Trolley and Carolers

Downtown Madison Welcomes Shoppers

Make holiday shopping and dining special - enjoy downtown Madison's State Street, Capitol Square and King Street areas, home to more than 350 shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and night spots, many locally owned.

Directory of shops and restaurants.


Free Holiday Trolley
Holiday shopping is especially jolly with the Downtown Trolley! The red “Holiday Shopping Trolley” will run up & down State Street and around the Capitol Square from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm on the following days. Catch at bus stops:*
Fri.-Sun. Nov 29-30 & December 1 for the Downtown Holiday Open House
Sat. Dec. 7
Sat. Dec. 14
Sat. Dec. 21

The trolley will be decorated and staffed by volunteer Downtown Information Ambassadors who will greet riders, hand out treats for kids, and offer shopping suggestions, directions, and downtown maps. Riders on the trolley will also be treated to free Downtown Madison Welcome Bags with promotions, coupons, special offers and information from downtown businesses and organizations (free, one per trolley rider, while supplies last).

Downtown Carolers, Saturdays in December

Volunteer community and UW-Madison choral groups and dancers will stroll State Street and the Capitol Square–and even hop on the trolley–to carol and perform for shoppers on Saturdays in December. Performances start at 11 am and at noon at the Madison Children's Museum (MCM, 100 N. Hamilton St.) and at 1 pm in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Lobby (MMoCA, 227 State Street).

2019 Performance Schedule
(All performances kick off at the time and museum lobby indicated below, before groups begin strolling around State Street and the Capitol Square. Schedule subject to change.)

Saturday, December 7

Saturday, December 14

Saturday, December 21

Downtown Madison Gift Certificates

Downtown Madison Gift Certificates are accepted at more than 175 shops, restaurants, museums, cafes, bars and other establishments on State Street and the Capitol Square. They make the perfect holiday gift! ORDER ONLINE, or purchase in person at the Overture Center Ticket Office , 201 State Street, or the University Bookstore , 711 State Street.

Downtown Visitor Center and Saturday Info Table

Holiday shoppers can count on our Downtown Information Ambassadors for helpful directions, shopping and dining suggestions, maps, and a friendly smile. Downtown Ambassadors staff the Downtown Visitor Center at 452 State St. Sunday-Thursday 11 am-5 pm; Friday 11 am-6 pm, and Saturday 9 am-6 pm.

Ambassadors will also staff an information table in the Overture Center Rotunda Lobby (201 State Street) from 10 am to 2 pm on Fri.-Sun. Nov. 23-25 and Saturdays December 1, 8 and 15, and 22. Stop by while shopping, attending Kids in the Rotunda, or enjoying the spectacular holiday lighting in the Overture Center.

Winter Snowflake Lights

The winter “snowflake” lights decorating State Street and the Capitol Square from Thanksgiving through January are a downtown Madison tradition. The lighting is funded by downtown business and property owners through Madison's Central Business Improvement District (BID), in partnership with the City of Madison Parks.

The lighting has been upgraded this year thanks in part to the sponsorship of the Greater State Street Business Association (GSSBA) and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). The lighting is 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!

We are also thrilled to announce that we will be greatly expanding our holiday lighting in the downtown area this year! For more information about the amazing displays and activities this holiday season, visit the Shine on Madison Website !

*Trolley Information for those with disabilities
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 welcome 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.” The free trolley is a service of Madison's Central Business Improvement District (BID). More information about Metro Transit is available via the Customer Service Center at 608-266-4466.

2019 Schedule

  • December 7
  • December 14
  • December 21