Anyone who knows anything about Milwaukee knows that summer in the Brew City brings the biggest music festival this side of the sun…..SUMMERFEST. The Big Gig. The festival to end all festivals. It’s the stuff of legends, quite literally. The biggest names in music have graced the Summerfest stages for decades and you will often meet people who have at least one or two epic Summerfest Stories in their arsenal that they can act out to the delight of their audience. Now that you’re a parent, we’ve got everything you need to know about Summerfest all in one handy place!
P.S. Want to take your sweetie out on a date to Summerfest? We’ve got a guide for that too!
A Family Guide to Summerfest
Summerfest for FAMILIES? The world’s largest music festival may be best known for what happens when the summer sun goes down, but did you know that The Big Gig has plenty of fun in store for families with kids of all ages? This guide will break it down for you, with the can’t-miss info any parent needs when it comes to bringing kids to Summerfest.
Bringing Kids to The Big Gig
Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance offers a variety of family-friendly activities and special attractions for fest-goers to enjoy each day of the festival. From special admission discounts to the Summerfest parade, a splash pad and amazing food, and so much more, Summerfest offers something for fans of all ages.
This year’s festival runs June 26 – 30 and July 2 – July 7. Plan your family’s visit HERE. Highlighted family amenities and special attractions are as follows:
LOST CHILDREN’S AREA – There is a designated area near the Mid Gate for children who become separated from their parents. Children are brought to this secure area and checked in by a member of the Summerfest staff. In addition, identification wristbands are available at all gates for parents to write down emergency contact information. Sponsored by Aurora Health Care.
NURSING MOTHERS STATIONS PRESENTED BY AURORA HEALTH CARE – There will be Mother’s Nursing Room station located with the Children’s area (noon – 9:00 pm) and a Mother’s Nursing Suite on the South ends of the Grounds near the Kohl’s Activation Station (noon – midnight). Mother’s Nursing Room stations are being provided by Aurora Health Care and provide a comfortable, private and convenient space for moms to nurse their children.
Aurora Health Care’s Healthy Food Menu – Jamming out to your favorite bands can really make you work up an appetite. Feed your hunger the healthy way with these good-for-you options, hand-picked by an Aurora nutritionist. Tips for making healthy choices:
- Avoid anything deep-fried, highly processed or high in added sugars.
- Share! Splitting a treat with a friend is a great way to enjoy your fave fare without overdoing it.
- Remember moderation. Gotta have ice cream? Go for it. But keep your calories in check by getting one scoop (not three).
Family Activities and Attractions
The daytime hours are dominated by families at Summerfest and there are so many fun activities and attractions you and the kids will want to make sure to enjoy! We’ve highlighted a few of them below, but you’ll want to check out the Family Activities & Daytime Fun page from Summerfest for more info. Want as much information as possible at your fingertips? Download the Summerfest App!
THE ELIZABETH “BO” BLACK FAMILY FOUNTAIN – Your day at Summerfest would not be complete without a stop at the “Splash Pad.” Kids of all ages can splash and play the day away while keeping cool.
*NEW!* THE SUMMERFEST LANDING – Whether you prefer to sit and relax and take in the beautiful views of Lake Michigan or get out on the water, The Summerfest Landing is the place to be.
- L.L.Bean will be offering FREE stand-up paddle-board and kayak rentals every day on a first-come, first-served basis. Not experienced on the water? No worries, L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Program instructors will be on hand to provide additional support. So grab a kayak or SUP and some friends and head out on the water!
- Mercury Marine, the Official Outdoor Engine of Summerfest, and Sea Ray, the Official Boat of Summerfest, will partner together to provide FREE Lake Michigan boat rides in cooperation with SkipperBuds. Stop by the Mercury Marine Go Boldly activation to sign up for your free ride, and experience the latest innovations in marine propulsions and controls.
SCHOOL OF ROCK – Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30
Check out the next generation of music superstars from School of Rock! Over 80 bands made up of talented kids from across the world will rock out on seven (7) different stages. School of Rock teaches over 30,000 students at 230 global locations what it takes to become a world-class musician. Performance-based instruction gets students out of the lesson room and on stage, where they play real shows at authentic venues.
SUMMERFEST SKYGLIDER POWERED BY MEIJER – Take a ride on the Skyglider, a true family favorite! Located high above the main walkway, this gentle ride provides passengers with a scenic view of Henry Maier Festival Park, Lake Michigan and the entertainment below. One-way and round-trip fares available.
