Winter Festivals in Lake County 2020

Don’t sit waisting your winter with chestnuts roasting by an open fire. When the temperature drops, a winter festival in Lake County will cure your cabin fever.

Just when you thought you had an open day in your schedule, Lake County returns for the win with a ton of festivities celebrating our coldest months of the year.

From exploring a Lake County winter wonderland to playdates with cold-blooded creatures to escaping reality gazing at stunning snowy murals to hunting underwater dwellers and a slew of celebrations, Lake County is the place to indulge in frosty festivities.

Here are your top winter festivals in Lake County 2020.

Lake County Libation Trail Month (All January)

Let’s toast to the Lake County Libation Trail! “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” as suds aficionados, vino connoisseurs and spirit enthusiasts will be elated to experience what Lake County has to offer. The trail is highlighted by 21 participants creating adult beverages from locally sourced ingredients. Venture on the LC Libation Trail all year-round. Visit five of these participants in January, check-in and have the opportunity to win tickets to the Lake County Craft Beer Festival on February 22 at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Grayslake. The Check-In Challenge runs through January 31. Cheers, Salud, Prost and Kan-pie!

Vernon Hills Winter Fest (January 11) *CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER*

The Vernon Hills Winter Fest is a celebration of outdoor goodness and recreation for you and the family on Saturday, January 11, from 11 am-2 pm. Don’t forget to bring your sleds and saucers, because this event is held at Century Park North – which is right by the sled hills! Besides speeding down the hills, you can also enjoy dog sled demonstrations, ice sculpting, campfires and ice skating.

Gurnee’s Frosty Fest (January 11)

What better way to spend your Saturday evening than playing in reindeer games while munching on some S’mores at Frosty Fest. There’s also no fest in Gurnee without the likes of Frosty the Snowman. Visit with this jolly happy soul. You can help Frosty make Snowman friends with a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal. No pre-registration is required in this snowy affair.

Winter Fest in Highland Park (January 11)

The Park District of Highland Park is hosting its Winter Fest at Centennial Ice Arena. The celebration is highlighted by ice skating, open gymnastics and hockey sessions. A skating instructor will be in attendance, providing novice ice dancers, speed skaters and hockey lamplighters with group lessons. Winter-themed characters will roam the ice arena for a meet and greet and photo-ops. The celebration also offers bites for purchase.

Winter Fest at Volo Bog State Natural Area (January 12)

In the wintertime, some are prone to be indoors as couch potatoes, while others are more adventurous in the fluffy snow. The Volo Bog Winterfest provides family-friendly experience for all parties as this Sunday event features live music, storytelling, photo contest awards, sing-alongs, arts and crafts, hikes, snow sculpting, cross-country skiing and a slew of other pleasant winter-themed festivities.

ArtWauk in Waukegan (January 18, February 15 and March 21)

It’s an art revolution party in Waukegan, and everyone’s invited. It’s a little bit of art, it’s a little bit of music and plenty of delightful dishes as you walk down Genesee Street at ArtWauk. Local artists will be in attendance at this monthly downtown event displaying their many different art mediums that range from portraits, sculptures, digital, photography, film, comedy and so much more. Hop on and off the free Greentown Trolley when going from gallery to shop to the restaurants.

Lincolnshire Skate Night (January 25)

Show off your spirals, twizzles and jumps at Lincolnshire Skate Night. Gather the family, grab your skates, and head to the North Park Ice Rink. Food Trucks are on hand to serve delicious eats, and the ice rink also will provide winter treats like hot chocolate, s’mores and free coffee. After showcasing your skating skills, escape into the night sky for a magnificent firework display. Free skates are available while supplies last. This is the backup day of the event.

LVVA Annual Fishing Derby in Wauconda (January 25)

Bundle up and pack your tackle bait and rod. Join your fellow anglers at the LVVA Annual Fishing Derby in Wauconda. Entry forms can be downloaded to streamline the registration process before arriving. Registration begins at 5 a.m., and the fishing starts at 7 a.m. Prizes will be awarded to the fisher with the most abundant northern, bass crappie, bluegill and perch. There will also be side raffles for additional rewards. During the “Star Bangled Banner,” a special flyover by a North American T-6 will make a special flyover appearance. Smitty’s Bait & Tackle will have bait available.

2020 Winter Beer Riot in Antioch (January 25)

“Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer!” The Antioch VFW Post is hosting a beer box social. Thirty breweries will be in attendance, and suds aficionados can taste a rare Goose Island bee brewed in 2018. Tickets include tests from the breweries and a random six pack of beer. The first 200 visitors will take home a debonair tasting glass.

Long Grove Cocoa Crawl (February 1)

You’ll feel like Charlie in a chocolate factory. Long Grove’s second installment of the cocoa crawl does not disappoint. Visit the cobblestone village for this free family-friendly chocolatey experience as multiple merchants will be serving samples of their cocoa treats. Buffalo Creek Brewing Co is serving their Chocolate Bacon Stout (known as Xerxes), Long Grove Confectionery is sampling their hot chocolate bark, Village Tavern is distributing their Tavern Toffee. There is a slew more divine cocoa treats to taste. Pamper your sweet tooth.

