Downtown Madison: Holiday Open House, Saturday, Nov. 28

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Carbine, BID Executive Director, 608.443.1973, [email protected]

Activities for Kids & Families – Special Offers & Complimentary Refreshments at Select Merchants – Trolley Rides & Gift Bags – Holiday Lights – Carolers

Free Holiday Trolley, Carolers, Downtown Info Table continues weekends through Dec. 20.

MADISON, Wis. (September 21, 2009) – Downtown Madison welcomes one and all to kick off the holiday season at the Downtown Holiday Open House, Saturday, November 28, 2009, from 10 am to 6 pm, on State Street and the Capitol Square. Free and open to the public. Information is at or (608) 443-1974.

Holiday Open House Activities include:

* Free holiday trolley rides with downtown gift bags and treats for kids. The trolley runs on State St. and the Capitol Square, 10 am to 6pm on Nov. 28. Catch at Metro bus stops.

* Holiday lights and carolers.

* Special offers & complimentary refreshments at nearly 40 participating downtown shops and restaurants, many locally owned. Offerings at participating merchants range from hot chocolate to cider, cookies, balloons, Santa & his elves, drawings for gift certificates and prizes, and special discounts and sales just for the Holiday Open House. For a list of participating businesses, see [direct link:]

* Downtown Information Table at Overture Center (201 State St.) 10 am to 3pm. Stop by for maps, directions and shopping suggestions.

* Fun for kids and families at Overture Center, including free cookie decorating, Disney’s THE LION KING activities, characters in costume, holiday photos with Isthmus, Kids in the Rotunda performances, and more! See details below.

A list and map of Holiday Open House activities and participating businesses can be picked up on Nov. 28 at the Overture Center, 201 State St., or at participating businesses, or download at Or, just come stroll State Street and the Capitol Square and look for the “Downtown Holiday Open House – Stop In Here” signs in participating businesses.

Holiday Open House activities at Overture Center (201 State St.) on Saturday, Nov. 28:

9:30 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM (Rotunda Stage

* Free Kids in the Rotunda shows featuring shadow puppeteer Daniel Barash. Coffee and kid-friendly snacks available for purchase from the Rotunda Cafe.

10 AM – 2 PM (Overture Hall Lobby, unless otherwise marked)

* Free holiday cookie decorating station hosted by Madison Children’s Museum, with cookies provided by Catering a Fresco, Overture Center’s exclusive caterer.

* Overture Center ticket giveaway station, with a chance to win a family four pack of tickets to Disney’s THE LION KING coming to Madison April 27-May 23! Tickets go on sale December 5 at Overture Center.

* Disney’s THE LION KING coloring activity for kids of all ages.

* Meet-and-greet photo opportunities at the birch forest, with costumed characters from Kanopy Dance and Children’s Theater of Madison’s production of A Christmas Carol. Staff from Isthmus, Madison’s weekly newspaper, will photograph character greetings and post them to the following week.

* Interactive “Gone Fishing” exhibit provided by Madison Children’s Museum.

* Madison Ballet’s life-sized Nutcracker on display.

* Show tickets and gift certificates on sale at the Overture Center ticket office.

* The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration exhibition, free and open to the public in the Wisconsin Academy’s James Watrous Gallery (third floor Overture Center). Showcasing the work of several of Wisconsin’s most accomplished illustrators of children’s books. Gallery is open until 6 pm on November 28.

3:30 – 5 PM (Rotunda Stage)

* Dreams of our Future book exhibition project inspired by James Watrous Gallery exhibition, The Fine Arts of Children’s Book Illustration. Fourth and fifth graders from Glendale Elementary School will read selections from their self-authored books about their dreams for the future. Free and open to the public.

The Downtown Holiday Open House is brought to you by Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID) with Overture Center for the Arts, the Greater State Street Business Association (GSSBA), and Isthmus/ .

Free Downtown Holiday Trolley, Carolers, Downtown Info Table, weekends Nov. 28 through Dec. 20.

