It’s cold in the D, but that’s all the more reason to bundle up and head into downtown to have some family fun with the Meridian Winter Blast.
Winter Blast is Detroit’s celebration of winter experiences, dining, music and family fun held in downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius Park from Friday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Jan. 22. Originally created as the backdrop for Super Bowl XL, the festival attracted more than 75,000 people last year.
The 2017 Meridian Winter Blast presented by Quicken Loans will feature new entertainment stages, local food and winter-themed attractions. This year, the festival will begin during the last weekend of the North American International Auto, giving visitors more activities to do while in the city.
Need some ideas of what to do at the Winter Blast? Here are some suggestions.
· Hear some new music. Nearly 50 musicians will perform during the weekend event. The all-new Movement Stage at the Bedrock Ice Bar will host DJs from Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival on Friday and Saturday night from 8 to 11 p.m. Catch DJ Thornstryker and DJ Ryan Richards spinning electronic music while surrounded by an entire bar carved out of ice. The DTE Energy Family Stage will appeal to both children and adults alike with an entirely new acoustic set in the evening just for adults. During the day, families can enjoy juggling acts, magic and science shows, musical performances and more inside the Marketing Associates Tent on Woodward Avenue. At night, the stage will host acoustic performers, creating a coffee house vibe on Friday and Saturday. Also, the Michigan Lottery Stage and the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort Stage will feature new and returning performers including AwesomeR, Bricktown Station and Casey Cooper as well as returning musical acts from Nina & the Buffalo Riders, Thornetta Davis Band, Stone Clover, 75 SKYrise, Paul Lamb and more.
· Get a bite to eat. An array of more than 60 food options from nearly a dozen local restaurants and food trucks will be offered to festivalgoers. Food trucks will be parked outside Hard Rock Café and all along Monroe Street. The cuisines will range from southern comfort food to hearty, south of the border options.
· Take a ride. The new Meridian Winter Slide will take thrill-seekers to the next level of adventure. The 30-foot high slide will have four pitch-black tubes that will drop riders at speeds of up to 20 mph. Two of the tubes will be at a 40-degree angle to bring excitement to the more daring festivalgoers and two will be at a 30-degree angle for children and those feeling a bit less adventurous. This attraction is sure to be one of the main focal points of this year’s festival.
· See some movie previews. Festivalgoers can check out the Meridian Winter Blast Ice Garden to see upcoming Warner Bros. films carved in ice! The following films will be featured: THE LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE, KONG: SKULL ISLAND; KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD; and WONDER WOMAN. Additionally, LEGO® Batman, Robin and Batgirl will be making an appearance Saturday, Jan. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m.
· Meet some sports heroes. The all-new Detroit Interactive Sports Zone has picked up some star power. In addition to the interactive exhibits taking place in the Marketing Associates Tent on Woodward Avenue, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons will bring special alumni guests for appearances and performances throughout the weekend. Detroit Red Wings alumni will join the festival on the DTE Energy Family Stage for photos and autographs. From 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, it’s former goaltender Manny Legace and on Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m., it’s defenseman Jason Woolley. Meanwhile, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, also on the DTE Energy Family Stage, the Detroit Pistons will feature a performance and autograph session from their fabulous Dance Team. On Sunday, Pistons legend Rick Mahorn will be on hand at 1:15 p.m. for photos and autographs.
· Get some exercise. Meridian Winter Blast challenges festivalgoers with a hockey shot competition presented by Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC). Throughout the weekend, attendees will have a chance to shoot and score cool prizes from GEDC, Winter Blast and the Detroit Red Wings. The grand-prize winner will win a choice of a free set of Invisalign braces or a dental care package from GEDC valued at $5,000. The competition will take place on the ice rink at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 5 p.m. Sunday. Festival patrons can participate in free ice skating at Campus Martius Park for the entire three days of the festival, courtesy of St. John Providence. Meridian Winter Blast is the only weekend all year when visitors can skate for free. Attendees can also enjoy live skating exhibitions and performances by local skating clubs throughout the weekend.
· Check out a new ride. The new festival dates are a result of a partnership with the North American International Auto Show, as both events will promote the other in efforts to maximize tourism and positive impact to downtown Detroit. The key aspect of the collaboration will feature free, same day admission to Meridian Winter Blast for any patron of the NAIAS.
· Roast some marshmallows. Attendees can stay toasty and warm by one of the many marshmallow roasting stations located throughout the festival, courtesy of Detroit Downtown Development Authority. Marshmallow and s’more kits will be available for purchase to enjoy a tasty treat with family and friends.
Meridian Winter Blast once again is teaming with Matrix Human Services and Chemical Bank to help those in need during the winter. Admission to the 2017 Meridian Winter Blast is $3 or three canned goods or other non-perishable items.
Parking is available around downtown, but Festivalgoers can park at a recommended lot for affordable rates and close proximity to the festival. Take advantage of $10 weekend parking rates starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, all day Saturday and Sunday at each of the following lots: 1 Campus Martius Building Parking Garage, located at 1188 Farmer Street; Kennedy Square Parking Deck, 719 Griswold Street; and The Z Deck, 1234 Library Street. Learn more about the 2017 Meridian Winter Blast.
Photos courtesy: Winter Blast/Jonathon Witz