Seasonal lights, shopping dominate downtown

Posted by Samantha Haas on Friday, November 17th, 2017 at 9:24am.

More clouds and colder temps mean this time of year can be a little gloomy for people. But fight your inclination to hibernate inside and head downtown Madison for some new surprises and old traditions. Many of these events also offer opportunities to "Shift Your Shopping" to support local businesses.

Shine on Madison

It all starts with Shine on Madison, presented by Madison's Central Business Improvement District and the Madison Community Foundation, which will feature more than a hundred events and numerous lighting displays from November 18 through January 7. Downtown will be illuminated starting at 6:08 p.m. Saturday, November 18, where Capitol Square meets State Street, during a ceremony featuring Santa and Bucky.

Be sure to arrive early, and not just to find a parking spot. You can check out the window displays at local businesses (through November 26), listen to carolers, or take a free holiday trolley ride from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (continues November 24-26, December 2, 9, 16, and 23). That evening you'll also be able to view seven community partner planter light displays, more than a dozen new lighted activity areas, and over 100 snowflake pole lights (check out the map of displays).

There are also other events happening downtown in conjunction with its 1st annual seasonal lighting celebration November 18, including a petting zoo at the Madison Public Library from 2-5 p.m., a gift fair at MMoCA from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and a winter night market from 2-8 p.m. (check out the full list of events).

MMoCA Art and Gift Fair

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art will present its 47th annual MMoCA Art & Gift Fair (formerly known as the Holiday Art Fair) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, November 18 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, November 19. Browse a selection of items from nearly 100 exhibitors, featuring dozens of artists from across the country and some of Wisconsin's best gourmet food vendors. There will also be a photo booth, silent auction, music, and dance performances. Admission is $6 at the door, children under 12 are free.

Winter Night Market

The Madison Night Market is back with a special Winter Carnival from 2-8 p.m. Saturday, November 18. Nearly 50 vendors will be selling festive gifts and winter decor along State Street and Capitol Square. Guests can also make seasonal crafts and cards and enjoy holiday foods.

There are other nearby attractions happening around Madison this weekend, too.

Fantasy in Lights

The 29th annual Holiday Fantasy in Lights, which runs from 4 p.m. until dawn November 18 through January 2, features a drive through over 40 lighted holiday displays at Olin Park. Admission is free.

Women's Expo

Bring along the special ladies in your life to the Madison Women's Expo at the Alliant Energy Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 18-19. The annual event features nearly 180 exhibitors from beauty to fitness, food and beverage samples, presentations by dynamic speakers, artists, and entertainers, and a craft area to create special decor for your home. Admission is $7 in advance, $10 at the door. Parking is $7 cash per vehicle.

Art in the Wright Place

If you love historic architecture, head to the Art in the Wright Place annual art sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 18-19 in the historic Frank Lloyd Wright Unitarian Meeting House, 5906 Old Middleton Road. The First Unitarian Society's sale features original fine arts and crafts from over 45 area artists and is a fundraiser for the children's religious education program. Admission is free.

Humane Society Gift Fair

Want to support furry friends? The 10th annual Holiday Gift Fair for Dane County Humane Society will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at the VFW, 133 W. Lakeside St. Artists, vendors, and bakers will donate a portion of their sales to the local pet rescue. Donate $10 to get a picture of your pet outside with Santa. Admission is canned pet food, wish list items, or cash. The upcoming Rafflin' for Rescues DCHS fundraiser is also ongoing, and it's $5 per ticket or $20 for five tickets. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, December 8, at DCHS, 5132 Voges Road, or on Facebook Live.

Stuff Your Stockings

More than 20 local vendors will be selling holiday gifts at the Stuff Your Stockings Merry Makers Market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at Art In, 1444 E. Washington Ave. There will also be an ornament making station, henna tattoos, food carts, free coffee, and live music. Admission is free.


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