Summerfest debuts new three-weekend format for 2021 with more national headliners

NOW: Summerfest debuts new three-weekend format for 2021 with more national headliners

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Following a disappointing year without the world's largest music festival, organizers of Summerfest are already looking toward their big comeback in 2021.

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced Thursday, Aug. 27 in a news release that next year, the format of Summerfest will be changed to three weekends and include more national talent. The festival will take place over three consecutive weekends from Thursday to Saturday, and the new dates will be June 24-26, July 1-3, and July 8-10, 2021.

"We're excited about it," said president and CEO Don Smiley. "We think three weekends are going to work. It'll give people a chance to plan their weekends. It'll give us a chance to really clean and sanitize the grounds in between each opening, and that'll be important going forward."

He said the decision to change the format came after research on past attendance days and focus groups with fans. 

"We just found that we were spending a lot of money on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays and not really getting much of a return for it," Smiley said.

It will also allow the company to replenish the reserve money that was spent on the new renovated $51.3 million American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which was supposed to debut this year. Instead, the new amphitheater will open in 2021, with new seats and food and drink options.

The organization lost $10.4 million before depreciation by not operating Summerfest or other events this year, according to Smiley. He said it will likely take at least three years to make up for that lost revenue.

The new format will also allow Summerfest to have more national headliners during the day, instead of just the typical evening headliner.

Staff members are hoping Summerfest will bring tourists to Milwaukee after a difficult year for the tourism industry.

General admission will be $23. The following concerts are already scheduled and on sale for Summerfest 2021:

  • Khalid: June 24, 2021
  • Luke Bryan: June 25, 2021
  • Justin Bieber: June 26, 2021
  • Dave Matthews Band: July 1, 2021
  • Blink-182: July 2, 2021
  • Halsey: July 3, 2021
  • Chris Stapleton: July 8, 2021
  • Guns N’ Roses: July 10, 2021

In addition to concerts during Summerfest, the company also plans to have additional concerts throughout the summer at both the new amphitheater and the BMO Harris Pavilion. Both venues will be booked as frequently as possible from June to September through a new partnership formed with Live Nation last year.

Tickets for Summerfest 2021 and for concerts at the amphitheater are on sale now. For more information, CLICK HERE

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