better than a brat? A brat for only a buck! From noon until 2 p.m. (or until supplies last) on Thursday, June 27, Klement's will dish up tasty brats at mid-gate for only $1 with the proceeds benefiting a local charity. $1 brats will only be available at the designated booth, and are limited to one per person.
School of Rock
No, they will not be playing the 2003 Jack Black comedy at Summerfest this year (despite my numerous strongly worded letters and emails), but this sounds even better: On June 29-30, more than 80 bands made up from kids across the globe will take over seven stages at the Big Gig, showing off what they've learned at School of Rock classes. Encourage the future of music and check out the School of Rock!
Latin Music Day
Starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, the sweet sounds of Latin and salsa music will take over the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. Acts for this year's Latin Music Day include La Sonora Ponceña, Van Lester's Hector Lavoe tribute, Junior Rivera and His Orchestra, and Latin Sound System.
Gruber Law Offices SportsZone
Call a timeout from all the music and hit a home run by heading over to the Gruber Law Offices SportsZone, where you can score demonstrations and clinics from the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Admirals and more. It's a slam dunk! Sports!
The Summerfest Landing
The live music gets all the publicity, but let's not forget the best backdrop of all summer music festivals: Lake Michigan. So take advantage of the Big Gig's big pond with L.L.Bean offering free stand-up paddle board and kayak rentals every day of the fest – complete with instructors if you're aquatically challenged. Mercury Marine and Sea Ray will also get in on the aqua action with free Lake Michigan boat rides. Just drop by Mercury Marine's Go Boldly activation station to sign up for your lark around the lake.
Summerfest Party Patio with Punch Bowl Social
Found in the American Family Insurance forecourt, the new Summerfest Party Patio with Punch Bowl Social will feature games – including cornhole and giant Jenga – activities and drinks perfect for refreshing before the night's big show.
Miller Lite Brewhouse
Located to the right of the Miller Lite Oasis, the Brewhouse – open from 3-8 p.m. daily – features bars as well as a hole-in-game and some new shuffleboard courts where you could even score Front Row Passes to the stage's spotlight show that night.
A Summerfest tradition to be sure, hitch a ride high above the Big Gig grounds on the Skyglider. Tie your shoes well and secure your cell phone before hopping aboard, however.
SpeedKore Performance Group
Drooled over the cool cars in "Jay Leno's Garage" and "The Fast and the Furious" franchise? Come see the work from the people who put some of those cars there! Located near the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, the SpeedKore station will showcase the group's custom car designs, packed with horsepower but without all that pesky weight thanks to aerospace-grade carbon fiber body parts.
Emerging Artist Series
See the stars of tomorrow with the Emerging Artist Series, hosted from 3 until 7:30 p.m. at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. And don't forget to place your vote for your favorite act on Twitter!
The Killers. Billie Eilish. The National. CHVRCHES. X Ambassadors. They're just a few of the iconic and emerging alternative music names coming to Summerfest thanks to the FM102/1 Series.
American Family House
Open from noon until 9 p.m. behind the mid-gate, the American Family Insurance House features opportunities to create a festival look with DIY clothes and take photos worthy of Insta. Oh, and also big-name artists will drop by to perform special acoustic sets for their fans – for free. That's how Summerfest throws a house party.
Concordia University Concert Series
In addition to roaming around the grounds with summer fun tips, Concordia University will host this new concert series focused on acts with inspiring and positive music – this year including Switchfoot and Skillet. For other Concordia University Concert Series shows, look for the blue star next to an artist's name in the Big Gig schedule.
Northwestern Mutual Children's Theater & Playzone
See a variety of shows perfect for kids of all ages here from noon until 8 p.m. every day.
UB the Band
Hosted by the Kids Activity Tent (open every day from noon until 5 p.m.), UB the band allows – you guessed it – you to be the band, featuring all the tools you'll need to be an on-stage icon: colorful drum sets, cool characters, stage monitors, real stage lighting, special guitars and more.
537 Charger Robotics
The robot apocalypse is coming ... but in the meantime, let's have fun controlling miniature robots created by the tech-savvy teens of Hamilton High School in Sussex at the Kids Activity Tent, open every day from noon until 5 p.m. We'll also putting the teens' techno talents to the test in a multi-school robotics competition at the Gruber Law Offices SportsZone on July 2.
Elizabeth "Bo" Black Family Fountain
Dancing on a picnic table. Taking a photo by the big instruments. Grumbling at the youths surrounding you. Some things are just Summerfest tradition. Dropping by the Elizabeth "Bo" Black Family Fountain – aka the Splash Pad – definitely qualifies as well. Come on by and stay cool!
Kohl's Captivation Station
A variety of kid-friendly shows from a variety of Milwaukee foundations – from Discovery World to the Milwaukee Country Zoo, from the Art Museum to the Public Museum, Penfield Children's Center and more – take the stage at Kohl's Captivation Station.
Children's Fest Day
From noon until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2 marks Children's Fest Day at the Big Gig, featuring free admission for patrons arriving in that three-hour time slot, discounts on food and beverage items at select vending stands, a Family Ticket Package drawing and the Map of Fun, offering Summerfest adventurers a chance to win fabulous festival prizes.
The Lost Children's Area
The Lost Children's Area, found near the mid-gate, is available for children separated from their parents or guardians during the Summerfest excitement. To help, ID wristbands are available at each gate and throughout the grounds to easily match parents to their kids if separated.
Mother's Nursing Areas
Open noon until 8 p.m., the grounds' two mother's nursing areas – found inside the children's area and next to the Kohl's Captivation Station – offer private spaces for mothers to use as necessary during their time at the Big Gig.
It's hard to remember after the winter and non-existent spring we've had, but it can get hot in Milwaukee during the summer! Thankfully, there's now an air-conditioned space found at the north gate when the summer in Summerfest gets a little too much to handle.
Promos and giveaways
Summerfest Big Win
The Big Gig is always one of the best summer festivals for getting your bang for your buck – and here's more evidence. From noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, Summerfest will giveaway 30,000 free general admission tickets for next year's edition at all entrances. And in case that wasn't enough, a prize drawing at the Miller Lite Oasis at 4 p.m. will pick the Summerfest Big Winner. To enter, just turn in the perforated entry stub of the giveaway ticket to the mid-gate information booth by 3:30 p.m. and drop by the Oasis drawing with your 2020 ticket.
Big Gig Giveaway
From May 13 through June 16, sign in at Cousins Subs' website for a chance to win a prize package featuring two tickets to a American Family Insurance Amphitheater show, grounds VIP deck access, Ticketmaster Terrace passes, a gift card to the Summerfest store, dinner from Cousins and more.
Pepsi Photo Contests
If you see a giant Pepsi bottle on the Summerfest grounds, no, you can't drink from it – but you should snag a photo and share it on Instagram for a chance to win some sweet prizes.
For more Summerfest updates and announcements, stay tuned to OnMilwaukee!
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.