Why We’re Excited About the New(ish) Summerfest Format

The Big Gig is back, and we’re here for the weekends-only concept.

This story is part of our Summer Guide from the June Issue of Milwaukee Magazine. To read our full guide to summer fun, order your copy today!

Last year was just different. (Do we need to explain how?) Summerfest responded by pushing its dates to late summer and forgoing the 11-day marathon format, replacing it with three three-day weekends. 

This year, the Big Gig is back to its late June-early July timing, but it’s sticking with the weekends-only idea. Hardcore enthusiasts might miss the musical binge, but we think there’s something to be said for the concept. Here’s why we like it.



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1. School-Night Syndrome.

Let’s be honest. Catching a concert at 10:30 p.m. on a Tuesday is a tough sell for a lot of people. All of the shows this year will take place Thursday-Saturday. 

2. Better Bands?

Trying to coordinate a festival around musicians’ tour schedules is tough. And if the organizers of Summerfest now have three weeks to book talent, they’re more likely to be able to land top acts. 

3. Same Enough.

While the format of the festival is different, the rest of the event is mostly still the same. Which means there will be plenty of beer, fried food and people-watching. Plus, beloved attractions like the Summerfest Skyglider will be back!   

The festival takes place this year June 23-25, June 30-July 2 and July 7-9. Amphitheater headliners include Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Rod Stewart, Halsey and several other acts. And dozens of artists will be performing on other stages throughout the festival. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s June Summer Guide issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.