Lake Geneva’s 28th annual Winterfest will kick off Wednesday, February 1, in Flat Iron Park and the Driehaus Family Plaza at the Riviera, when 15 teams from around the country begin creating works of art from giant blocks of snow. As in years past, the U.S. National Snowsculpting Competition serves as the centerpiece of the five-day festival, which also includes bonfires on the beach, smaller ice sculpture displays, themed food and beverage options, and a children’s snow sculpture garden and snow zone. In addition, local businesses in the area host sales, specials and even an ice bar, snow painting and a tiki igloo!
Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy Winterfest this year:
Where and when can I view the snow sculptures?
Winterfest runs from Feb. 1-5 this year, and snow sculpting takes place in Flat Iron Park and on the Driehaus Family Plaza of the Riviera. Teams can begin sculpting the large blocks of snow at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 1, and continue through 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 4. Some teams work late into the evenings each day to achieve their vision, as the temperatures are colder at night, making the snow easier to work with. Winners are announced in a ceremony inside the Riviera Ballroom at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The sculptures remain up until they melt, so check the weather report if you’re looking to see them after Saturday!
How much does it cost?
Winterfest is a free event sponsored by VISIT Lake Geneva, but you may need to budget for lodging, parking, food, beverages and tickets to adjacent events and activities sponsored by private businesses.
Where should I park?
Metered street parking is available throughout downtown Lake Geneva, but due to the event’s popularity, you should be prepared to walk several blocks. To make paying for your parking easier, you can download the ParkMobile app ahead of time.
On Saturday and Sunday, VISIT Lake Geneva will also sponsor a park-and-ride shuttle with pickup locations in the Park-N-Ride lot at Sheridan Springs Road and Edwards Boulevard (near ServPro) and Lake Geneva’s Home Depot parking lot. The shuttles run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and drop off at US Bank, about three blocks from Flat Iron Park.
Where can I find food, beverages and restrooms?
There are public restrooms inside the newly renovated Riviera Building, which is also where you’ll find comfort food and hot beverages available for purchase. A handful of food trucks will be scattered around the event.
For a more traditional dining experience, head to one of downtown Lake Geneva’s popular bars or restaurants. Lake City Social, Popeye’s and Oakfire Pizza are all within a one-block walk of the snow sculptures.
What else is there to do around Winterfest?
In addition to viewing the snow sculptors at work, there are several other ways to have Winterfest fun. The Downtown Ice Sculpture Walk will include 32 ice sculptures peppered throughout the sidewalks in front of downtown shops and businesses. Bonfires on the Beach provides a space for visitors to warm up on the Riviera Beach.
The Baker House will bring back its popular Ice Bar on the hotel’s front lawn. And on Sunday, Maxwell Mansion will host Freaky Tiki Winterfest, including snow painting, hot chocolate bombs and a tiki igloo with family-friendly activities.
What else is there to do in the general area?
On Saturday, February 4, Grand Geneva Resort and Spa hosts its Winter Carnival at their Mountaintop Ski Area. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, human bowling on the sledding hill, candy scrambles and a torchlight parade and fireworks. (This is a separate event from Winterfest, so you’ll need to purchase tickets.)
Or for more skiing opportunities for the whole family, head to Elkhorn’s Alpine Valley Ski Resort. Another popular winter activity in the area is beer tasting in local taprooms like Topsy Turvy Brewery and the Geneva Taphouse, or wine tasting at The Bottle Shop or Geneva Lake Distilling + Studio Winery.
For a memorable dining experience, reserve an igloo at one of the area’s restaurants offering this fun winter dining experience. Or enjoy an evening of entertainment at Tristan Crist Magic Theatre, or the Dancing Horses Theatre in Delavan.