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL CHILDREN’S THEATER & PLAYZONE – Kids of all ages can enjoy family-focused entertainment and activities in the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater and Playzone. Open daily, noon – 8pm. Visit the daily lineup pages for information on performers and show times.
- Kids Activity Tent – Open daily, noon – 5pm, kids will enjoy the following activities:
- UB the Band! – Hey kids, want to be a “real” rockstar? Now’s your chance to shine! UB the Band brings all the gear, including colorful drum sets for ages 2 – adult, awesome character and special guitars complete with wireless microphones, stage monitors, real stage lighting and all the trimmings. No experience necessary!
- 537 Charger Robotics – Take the controls of miniature remote-controlled robots. The robots are built by teenage members of Charger Robotics Team 537 from Hamilton High School in Sussex, WI. Team members will be on site every day and there will also be a multi-school robotics competition at the Gruber Law Offices SportsZone on July 2.
KOHL’S CAPTIVATION STATION:
Located on the south end of the grounds, is open from noon – 7 p.m. every day of Summerfest. Attendees are able to participate in all of the programs, including:
- Kohl’s Color Wheels, an art-making experience presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum
- Kohl’s Design It! Mobile Lab, create unique hands-on projects highlighting design with Discovery World
- Kohl’s Wild Theater, conservation-themed theatrical performances from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee
- Kohl’s Building Blocks Program, a Penfield Children’s Center program that promotes the health and positive development of children and celebrates their unique abilities
- MPM & Kohl’s on the Move, an interactive exhibit with real artifacts and specimens from the Milwaukee Public Museum
Visit Kohl’s Captivation Station on the south end of the grounds. Learn something new, be creative and just have fun!
Special Engaging Activities
SUMMERFEST PARADE –
Wednesday, June 26 – Friday, June 28, Tuesday, July 2, Wednesday, July 3 • 3:00 p.m
Incorporating a second line style, the parade will start at the South end of Henry Maier Festival Park at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater Forecourt and complete a full lap of the grounds. Fans are encouraged to join in with participants and strut their stuff!
THE SUMMERFEST BIG BANG FIREWORKS PRESENTED BY MENARDS AND WISN-TV – Wednesday, June 26th at 9:30 pm (Weather Permitting)
Family-Focused Admission Promotions
KOHL’S FAMILY DAY — Sunday, June 30 • noon – 3pm (while supplies last)
The first 2,500 patrons who donate three (3) nutritious, non-perishable food items for kids will receive one (1) FREE admission ticket, valid for the day and time of the promotion only. Suggested items include canned chicken or tuna, fruits canned in 100% juice, and low sodium vegetables. All donations benefit Hunger Task Force. Presented by Kohl’s.
SENTRY FOODS CHILDREN’S FEST DAY WITH TODAY’S TMJ4 — Thursday, July 2 • noon – 3pm
All patrons arriving between noon – 3:00 pm will be admitted FREE! Spend a fun-filled day with the family enjoying Children’s Fest activities including the Map of Fun and the Family Ticket Package drawing. Select food vendors will offer discounts on food and beverage items. Pick up the Map of Fun upon entering the gates and obtain a stamp on your map at each of the locations throughout the festival grounds. Courtesy of Sentry with TMJ4.
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL “MAKE A CHILD SMILE” DAY — Saturday, July 6 • noon – 3pm (while supplies last)
The first 1,500 patrons who donate new or gently used children’s books with a $10 minimum value will receive one (1) FREE admission ticket, valid for the day and time of the promotion only. Picture books and early readers for children ages birth through 10 are preferred. All books collected at the Mid Gate Promotions Booth will be donated to Next Door. Presented by Northwestern Mutual.
Summerfest Bag Policy
If you bring ANY type of backpack or bag larger than 9x10x12, you will be instructed to empty the contents into a clear bag provided by Summerfest in order to be admitted. The prohibited bag will then be donated to Goodwill or you can return it to your home or vehicle. Special consideration may be taken for parents with infants and those with medical needs.
- Nursing mothers may bring in needed items in a similar manner or separate bag.
For the full updated policy, including a list of prohibited items, carry-in policies, stroller & wheelchair rental info, and more — head to the Admissions Policies Page for Summerfest.