This could help take your mind off the snow and cold for just a moment.
A highly successful event that has drawn thousands of people to Madison's Downtown when the weather is warmer is returning for a third season.
The dates for the Madison Night Market have been announced by the Central Business Improvement District and will again include four dates. This year's markets will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on May 9, June 13, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12 on East and West Gilman streets at the intersection of State Street.
As in the past two years, a July event will not be scheduled because of Maxwell Street Days, which is set for July 19-21 and typically draws more than 30,000 people.
"As we had hoped, many of the downtown retail stores are staying open later, offering a full shopping experience," said Tiffany Kenney, executive director of the BID. "Downtown restaurants will again have special offers and we anticipate staying strong at around 100 unique vendors on Gilman Street.”
The market, held three times in 2017 and expanded to four dates in 2018, is presented by the BID in partnership with the city of Madison and includes vendors who showcase handmade products, local art, artisan gifts, prepackaged foods and fresh produce. The event also features live music, food carts and pop-up restaurant experiences.
Modeled after other markets around the country, including one in Milwaukee, the Madison Night Market was born out of a Downtown retail study to stimulate retail and bring more people into the shopping district.
Each Night Market costs the BID about $7,000 to put on. Vendor fees and sponsorships pay for about half, with the remainder coming out of a $50,000 Downtown programming fund from the city. About 25 percent of vendors are located in the BID, 15 percent offer farmers' market-type and prepared foods like crackers and kettle corn, 35 percent are classified as arts and crafts, and 25 percent of the vendors are food carts.
Last fall, the Night Market received a major award when the International Downtown Association awarded the BID a certificate of merit in the category of events and programming.