Madison Winter Festival Event History

November 10, 2019

The Madison Winter Festival is one of the oldest annual community events in the area celebrating and promoting outdoor sports, recreation, art and healthy lifestyles in the winter. The festival has served the greater Madison area community since 2005.

The festival began as the Capitol Square Sprints, with a focus on cross country ski racing around the snow-filled streets of the Capitol Square. In the winter of 2005, no one could have imagined the streets filled with 90+ dump truck loads of snow, smoothed like icing on a cake.

Capitol Square Sprints, 2005

Over the course of its 15-year history, the event has evolved from the Capitol Square Sprints to the Madison Winter Festival, reflecting the change in focus from ski racing to the inclusion of winter recreational events for the greater Madison community.

In an effort to serve the community even more, the Madison Winter Festival was moved to Elver Park in 2016. Elver Park is one of the top parks in the Madison area surrounded by six neighborhoods and serving as the number one destination for winter outdoor recreation in the Madison area.

Moving the festival to Elver Park provided the community with guaranteed snow throughout the winter for cross country skiing, sledding and other snow-related recreational activities.

The snowmaking at Elver is made possible largely with private dollars from several groups, including the Madison Nordic Ski Club (MadNorSki), the Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC) and the Madison Winter Festival along with the city of Madison Parks, which covers 50 percent of the water and electricity costs. Each winter the snowmaking operation turns Elver Park into a winter wonderland within a few weeks and offers the public a destination they can count on for winter recreation.