Cultural activities in town include art festivals, concerts, and theatrical productions. Especially notable are two events held on the Capitol square, the Art Fair on the Square and the Concert on the Square series. Numerous local performing groups and guest artists from all over the world perform in Madison each year. In addition to the active University arts program, the Madison Civic Center plays host to a wide variety of musical and theatrical groups.
All this is surrounded by four lakes allowing water sports such as swimming, wind surfing, sailing, skiing, rowing, and fishing. The Hoofer's club on campus, open to students and non-students, arranges outings for skiers, hikers, and other outdoor activities. It also rents sail boats, canoes, kayaks, and sailboards for use on Lake Mendota. The university's NCAA sports events provide many opportunities for sport fans.
The area is a four-season display of beauty. You can take a drive through the glacier-carved rolling countryside, paddle a canoe on Cherokee Marsh, or stroll along a lake in a gentle snowfall. One is only hours away from wilderness weekends in Wisconsin's state and national forests, or the attractions of larger cities such as Chicago or Milwaukee.
Madison has more than 150 parks within the city limits. In addition, the University of Wisconsin maintains a 3,000-acre arboretum which contains natural prairie and woodlands, groves of lilac and fruit trees, wooded paths, and a lake. The city zoo, considered one of the finest small zoos in the nation, is located next to the Arboretum. In the winter there are extensive cross-country skiing trails on city parks and golf courses; in the summer there are swimming beaches and boat launches maintained by the city. The University Ridge Golf Course is one of the most beautiful courses in the region.
In the summer of 1997, the new convention center that Frank Lloyd Wright designed decades ago opened in downtown Madison, beautifully connecting the state capitol building with Lake Monona. Several international computer science conferences have already been held in it.
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