8 Family-Friendly Festivals to Embrace Winter’s Chill

By Shayna Mace
Special to TravelWisconsin.com

Looking to give cabin fever the boot? These fun and free outdoor family fests keep everyone entertained. 

Janboree - Waukesha

This city-wide festival in late January brings the area together for some frosty fun. Families will enjoy ice sculpting, performances, a fireworks show, 5K run/walk, crafts, penguin egg hunt and much more. With two full days and two nights’ worth of fun, there’ll be plenty to keep the kids entertained.

Winter Fest - Wausau

Combat cabin fever with 24 different activities during this one-day winter festival in downtown Wausau. Sports enthusiasts will like ice skating and curling, and families will appreciate story time, arts and crafts and a visit from “Frozen” characters Ana and Elsa.

Tip: The mac ‘n’ cheese tasting with participating restaurants will tantalize taste buds.

U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship & Winterfest - Lake Geneva

With a full roster of events spanning nine days, Lake Geneva’s Winterfest is certainly a celebration of the season. A winter carnival, snow race and chili cook-off dot the schedule, along with the ever-popular snow sculpting competition featuring 15 teams from all across the U.S. vying to be champion.

Winter Festival - Fish Creek

Have your kids ever seen a minnow race, taken a dog sled ride or watched ice kickball? If not, they’re in luck—Fish Creek’s Winter Fest features all of those and gives a thumbs-up to winter fun. Partake in outdoor activities, or escape the chill in a heated tent overlooking Green Bay and nosh on food and play wacky games (toilet seat toss, anyone?).

Northwoods Blizzard Blast - Conover

Sporty types will appreciate this fest chock-full of active endeavors. Kids can try ice bowling, archery, a dog sled dash and snowshoe baseball. Not up for participating? Just sit back and relax and watch snow sculpting, enjoy a horse-drawn ride, check out the recliner race or cap off this fun-filled day thawing out by the bonfire.

Winter Festival - Cedarburg

Is it just us, or do freezing temps bring out the wacky in Wisconsin towns? Cedarburg’s two-day fest has barrel racing, an Ice-Burg Open Golf Tournament and even camel rides! Kids and adults will also enjoy ice-carving duels, dog-pulling contest, a chili cook-off, tractor-drawn hayrides and pancake breakfast.

Madison Winter Festival - Madison

This annual celebration has moved to a new venue on the west side of the city, but still keeps the winter fun going. The fest reflects the city’s active culture and features skijoring (a combo of cross-country skiing and dog sledding), fat biking, sit skiing, sledding, hockey, curling and snowshoeing. Families will love taking in this frosty festival that celebrates fitness—even in the dead of winter.

WinterFEST - Bayfield

With skiing, tubing, plunging into the frozen lake and much more, Bayfield (which gets more than 100 inches of snowfall annually) knows how to do winter festivals right. Locals celebrate the season with a whole weekend devoted to winter’s chill. And if you really want to fit in? You might want to check out the whitefish liver eating contest—a “famous, local tradition.”