Arts and Culture

55 things to do in Madison this August

Your arts and entertainment guide to the city

Special Event
Come one, come all to the Full Draw Film Tour at the Barrymore Theatre. With some of the best bowhunting films on display and giveaways galore, this is outdoor fun from the comfort of the indoors. Aug. 1

Theater
Presented by the Children's Theater of Madison, this production of the classic musical "Grease" is brought to life by some of Madison's most talented high school performers. Catch a show on Thursday or Friday night at the Children's Theater of Madison Summer Stage. Aug. 1-2

Music
The fourth installment of Live on King Street brings The Dead South, a folk-bluegrass band from Canada, to downtown Madison. Despite their name, the band's folk sound is sure to inject life into the audience. Aug. 2

Art
Night Light, the newest exhibition at the Madison Public Library, features art from Juliette Walker, Jenie Gao and others. Swing by the library to mingle in new exhibits. Aug. 2

Music
Madisonian Kelsey Miles is set to play at the Memorial Union Terrace. Backed by Sunshine Daydream, this show will provide a hearty dose of classic rock n' roll. Aug. 2

Music
If you're looking for an outdoor music festival close to home, look no further than the Sugar Maple Fest. Now in its 16th year, the festival brings some of the best acts in American roots music to Lake Farm County Park rain or shine. Aug. 2-3

Special Event
We can't imagine a more purrrfect way to spend a night than with a troupe of highly trained house cats. These furry felines can do it all: ride skateboards, jump through hoops and, most impressively, play instruments. Catch one of six performance of The Amazing Acro-Cats at the Bartell Theatre. Aug. 2-5

Special Events
Equal parts bar crawl and artisan market, the Madison Makers Summer Market returns to the High Noon Saloon and other local pubs in the near east-side neighborhood. More than 75 vendors will offer up a huge variety of arts and crafts. Aug. 3

Music
Tony Hawk and music fans unite! High Noon Saloon is hosting a Tony Hawk Appreciation Fest — a Midwest music festival of punk, hardcore and alternative music — to celebrate the skateboarding icon. Aug. 3

Music
Held at Tex Tubb's Taco Palace, the 7th Annual Atwood City Limits Music Fest is the go-to event for top-tier Americana, folk and soul music. With the added bonus of tacos and margaritas on the menu, you'll be satisfied all day. Aug. 3

Special Event
It's no secret that Madison has a great food scene, but it can be difficult for vegans to find menu items they can eat. Madison Vegan Fest is the solution. With scrumptious foods and engaging speakers, this event at Madison College's Traux Campus will satisfy all kinds of cravings for non-animal-derived food. Aug. 3

Special Event
Once a year,  the Monona Terrace iturns into a haven for comics, toys and games of all kinds. Don't miss your chance to browse the collections of a variety of vendors and artists looking to share their pop-culture obsessions at Madison Comic Con. Each admission also comes with a free comic book upon entry. Aug. 4

Music
Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, Fireside Collective have a knack for playing modern and traditional bluegrass. Presented by the Sugar Maple Music Festival, which is held a few days earlier, this show will keep the celebration of uniquely Americana music going. Aug. 6

Theater
The Playhouse at the Overture Center for the Arts hosts Annie, Jr., a production by Children's Theater of Madison. So round up the whole family for a fun-filled night. Aug. 8-9

Music
Born and bred in Scotland, Skerryvore is an eight-piece that plays Scottish-style pop, rock and folk fusion — bagpipes and kilts included. See them on the Memorial Union Terrace. Aug. 8

Music
The Majestic Theatre's SummerJam, a free concert series, nears its inevitable end with Bird's Eye. Based in Madison, Bird's Eye is a hip-hop fusion group backed by live instrumentation. Aug. 8

Comedy
She's appeared on Netflix with her own comedy special and on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and now she's taking the stage at Comedy on State. Don't miss your chance to see up-and-coming comedian Emma Willmann. Aug. 8-10

Music
The second-to-last Live on King Street free concert of the season is by Rod Tuffcurls & the Bench Press. They play high-energy, fan-favorite covers that everyone can sing along to. Aug. 9

Music 
Founded during the massive protests in Wisconsin that took place at the start of this decade, Forward! Marching Band's existence is rooted in Wisconsin's protest movements. Catch them perform live at the High Noon Saloon with support from the Detroit Party Marching Band. Aug. 10

