75 Madison-based winter activities

75 Madison-based winter activities

The holiday season is here, and with it comes the hustle, bustle and in-laws. Here are some ways to enjoy the holidays with or without family and friends.

From volunteering at a community organization, to catching a show or bundling-up to play outside, we’ve compiled a few ideas on how to make the most of the holiday season in Madison.

Volunteer Opportunities

  1. Bell ringing for the Salvation Army

  2. Volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank

  3. Donate to the Hoofers Ski and Snowboard Re-sale

  4. Help with Bethel Lutheran Church Homeless Support Services

  5. Volunteer with United Way of Dane County

  6. Volunteer with Dane County Humane Society

  7. Volunteer with The Road Home in Madison

  8. Donate to the Sharing Christmas Program with the Middleton Outreach Ministry

  9. Help with Creating for a Cause: Holiday Art Fair

  10. Donate time or winter clothing to the Beacon of Madison

  11. Volunteer at Goodman Community Center

  12. Attend the benefit dinner: Savoring Success: A Night for Porchlight

  13. Help out at River Food Pantry

  14. Donate toys to Toys-for-Tots

  15. Volunteer with Habitat For Humanity Dane County

Outdoor Activities

  1. Visit the Fantasy Lights in Olin Park

  2. Visit the holiday lights at Henry Vilas Zoo

  3. Go Ice Skating at Edgewater, Vilas Park or Tenney Park

  4. Get into a snowball fights with kids who walked on your lawn over the summer

  5. Walk, ski or snow-shoe across a (frozen) lake

  6. Go sledding in Elver Park or Arbor Hills Park

  7. Go ice fishing (Make sure lake is frozen completely)

  8. Go cross country ski in the Arboretum in Madison

  9. Get a group together and play boot hockey

  10. Take a stroll in the UW Madison Arboretum during their Night Walk on New Year’s Eve

  11. Take a hike on Glacial Drumline State Trail

  12. Go skiing with the Madison Nordic Ski Club, which is open to beginners and experts

  13. Visit the Madison Winter Festival

  14. Hike the Ice Age Trail

  15. Go Snowshoeing on trail near Madison

  16. Compete in the Freeze for Food 5K/10K run/walk


  1. Attend the Children’s Theater of Madison’s production of A Christmas Carol at the Overture Center, which runs December  9 to December 23

  2. Attend The Nutcracker presented by Madison Ballet at the Overture Center, which runs December 9 to  December 26

  3. Attend the Third Day of Christmas Carol Sing at Luther Memorial Church on December 27

  4. Attend the Madison Jazz Orchestra at Brink Lounge on December 28

  5. Attend the Hoot’n Annie at Chief’s Tavern on Jan 4

  6. Attend Mr. Popper’s Penguins at the Overture Center on January 7

  7. Attend the Rent at the Overture Center presented by Broadway Across America, which runs from January 2 to January 7

Family Events

  1. Attend the Kids in the Rotunda at the Overture Center (

  2. Attend Winter Break Dreams Retreat: Handmade Holiday Gifts

  3. Go to the Winter Break Dreams Retreat: Cookie Decorating Extravaganza

  4. Make paper snowflake cutouts

  5. Participatie in the Winter Break Dreams Retreat: Holiday Read-In

  6. Attend the Winter Break Dreams Retreat: Bricks 4 Kidz

  7. Attend the Winter Break Dreams Retreat: I’m Board Games and Family

  8. Make homemade hot chocolate

  9. Make a paper chain countdown to Christmas or New Year’s

  10. Attend the New Year’s Eve DreamBank Style

  11. Attend My Family News Year’s Eve

  12. Attend the New Year’s Eve Dance Party

  13. Go to the Free Family Night at Madison Children’s Museum

  14. Go to the Moove and Groove

Indoor Activities

  1. Attend Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest

  2. Play Frostiball 2018

  3. Nestle up next to one of Madison’s best fireplaces

  4. Shop at the Madison’s Late Winter indoor Farmers Market

  5. See the Christmas Tree at the Wisconsin State Capitol

  6. Attend the Open Mic night at Comedy Club in Madison on Wednesdays

  7. Make s’mores dip

  8. Host an ugly Christmas sweater party

  9. Make Christmas candy

  10. Play Dreidel

  11. Make gingerbread houses

  12. Bake and decorate Christmas cookies

  13. Go to Olbrich’s Holiday Express

  14. Go to Ever Gleaming

  15. Attend a Ugly Sweater Evening at Lucille (every Wednesday, from 10pm to close)

  16. Go to the Holiday Rarities Bierklasse

  17. Make your own hot cider

  18. Go to the Christmas Day Grand Brunch Buffet at Edgewater

  19. Go to the New Year’s Eve Eve at Bos Meadery, featuring The Earthlings, The Shruggers, Annapurna and Meggie Shays

  20. Go to the New Year’s Eve Sip & Savor Food Tour

  21. Attend Free Ballet 101 Class

  22. Go to the Cure Cabin Fever: The Hodag of The North Woods

  23. Write New Year’s Resolutions

Whether you volunteer, stay inside or are more of an outdoor person, there is something for everyone to do this holiday season.

Did we miss something? Does your family have a holiday tradition that you want to share with the Madison community?  Please let us know by writing us a comment below. Happy Holidays!


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