The Madison Night Market is back for sixth season with art, music

Visitors to last week’s kickoff of the Madison Night Market, an annual celebration of the city’s creative culture, were treated to clear skies, musical and dance performances, dozens of vendors selling diverse art and other wares — even laser tag, a new addition in the market’s sixth year.

The aroma of sweet desserts and savory treats filled the evening air Thursday, while the sound of violins and guitars echoed through the length of State Street.

What started as an event with roughly 50 vendors has doubled to nearly 100, said Madison’s Central Improvement District board chair Vic Villacrez.

“Vendors are mostly local and regional crafters, markers producers and artists,” he said. “The market has always had a focus on supporting small businesses, which we still continue today. So far, we have seen two of our market vendors open shops in the Downtown area, and several others have opened brick-and-mortar shops in other parts of the city.”

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Madison Night Market 2023

From left, Rylee Huebbe, of Middleton, with her mom, Kristen, and family friend, Kennedy Carpenter, 7, of Sun Prairie, indulge in cotton candy from Lily’s Magical Treats as part of the first Madison Night Market of the season on State Street Thursday.




Subsequent markets, hosted by Madison’s Central Business Improvement District in partnership with Science on the Square, are scheduled for the second Thursday of each month through October. Since coming back after a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the market has grown from just Gilman Street to include all of State Street. The concept for the market was one of the recommendations that came out of a 2016 retail market study for Downtown. 

The markets regularly draw 10,000 to 15,000 visitors, up from an estimated 5,000 at the first few markets, providing a boost not just to vendors but also area businesses, dozens of which stay open late for the event. 

“The energy around the Madison Night Market has increased over the years,” Villacrez said.  “With all the new housing, we are creating experiences for both residents to walk from their homes to the Night Market and for people from all over Madison and Dane County to come Downtown and experience a street wide festival.”







Madison Night Market 2023

Marlene Patiño Quinto, of Madison, left, performs traditional Colombian dance with Tanya Jaiswal, at rear, a UW-Madison graduate student from India, and Jasmin Melo-Salas, of Madison, as the group CumbiaCachaca performs at Lisa Link Peace Park during the first Madison Night Market of the season last week.




For future markets, Villacrez said there is talk of creating more activity around the Capitol Square.

“We are becoming one of Madison’s signature Downtown events, like the (Dane County Farmers’ Market) and Concerts on the Square,” he said. 







Madison Night Market 2023

Pedestrians throng the first Madison Night Market of the season on State Street in Madison. 




‘Honored to be here’

The market’s featured artist, Xizhou Xie, specializes in acrylic “pour art,” which involves putting paint in a cup and pouring it onto a canvas. The designs can resemble Earthly geodes, gaseous planets like Jupiter or even flowers. 

“I’m very honored to be here,” Xie said, noting the last two seasons’ highlighted artists worked in more illustrative media, while hers are more abstract.

Having been a vendor at the Madison Night Market for a few years and an artist since 2018, Xie enjoys using vivid colors and bold textures. Her love for art began at a young age when she went to an art elementary school that taught music and visual arts.

As she got older, Xie became more drawn to abstract art, particularly how it can convey emotion through form and color. The artist, who has a gallery on Madison’s West Side, Xizhou Xie Art Gallery, also dabbles in mixed media and watercolor painting.







Madison Night Market 2023

Local musician Becca Murray performs on State Street during the first Madison Night Market of the season in Madison. 




Xie specializes in acrylic pour art, which primarily involves putting paint in a cup and pouring it onto a canvas – the designs can resemble Earthly geodes, gaseous planets like Jupiter or even flowers. She creates functional decorations for the home from her original paintings.

Having been a vendor at the Madison Night Market for a few years and an artist since 2018, Xie enjoys employing vivid colors and bold textures. Her love for art began at a young age when she went to an art elementary school that taught music and visual arts.

As she grew older, Xie became more drawn to abstract art, particularly how it can convey emotion through form and color. The artist, who has a gallery on Madison’s West Side, Xizhou Xie Art Gallery, also dabbles with mixed media and watercolor painting. 

“I’m very honored to be here,” Xie said Thursday night. 







Madison Night Market 2023

Shoppers browse the Love U Candle booth during the first Madison Night Market of the season on State Street in Madison. 




Tori Nagel, owner of Tori’s Trinkets, which makes hypoallergenic statement jewelry, said she was glad to be back at the market this year.

Tori’s Trinkets sells its inventory online at events, like the market and the Dane County Farmers’ Market. 

“Madison is a great place to have a small business,” Nagel said. 

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