Celebrate this snowy season with the first-ever World of Winter festival. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) teams up with numerous local organizations to provide eight jam-packed days of frozen fun activities for the entire community from Feb. 9 – 16.
Although this is the first eight-day festival, World of Winter evolved from previous DGRI seasonal events, such as Valent-ICE and Snow Days. Beginning a few years back, DGRI hosted Valent-ICE and transformed downtown into an ice sculpture gallery made with over 17 tons of ice by none other than Ice Guru Randy Finch.
With the success of Valent-ICE, DGRI expanded it into last year’s five-day Snow Days festival. Because DGRI wanted to develop this year’s festival into a more “culturally inclusive celebration,” World of Winter was created as a way for all people to enjoy the winter season in Grand Rapids, Jennie Schumacher, DGRI’s communications coordinator, explained.
With over 25 events throughout the week, there are endless opportunities to enjoy February’s chilly climate. To start things off, WOOD TV8 will host a live watch party of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony at Rosa Parks Circle and give you the chance to try out your own ice curling skills.
You can also choose your own dream team and play Olympic-themed games, such as tabletop ice curling, frozen beer pong and an ice-edition of Cornhole, all at the Downtown Market. If you are not as athletically-inclined, the Downtown Market’s 18-foot Ice Bar is back, where adults can cheer on Team USA by drinking red or blue shots out of house-made ice glasses.
Throughout the day, everyone is also welcome to go ice-skating at Rosa Parks Circle, try Down Dog in the snow with Snowga at Ah-Nab-Awen-Park, and go on a variety of walking and running tours, including special ice sculpture tours only offered during the festival. All tours are free and photos are encouraged, but make sure to bundle up and wear comfortable shoes, as most tours will last 40 minutes to an hour.
Local artist Gabrial James will also perform an intimate, acoustic show inside the warming tent at Rosa Parks Circle on Thursday, Feb. 15 for a winterized version of Relax at Rosa.
Although Schumacher loves watching the Human Hungry Hungry Hippo Tournament because teams dress up and compete on ice for prizes, she’s most excited this year for the Chinese Association of West Michigan’s Grand Rapids Lunar New Year on Friday, Feb. 16. Not only is it the organization’s first time celebrating with DGRI, but traditional food, lion dancers and a dragon parade are just a few of the exciting activities planned.
“It is our hope that folks join us in celebrating why we choose to live in Michigan – because the ice and snow can be pretty spectacular,” Schumacher said.
Since DGRI aims to create events for people from all different walks of life, World of Winter is a great opportunity for the community to come together, explore downtown, and play fun frozen games. Although winter can be a time when most people want to stay inside, Schumacher encourages everyone to embrace the chilly temperatures and “celebrate Grand Rapids as a four-season city.”
Visit DGRI for a full view of the schedule.
*Photos courtesy of DGRI