For the first time since 2019, Summerfest, the largest music festival in the United States, is returning to the heart of summer — and Lil Wayne, Backstreet Boys and Charli XCX will be there.
The superstars are among more than 100 headliners for the 2022 festival that officials revealed Tuesday morning. Wiz Khalifa and Wu-Tang Clan are joining Wayne at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater June 25. (Backstreet Boys will headline the amphitheater on July 8, with one more show to be announced for June 30.)
Tickets for the Backstreet Boys show go on sale at 10 am April 8 at the box office (200 N. Harbor Drive) and through ticketmaster.com. Tickets for Wayne, Khalifa and Wu-Tang Clan go on sale at 10 am April 15. Prices have yet to be announced, but Backstreet Boys tickets will include Summerfest general admission July 8, and Wayne tickets will cover general admission for June 25.
Summerfest’s ground stage headliners
Again, Summerfest has one of the most diverse lineups of any festival around the world, with Willow Smith, John Fogerty, Death Cab for Cutie and the Village People among the grounds stage headliners revealed Tuesday.
The headliner lineup also includes several acts with Wisconsin ties, including Violent Femmes; Milwaukee-born Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Miller Band; Grammy-nominated blues rock trio the Record Company (led by Wisconsin native Chris Vos); platinum-selling Christian rock band Skillet (with three members based in Kenosha); and Buffalo Nichols, the up-and-coming blues act from Milwaukee music scene veteran Carl Nichols.
The 2022 festival also marks the final lineup overseen by Bob Babisch, Summerfest’s vice president of entertainment, who is retiring at the end of 2022 after 46 years booking the festival.
The headliners announced Tuesday will perform across eight stages, with seven of them accessible for Summerfest general-admission ticket holders. The festival’s biggest draws will perform at the 23,000-person-capacity American Family Insurance Amphitheater, shows that require separate, higher-price tickets.
Previously announced headliners for the amphitheater during Summerfest 2022 include Jason Aldean, Justin Bieber, Machine Gun Kelly, Halsey, Rod Stewart and Thomas Rhett.
The Milwaukee festival is returning to Maier Festival Park on the lakefront June 23 to 25, June 30 to July 2, and July 7 to 9 — the format of three-day weekends that was introduced last year.
If it feels like the last Summerfest happened not too long ago, that’s because it did. Summerfest last took place in September to allocate more time for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The pandemic forced the festival to cancel in 2020, a first since its inception in 1968.
Between its September run, fewer days of operation (for decades, it had been an 11-day event) and a concerning rise in COVID cases due to the delta variant, Summerfest had its lowest attendance since at least 1986 in 2021, with 409,386 guests . Traditionally, the festival sees more than 700,000 people walk through the turnstiles.
But organizers with Summerfest parent company Milwaukee World Festival Inc. are hoping this year’s event more closely resembles the Summerfest fans remember — not only with a return to the late-June-to-early-July run, but also by dropping all COVID safety protocols from 2021.
Single-day Summerfest general-admission tickets are available for $25 at summerfest.com. Senior general-admission tickets (62 and over) are available at the gate for $20. Tickets for ages 3 to 10 are $6 at the gate, with children 2 and younger admitted free. Typically, there are also several promotional details, which have yet to be announced for 2022.
Multi-day general-admission passes are also available on the Summerfest site. For a limited time, three-day passes are $50 (a $10 discount) and nine-day passes are $100 (a $25 discount). Six-day passes are also available for $105.
Tickets for Summerfest’s amphitheater concerts are available at the box office and through ticketmaster.comand cover Summerfest general admission on the date of an applicable concert.
And tickets for reserved seats in sections one through five at Summerfest’s BMO Harris Pavilion will go on sale next week, with details to be announced.
The complete Summerfest schedule is expected by late spring, with more headliners expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Summerfest’s parent company Milwaukee World Festival Inc. is also hosting a job fair Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm at 114 N. Jackson St. Jobs will be offered on the spot, with starting wages ranging from $14 to $17 an hour. Milwaukee World Festival is looking to fill more than 2,000 positions. More information can be found at jobs.summerfest.com.
This story is developing. It will be updated.
Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Evan Rytlewski. Hear it at 8 am Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism