At The Lake’s Guide to Winterfest 2024

Did you know that Lake Geneva is the only place in the U.S. to see a national snow-sculpting competition? The 29th annual Winterfest celebration will kick off Wednesday, January 31st, in Flat Iron Park and the Driehaus Family Plaza at the Riviera, when 15 teams from Maine to Alaska begin creating works of art from giant blocks of snow.

As always, the U.S. National Snowsculpting Competition serves as the centerpiece of the five-day festival, but the popular winter event also includes bonfires on the beach, live entertainment, smaller ice sculpture displays and themed food and beverage offerings. In addition, several businesses in the area host sales, specials and even 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 Jan. 31 through Feb. 4 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, January 31, and continue through 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 3. 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 (including a people’s choice winner) 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. The cost for metered parking is $2 per hour Monday through Thursday, and $4 per hour Friday through Sunday. 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 free 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 Riviera Building, which is also where you’ll find delicious food and hot beverages available for purchase. A handful of concessions will be scattered around the event as well.

For a more traditional dining experience, head to one of downtown Lake Geneva’s popular bars or restaurants. Lake City SocialPopeye’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 the main attraction — viewing the snow sculptors at work —  there are several other ways to have Winterfest fun. The Downtown Ice Sculpture Walk will be on display in front of shops and businesses throughout downtown Lake Geneva. Bonfires on the Beach will take place from 4-8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings, featuring s’mores, hot chocolate and exciting live entertainment by Fox River Fire Arts.

Throughout Winterfest, Maxwell Mansion will host Freaky Tiki Winterfest at its Apothecary Bar and Speakeasy Bar, complete with a tiki igloo.

What else is there to do in the general area?

On Saturday, Feb. 3, the Village of Fontana on the west end of the lake will host a “Party on the Ice,” as part of Fontana Winterfest. There will also be an art show at The Abbey Resort from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Also on Saturday, Grand Geneva Resort and Spa hosts its Winter Carnival at their Mountaintop Ski Area. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledding and several other fun games and events. (This is a separate event from Winterfest, so you’ll need to purchase tickets.)

Other winter activities in the area include several options for downhill skiing, as well as cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating if the weather cooperates. Winter Realms (formerly Ice Castles) plans to open in January at nearby Geneva National. There are also plenty of fun, local indoor activities if you’re looking to get out of the cold. And for a memorable dinner experience, try igloo dining.

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