Grand Geneva Resort & Spa Sets the Scene for a Grand Holiday Season

The Midwest is the setting for some of the most iconic holiday movies of all time, such as A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and even National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and when it comes to the holidays, there is a resort in Lake Geneva, WI that offers one of the grandest celebrations in the Midwest. Grand enough for any holiday movie buff.

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is one of the Midwest’s top vacation destinations for holiday fun with its annual Christmas in the Country experience. A six week celebration, this cherished holiday resort tradition features over-the-top holiday décor, private igloo dining, breakfasts with Santa, a heated Trolley Tour of Lights, the option to have a decorated Christmas tree in your hotel room, and new this year, a jumbo gingerbread display of its beautiful ski hill. In addition, the city of Lake Geneva is full of holiday charm and programming, with wonderful Midwest holiday hospitality.

Family together Christmas celebration concept. Festive place setting for holiday dinner with natural decorations from fir tree branches.

Here is a rundown of what is on Santa’s list at Grand Geneva this year (and yes, you can catch him swimming and skiing if you’re lucky):

Family together Christmas celebration concept. Festive place setting for holiday dinner with natural decorations from fir tree branches.
  • Grand Geneva officially kicks off the season with its annual Illumination Ceremony taking place on November 19, 2023, where the resort literally flips the switch to start the season, with over-the-top holiday displays, lights, animated designs, grand Christmas trees, and plenty of photo opportunities to capture the holiday cheer. Now in its 29th year, the Illumination Ceremony will feature activities for kids, holiday cookies, hot apple cider, a dazzling fireworks display, and an appearance from the big guy himself, Santa Claus! Guests are asked to bring an unwrapped, new toy for local children. The event will support Walworth County Deputy Sheriff Department and its Toys for Kids program.
  • There’s a tree in the grand hotel, and one in your room as well. For a modest extra charge, guests can have the resort’s holiday elves add a little magic to their stay at Grand Geneva or its on-site sister property, Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, by adding a holiday tree to their room. Travelers will enjoy a fully decorated tree in their guestroom upon arrival, complete with ornaments, ribbon topper and an ornament to cherish at home (take-home ornament available at Grand Geneva only). It’s all the Christmas cheer with none of the cleanup! 
  • Trolley Tour of LightsFor some traditional holiday fun, visitors can hop aboard the heated and enclosed Grand Geneva trolley for a tour around the resort’s dazzling light displays and decorations, including the beloved 12 Days of Christmas animated display. For those who miss the trolley, visitors can take their own car down Grand Geneva Way, starting at Hwy 50. 
  • An Igloo Experience. Baby, it’s cold outside but cozy inside one of Grand Geneva’s igloos. Offered at the resort’s Embers Terrace, visitors can reserve a private igloo for festive dining, holiday drinks, and gathering with friends and family. This fun winter experience is available for up to 6 guests for a 90-min reservation. 
  • Brunch with the Big Guy. Grand Geneva’s Brunch with Santa will take place on select dates in November and December. Designed for children, families enjoy brunch served tableside.
  • Santa Mail: Speaking of the big guy, guests and visitors may take advantage of Grand Geneva’s magical mailbox and drop off letters to Santa Claus. Located in the resort’s main lobby, Santa’s helpers collect the mail daily at 3pm to mail it to the North Pole. The best part? Santa takes time out of his busy schedule to send a message back.
  • Gingerbread House WalkArea residents, in amateur, professional, adult and child categories, display their sugary masterpieces beginning November 19 through the holidays, creating a Gingerbread House Walk on the upper level in the resort’s Ristorante Brissago foyer. Judges from United Way of Walworth County and Grand Geneva will award cash prizes for the top three overall winners in five different age groups. New this year: The resort will feature its very own over-the-top Gingerbread display of its Ski Chalet on a 3×3 ft board. The sugary sweet ski display is made with 50+ lbs. of flour, 3 gallons of molasses, 6 dozen eggs, 12 lbs. of butter, 20 lbs. of brown sugar, and lots of colorful candy.

Where Santa Goes to Splash & Swim: Grand Geneva’s resort campus is also home to sister-property Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark. This all-suite resort features rooms with kitchens and extra space, plus its very own indoor waterpark where it is always a warm 86 degrees. A perfect holiday escape for families, the resort also offers Breakfast with Santa, plus holiday hotel package deals. Santa has previously been spotted taking a swim at Timber Ridge, and on December 22 and 23, he will be taking a relaxing break and greeting guests in his very own Santa cabana in Timber Ridge’s Moose Mountain Falls. 