Downtown Madison welcomes shoppers with unique experiences and traditions old and new in November and December. State Street and the Capitol Square, home to more than 350 shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, night spots and other businesses, will be dressed for the season with holiday snowflake lights and greenery. Starting with the Downtown Holiday Open House on November 28, a free weekend trolley will carry shoppers through the district, Downtown Ambassadors will greet riders with gift bags with special offers from business, and carolers will stroll the streets serenading shoppers. Downtown Madison Gift Certificates, accepted at more than 150 businesses, make a perfect holiday gift. Information is at or (608) 443-1974.

* Holiday Shopping Trolley:* Holiday shopping is especially jolly with the Downtown Trolley! A favorite tradition for kids and shoppers young and old, the red “Holiday Shopping Trolley” will run on State Street & Capitol Square from 10am to 6pm on Saturday, Nov. 28 (for the Downtown Holiday Open House) and from noon-4pm on Sunday, Nov. 29 and on Saturdays and Sunday, Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20. The trolley will be decorated and staffed by volunteer Downtown Information Ambassadors who will greet riders, hand out gift bags plus treats for kids, and offer suggestions, directions, and downtown maps.

* Downtown Madison 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 downtown businesses and organizations (free, one per trolley rider, while supplies last).

* Downtown Information Ambassadors: Weekend holiday shoppers can count on our Downtown Information Ambassadors for helpful directions, shopping and dining suggestions, maps, and a friendly smile. Downtown Ambassadors will staff an information table in the Overture Center Rotunda Lobby (201 State Street) on Saturdays, November 28 from 10am to 3pm for the Downtown Holiday Open House, and from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays, December 5, 12 and 19. Stop by while shopping, attending Kids in the Rotunda, or enjoying the spectacular holiday lighting in the Overture Center.

* Carolers and Dancers! Volunteer community and UW-Madison choral groups (and one dance troupe!) will stroll State Street and the Capitol Square—and even hop on the trolley—to carol and perform for shoppers, from 1 – 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, December. 6-7, 13-14 and 20-21. Performances will start Saturdays at 1pm in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Lobby (MMoCA, 227 State Street) and Sundays at 1pm in the Overture Rotunda Lobby (201 State Street).

* Downtown Holiday Caroling/Performance Schedule:

(All performances start at 1pm in the lobby indicated below before groups begin strolling State St. and the Capitol Square. Schedule subject to change; see for updates.)

Saturday, Dec. 5 (MMoCA): The UW MadHatters (UW men’s A Cappella Group)

Sunday, Dec. 6 (Overture Rotunda): Kanopy Dance

Saturday, Dec. 12 (MMoCA): Philharmonic Chorus of Madison

Sunday, Dec. 13 (Overture Rotunda): Capitol Chordsmen (Barbershop Choir)

Saturday, Dec. 19 (MMoCA): The Nefrons (Do-Wop)

Sunday, Dec. 20 (Overture Rotunda): Tangled Up in Blue (UW women’s A Cappella Group)

* Downtown Madison Gift Certificates, the Downtown Map & Guide.

Downtown Madison Gift Certificates are accepted at more than 150 shops, boutiques, restaurants, museums, cafes, night spots 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.

* Holiday Snowflake Lights and Evergreen Decorations

The holiday “snowflake” lights and evergreen boughs decorating State Street and the Capitol Square from Thanksgiving through January are a downtown Madison tradition. These holiday lighting and evergreen decorations are funded by downtown business and property owners through Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID) and installed in partnership with the City of Madison Parks Division. In 2006, thanks to the sponsorship of Madison Gas and Electric, with additional support from the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Energy, all of the downtown holiday snowflake lighting was converted to energy-saving LEDs, which use up to 95% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs. Now downtown Madison is truly “green” and bright for the holidays!

*For patrons with disabilities for whom the trolley may not be accessible, the BID Ambassadors staffing the trolley will provide a free Metro Transit day pass plus a gift bag. Per Metro Transit: “All fixed-routes are accessible to people with disabilities. Service animals are allowed on Metro buses to assist people with disabilities. ADA-eligible riders may travel on fixed-route buses with a personal care attendant at no additional charge (the rider pays and the attendant rides for free). An ADA eligibility card must be presented when boarding.” More information about Metro Transit is available via the Customer Service Center at 608-266-4466, TTY/Textnet 1-866-704-2316.

All Downtown Holiday programs above are coordinated and funded by Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID). Information is at or (608) 443-1974.