Music
Few festivals if any offer up heavy metal, arcade games AND a real-life Mortal Kombat personality as a guest star. If you're intrigued by any of the above, don't miss Mad With Power Fest at the High Noon Saloon. Aug. 10

Special Event
Calling all local theater fanatics! The 10th annual Bartell Theatre Awards is approaching. The red carpet leads to a celebratory evening for Madison's most exciting performances of the 2018-2019 season. Aug. 10

Music
Making Madison so wonderful in the summer are the many outdoor concerts. Another of those come to the Memorial Union Terrace. Catch Summer Serenades with music from the Madison New Music Ensemble. Aug. 11

Music
Typically, sci-fi and westerns are two genres that don't coexist. However, Sixgun 7, a Madison band, brings those two idea together through their blend of electronica rock and cowboy bluegrass. Catch them and their supporting acts at the High Noon Saloon. Aug. 11

Special Event
Bugs can be scary. But to better understand why — and how to fear them less — attend "Entomophiles – Conversations with Insect People" with entomologist Jackie Whisenant and a panel of other experts in Overture Center for the Arts' Promenade Hall discussing cultural perceptions and human interactions with insects around the world. Aug. 12

Music
Thought they've known each other since going to the same high school in the 1980s, it took Josh Lewis and Dave Adler over 30 years to start making music together. Now, they're playing at the High Noon Saloon as Josh-n-Dave and The Whole Mishpocha. Aug. 14

Special Event
If you have young children, you probably know "PAW Patrol" as a kid's TV show. Well, now you can take your kids to "PAW Patrol Live!at Overture Center. With a pirate-themed show and all of your kid's favorite characters from the series, "PAW Patrol Live!" is sure to put a smile on every child's face. Aug. 14

Theater
"Seussical, Jr.," the last of the Children's Theater of Madison Summer Stage performances, brings Dr. Suess' most exciting characters to life in an all-ages show at The Playhouse in the Overture Center. Aug. 15-16

Comedy
By starting as a stand-up comic at the age of 16, Taylor Tomlinson is a rising star in comedy. You might know her from appearances on "Conan," "Adam Devine's House Party" or her stand up special on Netflix. Now Tomlinson takes the mic at Comedy on State. Aug. 15-17

Music
The Memorial Union Terrace provides lots of room for audiences of live music to dance, mosh, sing or watch from afar. Expect to see fans of Barely Civil — an emo, post-rock band from Wausau — do all the above. Aug. 15

Music
For the finale of the Summer Jam concert series at the Majestic Theatre, the venue has booked Madison band Magic Conch. Named after a magical conch in an episode of "Spongebob," the band's music is as unpredictable as the responses from the fortune-telling shell. You can expect everything from aggressive rock to soulful ballads. Aug. 15

Music
Lost Dog Street Band — a duo formed by married couple Ashley Mae and Benjamin Tod — is as authentic as they come. While their days of street performing are behind them, their country sound is as strong as ever. Swing by the High Noon Saloon to see them perform. Aug. 16

Music
Over the years, James Hunter has opened for Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and many more. Now he brings his astonishing talents to the Majestic Theatre. Aug. 16

Music
In the midst of Madison's Pride Weekend, Saint Saunter and Dyke Dive present the 3rd 
Annual Hot Summer Gays
music series. With hip-hop artists from Madison and Midwest, this event showcases some top talent in the queer community. Aug. 17

Music
Pat McCurdy has made a name for himself throughout Wisconsin. He returns to the Memorial Union Terrace with his bombastic energy and vast collection of original songs fit for sing-alongs. Aug. 17

Special Event
Hosted by the African Association of Madison with help from Madison Gas and Electric and the UW–Madison African Studies Program, Africa Fest is celebrating its 21st anniversary. Free and open to the public, the fest, held at McPike Park, brings the food, sounds, crafts and stories of multiple African cultures to Madison to encourage greater understanding and appreciation. Aug. 17 

Special Event
Coinciding with Madison's Pride Weekend, OutReach Magic Festival: A PRIDE Celebration is held at Warner Park. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the 30th anniversary of Madison's first pride parade, the festival is focused on bringing the community together with good food, entertainment and vendors. Aug. 18