Street Scenes at Carmel High School in Mundelein (February 7-8)

Carmel Catholic’s largest annual fundraiser and a spectacular nightlife venue. The school is transformed into a party town atmosphere with more than 50-live bands, a gigantic casino, drinks and eats from Lake County restaurants, comedy clubs and the famous student show in the Carmel auditorium. Carmel’s gym is converted into a Las Vegas-style casino with Blackjack, poker, roulette, Wheel of Fortune and other favorite games.

Chain O’ Lakes Fishing Derby and Winter Festival (February 8-9)


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Walking through winter wonderland

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The Antioch event is one of the oldest continuous winter festivals in Illinois. The derby and festival are headquartered on Channel Lake of the chain. Visitors can enter for hourly prizes for the smallest and biggest fish in 10 different categories. The most common fishes caught in the derby are catfish, long northern pike or chubby bass. There is also an ice shanty contest as well as an auction for children and adults.

Let’s Wine About Winter in Libertyville (February 22)

Waaah, baby, it’s cold outside. Whine about the frigid temps with a few friends and your bestest buddy – vino. Stroll through downtown Libertyville as MainStreet merchants open their doors to warm visitors from head to toe with tasty wines at each stop along the way. Non-alcoholic refreshments will also be provided. A limited number of glasses will be sold. Each $30 ticket includes a tasting glass, unlimited tastings, and a $10 merchant coupon redeemable at participating stores.

Lake County Craft Beer Festival in Grayslake (February 22)

Visit the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Grayslake to the annual Lake County Craft Beer Fest. Experience superior craft beers, tasty spirits, wine and delicious Lake County eats. Mingle with suds aficionados and hear some live tunes. Admission includes 25 beer/beverage sampling tickets and a souvenir glass. The event also features food, vendors and games. By participating in the Lake County Libation Trail Check-in Challenge running through January 31, you can win free tickets to the event. All you have to do is visit five of our suds, spirit or vino makers and indicate that you’re in attendance. By checking in, you’ve enrolled in the sweepstakes of the Grayslake suds fest.

Lake County Restaurant Week: 10 Days to Savor (February 28-March 8)

Unhitch that belt buckle one less notch, because it’s that time of year to treat your taste buds to a flavor utopia. Lake County Restaurant Week: Ten Days To Savor runs February 28-March 8. The 10-day foodie frenzy is a multi-platform campaign that will highlight Lake County restaurants with their special prix-fixe menus, food and drink pairings, chef demonstrations, live entertainment and other lucrative promotions to attract new guests.

Annual Black History Celebration in Zion (February 29)

Celebrate Black History Month with friends and family this weekend at the annual Black History Program at Zion-Benton Township High School. The free Zion Park District event features singing, dancing, guest speakers, poetry and more. Come hungry because lunch will be served following the program.

Vernon Hills Craft Beer Festival (February 29)

This Vernon Hills event is a must-do experience for beer connoisseurs. This is the fourth installment of the Vernon Hills Craft Beer Festival at the Sullivan Community Center. More than 15 area breweries will be pouring samples of their frothy creations. With admission, attendees receive a free tasting glass. Divine eats are available for purchase. The brew party will also provide live music. Attendees must be 21 to enter.

Northern Illinois Boat Show in Grayslake (March 5-8)

You only witness the best vessels on the waters of Lake County. Embrace that taste of summer in Lake County at the Northern Illinois Boat Show. You and the family will see the latest in pontoons, family runabouts, ski boats, jet boats, fishing boats, bayliners, alumacrafts, sea ray boats and then some at this festive event at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Events Center in Grayslake. Many Lake County vendors will be exhibitors at the four-day event.

First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville (March 7)


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Share your FAVORITE Libertyville photo and tag it with #ilovelibertyville!!! 📷📷📷 . From November 01 through December 31, @mainstreetlibertyville is hosting our first ever photo challenge!!! 📷🤗💗 . There are THREE different types of themes in this challenge, #community #villagescapes #dineshopplaylive. . Visit our Facebook page for more information and to start submitting your photos!!! We can’t wait to see how much you love #libertyville!!! . . . By entering the challenge you grant MainStreet Libertyville a royalty-free non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute and reproduce, in whole or in part, in MainStreet Libertyville social media or online website. Any photograph will include a credit, as feasible. . #mainstreet #mainstreet60048 #shop #localbusiness #thisplacematters #community #family #fun #friends #enjoyyourself #laugh #drink #eat #havefun #instacool #instagood #instadaily #igdaily #picoftheday #instalike #photochallenge #suburbchallenge #winterchallenge #novemberchallenge #decemberchallenge

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MainStreet Libertyville invites one and all to their first of the year, monthly celebration of First Fridays event. A variety of fantastic drinks, mouth-watering eats and live entertainment surrounds the event as you peruse the Lake County local mom and pop stores offering promotional sales. Be there or be square! The Friday celebration is a free admission event.

Reptile Rampage at the Wildlife Discovery Center (March 8)

Enthusiasts and experts from around the region will showcase more than 150 cold-blooded creatures at the Wildlife Discovery Museum’s Reptile Rampage event this Sunday at the Lake Forest Recreation Center. Attendees at the Lake Forest reptilian exhibition will have the opportunity to meet, handle and learn about snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises and more from experts at various universities, zoos, museums, nature centers and more.

For more winter festivals in Lake County, click here. To learn about Lake County Libation Trail Month, continue here.

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