Celebrate Summer 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin with free outdoor music concerts and performances

Ben and Leo Sidran perform at the Isthmus Jazz Festival on the Memorial Union Terrace (Summer of 2006)

Ben and Leo Sidran perform at the Isthmus Jazz Festival on the Memorial Union Terrace

One of the highlights of summer in the Madison area is a wealth free music in the beautiful outdoors. Free country, classical, opera, rock, and jazz performances and concerts are on tap for Summer 2016. National and international musicians, as well as local talent will hold forth on Willy Street, the Memorial Union Terrace, the Capitol Square, and other venues, including local parks, starting in May and running through September.

Madison on the Cheap has compiled this list of free summer music events to help you plan your sunny days and starry nights, whether you want to sit and listen or get up and dance.

Note: This is a preliminary list and we will be adding events as schedule details become available, so check back often to learn what’s happening.


May Musical Madness
Every Wednesday from May 4-25, 2016
Historic Olin Park Pavilion, Madison
Friends of Olin-Turville Park present family-friendly concerts featuring folk and country music

Brat Fest
May 27-30, 2016
Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison
Four days of brats, beer, ice cream and free music.

Concerts on the Rooftop
William T. Evjue Rooftop Garden, Monona Terrace
Most Thursdays at 7 p.m. from June 2 – July 21, 2016
“A truly unique Madison experience! Enjoy spectacular local bands accompanied by the best views in the city!”

Capitol City Band
Thursdays at 7 p.m. from June 9 through August 25, 2016
Rennebohm Park, 115 N. Eau Claire Avenue, Madison
Free one-hour concerts by “Wisconsin’s finest professional concert band.”

Marquette Waterfront Festival
June 11-12, 2016
1800 Yahara Place, Madison
Free, family-friendly outdoor concerts featuring a variety of headliners, including The Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, The Fat Babies (Chicago), and Boogat (Mexico/ Quebec).

Isthmus Jazz Festival
June 17-18, 2016
Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon Street, Madison
Two days of free live jazz at one of Madison’s favorite outdoor spaces with a great view
In addition, there will be a ticketed concert by pianist Joey Alexander on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at Shannon Hall (formerly known in the Wisconsin Union Theatre).

Concerts at McKee
June 20, July 19, and August 15, 2016 (Third Monday of the month)
McKee Farms Park at 2930 Chapel Valley Road, Fitchburg
“Bring a picnic and a bottle of wine or have dinner and drinks at one of our many food carts and brew carts.” available to serve you at the concert.” Headliners concerts begin at 7 p.m. Performers TBA

Live on King Street
June 24, July 15, July 29, August 5, August 12, and September 16, 2016 (Friday nights)
Majestic Theatre, 115 King Street, Madison
“Six free outdoor concerts on Friday nights featuring nationally touring artists”

Concerts on the Square
June 29 – August 3, 2016
King Street corner of the Capitol Square, Madison
Free outdoor performances by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Capital.


La Fete de Marquette
July 14th-July 17th, 2016
Central Park, Madison
Free outdoor concerts featuring music from around the world “with a focus on the pulse-beating sounds from New Orleans and Louisiana.”

Opera in the Park
July 23, 2016
Garner Park, Madison
“… the stars come out in the sky, the light sticks glow in the audience, and singers from Madison Opera’s mainstage season share their favorite opera and Broadway numbers.”

Atwood Fest
July 30-31, 2016
2000-2090 Atwood Avenue, Madison
Two days of free music and festivities; schedule TBA


Jazz at Five
Dates pending: Usually Wednesday nights in August at 5 p.m.
100 State Street, Madison
Free outdoor jazz concerts featuring local and national artists

Dane Dances
Monona Terrace
August 5-26. 2016 (Fridays in August from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.)
“This summer music series is one of Madison’s most popular summertime events! These special concerts were created to help break down racial barriers and bring people of all backgrounds together for a night of free entertainment and dancing.”

Orton Park Festival
August 25-28, 2016
Orton Park, 1103 Spaight Street, Madison
Free, family-friendly outdoor festival featuring Cycropia Aerial Dance and local bands TBA


Taste of Madison
September 3-4, 2016
Capitol Square, Madison
Sample treats from Madison-area restaurants ($$) and enjoy free live music from a wide variety of bands.
Program details pending; check back later for details TBA

Madison World Music Festival
September 16-17, 2016 + additional performances on September 29, 2016
Memorial Union Terrace and Willy Street Fair
Program details pending; check back later for details TBA

Willy Street Fair
September 17-18, 2016
Williamson Street, Madison
Program details pending; check back later for details TBA

Last updated 5/14/2016