Knock the Snow from Your Boots with Unique Winter Events in Ann Arbor

From January through March, there are a number of special events in the Ann Arbor area perfect for a wintry weekend getaway! No need to hibernate this year. Check out these exciting opportunities.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week (January 18-23)

Bar

John Steinbeck wrote, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Winter can be very sweet on its own, especially when you can explore Ann Arbor’s overabundance of foodie goodness during Restaurant Week! This celebration of dining includes 45 restaurants featuring one-price menus — $15 for lunch and $28 for dinner — or save even more with two-for-one specials at select restaurants! The newest restaurant to join the ranks is the delicious Mezzevino .  While you’re there, be sure to ask for a small bowl of the crispy chickpeas!

U-M Ice Carving Extravaganza (January 23-25)

Join us for a weekend of chainsaws, ice picks and flame throwers! Stand back while the University of Michigan Ice Carving team members display their talents and masterpieces along Main Street with custom designs inspired by the city, its shops and restaurants, and more!

38th Annual Folk Festival (January 30-31)

Wait! This isn’t your parents’ folk music … Or maybe it is! The appealing element of folk music, and it’s a philosophy so perfectly embodied by the festival, is that there are as many styles as there are artists! Join us for the two-night event and show your support for one of the top music clubs in the world — The Ark — celebrating 50 years of presenting, preserving and encouraging folk, roots and ethnic music and related arts. This year’s festival features Amos Lee, Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell. Get ready to find your folk!

Michigan Theater with Couple2

53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival (March 24-29)

Visit Ann Arbor and the historic Michigan Theater to experience the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America. Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for independent filmmakers and artists, the Ann Arbor Film Festival engages audiences with remarkable cinematic experiences. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, and performance-based works.

FoolMoon and FestiFools (April 10-April 12)

FestiFools

Night time revelry and larger-than-life puppets make up this weekend of foolish amusement.  Friday night kicks things off with FoolMoon— an after dark extravaganza of lightshows, music and a delicious event-inspired microbrew from our friends at Grizzly Peak. On Sunday, watch as magnificent and bizarre human-powered papier-mache puppets amble along Main Street to the sound of beating drums, brassy horns, and the cheers of our Foolish friends! Go from being a spectator to participant by building your creations and joining in the fun!

What is your favorite thing to do in the Ann Arbor area?

Seven Ways to Spend New Year’s Eve Pure Michigan Style

It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2014 and looking forward to another great year in Pure Michigan. But don’t get nostalgic just yet – this year’s fun is far from over! If you’re looking for a great New Year’s Eve event to attend in Michigan, check out these seven events happening around the state.

Marquette Ball Drop

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Marquette
Every New Year’s Eve, the intersection of Washington Street and Front Street becomes the location where locals and visitors come together in a large crowd to welcome in the New Year. On the 12th strike, an illuminated ball is lowered from the historic Savings Bank Building. This year will mark the 26th anniversary of ringing in the New Year Marquette style!

Hot New Year’s Eve Celebration, Grand Rapids
If you’re looking for music, dancing and fun on New Year’s Eve, look no further than Grand Rapids! This year’s Hot New Year’s Eve Celebration will include Cobra Starship, The Outer Vibe, Dyllan Murray, and Grand Rapids Got Talent winner, Fire Alarm. There will also be the annual ball drop at midnight. Just in case you get a little cold, there will be a warming tent with free hot chocolate and coffee for all who pass through.

Midnight-on-Main_Countdown-300x168Midnight on Main New Year’s Celebration, Midland
One of the Michigan’s largest New Year celebrations can be found in the heart of the state – Midland!! It’s Midnight on Main, but the party begins long before midnight with a full schedule of entertainment and activities. The event features four heated tents, 10 bars, food vendors, Michigan’s largest ball drop and an exciting fireworks display. The event is held on Main Street, from Gordon Street to Townsend Street, in Downtown Midland. Midnight on Main is a ticketed event for ages 21+.

Charlevoix Bridge Drop, Charlevoix
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang! Charlevoix’s second annual Bridge Drop will ring in 2015 with a downtown party full of festivities and fun. Daytime family friendly activities include a winter petting zoo, camel rides, snowman building, food trucks, s’mores and bonfires. The evening’s events of live music and activities throughout Charlevoix’s restaurants, bars and shops will culminate with the “bridge drop” and firework display at midnight. Fun for all, and all for fun!

