Add to Summer Bucket List: Concerts on the Square

Author: Stephanie Hoff

Are you looking for a free summer event downtown? Are you looking for a desirable aesthetic and a picturesque background to spice up your Instagram account? Are you looking for a good story to share later with family? How about a way to meet up with coworkers or make time for friends? Madison is full of wonderful free festivals and events for the community that are convenient to attend, free, and easy to cross off of your summer bucket list.

The Concerts on the Square event is one of those fabulous summer outings that is open to the public for no cost at all. I went for the first time this summer and even though I was totally unprepared, it was a blast. After having experienced being unprepared, now I know exactly what do to for next time. Consider this a public service announcement for your next outing.

Concerts on the Square is a free event that takes place on the lawn outside of the Wisconsin Capitol Building on the King Street corner from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. I would recommend arriving long before that. In fact, the crowds start setting up blankets on the lawn at around 3:00pm, because that’s the earliest you can put your stuff down and walk away without it being moved.

You are allowed to drink alcohol on the lawn and bring as much food as you like. I would suggest packing a cooler with pasta salads, sandwiches, and plenty of rose or summer IPAs. Be sure to throw in a can of bug spray and a bottle of sunscreen in your bag, because the late afternoon sun and mosquitoes can be a nuisance.

This is a great event to wear your Instagram worthy festival outfit. The photographs are stunning with the marble capitol building backdrop and the golden hour light that hits at around 6:45pm in late July.

If you’re looking for a hipster-festival or community-love aesthetic, then this is your event. People are dressed in relaxed summer attire with sunhats and ball caps. There are babies in swaddles and children playing. Adults are smiling and laughing as they interact in a way that’s been taken over by a phone screen. It’s a scene that makes you feel good inside.

At 7:00pm, the band starts strumming and the melody reaches you on your blanket even if you can’t see the band. When I was there, it happened to be a Beetles cover band and when they started the night off with “Come Together,” that’s exactly what’s happening. People are coming together to celebrate the warm weather and to build stronger relationships with family, friends, peers, and colleagues through Concerts on the Square.

 

I encourage you to not only add this to your bucket list, but to cross it off before the last one on Wednesday, July 31!