While the University of Illinois may be notorious for Unofficial, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will always have bragging rights over Halloween. For the past two years, I have made the trek à la road trip with some fellow Illini to enjoy a weekend filled of spooky surprises and the occasional tailgate.
Although some students may be stubborn against the thought of going to another Big 10 campus to partake in their traditions, I can assure you it is worth the trip. Madison, otherwise referred to as “Madtown,” is a mere three hours away—depending on how fast or slow you drive.
Another perk for this road trip is that you can enjoy all the cheese curds you want once you cross the border and you can even visit the Brat Stop in Kenosha for some authentic Wisconsin fun.
Once you approach Madison, the beauty of the lake that surrounds the city and campus will probably overwhelm you. Try to stay focused and remember that you are there on a mission to celebrate Halloween.
If you don’t have any friends that you can stay with, there are always plenty of hotels on campus since it is the state’s capital. No matter if you decide to get a room or stay with friends, all the action is on Main Street. Here you will find the infamous Halloween party that Madtown is known for.
Just a warning, you will have to buy a ticket to enjoy the festivities and enter onto State Street for the Halloween party night. This may sound like a buzz kill but think about it as being the equivalent of paying cover at a couple of bars on a typical night out in Champaign. Since this night is anything but typical, try and get over this little hump pretty fast because the memories (and pictures) from the night will last a lifetime and make for great car ride stories.
Wandering up and down State Street is a workout! Wear comfortable shoes because your feet will get tired as you try and keep up with the packed crowd of up to 100,000 people. And whatever you do, DO NOT forget to wear a costume. You will get some pretty nasty glares coming your way if you violate the dress code.
I can’t stress enough how fun this night truly is, especially since there is always a live concert outside of the Capitol building. The city of Madison has done a great job in the past of getting some big headliner bands—I saw Third Eye Blind in 2009, which was pretty cool.
Hopefully you were able to visit Madison this year for Halloween. If not, get your friends organized now and make a pact to road trip there next year. It will give you something to look forward to and plenty of time to find a friend to stay with who goes there. If you are fortunate and can find a friend who attends Madison, invite them to visit you at UofI for Unofficial—this can be your tradeoff.
It’s nice to visit and experience other Big 10 schools because at the end of the day, you will always be a proud Illini wherever you go.