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How to get free admission to Summerfest for nearly all 11 days

Summerfest tickets

One of the many perks of Summerfest is its affordability. The festival boasts single-day tickets for as cheap as $23, or even cheaper on weekdays if you enter the gates before 4 p.m.

But for those music and festival lovers who really want to save their pennies this summer, here's how to attend Summerfest on all but one day (July 5th you're going to have to pay -- sorry) without spending a cent on the cost of admission. (You can find Summerfest's complete daily schedule here).
On day one, Wednesday, June 26, Summerfest will host Johnson Controls Stomp Out Hunger Day. Anyone who arrives between noon and 3 p.m. and donates three non-perishable food items will receive one free admission ticket, valid for that day only. Canned peaches and pears are especially appreciated, but all non-perishables will be accepted. Donation stations will be at all three gates, and all donations will benefit Hunger Task Force.

Day two (June 27) is "Throwback Thursday," presented by Pick 'n Save. Not only will all beverages (excluding frozen drinks, specialty coffee drinks and smoothies) be half price from noon until 6 p.m., but Pick ‘n Save shoppers can also earn four free Summerfest tickets for every $50 they spend at Pick ‘n Save locations between May 1 and May 28. The offer is printed at the bottom of the receipt and must be redeemed in person at the Summerfest ticket windows at the entry gates on June 27 from noon until 6 p.m.

Friday, June 28 is College Pride Day where anyone can show up between noon and 3 p.m. wearing a hat or shirt from one of the participating colleges and receive a free ticket for that day. This year's participating colleges and universities include Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, Marquette University, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and several others. Also new this year, high school students who present a verified high school ID during this promotion will also receive one free admission ticket.

Saturday June 29 is Goodwill Day at Summerfest. The first 1,200 patrons who arrive between noon and 3 p.m. and present an original, specially marked receipt showing a minimum purchase of $15.00 made at a Goodwill Store & Donation Center between June 1 and June 29, will receive one free admission ticket, valid for that day only. No copies or handwritten receipts will be accepted. Those interested are advised to arrive early for this popular promotion.

Sunday, June 30 presents more than one opportunity to get free admission into the festival. Kohl's Family Day allows the first 2,500 patrons who donate three nutritious, non-perishable food items for kids to receive one free admission ticket. Suggested items include canned chicken or tuna, fruits canned in 100% juice and low sodium vegetables. All donations will again benefit Hunger Task Force.

Also on Sunday, all active-duty military personnel and veterans who present their Military ID at the designated turnstile at any gate, along with up to four family members, will be admitted for free. These military personnel are also encouraged to attend the Military Appreciation Ceremony, featuring representatives from each branch of the military, at 3:15 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, produced in partnership with the War Memorial Center.

And after a one day hiatus on July 1st, Summerfest returns Tuesday, July 2 with Sentry Foods Children's Fest Day. For this promotion, all you have to do is show up (between noon and 3 p.m.), and you will be admitted for free. Select food vendors will also offer discounts on food and beverage items on this day.

July 3 is Direct Supply Seniorfest Day where visitors ages 60+ will be admitted for free when they present their ID at the designated turnstile, at any gate. Admitted seniors will also receive a voucher for $2 off a food or non-alcoholic beverage purchase over $10.

And for those of you who aren't 60 yet, you don't have to pretend to be older just to get into Summerfest for free. July 3 is also H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Members Day where anyone can receive one free admission ticket when presenting a valid H.O.G. card. The only catch here, as usual, is one admission per card.

Quite possibly the easiest way to get a free ticket to Summerfest comes on July 4. Summerfest is offering free digital admission tickets to the first 15,000 users who download the Summerfest App and claim their ticket. This ticket is valid only for July 4 and, once again, there is a limit of one ticket per device.

And while July 5 offers no free promotions, the savings come right back on July 6 with Northwestern Mutual's Make a Child Smile Day. The first 1,500 patrons who donate new or gently used children’s books with a $10 minimum value will receive one free admission ticket. Picture books and early readers for children ranging from newborn babies through age 10 are preferred. All books collected at the Mid-Gate Promotions Booth will be donated to Next Door.

And to close out the city's biggest festival, it's only fitting July 7 will be Summerfest Fan Appreciation Day. Thanks to Meijer, all you have to do is show up between noon and 3 p.m. to get in for free on the final day of Summerfest.

So, enjoy your freebies and promotions this summer courtesy of several local and global organizations. And most of all, enjoy Summerfest. Happy penny saving!