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8 Fun Winter Events in Wisconsin

Guide to the top Wisconsin winter events, including the best winter festivals in December and January

With scenic landscape and numerous fun winter events in Wisconsin, the Badger State is worth visiting during the colder season.

Lake Winnebago is known as one of the best places for ice fishing in the USA, and many other places in Wisconsin offer various winter sports activities that can enhance your winter vacation.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Wisconsin for the holiday season or considering visiting the state for a romantic getaway in February, there are plenty of winter festivals in Wisconsin to add to your bucket list!

Are you looking for Wisconsin winter events to attend for your next trip?

In this post, I’ll share some recommendations about what to do in winter as you travel Wisconsin, and how you can make the best out of your stay in the Badger State!

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Psssst…!! You can’t get enough of winter in Wisconsin? Have a look at my other posts about Wisconsin in the winter:

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Overview: Top 3 Winter Events in Wisconsin

  • Lake Geneva Winterfest
  • Old World Christmas Market
  • Scandihoovian Winter Festival

1. Lake Geneva Winterfest

Best winter events in Wisconsin, Large psychedelic snow sculpture of an older bald man with a long beard adorned with several large bowls containing planets and stars with a looping spiral above it

Where: Lake Geneva, WI

When: End of January/beginning of February

While Lake Geneva is one of the state’s most popular destinations for the summer, it’s also home to many Lake Geneva winter events.

This makes it one of the best places for winter getaways in Wisconsin, including romantic getaways. It’s also one of the best day trips from Milwaukee in winter.

The festival is especially ideal for winter trips as the Lake Geneva Winterfest as one of the most popular Wisconsin winter festivals.

It is also considered one of the best things to do in Wisconsin in February and people come from all over to attend.

Held annually on the first week of February, Lake Geneva in winter can be a great choice as it offers many fun activities that can warm you up during the cold season.

As the host of the National Snow Sculpting Championship, you can enjoy the magnificent snow sculptures made by various artists from different states to compete for the title.

Stroll through the downtown ice sculpture walk to enjoy the masterpieces, or indulge in the bonfires on the beach to keep you warm!

It won’t take long for you to see why this is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin in winter!

The festivities last for a while, so you have plenty of time to enjoy all the fun things to do in Lake Geneva.

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2. Wisconsin State Ice Fishing Contest

what to do in wisconsin in winter, Close up shot of ice fishing rods left above circular holes cut in a frozen lake next to a wooden box of ice fishing supplies with a line of people visible in the background on a grey cloudy day

Where: Cumberland, WI

When: Mid-February

Known as the land of 10,000 lakes, it’s no surprise that Wisconsin hosts many ice fishing competitions around the state.

If you’re planning for winter vacations in Wisconsin, you can sign up for the Wisconsin State Ice Fishing Contest.

Open to all participants of all ages, you can participate in this annual ice fishing competition.

Hosted by Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, the competition is usually held on Beaver Dam Lake where you enjoy a day out fishing in the cold with a chance to win various door prizes!

Ice fishing is one of my favorite winter activities in Wisconsin, so this is always great fun to watch.

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3. Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival

fun Wisconsin winter events, feet of someone ice skating on clear, thick ice

Where: Madison, WI

When: First week of February

So, are you heading to Madison, WI? Winter events like the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival should be on the list of things to do in winter in Wisconsin!

Organized by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD), the University of Wisconsin in Madison campus has been the venue of its annual Winter Carnival event for many decades.

The event is not only popular with  UOW’s students and staff but it is also considered one of the largest events during winter in Madison, WI.

Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival is a 7-day event that offers various outdoor and indoor winter activities in Wisconsin.

Considered one of the most lively winter events in Wisconsin, the carnival is open to the public and you can choose a range of activities.

Attendees can enjoy everything from signing up for a maple taffy workshop to watching some hockey tournaments.

The event is typically held at the beginning of the New Year, making it one of the Wisconsin January events worth checking out.

However, sometimes it is hosted later, so be sure to check dates before heading over and exploring all the fun things to do in Madison, WI.

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4. Hudson Hot Air Affair

unique winter festivals Wisconsin offers, Cluster of colorful hot air balloons in various rainbow patterns floating against a completely clear azure blue sky

Where: Hudson, WI

When: First week of February

Hudson Hot Air Rally and Festival is one of the must-visit winter events in Wisconsin, as you can spend the first full weekend in February enjoying the beautiful scenery with colorful hot air balloons in the sky.

Although the hot air balloon flights are weather-dependent, you can still do many other activities when visiting the winter festival in Wisconsin.

This winter festival in Hudson regularly invites more than 20 balloonists across the country, so you can check out numerous hot air balloons in different shapes and sizes.

