Already Postponed, Summerfest Is Now Canceled

“Given the uncertainty surrounding large gatherings in these unprecedented times, we cannot in good conscience proceed with the festival this year,” organizers said.

There will be no Summerfest in 2020.

World Festival Inc., the organization that puts on “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” announced Thursday morning that it was calling off Milwaukee’s signature summer event for 2020.

Amid concerns over large groups gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic, organizers had already pushed Summerfest from it usual late June-early July span to three consecutive weekends in September.

The decision was made “after careful, diligent, and thoughtful consideration and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our community – including artists, fans, vendors, participants and staff,” World Festival Inc. President and CEO Don Smiley said in a statement. 

“Our staff, sponsors and vendors have worked tirelessly over the past two months to reformulate the festival for the rescheduled 2020 dates,” Smiley said. “Our commitment to doing everything possible to preserve the social and economic impact of $186 million, which Summerfest generates annually is paramount, yet the uncertainties are too great.”

People who bought general admission and other passes have the option of holding onto them for the 2021 festival or getting a refund. Click here for more information, including procedures for refunds for American Family Insurance Amphitheater and BMO Harris Pavilion tickets.

Summerfest draws hundreds of thousands of music fans to the lakefront’s Meier Festival Park every year. Last year, 718,144 people attended. 

This year’s festival was originally scheduled for June 24-June 28 and June 30-July 5. In March, a week into the governor’s safer-at-home order, organizers announced Summerfest would be postponed to Sept. 3-5, 10-12 and 17–19.

Its cancellation joins nearly all of Milwaukee’s other high-profile summer events, including the Wisconsin State Fair and the Milwaukee Air and Water Show. The Democratic National Convention was pushed back from mid-July to mid-August, though local organizers acknowledge whatever form it will take won’t bring the 50,000 visitors that party conventions normally attract. 



Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)