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It doesn’t get anywhere near the same amount of love as marquee fests like Lollapalooza or Coachella, but Milwaukee’s Summerfest has been bringing the festival heat to their lakefront park since Coachella was little more than a glimmer in a teenage music fans eye.

Summerfest brings in nearly a million attendees every year, spreading 800 acts across 11 days. And it’s done so since 1968, meaning that they’ve picked up a thing or two about how to make the festival experience manageable. Rest assured if you’re going to see The Killers or Billie Eilish at this year’s edition, this isn’t the organizers’ first (or even 50th) rodeo. But if you’re new to the party, here’s a few things you should know.

The Basics

Summerfest runs from June 26 to July 7 this year. The entire fest is contained to Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan. There are 11 stages, with the two largest (BMO Harris Pavilion and American Family Insurance Amphitheater) located next to each other. Leave running across the park between headliners to the scrubs in Grant Park.

This year’s headliners are a diverse mix of genres and eras. In addition to the aforementioned acts, Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, Bon Iver, Zac Brown Band, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Schoolboy Q will headline. The undercard is no less stacked with Willie Nelson, Lizzo and Courtney Barnett all having their say.

A Note on Tickets

Acts performing at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater require a separate ticket to enter. However, these tickets double as a day pass to all the other stages on the day of the show. Re-entry is possible, with restrictions, if you get a re-entry wristband from agents near the gate. Shop Summerfest tickets on SeatGeek

Getting There

Summerfest is in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. Take note of that before making plans to drive to the event. Parking is available around the venue on a first-come, first-serve basis and parking spots can be reserved ahead of time at Summerfest’s website. Harley Davidson is operating a free motorcycle parking corral near the Mid Gate. Bicycle parking is available at all three gates.

What’s Allowed

Bags must be smaller than 9x10x12. Backpacks are a no-go. Anyone wishing to enter with a bag that doesn’t meet guidelines will be asked to empty their bag into clear bags provided by the festival. The original bag can be returned to your vehicle or it can be confiscated and donated. Exceptions will be made for parents with children and people with special medical needs.

No outside food or drink, weapons, drugs, professional camera equipment or selfie sticks are allowed. The venue doesn’t explicitly ban vapes and several vaping-related threads online point to the fest being okay with their use. With no firm policy either way, however, don’t take that as gospel. If you’re concerned about your vape being snapped up, leave it at home.

Beyond the Music

Obviously, the fest revolves around its many stages. But it’s also held in a beautiful waterfront park on some of the most gorgeous days of the year. In between sets, attendees can shop markets, eat at the stalls, head down to the lake for paddleboating or kayaking, or take it all in from the top of a massive Ferris wheel. Keeping track of all of these attractions (and your set times) is easy thanks to Summerfest’s mobile app.

(Music image created by Bedneyimages – Freepik.com)