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Summer by the lake at the Terrace kicks off with return of chairs, party on April 17

Posted: 04/10/24

Summer by the lake at the Terrace kicks off with return of chairs, party on April 17

The Wisconsin Union’s historic outdoor dining and entertainment destination the Memorial Union Terrace will reopen for the 2024 Terrace season on April 17 with the return of 2,000 green, yellow and orange sunburst chairs and a Wisconsin Union-hosted Opening of the Terrace Party.

The chairs will start to return the early morning of April 17 and will continue to return through the early afternoon followed by the Opening of the Terrace Party from 4-6 p.m. at the Terrace. The free party that kicks off a season of summer by the lake will feature an appearance by Bucky, free brats provided by Johnsonville while supplies last, a DJ performance, a performance by the University of Wisconsin Spirit Squad, free Terrace Lemonade and Terrace Strawberry Lemonade tasting, and free mocktail tasting.

Available on-site dining options include pub food destination der Rathskeller, pizza and pasta restaurant Strada, salad and sandwich shop Carte, dessert café the Daily Scoop, grab-n-go and snacks shop the Badger Market, beverages and snacks restaurant der Stiftskeller, and seasonal lakefront destination Lakeview Lounge.

At 7 p.m. on April 17, guests can attend an Open Mic Night hosted by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music Committee and Moda Magazine, which marks the start of WUD Music’s nine-event music series WUDstock.

The Wisconsin Union team hosts Terrace season from late spring to early fall each year, including free film showings on Monday nights June-August, free concerts Wednesday-Saturday usually beginning in late May, free and low-cost art activities, and low-cost outdoor recreation experiences. The Union team will announce its film and music lineup in May at

The Wisconsin Union will soon make a Terrace Festival Package available for purchase, which will include a limited-edition t-shirt, a limited-edition button, a coupon card redeemable for monthly free food items, and more.

“Terrace season is really a three-month-long festival of free music, free movies, free and low-cost art, and so much more. It’s the perfect way to spend summer by the lake,” Wisconsin Union Deputy Director Susan Dibbell said. “There’s nothing else like Terrace season in the country, and no Wisconsin summer is complete without a Terrace visit, whether someone lives here or is visiting.”

The Wisconsin Union team is planning its programming and overall Terrace experience with the theme “Summer by the Lake” in mind.

“With music, great food, lakefront relaxation, and unique opportunities to make lasting memories with friends, family or colleagues, visits to the Terrace deliver the essential Wisconsin lakeside summer,” Public Relations and Communications Officer Shauna Breneman said.

The Wisconsin Union team anticipates opening seasonal dining options the Brat Stand on April 19 and the BBQ Stand on May 3, weather permitting. Coffee and tea café Peet’s Coffee is anticipated to reopen in late April with double its previous beverage-making capacity.

The Wisconsin Union held its first full Terrace season in 1929. Today, the space welcomes almost 1 million people each year, and its Wisconsin-crafted, metal sunburst chairs are trademarked and widely regarded as beloved symbols of Madison and summer in Wisconsin.

Most Terrace season events and most other events held by the Wisconsin Union are created by student leaders in WUD, who gain hands-on professional experiences through their Wisconsin Union leadership roles. Some WUD students receive up to 80% of their in-state tuition paid through Wisconsin Union academic stipends in recognition of their responsibilities contributing to student life and culture.

The Wisconsin Union is a non-profit organization that does not receive any taxpayer dollars to support its Terrace operations, Terrace season events, or year-round patron services, such as its open arts studio and outdoor recreation. Purchases at Memorial Union and Union South as well as its outlying markets and cafes, tax-deductible donations, and membership purchases help make Terrace season and other Union experiences and spaces possible.

Most of the events that occur at the Terrace during Terrace season also occur inside the Union’s spaces from late fall to early spring, including free film showings at the Marquee at Union South; free and low-cost art events at Memorial Union; and free, live music at both Union South and Memorial Union. Guests can continue to enjoy events indoors at Memorial Union and Union South while awaiting Terrace summer programming and can do so again when Terrace season ends. 

Patrons can visit for Terrace season details.

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