There’s something about being outside that makes listening to music that much sweeter. And Dane County has an abundance of free outdoor venues -- from local parks and breweries to Capitol Square -- for bands to play tunes almost every day of the week during the warm summer months. You might want to keep your lawn chair and picnic basket handy, as some concerts allow carry-ins to make your visit more comfortable.
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Be sure to check the websites for musician details and any event cancellations.
- June 11 - July 30: NESCO’s Summer Concerts at Warner Park in Madison. Music from 6-7:30 p.m. Concessions available.
- June 18, July 16, August 20 (Third Monday of the month): Concerts at McKee at McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg. Food and drink carts open at 6 p.m., music starts at 7 p.m. Close to splash pad and playground.
- July 17 - August 28 (not August 7): Sounds of Summer Concerts at Triangle Park in Oregon. Different food vendors from 6-8 p.m. with music starting at 7 p.m. Rain location is Rome Corners Intermediate School.
- July 31 and August 14: Summer Concert Series at Winnequah Park in Monona. Food carts open from 5-7:30 p.m. with drinks and popcorn available for purchase. Carry-ins welcome. Music starts at 6:30 p.m.
- June 27 - August 1: Concerts on the Square at the Capitol lawn in Madison. Blankets can be placed on the lawn after 3 p.m., food and beverage booths and kids area opens at 5 p.m., and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra music starts at 7 p.m. Carry-in food and drink allowed.
- July 4 - August 8: Wednesday Night Live at Grundahl Park in Mount Horeb. Music from 7-8:30 p.m. Carry-in food and drink allowed.
- August 8 - September 5: Jazz at Five at Capitol Square near State Street in Madison. Shows start at 4, 5, and 6:30 p.m. Blankets and carry-ins welcome on the lawn; food and drink available for purchase and service for reserved tables.
- May 31 - August 30: Gazebo Musikk at Rotary Park in Stoughton. Music from 6-7:30 p.m. on the lawn. Bring your own chair and keep dogs leashed. Beer and wine welcome but no glass. Concessions are available.
- July 12-26: Concerts in the Park at Harriet Park in Verona. Music from 6-8 p.m. under pavilion. Playground and some picnic tables nearby. Carry-ins allowed; sometimes food carts are present.
- May 4 - September 28 (not July 6-20): Live Music in the Backyard at Wisconsin Brewing Company in Verona. Brewery opens at 3 p.m. and music starts at 6 p.m. Carry-in food allowed, but not alcohol or dogs. Brats and hotdogs available with proceeds benefiting local nonprofit.
- June 1 - August 31: Brewgrass Fridays at The Edgewater in Madison. Fish fry starts in The Icehouse at 5 p.m. with music on The Grand Plaza at 6 p.m. Door County Brewing Company drinks available.
- August 3-31: Dane Dances at Monona Terrace in Madison. Gates and bars open at 4 p.m. with music on the rooftop starting at 6 and 8 p.m. Ethnic food and cocktails available for purchase; carry-in food welcome but not alcohol.
Many community festivals feature outdoor music on weekends throughout the summer. Upcoming events include:
- July 26-29: WaunaFest at Centennial Park in Waunakee. Retro Specz at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 28.
- July 28-29: AtwoodFest along Atwood Avenue in Madison. A full day of music at three stages.
August 24-26: Good Neighbor Festival at Firemen’s Park in Middleton. Music all day in two tents
- June 24 - September 16 (Every other Sunday): Concerts in the Garden at Allen Centennial Gardens in Madison. Classical to jazz chamber music from 5-6:15 p.m.
- July 1 - August 26 (Every other Sunday): Summer Serenades at the Memorial Union Terrace in Madison. Classical music starts at 5 p.m. No carry-in food, but local restaurants offer carry-out options. Blankets encouraged but no chairs allowed.