23 Summer Cookout Entertainment Ideas for 2024

Kick it up a notch at a classic cookout with these entertainment ideas.

Lauren Miolene


On the hunt for some summer cookout ideas after what seems like the longest winter ever? Spring is here and the planning for summer parties and backyard cookouts is in full swing.

Like any successful party, you are going to need entertainment to keep the energy high and guests engaged. Don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of some of the best summer cookout entertainment ideas plus creative food and drinks that you can serve all summer long.

Here are 23 summer cookout ideas for your next backyard bbq, picnic or party.

Summer cookout entertainment ideas

Photo: Rawpixel/shutterstock.com 


Put down the spiked seltzer cans and beer bottles this summer and hire a professional bartender instead! Don’t get stuck behind the bar during your summer cookout, have a skilled bartender serve up cocktails and mocktails so everyone can enjoy the day.

Photo: Michaelangeloop/shutterstock.com

Country Band

There is nothing quite like country music to really set the tone for summer. Don’t stress about making a playlist for your event—book a talented country band to perform live or even virtually. Country music will get everyone up, dancing, and celebrating the long awaited summer.

Photo: Brocreative/shutterstock.com

Party Inflatables

Keeping kids entertained during a cookout can definitely be a challenge. Party inflatables like bounce houses, obstacle courses, and more, set up right in the backyard will be the perfect outdoor activity for kids to enjoy. Plus, the adults can have their turn in the bounce house when the little ones are done!

Photo: Krisda Ponchaipulltawee/shutterstock.com

Live Band

If country music isn’t your jam for the summer, there are countless other live music options available for your summer cookout. Set up a stage, maybe a dance floor, and get the party going with a talented live band for a VIP concert. Whether it’s a decades band, cover band, Americana band or anything in between, you can’t go wrong with live music.

Photo: oneinchpunch/shutterstock.com


Sometimes live music doesn’t fit the vibe of your get together, and that’s perfectly fine! You can never go wrong with booking a DJ to play today’s top hits, oldies, or summertime favorites during your party. DJs can curate unique playlists specifically for your event, but if you don’t know where to start, look through our ultimate summer playlist for inspiration. 

Photo: Deborah Kolb/shutterstock.com

Fire Dancer/Fire Eater

Easily turn your summer cookout into a Hawiiaan luau by booking a fire dancer or fire eater to perform for guests. Their unique skills will have everyone in awe as they watch fire be twirled around and then disappear!

Photo: Catwalk Photos/shutterstock.com

Food Truck

Planning the menu for any type of event can be difficult. Eliminate this stress by booking a food truck. Food trucks can serve up a variety of delicious snacks, meals, and sweets for events with the easy ability to serve food throughout the duration of your cookout.

Photo: Igor_Koptilin/shutterstock.com

Steel Drum Player

Your backyard will be transformed into a tropical oasis with the help of some classic steel drum music. Set the tone of beach escape with the relaxing vibes that will get everyone in the summertime mood.

Photo: LaineN/shutterstock.com

Balloon Twister

Balloon twisters are always a crowd favorite. The kiddos love getting a balloon animal made for them, no matter what age. Book a talented balloon twister to create works of art for guests to bring home.

Photo: SeventyFour/shutterstock.com

Acoustic Duo

Summer evening get-togethers make for some of the most memorable nights. Book an acoustic duo to play during your sunset dinner or fire pit session for a well-deserved and relaxing night with a smaller crew.

Photo: Pro-stock Studio/shutterstock.com

Face Painter

Getting your face painted at a party or carnival is a summertime staple. Bring this tradition to your outdoor cookout and book a local face painter. Kids (and probably some adults!) will love transforming into their favorite character or unleashing their inner animal with the help of a face painter.

Photo: Elitravo/shutterstock.com


Hosting a party, especially a summer cookout is always fun, except for whoever gets stuck cooking on the hot grill. Eliminate that job this year by catering your get-together instead. Browse through professional caterers that will whip up something amazing and creative for your outdoor celebration and can handle the serving too.

Photo: oneinchpunch/shutterstock.com

Costumed Character

Invite a super special guest to your summer cookout that will make all guests, especially the little ones excited. Costumed characters can help set the mood by walking around and mingling with guests, especially if you are choosing to have a themed party. 