Music
The .1K Resistance Run is probably the shortest fundraising race you'll ever have the chance to partake in. You'll start at the High Noon Saloon and run to the Sylvee (about a block) where you'll be met with a medal, food, drinks and live music. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket go to Underdog Pet Rescue of Wisconsin. Aug. 18

Special Event
What's better than stuffing your face with some of Madison's tastiest treats while also helping support the Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin and the River Food Pantry? Very few things. Yum Yum Fest returns to Breese Stevens Field. Aug. 18

Comedy
Trae Crowder first blew up in the comedy scene from his "Liberal Redneck" videos on YouTube. Now, with a book under his belt and multiple projects in the works, he brings his political belief-challenging comedy to Comedy on State. Aug. 18

Music
Flying Lotus' music is hard to categorize. Equal parts jazz, funk, hip-hop and more, the prolific producer has worked with some of the biggest names in music: Kendrick Lamar, George Clinton, Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, among others. Now, he brings his "Flying Lotus in 3D" show to the Sylvee. Aug. 21

Comedy
Hailing from Milwaukee, comedian Gareth Reynolds has found success in multiple comedic avenues throughout his career. Whether writing for TV's "Arrested Development," "You're the Worst" or other original projects, Reynolds has a knack for making audiences laugh. Catch his standup at Comedy on State. Aug. 22

Music
If you're wondering what a band with a name like Cribsh*tter sounds like, its members say, "Smack a snake in its head with a wooden spoon while it is eating garbage. That is what we sound like." Judge for yourself at the High Noon Saloon. Aug. 22

Music
For over 50 years the Orton Park Festival has been a local tradition bringing local, regional and national acts together. With more than 15 bands and other performers lined up this year, it's likely you'll find something to fit your tastes. Aug. 22-25

Special Event
Look Forward — Madison' Catwalk for Charity combines great looks and great causes. Proceeds benefit the Rape Crisis Center, Clean Lakes Alliance and Doyenne. Stay late for a DJ set from Chicago's DJ Dani Deahl. Aug. 23

Special Event
Though his time at UW–Madison has come to a close, band leader Mike Leckrone will be serving as  parade marshal for the 2019 Good Neighbor Festival in Middleton. Swing out to the festival for live music, a parade, food and a whole slew of activities for the whole family. Aug. 23-25

Art
With the participation of some 50 street artists from around the country, the Momentum Urban Arts Fest kicks off its first iteration focused on street art. This festival takes place on Monona Drive and the east side of Madison. Aug. 24

Music
Headlined by Michael Franti & Spearhead, the Triple M 105.5 Block Party, now in its fourth year, brings the party to The Sylvee. The show also features performances from Brett Dennen and Delacey. Aug. 24

Music
Classical music and a gorgeous sunset seems like a great way to wrap up a weekend in Madison. As the final installment of the Summer Serenades series at the Memorial Union Terrace, UW–Madison School of Music students will perform a collection of operatic arias. Aug. 25

Music
Every once in a while Breese Stevens Field brings some legendary acts to perform for the masses. Now comes the 1980s pop duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates. You don't want to miss this show. Aug. 25

Music
Phantogram fuses psychedelia and electronic pop better than most who try. When they come to The Sylvee, there's no doubt their instrumentation will be accompanied by equally enthralling visuals. Aug. 27.

Comedy
Before jumping into comedy, Chris Powell worked as an advertising executive in Detroit. But when he landed a recurring role in the show "Detroiters," things started to change. With a project in the works for Adult Swim and a recurring role on "Empire," Powell now brings his standup to Comedy on State. Aug. 29-31

Music
As anticipation grows for their upcoming album "Take Your Power Back," Nahko and Medicine for the People will perform at the High Noon Saloon. The band has a global sound and a positivity that radiate a sense of empowerment. Aug. 30

Special Event
Round up the kids and excavation tools and head to the Madison Children's Museum Summer Shindig: Dinosaurs! event. With plenty of dinosaur-themed activities, your kids will be grinning ear to ear. This is a members-only event. Aug. 30

Music
The 3rd Annual Respect: A Celebration of Women in Music brings some of the most prolific women artists of the past few decades to the same stage. Local artists cover the songs of Beyonce, Stevie Nicks, Ella Fitzgerald and more with a message of support for all women. Aug. 31

Special Event
Every year Taste of Madison brings the best food the city has to offer to the Capitol Square. Though the food is the main attraction, you can also catch live music on four stages near the square. Aug. 31 - Sept. 1


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