Buskers playing bucket drums at Summerfest

An Essential Summerfest Bucket List

You haven’t truly lived until you’ve attended Summerfest. And you haven’t truly attended Summerfest until you’ve completed these 22 activities.

Dancing on a picnic table at Summerfest
Photo by Rebecca Kames

1. Attend your favorite band’s reunion tour. Bonus points if more than 50 percent of the original members are missing.

2. Dance while standing on a table, bench, aluminum bleacher or other elevated station.

3. Compete in the Meijer Hole-in-One Contest for a chance at a $5,000 Grand Prize.

4. Mosh it up at the Rebel Stage.

5. Watch the Summerfest Big Bang Fireworks light up the skies over the lakefront on opening night.

6. Get in free earlier in the day with a promotion, then snag a wristband and return for free later in the evening (before 7 p.m.)

7. Hunker down for a full 12-hour day (noon to midnight).

8. Escape the rain inside the Lakefront Brewery tent (and grab a firkin while you’re there).

Lakefront Brewery beer tent at Summerfest
Photo by Rebecca Kames
the Skyglider at Summerfest
Photo by Jessica Paetzke

9. Sit down for a chicken dinner at Saz’s or try a Saz’s Sampler Combination, both quintessential gustatory experiences at Summerfest.

10. Ride the Sky Glider from one end of the park to the other.

11. Procure some peripatetic festival food (Miss Katie’s “walking pasta,” corn on the cob, Mader’s beer battered bratwurst on a stick…) and eat it as you amble through the crowds.

12. If you work nearby, experience the ease of entry that is walking over on your lunch break. Enjoy a Solo pizza cone or just an hour of people-watching before heading back to the afternoon grind. Consider it reparations for the horrifying traffic the fest contributes to your evening commute!

13. Take a spin on the 80-85-foot Ferris wheel on the north end. It costs $5 a head to enjoy, and it’s open late, allowing you to take in the lights of the grounds and Downtown. If you get tired of mini-doughnuts and Flogging Molly, it’s a lovely time.

14. Check out the “high-flying, acrobatic dunks” at the Bucks Rimrockers show at the Gruber Law Offices SportZone.

15. Try to find your friends at the Miller Lite Oasis with limited cell reception.

aerial shot of the crowds at Summerfest
Photo by Jessica Paetzke

16. Enjoy a headliner on the lawn at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater.

17. Walk against the stream of people moseying from stage to stage

18. Skip the big headliners for a bit and go see the real talent, those bucket drummers.

Buskers playing bucket drums at Summerfest
Photo by Jessica Paetzke

19. Escape from the craziness and sit on the rocks by the lake.

Picnic table on the rocks by the lake at Summerfest
Photo by Rebecca Kames

20. Spend some time people-watching and judging festival-goers’ sartorial choices. Summerfest attire runs the gamut from festivalwear (braided headbands and rompers) to classic Midwest comfort (oversized t-shirts, unironic fanny packs).

21. Spend the day guarding your front-row picnic table at a ground stage. Specifically if your favorite band is playing a 10 p.m. show.

Ground stage crowds waiting on the bleachers at Summerfest
Photo by Rebecca Kames

22. Fight the crowds for a midnight shuttle after the fest closes for the night. Arrive home two hours later.