Arts & Music Itinerary
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Madison is a don't-miss destination when it comes to the arts and music scene, so you'll definitely want to know all the best places to go for a play or live show!

The Memorial Union Terrace is a popular spot for locals. Lounge on one of the Terrace's brightly colored chairs while listening to local bands five nights a week. Another favorite is Concerts on the Square with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. As one of Madison's largest and most celebrated outdoor concerts, it draws more than 120,000 people annually. The series is held on the capitol lawn each summer for six consecutive Wednesdays. For dancing and views of Lake Monona, visit Monona Terrace during Concerts on the Rooftop or Dane Dances.

"Museum Mile" is a great place to start for art enthusiasts. Located in-between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the state Capitol, this stretch features beautiful art collections at the Chazen Museum of Art and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as history at the Wisconsin Historical Museum and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Also on State Street is Overture Center for the Arts, a stunning architectural landmark located in the heart of Madison. Overture is home to more than 200 performances, art exhibitions, and educational and community events each year. It is also home to resident organizations that use the spaces and places within the Overture Center to delight arts lovers, including:

  • Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, now in its second decade of creating music that mixes hot-off-the-press sounds with the classics at a summer festival series.
  • Children's Theater of Madison, a company that casts adult and child actors in exceptional productions, and has been known as Madison's only theater for all ages since 1965.
  • Forward Theater Company, Madison's only locally-produced, non-profit professional theater.
  • Kanopy Dance Company, expressionistic and emotionally-charged works that combine dramatic modern dance and contemporary ballet with dance-theater.
  • Madison Ballet, performing world-class ballet with passion, creativity and athleticism.
  • Madison Opera, a professional, non-profit opera group that performs three operas annually in addition to Madison's annual Opera in the Park outdoor event.
  • Madison Symphony Orchestra, under the artistic leadership of Music Director John DeMain, the MSO presents live, classical music through a full season of concerts with soloists of international renown, an organ series that includes free concerts, and widely respected education and community engagement programs.
  • Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, is probably best known for its Concerts on the Square summertime performances. But throughout the year, the WCO performs approximately 25 concerts at the Overture Center for the Arts Capitol Theater—and throughout the state.

Music lovers should also peruse the UW-Madison School of Music's schedule for nationally acclaimed artists from all genres: classical, jazz, opera, choral, percussion and electro-acoustic. Another live music venue, The Orpheum Theater, presents a wide range of entertainment, from rising stars to classical music.

From April through October, make your way to nearby Spring Green for a performance by the American Players Theatre, known as one of the most popular outdoor, classical theaters in the nation. Throughout the year, those who love live Broadway musicals make their way to Fort Atkinson's Fireside Dinner Theatre for a full evening of entertainment. If you're looking to stay local, you'll love Broom Street Theater, which performs experimental and original works that are "off the beaten path and outside the box."Presenting much more than community theatre, The Bartell Theatre also showcases musicals and dance with community partners such as the Madison Ballet, Madison Theatre Guild, and Mercury Players Theatre.

If a more casual evening is what you had in mind, try the Monkey Business Institute on Atwood Avenue, featuring Madison's most seasoned improv comedy talent. Their actors come to the shows with one goal: to make you laugh! If singing and live music is more your thing, don't miss some of the major music venues that contribute to the notable night life scene in Madison:

  • Memorial Union: Live music lakeside and inside, plus art galleries and more.
  • High Noon Saloon: Find live music seven nights a week, featuring both local and national touring acts in may different styles of music, including rock, alternative, metal, indie, alt-country, pop, punk, bluegrass, folk, jam, hip hop, world music, and more.
  • Ivory Room Piano Bar: Join us for a night you won't forget, featuring dueling pianos Tuesday through Saturday nights.