The holiday season may have come and gone, but its festive spirit is still going strong in Lake Chelan. From Jan. 17–26, families, couples and kids at heart can enjoy tons of wintery activities perfect for celebrating the season and enjoying time together.
Start your Winterfest experience with a stroll down Snowflake Lane to savor the decorations and bustling boutiques. The downtown area will be closed to car traffic, so pedestrians get to fully explore at their own pace. There are organized activities for children, including arts and crafts, all throughout the day. Plus, be sure to save time for a ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage or the apple bin train. Adults and kids alike will have fun shooting down the iconic Ice Slide.
On Saturday, Jan. 18, head to Don Morse Memorial Park on the shore of Lake Chelan to watch the brave (insane?) leap into the lake for the annual Polar Bear Splash. A giant beach bonfire — literally fueled by hundreds of Lake Chelan residents’ Christmas trees — and an incredible fireworks show warm up the night and light up the sky.
Throughout Winterfest, artists will be carving elaborate ice sculptures in person, right on the streets of Lake Chelan. The whole family can enjoy watching an artist at work and then wander through the area to check out the sculptures that have already been created that day. On Saturday, Jan. 18, be sure to catch the ice carving competition and cast your vote for the People’s Choice award. On the following Saturday (Jan. 25), don’t miss the lighting of the Ice Tower, a roughly 10-foot-tall ice sculpture that looks like a chimney. It’s built throughout the day and then filled with wood and lit on fire in the evening for a dramatic effect.
For the tipplers in the group, Winterfest offers a wide menu of inviting options. The biggest draw is easily the Tasting Tent, open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Here, visitors age 21 and over can discover and sip award-winning wines from 20 local wineries while staying warm in the cozy tent.
“There are a number of fun wines to try,” says Mike Steele, executive director of Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce. “We have a huge tent up with a number of wineries pouring some of their favorite blends.”
If a boozy brunch is more your thing, check out the Bubble Bar on Sunday, Jan. 19. Visitors will learn about the region’s sparkling wines while sipping bottomless glasses paired with a decadent brunch. The following Sunday (Jan. 26) boasts the Battle of the Bloody Mary, pitting Lake Chelan’s top bartenders against each other as they craft their signature version of this classic cocktail. You can taste your way through the contenders and cast a vote for your favorite.
While those events are all limited to visitors age 21 and over, everyone in the family (and especially those with a sweet tooth) can stroll through downtown Lake Chelan to enjoy the Cocoa Crawl on Sunday, Jan. 19. Or bundle up all together for the Grand Wine Walk on Saturdays. Meander through the downtown area to chat with local winemakers and taste their selections while enjoying the downtown boutiques and festivities. Of course, the wine tastings are for visitors age 21 and over, but children are welcome to join in on the shopping and exploring.
Teenagers needing a little break from all the family time should check out the Lake Chelan Teen Center, a hangout space just for them that’s open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Meanwhile, all ages can hang out together to enjoy an impressive lineup of live music on weekends, with a variety of musicians playing at the Ice Bar. And for laugh-out-loud live entertainment, don’t miss local comedian Drew Barth headlining a weekend of stand-up comedy at the historic Ruby Theatre.
“There is so much to do in Lake Chelan during the winter,” says Steele. “It’s an extraordinary place that you have to experience at this time of year.”
Nestled among the snow-capped hilltops and glacier-fed waters of Lake Chelan, Winterfest is the perfect escape. Join us for wine and ale tastings, horse-drawn carriages, ice sculptures, live music, activities for kids, a massive beach bonfire, spectacular fireworks show and more!