Don’t sit wasting 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 2023.
The Alpine Biergarten at Buffalo Creek Brewing offers a great way to taste handcrafted brews outdoors in a cozy, intimate setting. The Historic Downtown Long Grove, Lake County Libation Trail partner offers six stocked firepits, patio and barrel table heat lamps, sheepskin seat covers, twinkle lighting and over two acres of winter wonderland to explore and stay socially distanced from others. The award-winning brewery is known for its 42K Belgian Strong Ale, Marrvelous German-Style Kölsch, and Xerxes Chocolate Bacon Stout. The Alpine Biergarten is open in this setting through late March.
We now enter 12 months of that “wascally wabbit.” Hawthorn Mall hosts festivities for its Year of the Rabbit celebration in the lower level of H&M court. This Chinese Lunar New Year signifies longevity, peace, and prosperity in the country above’s culture. The Vernon Hills box social is highlighted by a performance by the Korean Performing Arts Institute of Chicago, fare samplings from CM Chicken and Tous Les Jours, a story time event at Barbara’s Bookstore, a Mahjong game table at BHOP Esports, and paper lantern craft-making at The Painted Penguins. Visitors can also delight in face painting, balloon twisting, tying a red ribbon to the wishing tree for good fortune, dancing, and a raffle. Visit ShopHawthornMall.com to register.
The city’s famed ArtWauk “paints” the town with sculptures, film, theatre, comedy, music, performance art, food, and more. The free admission Saturday art event opens the doors to all art galleries throughout Waukegan. So fill your artistic void with the ever-extravagant monthly ArtWauk in Downtown Waukegan. In addition to the portraits, sculptures, and other creative vibes, munch on some delicious dining options downtown or feel the flow of the tunes from the live entertainment. Lake County Libation Trail partners Nightshade and Dark’s Pandemonium Brewing, and Oppidan Spirits offer delectable brews and spirits in the downtown area of the City of Progress.
“Wine is bottled poetry,” stated by “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” author Robert Louis Stevenson. Stroll through the quaint downtown for the village’s Winter Wine Walk. While sampling different vino flavors, visit Antioch’s unique stores and restaurants. The event admission includes a commemorative wine glass, event menu, divine eats, a bottle of wine, and entry to a free raffle drawing. Visitors can purchase online at Antioch.IL.Gov.
The ski vibe in Long Grove is real. All winterlong, the Lake County Libation Trail partner is hosting imbibers for its Après Biergarten, however Buffalo Creek Brewing Co. is throwing an indoor/outdoor Alpine Fest this year. The free admission party is highlighted by live music, a food truck, a few contests like a stein-holiding in the snow competition and more. Bring the youngsters as the Long Grove brewery will have hot chocolate.
Prepping for the land of lakes great outdoors this spring? Grab your tackle box, hookline and sinker and head to the 13th annual LVVA Ice Fishing Derby at Bangs Lake in Wauconda. The weekend-long virtual competition has become one of the largest and most successful ice fishing events in Northern Illinois. Anglers participate by downloading the FishDonkey App. All fish must be caught on Wauconda’s Bangs Lake only. The FishDonkey App has the ability to take a timestamped image of your catch, and track your location to ensure the Bangs Lake hook, line and sinker. Casters can take home the prizes in categories like Biggest Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Perch, Crappie, Walleye and Bluegill/Pumpkinseed. Largest catch honors are highlighted by an overnight stay and fishing charter at Red Deer Resort in Hayward, WI, a $600 gift certificate to McQuoids Inn in Isle, MN, $100 VISA gift cards and other wildcard prizes and raffles. Young anglers can participate too as the award for Biggest Fish for All Categories receives a CLAM Bucket full of assorted gift items. The event benefits Veterans Path to Hope Outdoors. The Wauconda derby begins on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m., and runs through Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
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 with these glasses of “liquid courage.” The Lake County Libation Trail is highlighted by nearly 30 of the most delectable flavors from locally-sourced ingredients. Whether your adult beverage is an ice-cold frothy lager, a dry red merlot or an old-fashioned on the rocks, Lake County has precisely what you need to make your taste buds dance. This Check-in Challenge runs all of February. When craft drinkers arrive at a participating location, they check in using their mobile pass to show they're in attendance. If libation-ers check in to five or more participants of the Lake County Libation Trail by February 28, they are entered into a sweepstakes to win a prize. Get Trail Hoppin'!
Lace up your running shoes and sprint to Half Day Brewing Company for the inaugural Frozen Tundra 5K. The out-and-back run along the Des Plaines River Trail begins and ends at the Lincolnshire Brewery and is followed by a post-race beach party with music from DJ Lou, craft brews, delicious bites, awards and more. 5K participants will receive a T-shirt, lei, sunglasses, a $15 Half Day Brewing gift cards,a $15 Tap House Grill gift card a finisher’s medal and more while supplies last. Not partaking in the run? Attendees may purchase tickets for the beach party separately. Be sure to sip on the Lincolnshire brewhub's Frozen Tundra IPA during the after party.
Looking to embrace the snow and cold with some fun outdoor activities? Make your presence known at Wauconda Winterfest that takes over Lindy’s Landing Restaurant and Marina and neighboring Wauconda parks and lakes the first weekend of February. The two-day festival includes a pond hockey tournament, Lindy’s Fat Bike Ride, an ice fishing demonstration on the Bangs Lake, ice skating, a soup-making competition called “Soup Smackdown” where visitors can taste and judge on homemade offerings, raffles, a Kid Zone, a visit from canines Chase and Marshall made famous by the hit show “Paw Patrol,” a bottle golf tournament, a “Winterfest Base Camp” where families can pitch a tent and order take out from local land of lakes eateries, a burling competition and more. Visit WaucondaWinterfest.com for a full schedule and price points of the event.
