Our long, luxurious month of break is nearly upon us, but without homework and class to skip, what will we do? At ArtsEtc., we have some ideas. Whether you’re sticking around Madison or venturing off to wherever you call home, there’s plenty to keep you occupied this break, even if you’re only occupying the couch.

Exam Week:

Stuck in Madison for exams, but want to get into the holiday spirit? We’ve got you covered. First pop over to Kilwin’s (208 State St.) for their ridiculously good hot chocolate. No powder involved, they melt real chocolate into your cup for a delicious drink that is probably real bad for you. To work off those calories, bike around Lake Monona to Olin-Turville Park (1101 Olin-Turville Court) to see the famed lights (or drive … it will be night). A trip through the park is an electric stroll through a winter wonderland, snow optional. If you’d rather be in than out, The High Noon Saloon is bringing a cookie exchange and Christmas album performance from The August Teens Dec. 15. All you need is $5 and a plate full of cookies to celebrate the end of classes in good spirits.


Being home for break is the perfect time to catch up on new releases. In the music world, Green Day will drop Tre! and Bruno Mars will be releasing Unorthodox Jukebox Dec. 11, Rammstein will unleash Mein Herz Brennt Dec. 18 and A$AP Rocky will deliver LongLiveA$AP Jan. 15. If movies are more your thing, Quentin Tarantino’s long awaited return to the screen comes in the form of a Christmas Day opening of “Django Unchained,” while Lord of The Ring fans get the first installment of “The Hobbit” Dec. 14. For the horror lovers out there, Texas Chainsaw 3D hits theaters Jan. 4. In the video games realm, Hawken comes out Dec. 12 and DmC: Devil May Cry hits shelves Jan. 15.

New Year’s Eve:

With the big night falling on a Monday this year, venues are planning a long weekend of excitement. If you’re sticking around here, The Orpheum is reopening with a bash on NYE itself with local talent Hometown Sweethearts headlining. The Majestic is countering with its Decadance NYE party with Nick Nice and bars like Merchant and The Essen Haus are also throwing New Year’s parties Monday night.

If Chicago is more your scene, Porter Robinson is taking over The Congress on both Dec. 30 and 31. Navy Pier is hosting a fancy, boozy New Year’s Eve night at The Crystal Gardens for those 21 and up among us who want to see and be seen, and Big Gigantic will bring his sax and synth the same night to The Aragon.

For the Minnesotans, International Market Square is hosting the swanky IMAGINE New Year’s Eve event for those who like champagne and getting dolled up while the Skyway Theater will be home to Infrasound 3D on Dec. 30 and 31 for those who like to get down and dubby. For something a little more sexy, Epic Event Center is throwing Midnight in Morocco, complete with drinks, dancing and a fashion show.

Back at school:

By now, Madison should have had the required 2-4 weeks of below-freezing temps, so you can hop on the bus and make your way to Tenney Park (1330 Sherman Ave.) to ice skate. If you’d prefer to sled, Olbrich Park (3527 Atwood Ave.) is a good spot, but if you’re willing to travel a little further, Elver Park (1250 McKenna Blvd.) has not only snow-making equipment, but also lights for night sledding and a warming house. If you’d rather hit the slopes, Hoofer’s Ski and Snowboard offers both weekend and weekday trips out to Tyrol Basin and Devil’s Head. To learn how to snag a spot, head to hoofersns.org. And if being outside has zero appeal to you, The Majestic is this year’s host of Fire Ball V, a two-night masquerade ball/carnival happening Jan. 25 and 26. And if you need more ideas to get you through the beginning of semester blues, just pick up a copy of your Herald and get going.