Only a few hundred miles away from our Metro Detroit area is the largest music festival in the world. It’s not Lollapalooza or Burning Man, and it’s not Electric Forest or Bonaroo. It’s tucked underneath a branch of I-94 on the west coast of Lake Michigan. I am of course talking about Milwaukee’s famous Summerfest, running from June 26 to July 6 every summer. As a Milwaukee native, I know from personal experience how large of an event it was, though I was too young to check it out. This summer I finally got a chance to.
Summerfest takes place at the Maier Festival grounds, on the lakeshore of downtown Milwaukee, underneath the famous Hoan Bridge. The ten-day festival boasts an impressive 11 stages on which hundreds of musicians perform. With admission at less than 20 bucks, you can get access to 10 of them, as well as the usual food, beer, and game stands that most festivals have. The other stage is at the Marcus Amphitheater and this is where the major acts perform each night. I got the amazing opportunity to see Lady Gaga on the Marcus stage, and her ArtRave tour was breathtaking in the completely sold-out show. Others I talked to had been to the Bruno Mars show the previous night, and he wasn’t the only other big name. Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, One Republic, Mötley Crüe, and Fall Out Boy all graced the main stage. Artists like Scotty McCreery, B.O.B, Tegan and Sara, Neon Trees, and Arctic Monkeys all played the other stages – the ones free with admission. The wide array of ages, genders, orientations, and origins at the festival is also extraordinary and makes it stand out. In the close vicinity of my seat at the Lady Gaga concert there was already an exciting assortment of people spanning from my age all the way to the elderly. It was diverse, especially musically, and that helped to make it feel like the entire musical community was gathering together to experience what they loved most.
In light of rising concert ticket prices, this festival is definitely budget friendly, and well worth the value. The drive is enjoyable, taking you through both rural Michigan and populated Gary, IN, and Chicago. The city of Milwaukee itself has a ton to offer too, whether you appreciate art, enjoy the outdoors, like to take in some culture, or just want to party. While the festivities are done for this summer, definitely pencil it in on your summer plans for next year. The best time to get tickets is in the spring when the main acts are announced, so plan early. Maybe you’ll find a new summer tradition like I have.
Written by S. Elyse Schultz