Downtown Madison Welcome Shoppers with Unique Gifts and Holiday Traditions: Lights! Carolers! Trolley!

MADISON, Wis. (November 15, 2006)—Downtown Madison will come alive this month with holiday traditions old and new as businesses welcome shoppers.  State Street and the Capitol Square will be dressed for the season with the holiday “snowflake” lights and evergreen decorations, a free weekend trolley will carry shopper through the district, Downtown Ambassadors will greet riders with gift bags with special offers from business, and carolers will stroll the street to serenade shoppers. 


“It’s all part of the unique, welcoming experience created by our community of businesses,” said Mary Carbine, Executive Director of Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID).  “With so many locally-owned and specialty stores, downtown Madison is the place to find unique gifts for the holidays. It’s also the place to have a unique experience, and to enjoy not only shopping, but all the cultural offerings, restaurants, and the special ambience you can only find in downtown Madison.”  The central downtown district is home to more than 300 shops, galleries, restaurants, pubs, service businesses and cultural organizations.  For more information, see


Madison’s Central BID offers the following in the central downtown for the holidays:


Holiday Trolley:  A free holiday trolley runs on State Street & Capitol Square, Saturdays & Sundays from noon-4pm, from Nov. 25-Dec. 23, stopping at Metro bus stops.  The trolley will be decorated and staffed by volunteer Downtown Information Ambassadors who will greet riders, hand out gift bags and treats for kids, and offer helpful suggestion, directions, and downtown maps.*


Trolley Gift Bags:  Riders on the trolley will also be treated to free downtown Madison gift bags, filled with promotions, coupons, special offers and information from more than 30 businesses and organizations (free, one per trolley rider, while supplies last).


Downtown Information Ambassadors: While the outdoor downtown information booths are closed for the season, Information Ambassadors will be staffing tables in the Overture Center Rotunda Lobby (201 State Street) on Saturday, December 2, 9 and 16 from 10 am – 2 pm, to offer directions, shopping suggestions, maps, and a friendly smile.  On these Saturday, visitors can also enjoy free community performances offered by Overture Center, and meet the resident organizations. Holiday refreshments will be available for purchase in the Rotunda Lobby.


Carolers and Dancers!  On Saturdays and Sundays in December from 1 pm – 3 pm, the following volunteer choral groups (and one dance troupe!) will start at either the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Lobby (Saturdays, 227 State Street) or the Overture Rotunda Lobby (Sundays, 201 State Street), and then stroll State Street and the Capitol Square, and hop on the trolley, to carol and perform for shoppers.  New this year, on Dec. 17, Kanopy Student Dance Ensemble members will perform holiday-inspired excerpts in costumes from their Winter Joy concert…magical snow fairies, however, due to the chilly weather, rather than barefoot, you will see boots!


Sunday, December 3 (Overture Rotunda): UW MadHatters (

Saturday, December 9 (MMoCA): Capitol Chordsmen Barbershop Chorus


Sunday, December 10 (Overture Rotunda): Tangled Up in Blue (

Saturday, December 16 (MMoCA): Madison Youth Choirs (

Sunday, December 17 (Overture Rotunda): Kanopy Dance Company (

Saturday, December 23 (MMoCA): Philharmonic Chorus of Madison



[NOTE: No performance scheduled Saturday, December 2.]


Holiday Snowflake Lights – Now with Energy-Saving LEDS

The holiday “snowflake” lights that decorate State Street and the Capitol Square from Thanksgiving through January are a downtown Madison tradition.  This year, this tradition takes a sustainable turn, with conversion of all the bulbs over to energy-saving LEDs (or “light emitting diodes”), which use up to 95% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs.  The annual holiday lighting is a project of Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID), in partnership with the City of Madison Parks Division, and is funded by downtown property and business owners.


This conversion to LED lighting is supported by sponsorship from Madison Gas and Electric, with additional support from the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Energy.  Both the snowflakes lights and holiday evergreen decorations will be installed beginning the week of November 13, with the lighting expected to be completely up and illuminating the district by the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 25).


Downtown Madison Gift Certificates, the Downtown Map & Guide.

Downtown Madison Gift Certificates are accepted at more than 100 shops, restaurants, museums, cafes, bars and other establishments on State Street and the Capitol Square. They make the perfect holiday gift! They can be purchased at The Overture Center Ticket Office at 201 State Street, or at The University Bookstore Information Desk at 711 State Street, or by phone (608) 443-1976.  See for more information on the Downtown Gift Certificates, information on shopping & dining, parking and events, and to order your free Downtown Madison Map & Guide with a detailed map and listing of central downtown businesses.