Arts & Music
Greater Madison was recently ranked among the Best Places for Artists to Live, which means it’s a vibrant place to experience the arts, too! Our capital city has a cultural calendar that’s always full, with dozens of places to see a performance most any day of the week. Create your own checklist of places to see a play or live show using the information below.
If you enjoy taking in the arts in areas where there are plenty of restaurants, retail and accommodations, try:
Overture Center for the Arts: This stunning architectural landmark that is home to more than 200 performances, art exhibitions, and educational and community events each year. It’s also a Broadway destination for Wisconsin.
Overture Resident Companies: The Overture is home to 10 resident arts groups which span disciplines from dance to opera to orchestra.
If cool and quirky get a “standing o” in your book, you won’t want to miss:
American Players Theatre: Pack a picnic to enjoy before walking through the woods and up the hill to this charming outdoor theater. (Tip: Shakespeare under the stars is a don’t-miss).
Fireside Dinner Theatre: Fine dining and fantastic Broadway performances make for an unforgettable duet at this Fort Atkinson theatre that’s been in business since the ‘60s.
LIVE MUSIC VENUES
If you love live music, find yourself a front-row spot at venues that combine true talent and amazing experiences:
The Sylvee: Opened in fall 2018, The Sylvee is Madison's newest –and one of the largest– music venues. Emerging artists, established cultural icons and community events will call this playful venue home.
High Noon Saloon: This spacious club is a music mecca for local and national touring acts. The doors are open seven nights a week with shows for fans of indie, punk, hip hop, metal and more.
The Orpheum Theater: The historic spot on iconic State Street has been a centerpiece of Madison since 1927. Find nationally-renowned musicians, comedians, speakers and more in a large, yet intimate theater-style venue.
Majestic Theatre: Madison's oldest theater, having opened in 1906, hosts intimate shows for nationally-known and up-and-coming local acts. Their playful 80's vs. 90's dance party series is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Bos Meadery: Grab a glass of mead (an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey) and settle in to this east side spot for a show. You'll find open mic nights, local bands and more in this intimate and fun setting.
Memorial Union Terrace: This popular spot on the UW campus isn’t just for students. In summer, everyone’s invited to pull up a sunburst chair and listen to local, national and regional acts that perform lakeside!
Concerts on the Square: This longstanding tradition—held on six consecutive Wednesdays in the summer—takes place on the Capitol lawn! Put out a blanket, pack a picnic and relax to the sounds of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
Concerts on the Rooftop: Join the community atop the stunning, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace® for live music, dancing and stunning lakeside views.
Jazz at Five: Catch this free jazz series in the heart of downtown, where State Street meets the Capitol Square. Concerts are held Wednesday nights at 5 p.m.
Sugar Maple Music Festival: Held yearly in August, this two-day outdoor music festival celebrates traditional music and dance through performances, while educational workshops and interactive jam sessions set this festival apart from others.
Looking for more immersive arts experiences? Check out our Madison Museums itinerary!