"Halloween Party" Top 5 Page for this destination Madison Things to Do Tip by Tom_In_Madison

Madison Things to Do: 96 reviews and 166 photos


For better or worse, Madison has the largest attended halloween party in the Midwest. It's great fun until about 11pm. For the last 3 years we've had what might be called riots at 'closing time'. If you go, leave before the pepper spray comes out. If you want to riot, please don't come--Stay away.

So about 100,000 people throughout the night pack the main steet, State St, on the saturday before Halloween. Most of them come in costume, and there's some very elaborate costumes. No alcohol is allowed, but there are many bars on State St. Fines are heavy if you byob. It really is great fun to see all the people, most of them sober, and all the wild costumes.

At about 11 pm for the last 3 years things change. A different element come out. People, mostly students, from all over the country come to this, and some come to make trouble. They aren't costumed (first tip-off), and are usually a bit drunk (2nd tipoff). Bonfires pop up. When it becomes too crowded, when they don't listen to the police, when they don't disperse the police will shut it down. If you don't leave, you will be pepper-sprayed, guaranteed. It stings real bad. If you don't leave, you will be arrested, so just don't be there then.

But otherwise, this really is great fun. Book your hotel early. Some of the costumes are x-rated.

Things are always changing in regard to this unsanctioned event. They really are trying to stop this, and I really hope they do. The police costs alone top a half million dollars. Who knows what will happen next year.

Directions: State Street, downtown Madison

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 26, 2005
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