Fourth of July weekend events that don’t have anything to do with fireworks
From picnics to live music, there’s a pyrotechnic-free activity in town for every patriot.
Not everyone is a fan of the the loud cracks and bangs that fireworks bring. So we put together a list of events that are pyrotechnic-free. With a range of events including parades, picnics, live music and performances, Madisonians are in luck to celebrate this July 4 weekend any way they choose.
Annual Madison Independence Day Parade
The much-anticipated 41st annual Madison Independence Day Parade is finally here, starting at the Super Stop and Shop parking lot. This beloved event comes after being canceled last year due to the pandemic. The celebration will honor Madison health care and grocery workers as Madison’s “COVID Heroes.” Their work and courage will be recognized, but “it will also signify the town’s determination to get to the other side of this terrible disease,” the event organizers wrote. Free, 10 a.m., July 4, Super Stop and Shop parking lot
Bird and Nature Outing at Cherokee Marsh
Sponsored by Madison Parks, Friends of Cherokee Marsh and Madison Audubon Society, this family-friendly outing is free to all — no registration necessary. School Naturalist Mary Binkley will lead the nature walk, which takes place on the first Sunday of every month. Cherokee Marsh is also home to breathtaking views of woodlands, wetlands and prairies seen in the north unit. Free, 1:30-3:00 p.m., July 4, Cherokee Marsh – North Unit, 6098 N. Sherman Ave.
Biergarten at Olbrich Park Performance: Mike Schneider
Listened to polka music before? If not, you’re in for a treat! Sit back and relax as Mike Schneider plays some accordion tunes at the Biergarten, free of charge. Free, 1-4 p.m., July 3, 3527 Atwood Ave.
Bright Moments: Adem Tesfaye Band Performance
Madison-born songwriter, hip-hop guitarist and music producer Adem Tesfaye will play at the jazz club Cafe CODA this Friday. Tesfaye is a skilled storyteller, with experience producing music rooted in hip-hop, funk, reggae and blues. He has previously released two solo albums, D-iz-III “the Sickness” and “Athedage,” though his most recent work includes the Black Poet’s Society Reunion and a blues-funk-hip-hop band Binx. Free, 5:30-8 p.m., July 2, 1224 Williamson St.
Country Grove Park Independence Day Parade
Experience all the fun at this family-friendly July 4 parade, with opportunities to decorate your bikes and strollers and enjoy some patriotic party favors. Led by a firetruck, the parade will begin at 10 a.m. near the main park sign and will go from Country Grove Drive to Fieldcrest Way, Mammoth Trail and finally back to the park. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Country Grove Field, 7353 East Pass
Dane County Farmer’s Market
The Dane County Farmer’s Market has returned with fresh produce and family fun. Grab some cheesy bread, support your local farmers and picnic by the Capitol. Every Saturday you can pick up some food, though note that some vendors may sell out early in the morning. As you bask in the sun, check out the beautiful flowers surrounding the Square. 6:15 a.m.-1:45 p.m., July 3, Capitol Square
Friday at the Farm at Vitruvian Farms
Vitruvian Farms, a Madison-based organic produce farm, grows a range of local vegetables that make for a great summertime dish. Join the farms this Friday for a tour or just picnic in the park and take a breath of fresh air. Visitors can also partake in outdoor yoga or a round of disc golf. Everyone interested is encouraged to RSVP to this free event beforehand. 4 and 5 p.m., July 2, 2727 U.S. Highway 51, McFarland
Jake La Botz at The Bur Oak
Head to the Bur Oak this Friday to watch a performance by Jake La Botz, a renowned American blues singer, songwriter, actor and meditation teacher, who hails from Chicago, Illinois. He received critical acclaim for his studio albums “Sunnyside” and “They’re Coming for Me” and has played along with stars like JD McPherson, Etta James, Ray Charles and others. $10.55 in advance, $12.66 day of, doors open at 7 p.m., July 2, 2262 Winnebago St.
Live Music at the Come Back In Tavern
Enjoy some live music outdoors Thursday through Sunday evenings at the Come Back In Tavern. See guitarist Dave Shibby this Friday or The Rascal Theory Saturday evening. While you’re there, don’t forget to try the cheese curds or the Louisiana-style chicken and sausage jambalaya. Free, 5-8 p.m., July 3, 508 E. Wilson St.
Parade and Picnic
Head to the corner of Merrill Springs Road and Tomahawk Trail in Indian Hills where a July 4 parade will begin. Whether you’re walking or biking, make sure to bring your own picnic basket to take part in the fun. Follow the Shorewood Hills antique firetruck as the parade moves from the Tomahawk Trail and Minocqua Crescent to Lake Mendota and finally Spring Harbor Park. Join in the fun by bringing your own picnic basket. If you’re interested in volunteering or want more information, contact Mary Beth Dunning at email@example.com. Free, 11 a.m., July 4, Tomahawk Trail
Mad Lit Concert Series
Beginning July 2, a free concert series will take place every other Friday until Oct. 8. Enjoy live music, get to know local artists and celebrate businesses of color with fun pop-up shops, visual exhibits and community-led workshops. Free, 8-11 p.m., 100 block State St.