There are various shops and food stalls in this 3-day winter event in Wisconsin, so you can check them out and support the local businesses in the area.

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5. Nights of Lights

Best Wisconsin Dells winter events, View from the street of a large neon sign shaped like Santa Claus waving and smiling from his golden sleigh against a pitch black night sky

Where: Wisconsin Dells, WI

When: Starts the day After Thanksgiving and runs through the First Week of January every year

Are you looking for Wisconsin Dells’ activities in December? Mount Olympus Theme Park is home to one of the best winter events in Wisconsin: Nights of Lights!

You can stroll through the delightful Christmas light display around the theme park from the day after Thanksgiving to the first week of January in the upcoming year.

When looking for Wisconsin events, December is the perfect time to visit as you can immerse in the holiday’s festivity at its finest.

But if you want the Christmas vibes to last a little longer, this is one of the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells in January.

As a destination known for its various tourist attractions and theme parks, Wisconsin Dells winter events are worth checking out especially if you plan to visit with your family!

Wisconsin Dells in winter is one of my favorite times of year, so be sure to enjoy all the amazing things to do in Wisconsin Dells while you’re here.

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6. Scandihoovian Winter Festival

winter festivals in Wisconsin, Happy smiling snowman with red cap and red scarf standing in a snow-covered field with a row of thin bare trees behind under a bright blue sky with wispy clouds

Where: Mount Horeb, WI

When: Second weekend of February

When it comes to winter festivals, Wisconsin has so many fun options. Really, you never need to wonder what to do in Wisconsin in winter.

Among them is Scandihoovian Winter Festival, the quirky annual event held in Mount Horeb with its signature red pointy hats to celebrate the town’s Scandinavian ancestry.

Scandihoovian Winter Festival is one of the best winter events in Wisconsin, as you can participate in quirky competitions like the fat tire bike race or frozen turkey bowling.

Alternatively, you can also show off your big vocabulary by signing up for their spelling bee competition!

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7. Jack Frost Fest

Wisconsin winter festivals, Close up shot of a hockey stick resting next to a puck in the scored ice of a hockey stadium with ceiling lights and seating stands visible in the background

Where: Spooner, WI

When: January or February

When it comes to winter festivals, Wisconsin is usually pretty busy after New Year as the state hosts numerous events to celebrate the colder season at the peak of the winter.

Jack Frost Fest is one of the annual winter events in Wisconsin, which you can visit in Spooner, WI.

Jack Frost Festival offers various fun winter activities; from ice hockey tournaments to winter scavenger hunts that you can participate in with your family.

The winter festival is typically held in January or February, so make sure to keep yourself updated for the upcoming Jack Frost Festival!

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8. Old World Christmas Market

Amazing Wisconsin Christmas events, market stalls under snow in background with snow Christmas tree in forefront

Where: Elkhart Lake, WI

When: December 1 – 10, 2023

Celebrating the winter holiday here isn’t complete without checking out one of the magical Christmas markets in Wisconsin.

And that’s why you should add the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake to the list of Wisconsin December events.

The idea of the Old World Christmas Market is to bring the classic Christkindlesmarkt of Nuremberg in Germany annually to Wisconsin.

Hosted by the Osthoff Resort, Old World Christmas Market is one of the best December events in Wisconsin. It’s one of the best Christmas markets to visit in the USA!

With over 40% of Wisconsin’s population claiming to be of German descent, the Old World Christmas Market in Wisconsin is the next best thing to visit if you can’t afford to travel and see the original Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

Whether you want to enjoy the special German bratwurst or check out some items for Christmas gifts to your loved ones, Osthoff Resort’s Old World Christmas Market is where to go!

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The winter landscape in Wisconsin is delightful to see, whether you prefer to see snow-covered forests or just relax while ice fishing in the frozen lakes.

In addition to all that, many winter events in Wisconsin are worth visiting during the colder season.

Whether you want to unwind and participate in some winter sports and activities or just stroll around the classic Christmas market while enjoying the charming small towns, there are many Wisconsin winter festivals you can check out based on your preference!

Short FAQs About Winter Events in Wisconsin

What is winter in Wisconsin known for?

Wisconsin winters are known for being COLD. But they’re also known for fun events, winter sports, and beautiful snowy landscapes.

Is there anything fun to do in Wisconsin in winter?

There are many amazing things to do in Wisconsin during the winter. You’ll find a range of winter festivals and events in Wisconsin to attend like the Lake Geneva WinterFest, as well as winter sports and activities like ice hockey and hiking. There are also traditional Christmas markets and fun year-round activities available.

What are the best winter events in Wisconsin?

There are a lot of amazing winter events in Wisconsin, but my three favorites are: the Lake Geneva Winterfest, Old World Christmas Market, and the Scandihoovian Winter Festival.

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