Madison is a beautiful and engaged community that boasts a fusion of academic, political, cultural and recreational activities.
Madison Activities Map
As a student, you are likely living on a limited budget. That doesn't mean having limited fun. Check out our Madison Events and Activities Map for recommendations from the Law School community on free (or cheap) activities and events in the Madison area.
A small sampling of events around town
Dane County Farmer's Market, weekly
The nation's largest producer-only farmers' market, on Capitol Square.
Overture Center for the Arts, Calendar of Events
A Madison architectural landmark, the Overture Center hosts over 200 arts events annually.
Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Madison, Calendar of Events, ongoing
Visit current exhibitions or experience UW-Madison's own collections.
Wisconsin Union Theater, UW-Madison, Calendar of Events, ongoing
Since 1939 the Union Theater has played host to Robert Frost, Ella Fitzgerald, Lois Armstrong, Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and other visionaries. Experience the history.
Memorial Union, UW-Madison, Calendar of Events, ongoing
The "heart and soul" of the University since 1907, "The Wisconsin Union has historically blended study and leisure, cultural, educational, and social opportunities."
Go Big Read, UW-Madison Common Reading Program, ongoing
Developed to "engage students, faculty, staff and the entire community in a vibrant, academically driven experience."
Madison Restaurant Week, every winter and summer
31 restaurants. 6 days. 3 options. 3 courses. $25-35. A perfect activity for food aficionados.
Olbrich Gardens, Spring Flower Show
Voted one of the "Top Ten Most Inspiring Gardens in North America", Horticulture Magazine. View the transformation of the Atrium into a "blooming spring oasis".
Wisconsin Book Festival, April
Organized by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, "The Wisconsin Book Festival celebrates our state's rich literary heritage, brings some of America's finest writers to the people of Wisconsin, and encourages Wisconsinites of all ages to read widely and read well."
Wisconsin Film Festival, ongoing
"Possibly the largest campus-based film festival in the United States," the festival plays in eight theaters all within walking distance of the State Capitol. "The Wisconsin Film Festival presents a broad range of independent American and world cinema (narrative, documentary, experimental, shorts), restorations and revivals, and locally made pictures from Wisconsin filmmakers."
Spring Concert, University of Wisconsin Marching Band
Since 1975, ". . . a three-night extravaganza complete with professional staging, lightning, sound and pyrotechnics performed in front of 25,000 Badgers fans each year."
Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference
US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin inspired 20 million people to participate in environmental teach-ins across the United States on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Join the Nelson Institute for "Earth Day at 40: Valuing Wisconsin's Environmental Traditions, Past, Present and Future" to explore and engage in "what has been learned since the first Earth Day in 1970", and define "what should be our paths to environmental change in the 21st century?"
"One of America's Best 100 Events", Runner's World. Finish at the 50 yard line in the legendary Camp Randall Stadium, and enjoy complimentary beer while experiencing the UW Marching Band's famed 5th Quarter performance.
Start and finish at Capitol Square. The course winds along the shores of lakes Monona and Mendota, the UW campus and Arboretum, past the Governor's Mansion, and through Madison's distinct neighborhoods.
Concerts on the Square, WI Chamber Orchestra, Wednesdays, June-August
Led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, this Madison favorite runs for six consecutive Wednesdays every summer. Pack your picnic basket, meet friends and family, and take in the sounds of summer.
Olbrich Gardens, Summer Concert Series, Tuesdays, June-July
Gather on the Great Lawn of the outdoor garden to relax and have fun listening to live performances.
Monona Terrace, Concerts on the Rooftop, Thursdays, June-July
"Enjoy sweeping views, and gentle lake breezes" on the magnificent rooftop garden.
A free two-day outdoor concert series held at the Memorial Union Terrace with glittering Lake Mendota as the backdrop, celebrates America's homegrown art form. "Dixieland, big-band swing, bebop, Latin jazz, are all part of the mix, along with contemporary derivations like funk and hip-hop."
Madison's Independence Day event and world class fireworks display choreographed to live music.
A Bastille Day celebration with French-themed food, arts and crafts, and - especially - music.
Art Fair on the Square, MMoCA
"Organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the fair features music, entertainment, and outdoor dining, as well as the work of nearly 500 artists exhibiting works in mixed media, ceramics, drawing, graphics, prints, fiber, leather, furniture, glass, jewelry, metal, paintings, photographs, sculpture, 3D mixed media, and wood."
"Music & more." The Annual Marquette Neighborhood Association event features a full weekend of live musical and theater acts, capped off on Friday and Saturday nights by the lauded Cycropia Aerial Dance performance in the "big oak tree" at the center of Orton Park.
Taste of Madison, September
"Held each year of Labor Day weekend, Taste of Madison showcases more than 65 local restaurants, 20 beverage stands, and three entertainment stages. The participating restaurants sell a vast variety of unique and traditional dishes to the estimated 175,000 attendees over the two-day period."
Ford Ironman Wisconsin, September
Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. . . or watch as nearly 3000 participants take on the course. Popular viewing areas include the Monona Terrace, State Capitol, and various points on campus.
Willy Street Fair, September
"Seven packed stages over two days offering the best in music and entertainment. Over 150 vendors providing great food and soothing beverages. Creative arts and crafts. A colorful and eclectic parade. The city's largest community-based raffle - with over 200 prizes." A major fundraiser for Common Wealth Development and the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center.
Tales From Planet Earth Film Festival, November
"Tales From Planet Earth showcases environmental films from around the world on the belief that issues don't move people, stories do! To that end, we link compelling narratives of films to engagement efforts of community partners working for environmental and social justice in Wisconsin."