National Women’s Music Festival
This weekend isn’t just about celebrating independence day, but also women in the arts. The 46th annual national women’s music festival is online again this year, but don’t worry, there is plenty of fun and good music in store. Dance to hip-hop duo The Blu Janes’ tunes, Afro-Cuban rhythms with Sistah Ngoma, singer Kofy Brown, and more all weekend long. The fest, which has been held in Middleton since 2008, will be streamed on the Mandolin platform and will feature various comedians, writers, films and workshops, among other activities. Prices vary, 7-10 p.m., Madison Marriott West, 1313 John Q Hammons Drive, Middleton
Nirvana Watch Party
Want a night in before the big holiday weekend? No problem. Join the Nirvana Watch Party event live on Facebook from the comfort of your own home. This hour-long special is hosted by Kurt Stream, who found a strong connection between Madison and the rock band’s rise to fame. Stream will play exclusive live recordings, Nirvana’s entire 1990 Smart Studios sessions with Butch Vig and interviews documenting the band’s time in Madison. Get the full scoop on Nirvana’s time here by reading “The Untold Story of Nirvana in Madison.” Free, 5:45 p.m., Facebook Live
One Team Scavenger Hunt
Who said scavenger hunts are just for kids? Tag along with family and friends in the Puzzling Adventures, a crossover scavenger hunt, adventure race and self-guided tour. Note that almost all the activities are wheelchair and stroller friendly. No registration is required, and you can go at a time of your convenience on July 3. Bring your mobile device as you receive instructions per location. $49.99 per team or $94.99 VIP Access, anytime from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., July 3, 214 N. Carroll St.
Race for a Good Cause (Virtual)
Ready for some friendly competition? Moon Joggers is holding its sixth annual independence day race. Go for a 1M, 5K, 10K, 13.1 or 26.2 mile run at your own pace and submit your time for a chance to win a medal. Entry costs $25, and 20% of entry proceeds will go toward charity group Homes for Our Troops, whose mission is to build homes for severely injured veterans. $25, anytime in July, virtual
Red, White & Blue – A Celebration of American Wine!
Treat yourself Thursday to a nice bottle of American-made wine from WineStyles Tasting Station. Taste a few wines and bring a few bottles home for your barbecue. $15 per person, 6-8 p.m., July 1, WineStyles Tasting Station – Sun Prairie, 2824 Prairie Lakes Dr., Suite 105
Summon the Heroes: Concerts on the Square
Celebrating the July 4 weekend doesn’t have to end this Sunday. In honor of our veterans, enjoy some classic, patriotic tunes including the Star Spangled Banner, the Armed Forces Salute and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture next Wednesday. Antonio Wu, a pianist who won the Young Artist Concerto in 2020, will perform the Capriccio Brilliant by Mendelssohn. Prices start at $10, 7 p.m., July 7, Breese Steven Fields, 917 E. Mifflin St.
Taylor and Von Live at Breakwater Monona
Breakwater Monona offers beautiful, scenic views of the Yahara River, but pair it with live music and good food, and it’s tough to top. Jam out to ’90s and 2000s acoustic rock played by Taylor Schereck and Von. Expect some surprises along the way. 5 p.m., July 4 6308 Metropolitan Ln, Monona
The Remedy Live at Breakwater Monona
Schereck and his uncle Von are also members of the band The Remedy, which is coming to play at the Breakwater Monona rooftop as well on July 4. 2-5 p.m., July 4, 6308 Metropolitan Lane, Monona
“Unbound” Art Exhibit at MMoCA
If you’re looking for some inspiration, look no further than the “Unbound” exhibit at MMoCA this weekend. See the first survey exhibit of New York-based artist Natalie Frank’s four major series of gouache and chalk pastel drawings, among others. Her artwork responds to various literary tales ranging from the Brothers Grimm to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with a feminist approach. “Fairy tales captivated me because many began as women’s oral tales that articulated female desires and fears,” Frank says. “Yet over time their authorship was erased and their voices neutered. I restore the identities of these overlooked female artists and transform their stories to create contemporary, paradigm-breaking female heroines.” The exhibit is open to the public for viewing until Oct. 3. noon-6 p.m., July 2-4, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St.
Unscripted Comedy Show
Laughter is the best medicine, right? Watch this improv show live and listen to great music featuring artists Steve Horton, Dana Ehrmann, Olivia Witt, Jake Snell, Glenn Widdicombe and Cynthia Marie. $10, doors open at 7:30 p.m., July 2, Bos Mead Hall, 849 East Washington Ave.
Untitled Art: The Return of the Rocket Popsicle
You read that right—the rocket popsicle is back! The Waunakee-based brewery Untitled Art sells a collection of seltzers and beers, but this hard seltzer earns a gold star for its nostalgia and bold blue color that screams USA. Get this limited release now while you can for a festive sip on July 4 weekend. You can find this seltzer at Octopi (1131 Uniek Drive, Waunakee) or at Funk Factory Geuzeria (1602 Gilson St.)
The UW Cinematheque is back in business this summer, with free screenings of comedies, thrillers and everything in between. The third showing in its “Summer at the Cinematheque” series,”Where’s Poppa?” is a classic 1970s comedy. With stars like Ron Leibman, Trish Van Devere and George Segal, the film features a great cast with an evening full of laughs. Seating is limited and will be socially distanced. Free, 5 and 7 p.m. showings, July 2, 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave.
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