Ah, summertime in Wisconsin’s capital city. Madison’s slate of things to do — many of them free! — is one of many compelling reasons to move here. From the weekly Dane County Farmers’ Market to the Henry Vilas Zoo (among the few community-supported zoos remaining in the country), there is no shortage of every-week options.
But Madison also is famous for its annual festivals. Here are a dozen highlights of what’s happening when in Madison this summer:
July 1 @ Breese Stevens Field, 6-10 p.m.
This ticketed event includes local bands, food, drinks and a 20-minute fireworks show launched from within the historic stadium.
July 8-9 @ Capitol Square, Noon-6 p.m. (both days)
This is considered “one of the Midwest’s most popular and highly regarded outdoor celebrations of the arts,” and it is celebrating its 65th year in 2023.
July 13-16 @ McPike Park
Hailed as Madison’s largest summer community celebration, this year’s event will include an additional stage, an expanded food selection and more vendors.
July 20-23 @ Alliant Energy Center
The fair dates back to 1851 and is split into theme days: Hometown Hero Day, Kids Day, Farm Fresh Day and Family Day.
July 29-30 @ Atwood Avenue
This is one of the city’s quirkiest festivals in one of its hippest neighborhoods, with music, food, drinks and vendors.
August 4-5 @ William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this weekend fest showcases roots music with a 2023 lineup featuring national, regional and local acts.
August 12 @ Olin Park, 1-6 p.m.
Representatives from about 200 breweries and brewpubs will be serving 1,400 different beers at what is now the second-longest-running craft beer festival in North America.
Aug. 19 @ McPike Park, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
This event celebrates and shares African traditions and cultural heritages in an effort to improve race relations, promote inclusiveness and encourage diversity initiatives.
August 19 @ 700 block of Mayer Avenue, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Honoring the northside community, this family-friendly festival features a wide diversity of music, local cuisine and beer, kids activities and more.
August 20 @ Warner Park, 1-6 p.m.
This event, sponsored by the OutReach LGBTQ Community Center, includes local LGBTQ performers, vendors, food and beverages, games and more.
August 25-27 @ Orton Park
Madison’s longest-running free music festival returns, with more details on lineups to be announced as the weekend approaches.
September 2-3 @ Capitol Square
Dubbed “the largest picnic on Capitol Square,” Taste of Madison features approximately 80 food vendors and live music from local and national acts.
Next: A rundown of what’s up with festival in other Dane County communities this summer.
(Thanks to VisitMadison.com for pointing us in the right direction.)