  • Grand Geneva’s The Mountain Top is one of the country’s top family-friendly ski hills. The perfect ski and snowboard hill for beginners, The Mountain Top is slated to open for the season on December 16. It is also one of Santa’s favorite slopes, and he is slated to make an appearance at the ski chalet a few times this holiday season!
  • In case the weather outside is frightful, there are plenty of other delightful family-friendly activities to enjoy, including holiday movie nights, ornament painting, gingerbread house decorating, and other fun holiday crafting and games.
  • Grand Geneva’s Midwest Holiday Hospitality by the Numbers
  • 2 million twinkling lights
  • 6 weeks of celebration
  • 50lbs of flour for an oversized ski chalet gingerbread display
  • 1 set of skis for Santa
  • 7 igloos
  • 32ft outdoor Christmas tree with 24,500+ lights
  • 1 Santa cabana
  • 50+ gingerbread houses on display
  • 70 holiday light displays, including 14 animated
  • 66 indoor holiday trees

For additional information on holidays at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, please visit

Six Fantastic Holiday Light Shows Not To Be Missed

    Holiday Lights Extravaganza Tour

    Location: New York, NY (Midtown)

    Dates: Tours run now through December 31, 2022

    Details: If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple this season, book a guided walking tour to ensure you have a front row seat to the incredible displays that light up Midtown. Starting off at Herald Square, the 3–4-hour tour will take you down Fifth Avenue, where you’ll view over-the-top attractions from the high-end retailers before heading to the iconic Rockefeller Center. Adorned with over 30,000 lights and topped with a 9.5-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star, the Christmas Tree is a sight that will put everyone in the holiday spirit. To ensure you’re in the center of the action, book a stay at the Martinique New York on Broadway, conveniently located 3 blocks away from the tour’s meeting point.

    Luminaria Tour with ABQ RIDE

    Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Dates: Entire month of December Details: Luminaria Tour: Take a magical ride with ABQ RIDE on its Luminaria Tour. Enjoy this annual New Mexican tradition without worrying about parking, driving through snow, or traffic delays. The tour, which begins and ends at the Albuquerque Convention Center, takes approximately 45 minutes and travels through Old Town and the nearby neighborhoods.

    The Country Christmas at Ingleside Hotel

    Location: Pewaukee, Wisconsin

    Dates: The Country Christmas Package is available select nights November 25, 2022 – January 1, 2023.

    Details: Nestled in the heart of Southeastern Wisconsin is a holiday destination steeped in festive tradition. Each year, The Ingleside Hotel is transformed into a winter wonderland called Country Christmas. The hotel is home to Wisconsin’s largest drive-through Christmas lights display, with over a million lights along a mile-long trail over 40 acres of woodland. The Ingleside Hotel also features other holiday-themed attractions, such as Christmas wagon rides, a Christmas village and Streets of Bethlehem exhibit where it features nearly life-sized Fontanini nativity characters. The hotel offers a Christmas Getaway package which includes overnight accommodations, tickets to Country Christmas, a large pizza, hot chocolate and cookies. 

    The Tree at Christmas at Union Station (The Durham Museum) 

    Location: Omaha, NE

    Dates: November 24, 2022 – January 8, 2022

    Details: Home to the largest indoor Christmas tree in the region, Christmas at Union Station is back for another year of holiday cheer. The tree serves as the centerpiece of the museum’s Christmas at Union Station celebration. It’s part of a long-standing tradition dating back to the 1930s. Decades ago, Union Pacific would harvest a tree from the pacific northwest and bring it on a train to Union Station, which is now the Durham Museum. It’s a tradition the museum is happy to continue and why Union Pacific workers still harvest the Omaha tree each year. Families come experience the magic of the region’s largest indoor Christmas tree, learn about holiday traditions from Omaha and around the globe.

    Winterlights at Newfields

    Winter Lights Grounds and Gardens Winter 2017

    Location: Indianapolis, IN

    Dates: Open Daily from 5pm to 9pm, November 20, 2022 – January 8, 2023

    Details: Featuring more than one and a half million lights, visitors can experience the warmth and wonder of the holiday season as they explore a world of lights at Newfields. Sip on some hot apple cider or hot cocoa and devour some sweet treats while taking in the dazzling displays. For those interested in an elevated experience, the premier package includes festive blinky lights, holographic glasses, a non-alcoholic drink ticket and a light snack.

    Discovery Park of America’s “Let It Glow” light show

    Location: Union City, TN

    Dates: Open daily 5-9pm, November 11, 2022 – December 30, 2022 (closed Nov. 24 and Dec. 24 & 25)

    Details: See 1+ million bright (holiday) lights synchronized to festive tunes at  Discovery Park of America’s “Let It Glow” light show, the largest light show you’ll find in northwestern Tennessee. Grab some hot cocoa, the kids, and have yourself the perfect festive family night strolling (or driving-thru) 50 acres of the heritage park. With new routes opening this holiday, the family friendly environment is a neat way to experience Christmas light displays near Nashville. 

    Holiday Lights at Conner Prairie

    Location: Fishers, IN

    Dates: Entire Month of December

    Details: Get wrapped up in the warmth of the holidays at Conner Prairie’s A Merry Prairie Holiday, with thousands of sparkling lights, breathtaking rides, and enchanting performances.

    Take a spin on the Holiday Trolley around Carmel’s entertainment districts where you can shop your heart out at the Art & Design District and Carmel City Center