Join the Lake County Forest Preserves District for its virtual event honoring Black History Month. “The 40th Annual Profiles in Excellence: Women in Sports" showcases inspiring presentations and performances. The experience is also is highlighted by experiences and stories shared by African American Lake County dwellers and keynote speaker China Jude, who's the Denver Broncos' Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Visitors must secure a ticket in advance at LCFPD.org to join this program.
Take a line out of Miley Cyrus's library because "We Can't Stop the Party! The Mundelein school's celebration is a 60-year old spectacular as they celebrate six decades running this show full of talent, casinos, libations and more. The "Celebrate the Seasons" theme of this year's annual Street Scenes festivities includes 50 live bands, improv, theater, a cabaret-style student show, local eats and drinks. Lake County Libation Trail partner's Buffalo Creek Brewing, Half Day Brewing Co., Mickey Finn's Brewery, Tighthead Brewing Co. and more will be in attendance.
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt," said renowned cartoonist and author of "The Peanuts" Charles M. Schultz. Visit Lambs Farm with the little ones for cookies, cocoa, story time and a few art projects celebrating Valentine's Day.
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.
Make it a "you two" evening of dinner, comedy and romance by Holiday Inn Convention Center’s Valentine’s Day celebration. The event also features radio personalities from 95 WIIL Rock. Chuckle till your sides ache with the stand-up stylings of Mike Cannon, Don Wilson, 95 WIIL Rock's own Tom Kief and an accoustic guitar set with Keith Magnine. Hotel rooms are available starting at $119.
Get your ice fishing on Lake County. The dual angler event and winter party have a ton of longevity and history to fulfill your snow fishing expeditions. Pack up your lines, hooks and spears, and go for the gold trying to nab some fresh pike, crappie, perch and bluegill at the Land of Lincoln state park.
Roses are red; violets are blue. Orchids range from gray, purple, pink and red, and the Chicago Botanic Garden is hosting a show of it, too. The Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show, a one-of-a-kind display in the Chicago area, features the striking Phalaenopsis ‘V3’ orchid this year. More than 12,000 brilliantly beautiful and unusual orchids from around the world will extend throughout the Regenstein Center, including lush presentations within the greenhouses. There are several unique events during the show including a preview, live music and more. On select Thursday nights, visitors can wet their whistles and view the flowers up close during the Glencoe spot's Orchid's After Hours.
The adult beverage, berry drink is always the perfect libation to have a celebration for; especially when it's brisk outside. 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.
Black History Month is not only celebrated in the United States, but it's also an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. However, just the two aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries celebrate it in February. Historian Carter G. Woodson created it in 1926 as it also is the same month that notable Civil Rights figures Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln's born days fall. Zion-Benton High School and the Zion Park District host a program that includes a diaspora of singing, dancing, guest speakers and poets. The family-friendly celebration also provides a delicious dinner following the program.
Who doesn’t like waffles, pancakes or French toast doused in syrup? To kickoff the sweet sap hikes looming in March, the Lake County Forest Preserves host its inaugural Maple Syrup Festival at Ryerson Conservation Area. Families are invited to learn about the maple syrup process and other activities. Daisy from PBS Kids "Nature Cat" will be in attendance for a meet and greet. The family won’t be sappy about attending, but maple they ’ll be enticed; especially just days before and after National Pancake Day (on March 12).
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. The February fest also features a 1920s speakeasy/prohibition theme and is highlghted by live tunes, axe throwing, and an escape room. Admission includes 25 beer/beverage sampling tickets and a souvenir glass. The event also features food, vendors and games. Lake County Libation Trail partners in attendance at this event include Black Lung Brewing Company in Round Lake Beach, Bosacki's Brewery in Mundelein, Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove, Half Day Brewing Co. in Lincolnshire Light the Lamp Brewery in Grayslake, Liquid Love Brewing in Buffalo Grove, Nightshade and Dark's Pandemonium Brewing Company in Waukegan, Mickey Finn's Brewery in Libertyville, Harbor Brewing Co. in Winthrop Harbor and Lake Villa, Ravinia Brewing Co in Highland Park, Phase Three Brewing Co. in Lake Zurich, Tigthead Brewing Co. in Mundelein and more.
Invest your fest feels on a festive festival-infested Friday through Sunday in Libertyville. The weekend kicks off with its normal First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville highlighted by various delectable drinks, mouth-watering eats, live entertainment and more as visitors peruse through local mom and pop shops offering promotional sales.
Dress in your bestest flapper and zoot suit garb for a unique evening at Lake County Libation Trail partner 28 Mile Distilling. The Highwood event features live tunes from Mike and the Funktastics, swing daning performances, a demonstration of the Charleston and classic cocktails from the 1920s. "If there's anything that you want, just ask for it, old sport."
Erin Go Bragh Lake County. For two weekends at Lake County's eldest brewpub Mickey Finn's will host its annual St. Paddy's Day festivities highlighted by traditional Irish eats, delectable brew and a ton of live acts. On St. Patrick's Day proper, 95 WIIL Rock will be in attendance with a live broadcast.
Take the family out for a day of adventure as the GLMV Area Chamber of Commerce hosts of its annual Multi-Chamber Extreme Block Party Family Expo & Taste. This event will feature 100-plus local vendors, live entertainment, 50+ raffle prizes, face painting, food samples, product demonstrations from local eateries and so much more. This festive event is for all ages and free of admission.
Yearning for a vacation like the Griswold family's cross-country excursion? Join the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center for the RV Outlet Show this weekend. New models including class A-C gas motorhomes, diesel pusher motorhomes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers, fold downs, hybrids and more will line the floors of the massive 65,000 square foot facility in Grayslake. Hit the road for the Lake County Fairgrounds!