Winter Festivals in Lake County 2018

The weather outside is extremely frightful, but winter festivals in Lake County are so delightful. But since we have no place to go…wait a tick, we have plenty of places to go.

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 in beautiful snowy murals to hunting underwater dwellers and so many other events, Lake County is the place to indulge in frosty festivities.

Here are your top winter festivals in Lake County 2018.


Gurnee Frosty Fest

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.

Saturday, January 13; 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Bittersweet Golf Club, 875 Almond Rd., Gurnee.

Vernon Hills Winter Fest

The Vernon Hills Winter Fest is a celebration of outdoor goodness and recreation for you and the family on Saturday, January 13 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.

Saturday, January 13; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Century Park, 1001 Lakeview Pkwy., Vernon Hills.

Winterfest at Volo Bog State Natural Area

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-fun 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 fun winter-themed festivities. The natural area will be sure to warm you up with delicious hot cocoa and coffee.

Sunday, January 14; noon-4 p.m. Volo Bog State Natural Area, 28478 W. Brandenburg Rd., Ingleside.

Just sippin 🍷 #antiochwinewalk #wine #lotsofwine #welovewine #latergram

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Antioch Winter Wine Walk

“Wine is bottled poetry,” stated by “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” author Robert Louis Stevenson. Take a stroll through beautiful downtown Antioch for their Winter Wine Walk. While sampling on different vino flavors, visit the unique stores and restaurants Antioch has to offer. The event admission includes a commemorative wine glass, event menu, divine eats, a bottle of wine and entrance to a free drawing.

Saturday, January 20; 12:45-4:15 p.m. Check-in at noon at the senior center. Admission: $40. Downtown Antioch.



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 fun, free Greentown Trolley when going from gallery to shop to restaurant.

The third Saturday of each month.

LVVA Annual Fishing Derby

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 prizes. 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.

Saturday, January 27; 7 a.m. Lake View Villa Park, Monroe just south of Bonner Road, Wauconda.

Annual Lake County Bridal Show

Planning a wedding? This weekend head to the most massive wedding expo in the area – the Lake and Cook County Wedding Expo at DoubleTree Mundelein. Brides-to-be don’t miss this show for all your bridal needs. Visit with over 60 vendors offering everything needed to make your wedding day special, plus a panel of experts providing the latest tips, tricks and ideas to help your day go as smoothly as possible.

Sunday, January 28; noon-3 p.m. DoubleTree by Hilton Mundelein, 510 E. Il Route 83, Mundelein.

Street Scenes: Goes Tropical 

Carmel Catholic High School’s Street Scenes celebrates its 44th year in existence. This year’s theme is ‘Goes Tropical.’ The school is transformed into a party town atmosphere with more than 50-live bands, a huge 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. Attendees must be 21 and older.

Friday-Saturday, February 9-10. Caramel Catholic High School, 1 Carmel Pkwy., Mundelein.

Annual Chain O’ Lakes Fishing Derby and Winter Festival

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 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.

Saturday-Sunday, February 10-11; Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Thirsty Beach, 42273 N. Woodbine Ave., Antioch.

Northern Illinois Golf Expo

In the second installment of the event at the fairgrounds in Grayslake, is the most significant vendor and attendee golf expo. ‘The Midwest’s Friendliest Golf Expo,’ will have a slew of vendors and displays to prepare for the 2018 golf season. Lake County is host to KPMG Woman’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes and Rust-Oleum Championship at Ivanhoe.

Friday-Sunday, February 16-18; Fri. noon-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Rd., Grayslake.

Let’s Wine About Winter

Stroll through historic downtown Libertyville as MainStreet merchants open their doors to warm visitors from head to toe with tasty wines at each stop along the way. Refreshments also 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.

Saturday, February 17; 1-4 p.m. Admission $35. MainStreet Libertyville, Libertyville.



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Lake County Craft Beer Festival

Make your way to Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake to the Fourth Annual Lake County Craft Beer Fest. With a Spring Break Beach Party theme, experience superior craft beers, tasty spirits, wine and delicious Lake County eats. Mingle with suds aficionados and hear some live tunes from The Blue Marlin Band. Admission includes 25 beer/beverage sampling tickets and a souvenir glass. The event also features food, vendors and fun games.

Saturday, February 24; 5-10 p.m. Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Rd., Grayslake.

Northern Illinois Boat Show

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 pontoon, 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

Thursday-Sunday, March 1-4; Admission: $6-$8. Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Rd., Grayslake.

Lake County Restaurant Week

Take 10 days to savor Lake County Restaurant Week’s delicious glory on a slew of different dishes. Lake County Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to explore new eats and enjoy old favorites. Over 50 restaurants are participating and featuring either a prix fixe menu or special Restaurant Week offer. This 10-day event only happens once a year, so make your reservations now. The food frenzy runs through March 11. Your taste buds will never forgive you if you fail to indulge.

Friday-Sunday, March 2-11. Various Lake County locations.

Vernon Hills Annual Craft Beer Festival

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 from Luke’s of Mundelein and live entertainment will be provided by Dave Rudolf. Attendees must be 21 to enter.

Saturday, March 3; 5-9 p.m. Admission: $35. Sullivan Community Center, 635 N. Aspen Dr., Vernon Hills.

Reptile Rampage

Has the Geico Gecko made you yearn to see a real reptile up close and personal? Lake Forest’s Recreation Center has what you’re looking for and then some as they host Wildlife Discovery Center’s Reptile Rampage. Take the family to see 150 unique reptiles including the center’s rattlesnake collection, lizards, snakes of all shapes and sizes, turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, an assortment of frogs and more. In attendance will be the center’s renowned  American Alligator ‘Bubba.’ Besides Bubba, you will have a chance to receive all of the answers to your questions as some of the Midwest’s reptile aficionados from local zoos, universities, museums, nature centers and private collection experts will be on hand. Besides the plethora of reptiles, you must meet, there will be children’s arts and craft activities, face painting, a Scout patch challenge and an auction.

Sunday, March 11; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Lake Forest Recreation Center, 400 Hastings Rd., Lake Forest.

To view other winter festivals in Lake County, click here.

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