Annual Downtown Events
Rock. Country. Pop. Taste of Madison has the music you love. Prints. Paintings. Jewelry. Art Fair on the Square is an art lover’s paradise. Bike. Fish. Run. Frozen Assets Festival encourages you to do all that and more on frozen Lake Mendota.
Whether you’re a local, new in town or just passing through you’ll want to make plans to visit downtown Madison for one of these annual events.
Lunchtime Live – June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2021
Tuesdays from June through August you’ll find music on the King Street corner of the Capitol Square. Organized by Madison’s Central Business Improvement District and features free performances by local acts ready to entertain local lunch-goers.
Paddle & Portage – June 19, 2021
Madison’s favorite lake-to-land-to-lake race presented by Isthmus. Individuals or teams paddle on Lake Monona, portage the isthmus, then paddle again on Lake Monona. Costumes and fun highly encouraged!
Make Music Madison – June 21, 2021
This annual event is held on the summer solstice and features 400 concerts in over 100 venues. Yes, in one day!
Concerts on the Square – July 7, 21, 28 and August 4, 2021
Bringing your own blanket is the best way to reserve your seat for Concerts on the Square, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s six-week, Wednesday night concert series. Music returns this summer at Breese Stevens Field, Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Shows will also be livestreamed.
Maxwell Street Days – July 15-18, 2021
Always the third weekend in July, visit downtown to stop great deals on clothing, goods, gifts and food from State Street and Capitol Square shops and restaurants.
Madison Mini Marathon – July 17-25, 2021
Taking place in late July or August, the Madison Mini offers a scenic 13.1-mile journey showcasing some of the best Madison has to offer. The race is virtual in 2021.
Dane Dances – August 6, 13, 20 & 27, 2021
Funk, Latin, R&B, jazz … no matter your musical taste, you’ll feel the beat when thousands of people get moving on the Monona Terrace rooftop Fridays in August. Seating is limited, so if you don’t plan to dance, feel free to bring a blanket or lawn chair.
Jazz at Five – August 11, 18, 25 and September 1 & 8, 2021
A free jazz concert series Wednesday nights from 4:30 – 8 p.m., starting in August where State Street meets the Capitol Square. For 2021, Jazz at Five will move to McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg.
Cows on the Concourse – August 21, 2021
Kicking off National June Dairy Month, Cows on the Concourse is a free event with fun for the whole family. Meet and greet cows from local dairy farms while learning about the rich dairy tradition in the state. This event is being held in conjunction with Breakfast on the Farm.
Art Fair on the Square – September 25-26, 2021
A two-day festival hosted by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). Hundreds of artists from around the country, as well as some international artists set up booths around the Capitol Square. Art Fair on the Square is moving to fall in 2021.
Cars on State – TBD
This family-friendly event offers a perfect day to stroll down State Street and admire a wonderful array of classic cars. Talk to owners of the vintage cars, grab a bite to eat and shop at locally-owned downtown businesses. Hosted in early June, the 2021 date hasn’t been announced yet.
Live on King Street – Not occurring in 2021
Originally created to celebrate the end of summer, this multi-night, FREE concert series features national touring acts that perform on an outdoor stage with a stunning view of the Capitol.
Shake the Lake – Not occurring in 2021
Fireworks light the sky over Lake Monona in late June as a pre-celebration of Independence Day. Live music stages flank the Monona Terrace on John Nolen Drive along with local food carts and vendors.
Madison Burger Week – TBD
This citywide celebration in early July showcases the best burgers in Madison. Local restaurants can offer up their standard menu options or create something new for diners to try. Votes are collected and the best burger is crowned at the end of the week. 2021 dates have not been announced.
Madison Night Market – TBD
Celebrate Madison’s unique and inspiring creative culture at a Madison Night Market. Shop vendor booths full of locally made products, art, and food. Live music and food pop-ups are part of the experience. There will be three to five night markets in 2021, dates TBA.
Taste of Madison – September 4-5, 2021
As summer winds down, four live stages spaced all around the Capitol Square heat up with local and regional acts that perform throughout Labor Day weekend. A perfect mix of eating and live entertainment! Taste of Madison will take place “Off the Square” in 2021 at Breese Stevens Field. Tickets are $10 per person.
IRONMAN Wisconsin – September 12, 2021
Touted as one of the best courses among athletes, IRONMAN Wisconsin welcomes over 2,500 athletes to Madison for a daylong adventure to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full 26.2 marathon. All to cross the iconic finish line in the shadow of the Capitol.
Freakfest – TBD
The Midwest’s largest Halloween bash takes place on State Street in late October. Live music lines the street filled with costumed concert goers.
Madison Marathon – November 14, 2021
Races start and finish on the beautiful Capitol Square while taking you through some of Madison’s most iconic areas. Occurring the Sunday of Veteran’s Day weekend in November, runners can select a full or half marathon or participate in a 5K or 10K.
Shine on Madison – TBD
Enjoy a holiday experience only downtown Madison can offer. With over 10 light displays, more than 100 events, and interactive entertainment, Madison shines brighter than ever. This community event spans six weeks from November through January.
Frozen Assets Festival – February 5, 2022
Only in Madison can we turn frigid temperatures into fun! Grab some hot chocolate at The Edgewater, then head out on frozen Lake Mendota to try fat tire biking, ice fishing and a snowshoe run. Join Clean Lakes Alliance for this annual family-friendly event.
International Festival – TBD
Celebrate the international community in Dane County at the Overture Center for the Arts. Experience all the cultures that Madison has to offer through food, crafts, discussions, cultural arts performances and more at this free February event.
Dane County Farmers' Market – Saturdays from April to November
Madison’s famous is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. The Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Square is a Saturday and Wednesday tradition. Select fresh finds from over 150 vendors every Saturday.
St. Patrick's Day Parade – TBD
A sea of green fills downtown during this annual holiday celebration. The best spot to spectate is around the Capitol Square. Grab coffee or brunch at a local restaurant and continue the fun. The 2021 parade was canceled with plans to return in 2022.
Crazylegs Classic – TBD
We love the UW Madison Badgers so much we’re willing to run an 8K for them—sometimes in the snow! This late April race that supports UW Athletics begins downtown, winds through campus and ends at Camp Randall.
Run Madtown – May 28-29, 2022
Runners can select distances of 5K, 10K or half marathon for this annual race supporting local nonprofit organizations. Pound the pavement along the shore of Lake Mendota and wind around Lake Wingra on the half marathon course.