Winter need not be feared in Lake Geneva, in the southeast corner of the state. The city’s signature cold-weather event Winterfest 2019 happens from January 26 through February 3, with the National Snow Sculpting Championship taking place during part of Winterfest (from January 30 through February 3) as a backdrop. And Joe Tominaro with VISIT Lake Geneva says Winterfest 2019 offers new ways this year to embrace the cold: “In winter in Lake Geneva, there’s no reason to hibernate. You might as well just celebrate.”

Ice Castles

Although Winterfest officially kicks off January 26 and runs through February 3, the Ice Castles spectacle on the lakefront adjacent to the city’s Riviera Ballroom will likely open sooner than that, depending on ideal weather conditions. Towering up to 40 feet, these interactive frozen wonders will be just one of six in the country. Guests can walk, crawl and slide their way through. Advance ticket sales are strongly encouraged.

Hovercraft Challenge

On January 26, the first Lake Geneva Hovercraft Challenge hits the ice at the boat launch on Wrigley Drive. The country’s most skilled hovercraft pilots will compete in a timed obstacle course. A meet-and-greet with the pilots is free, and rides are available for $20 for adults and for $15 for children 12 and under. A world speed record attempt happens at 3:30 p.m.

1920s Supper Club Experience

Travel back in time to the Roaring ’20s at Mars Resort, where gangsters like Al Capone hid out. Brand-new to Winterfest, the January 29 event at this iconic 1923 supper club will feature all things speakeasy. The best part is there’s no password needed or cover charge! Expect to sing around the piano bar and socialize the way people did before they had an smartphone glued to their hand.

Shake, Rattle & Roll

The Grandview Restaurant at the Geneva Inn will do more than serve dinner to guests on February 1. Prior to a four-course dinner, guests will partake in a hands-on cocktail workshop. The evening will cap off with a performance by Tony Ocean. Tickets are $60.  

Photo courtesy of Ice Castles.


Lisa Schmelz is an award-winning freelancer writer, whose work has appeared in major daily newspapers, national magazines and books. She lives in Delavan, where she also works as a special education teacher.