Annual Downtown Events

Some of our favorite events in downtown Madison happen every year and have solidified their status as traditions for locals and visitors alike. 

Downtown Madison is the center of our lake-city-lake landscape. Events are happening with picturesque backdrops like the towering ivory dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol to the shores of the glittering lakes Mendota and Monona.

Winter is all about our frozen fests that let you, literally, walk on water. Spring marks the start of Saturdays on the Square with the Dane County Farmers' Market. Summer is when creativity pours through the streets with dazzling displays of art and live music. We kick off fall with flavors filling the Capitol Square during Taste of Madison.

It's time to find your favorite annual event in Downtown Madison. Search annual events by season:

Looking for more annual events in Madison? Check out our full events calendar.


Lunchtime Live
Organized by Madison’s Central Business Improvement District, Lunchtime Live features free performances by local acts near the South Hamilton walkway of the Wisconsin State Capitol. 

Make Music Madison  
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
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.  

Maxwell Street Days
Always the third weekend in July, visit downtown to shop great deals on clothing, goods, gifts and food from State Street and Capitol Square shops and restaurants. 

Madison Mini-Marathon  
The Madison Mini offers a 13.1-mile journey showcasing some of the best scenic landscapes Madison has to offer. 

Dane Dances
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  
The first three in the series happen at McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg, with the final three happening at the top of State Street. 

Concerts on the Rooftop
A free concert series. Rock. Reggae. Pop. Bluegrass. No matter your go-to genre, we've got you covered.

​Madison Night Market
Celebrate Madison’s unique and inspiring creative culture at a Madison Night Market. From 4 – 8 p.m., shop vendor booths full of locally made products, art and food. Live music and food pop-ups are part of the experience. 

Art Fair on the Square
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.  

Cars on State
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.  


Taste of Madison  
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. Enjoy live music while you taste-test food from some of Madison's most loved restaurants and food carts. 

IRONMAN Wisconsin
Touted as one of the best of all IRONMAN courses among athletes, IRONMAN Wisconsin welcomes more than 3,000 athletes from around the country and world to Madison for an adventure to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full 26.2-mile marathon. 

Madison Marathon  
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.

Art of Cheese Festival
From cheese ball to cheese crawl, this cheese festival has it all. Art of Cheese is an exclusive, artisan cheese festival created for the world’s biggest cheese lovers with events in and around the city.

Wisconsin Book Festival
Madison Public Library presents free, public author events that celebrate books and spark conversations. Each year, the festival creates a robust schedule of accomplished and new writers whose fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books appeal to all ages of readers. 

Science on the Square
In partnership with the Madison Night Market, Science on the Square lets you explore hands-on science activities while also supporting local businesses and vendors.


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.

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 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.

Shine on Madison
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. 

Run Santa Run 5K
Grab your running shoes and be among the hundreds of Santas, elves, and penguins running through downtown Madison. End the run at the historic Edgewater Hotel for the North Pole Post-Race party.

Winter Carnival
Lady Liberty returns to Lake Mendota for one of Madison's favorite frozen traditions. Walk onto the frozen lake for activities like snowshoeing, ice mini-golf, fire and ice night, fireworks over the frozen lake and more.

Frozen Assets Festival
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.  


Dane County Farmers' Market
Madison is famous for hosting the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. The Dane County Farmers’ Market is a Saturday and Wednesday tradition. Select fresh finds from more than 150 vendors every Saturday on the Capitol Square from April to November. 

St. Patrick's Day Parade  
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. 

International Festival
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, annual event. 

Crazylegs Classic  
We love the Wisconsin 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 Stadium. 

Run Madtown 
Runners can select distances of 5K, 10K or half marathon for this annual race supporting local nonprofit organizations. Pound the pavement along the shores of Lake Mendota and wind around Lake Wingra on the half marathon course. 

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