'Tis the season to grab your favorite people to soak in the holidays in Madison. One of the capital city's hubs for holiday spirit is downtown Madison, where you can find festive celebrations and holiday shopping. From holiday lights and the famous tree in the Capitol to carolers and a holiday trolley, plan for a festive frolic right in the heart of the city with these upcoming events.

Want more? Find more festivities and celebrations on our events calendar.>>

Festive celebrations

Holiday Fantasy in Lights

Grab a hot cocoa and drive through a magical winter scene at Olin Park every night from dusk 'til dawn until December 31. 

Wisconsin State Capitol Tree Lighting

Head inside the Capitol rotunda for an hour-long presentation with remarks from the Governor and music from a youth choir before the Capitol tree is lit up for the season. Learn where this year's giant tree is from, and see the ornaments created by kids from across Wisconsin. 

Holiday Tree Lighting at The Edgewater

Join Bucky Badger, holiday carolers, ballet performers and more in celebrating the season at The Edgewater, voted the Best Historic Hotel in the U.S. Festivities kick off at 3 p.m. on November 24.

Holiday Carolers

Every Saturday in December, enjoy local choirs as they spread holiday cheer by caroling downtown. 

New Year's Eve at the Madison Concourse Hotel

Enjoy a full surf n' turf spread, laugh your way through a comedy show and choose between three dance parties at the Madison Concourse Hotel's New Year's Eve Party. Ring in 2024 in style with an overnight getaway you won't forget.

Holiday Shopping

Holiday Dane County Farmers' Market

Every Saturday leading up to Christmas weekend, the Dane County Farmers' Market is holding an indoor holiday market at Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center. This bustling market features more than 60 vendors and is your one-stop shop for all of your local food needs for the holidays.

Madison Winter Night Market

The Madison Night Market is back with an outdoor winter shopping experience for the whole family. Walk up and down State Street and peruse unique gifts in a festive, outdoor setting. From seasonal cards, gifts and décor to tasty treats, you're bound to find something for everyone on your list. Businesses are encouraged to stay open late for this one-of-a-kind downtown shopping extravaganza. 

Holiday Open House & Shopping Trolley

On the weekend of November 24 – 26, take part in the Holiday Open House, a downtown Madison tradition that jump-starts seasonal shopping with early Thanksgiving weekend sales. During this weekend, enjoy gift bags (while supplies last) filled with goodies, coupons, promo items and more if you ride the Holiday Shopping Trolley. 

Fair Trade Holiday Festival

Looking for unique, socially responsible, handmade gifts this year? If so, you can enjoy the fun and festive atmosphere of the 27th Annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival on Saturday, December 2 at Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center. There will be hundreds of fairly-traded, international products for you to choose from — the handiwork of weavers, knitters, metal-workers, wood-carvers, and creative artists from around the world.

Performances and live activities


Kick off December with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony Chorus, Madison Youth Choirs, Mt. Zion Gospel Choir and guest vocalists in a massive holiday celebration. A Madison Symphony Christmas runs December 1 – 3 and is sure to leave you full of holiday cheer.

Children's Theater of Madison presents "A Christmas Carol"

Watch the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future take you on a journey through this timeless tale at the historic Capitol Theater inside Overture Center for the Arts. Various showtimes are available from December 9 – 23. Find showtimes and learn more here.

Madison Ballet presents "The Nutcracker"

Watch Overture Hall transform into the Land of the Sweets with help from the talented Madison Ballet and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. The show runs December 15 – 24 at Overture Hall.

Run Santa Run 5K

Run, jog or walk alongside Santas, elves, penguins and other classic holiday characters during the Run Santa Run 5K on December 16. End your journey by celebrating at the North Pole Post-Race Party hosted at The Edgewater.

Winter Wonder Weeks at Madison Children's Museum

Ensure you and your littles have the best winter vacation ever with special hours, programming and pop-up events at the Madison Children's Museum.

Celebrate Santa Day on December 2. The museum has partnered with the Progress Center for Black Women to present a special photos-with-Santa experience. In honor of this VIP visit, museum admission is free. Visit your favorite exhibits and stop by the Art Studio to make Santa-themed crafts.

Ring in 2024 with New Year's Eve—All Day! The party starts at 9 a.m. with Baby's First New Year, a party held in the museum's Wildernest exhibit (for 5 and under) where the "countdown to midnight" comes just before 10 a.m.! Then older kids and families can celebrate outside in the Wonderground. You've got two chances to count down to New Year's, just before 2 or 3 p.m. with a human ball drop: an aerial dancer descending from the top of their portable rig. 

BONUS: Frozen Fests

Come back to Madison to ring in the new year with two of Madison's frozen festivals that make you feel like you're walking on water (literally). 


A 5K held entirely on the ice? That’s how Frozen Assets Festival at The Edgewater and Lake Monona, starts. After the race, stick around for lots of family-friendly activities both on the ice and at The Edgewater Plaza.


Join in the fun at the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival. This long-standing cold weather tradition features activities like a freestyle skiing and snowboarding contest, snowshoeing, mini golfing on the ice, hot cocoa, and Lady Liberty.