What to Expect at Winterfest

Experience Lake Geneva’s annual Winterfest featuring the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship, and you’ll never look at snow the same way again! It’s impossible to not be wowed by the workmanship and artistry on display as snow sculpting teams from across the country transform the lakefront with 9-foot-tall sculptures made of snow. 

Running January 31 – February 4, 2024 Winterfest offers so many options to enjoy some of your favorite cold weather activities. Will it be bonfires on the beach with hot cocoa and S'mores or strolling along the lakefront taking in the winter beauty? Will your evenings be filled with live music, custom cocktails, and great eats? Or maybe the family would enjoy a leisurely stroll downtown to see all of the wonderful ice sculptures while shopping for a unique souvenir. No matter how you choose to enjoy this annual festival celebrating winter, you won't be disappointed!


Snow sculptures building their entry


The snow blocks are formed on-site early in the week with snow delivered from the Mountaintop at Grand Geneva. So for those of you who truly love to watch the transformation be sure to plan a fun winter getaway and arrive early! The carving really heats up on Friday when most of the sculptures are beginning to take shape. Voting for the People's Choice Award begins on Saturday morning and goes through Sunday, so you will want be in town for sure to see the final transformations and select your favorite. The Championship Award winners will be announced during a special ceremony at The Riviera on Saturday afternoon at 3 PM and the People's Choice Awards winner will be announced online on Sunday once voting ends.


Group around a bonfire on the beach during Winterfest


This is the one time of the year in Lake Geneva that we really hope for cold weather, but don't worry you'll have plenty of opportunity to warm up during the festival weekend. Friday and Saturday nights you'll find Bonfires on the Beach where you can gather with friends and family and enjoy a cup of warm cocoa and S'mores around a warm fire while watching some amazing fire arts performances. The local scouts and others generously set up warming tents near the snow sculptures in Flat Iron Park on Saturday and Sunday where you can enjoy warm beverages and other snacks sheltered away from the windy lakefront.


Finished snow sculpture at the Riviera


Need a break from the outside all together? You'll find entertainment and even more concessions inside the historic Riviera Ballroom. Here is where you can vote for the People's Choice Award and take a rest while listening to some music. So grab the family and stop in to take a rest, warm up, listen to some lively music, and enjoy a tasty snack to fuel you up before you head downtown to see all of the wonderful ice sculptures outside many of our local businesses.


People viewing ice sculptures in downtown


The Downtown Ice Sculpture Walk is set up outside local businesses in the downtown district with 40 plus amazing ice sculptures that offer some great photo opportunities for the family! And while you're downtown you can pick up a reminder of your trip from one of our many gift stores. The shopping in Lake Geneva is a real delight! You can find tasty treats, spirited gifts, and cozy accessories to help you stay warm while strolling the snow and ice sculptures. Be sure to capture the fun you're having with some pictures!


Activities Throughout Town to Warm You Up

Menu items from Oakfire Pizza


But wait, there's more! We know you can only spend so much time outside before those toes and fingers start complaining. There are lots of options around town for some indoor fun that keeps you right in the heart of the fun! Many of our local restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues are offering some great events an activities during Winterfest so be sure to check out our event calendar for the latest happenings. You'll find lots of live music, food and drink specials, custom cocktails, and activities for the kiddos. 


Inside the Geneva Lake Museum


We've got a few suggestions of some fun things you and the family can do in between your outdoor adventures. Try your hand at some candle making at The Candle Mercantile, or feed your competitive side with a family axe throwing contest at Lake Geneva Axe Throwing. Make your way to Lake Geneva Billiards to warm up around the pool table or book yourself an escape room at Lake Geneva Clue Room for some healthy family collaboration. If you want to know what winters were like when the first visitors came to Lake Geneva take a stroll to the Geneva Lake Museum for a look back at the winters that came before. Or stop into Gallery 223 and check out art from local artists at the gallery run by the Geneva Lake Arts Foundation. No matter what you choose to do between snow and ice sculpture viewing you are sure to enjoy it!


Fun outdoor activities to do with the family

Boys skiing at Mountaintop Ski HIll 

If you are here for a long weekend of winter fun be sure to check out some of the other fun winter activities in town. You could try some skiing, snowboarding & tubing at The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort. With 20 runs, six lifts, and a six-acre terrain park the whole family will have fun. Rentals are available and the resort hosts a fun Winter Carnival on February 3rd that can round out your weekend.

Maybe skiing is not your thing? The Lake Geneva area has so many opportunities to hike in parks and nature areas, along the shoreline, and within different hotel property trails. Rent a pair of snowshoes at Clear Water Outdoor to hit one of our parks where you can explore and create your own trails. Or venture out to one of the beautiful resorts to see a more untouched part of their magnificent properties.  And when weather conditions are cooperative, Lake Geneva Zip Lines & Adventures have over 12 miles of wooded trails to explore and winter ziplining with one of their day passes!


Family ice skating at Grand Geneva

No outdoor Winterfest visit would be complete without ice skating! Glide across one of our lakeside areas (if the weather cooperates) or visit one of the custom-built rinks at local resorts surrounded by twinkling lights, snow dusted trees, and of course the best spots to grab a hot cocoa. Skate rentals are available at the resorts but bring your own if you want to try skating on Geneva Lake.

No matter how you choose to spend your Winterfest weekend, you are sure to make some great memories! Take a lot of pictures to share with you friends and family and be sure to post on your social channels and tag them with #WINTERFESTLG so we can see how much fun you are having!