Pro Tip: If your summer celebration is a pool party, consider booking a pirate or mermaid costumed character to set the ocean scene and create photo opportunities for all.

Summer Cookout Food Ideas

One of the most important parts of any party, regardless of how formal or informal, is the food. Having the right snacks and treats can make or break your event especially if it's a classic backyard bbq party. 

This year, put away the slow cooker or classics like grilled chicken and potato salad, and add these summer dishes to your cookout menu.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is probably the official side-dish of any summertime barbecue. Although it’s a traditional crowd favorite, flavors and texture can get repetitive very quickly. Try this Caprese Pasta Salad from Midwest Foodie Blog for a fun, colorful, and refreshing twist on a summer side.

Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

This sweetly refreshing Strawberry Pineapple Salsa will be your new go-to appetizer this summer. Erhardt’s Eats combines fresh strawberries, pineapple, tomato, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice to create this flavorful dip that is also vegan and gluten free, for everyone to enjoy.

Mexican Street Corn

Nothing is better than a traditional barbeque burger with a fresh ear of corn on the side. Mix it up this summer with some Mexican Street Corn from Princess Pink Girl. Spice up regular sweet corn by adding ingredients like cotija cheese, mayonnaise, and chili powder to create this signature Elote.

Campfire Apple Pie Packets

There is nothing more Americana than a slice of warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream on a summer night. Skip the traditional pie this year and try these adorable Campfire Apple Pie Packets from Love From the Oven. 

Combine sliced apples, cornstarch, cinnamon, oats, and other ingredients into aluminium foil, fold it up, and throw it in the fire or on the grill to cook. Open the foil, top it with ice cream, and enjoy your personal slice of all-american apple pie.

Iced Lemon Loaf

This luscious Iced Lemon Loaf might just be our new go-to dessert for any summertime celebration. The sweet, citrusy cake is light, refreshing, and the perfect sweet treat post-barbecue. Its light yellow color also gives off sunshine vibes which is perfect for the warmer months. Get the full recipe and instructions from Baking a Moment. 

Summer Cocktails and Mocktails

Regardless of your bartending skills, every celebration needs a mix of mocktails and cocktails for all guests to sip on. These beverages are perfect for summer and will be a hit at your cookout.

Tropical Rosé Aperol Spritz

If you haven’t jumped on the Aperol Spritz bandwagon yet, now’s your chance. Traditionally made with Aperol Aperitivo liqueur, Prosecco, and club soda, this cocktail is simple to make but packs a punch. Try a summer spin on this drink with the Tropical Aperol Spritz by Pineapple and Coconut that uses sparkling rosé, passion fruit juice, and lime juice for the ultimate summer drink.

Rosé Sangria

Rosé season is officially upon us, and that means we’ll be looking for any excuse to drink this pretty pink wine. Everyone loves a refreshing sangria, but using rosé takes it to a completely different level! We’ll be sipping on this Rosé Sangria from Spoonful of Flavor poolside all summer long.

Strawberry Lime Infused Water

Sometimes the best thing to do in the summer is to keep it simple! Adding fruit to any water will be delicious and refreshing. Try this Strawberry Lime Infused Water for an easy drink that you and the whole family can sip on all day long. Get the recipe and more ideas from Marcellina in Cucina.

Frozen White Claw Lemonade

Spiked seltzers seem to be everyone’s best friend during the summer. Refreshing, low calorie, and the flavors are delicious! If choosing to drink, this is definitely a healthier option, but don’t forget to treat yourself! 

Amp up your regular spiked seltzer with this Frozen White Claw Lemonade from Simple Sips at Home. Skip the white claw and use a non-alcoholic flavored seltzer for the same great slushie that kids can enjoy too!

Moana Island Fruit Punch

If you have young kids in your house, I’m sure you have watched Moana a number of times. Bring their favorite movie to life with Moana Fruit Punch for the summer. This drink uses coconut water, fruit punch, mango juice, and is complete with a sugar rim! Get the full recipe from In the Kids Kitchen for measurements and more info.

Find more party ideas and entertainment here on The Bash.