NYE-in-Pure-Ludington2015 New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Ludington
Beginning at 9:30 p.m., make your way to the North James Street Plaza in Ludington where you’ll enjoy music, an entertainment tent, commemorative light-up glasses, fireworks, and of course, Michigan’s largest environmentally friendly New Year’s Eve Ball.  Bring your family and friends to experience this amazing night! If you’re looking for something to do before the festivities, don’t forget about the Resolution Run 5K also taking place at 9 a.m. at the OJ DeJonge Middle School North Gym.

Cherry Ball Drop, Traverse City
Ring in the New Year in beautiful downtown Traverse City and watch a giant cherry drop as 2015 begins! The event will also feature Magic 4 Humans at Traverse City Opera House) and Magic at Midnight at Top of the Park (both are ticketed events). If you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve celebration in Northern Michigan, the annual Cherry Ball Drop is the event for you!

New Year’s Eve Anchor Drop, Port Huron
Ring in the New Year in the city of Port Huron! The New Year’s Eve Anchor Drop is a New Year’s countdown party with a maritime twist. A lighted anchor will drop from the top of the 150-foot McMorran Tower at midnight! Live music, beer tent, free open skating, and much more.

 For a complete list of events happening on New Year’s Eve, visit michigan.org/events. How are you planning to celebrate the new year near you? 

Twelve Nights of Michigan Bright

The holidays are coming up fast, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by jumping in your car and looking for Michigan’s brightest spots. Guest blogger Maureen Clemons from The Awesome Mitten has located some of the best holiday light displays around the Mitten – one for each of the 12 days of Christmas:

Campus Martius

  1. Campus Martius: Your to-do list at Campus Martius includes renting some skates and gliding around Detroit’s best rink while gazing at Detroit’s biggest and brightest Christmas tree. Afterwards stop by The Snowman Collection (an igloo full of decked out snow men) and grab a hot chocolate from Fountain Bistro. Make sure to park on Woodward because buildings are lit up all along that avenue as well!
  1. Wonderland of Lights: Potter Park Zoo in Lansing also offers lots of animals made out of lights and animals in real exhibits. They also have cookies, crafts and live entertainment. While you’re so close, make sure to check out Michigan’s official Christmas tree at the capital complete with over 9,000 lights!
  1. Wayne County Lightfest: Celebrating 21 years of being bright (and merry), Hines Park is lit up with over 50 animated light displays. This year they’ve got a new 40 foot snowman. Your car can enter on Merriman Road in Westland and see over four miles of Christmas fun.
  1. Adam’s Castle: Royalty lives among us – in Bloomfield Hills. Take Adams to Adam’s Castle Drive (in between Big Beaver and Wattles) and drive until you reach the dead end that is Adam’s Castle. It’s always decorated to impress. Make sure you grab some hot chocolate from Birmingham Chocolate before heading over.

Detroit Zoo Lights

  1. Wild Lights: The Detroit Zoo gets wild every December with their half mile light trail. You’ll see stars, butterflies, turtles, bears and tunnels made of bright bulbs. Stop in the Reptile House to warm up or visit the Wild Adventure Zone to see The Polar Express in 4D. They sell seasonal drinks and snacks too.
  1. Edsel & Eleanor Ford House: A historical site to see all year round, but especially special during the holiday season – the Ford House in Grosse Pointe beckons to you with canopies of lights and the promise of Santa. You’ll see over 80,000 bulbs and maybe even some carolers. For the adults in attendance, there will be some mulled wine.
  1. Huckleberry Crossroads: Hop on the Huckleberry Railroad to ride through lots of lights. If you’d rather take your own car, there is a drive through option as well!
  1. Christmas Lite Show: Over a mile of light displays make up one of Michigan’s largest displays in Grand Rapids. At the end you are promised a picture with Santa. And for convenience there is a Biggby Coffee right next door!
  1. Frederik Meijer Christmas Trees: For all the visual learners out there, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids offers a unique opportunity to see Christmas trees and displays from over 40 countries. You’ll also be able to observe over 300,000 lights, carolers and horse drawn carriage rides. And check out their calendar for a chance to meet Santa’s real reindeer!Rochester Lights
  1.  Downtown Rochester: Every building gets a different color store front – complete with string lights hanging down over the whole thing. They call it the Big, Bright Light Show and it doesn’t disappoint! This year, you can visit all the way through the end of January. Don’t forget to stop at Dessert Oasis Cafe to get your hot chocolate on.
  1. Christmas in Lights: The citizens of Iron River enter their decked out homes in a best lights competition and the city creates a map – everyone votes for their favorite! Even though the official voting period is over, grab a map and visit all the contenders/winners.
  1. International Festival of Lights: Throughout December in Battle Creek you can witness tons of light structures on the Battle Creek River along State Street. Every weekend they’ve got special events like the Holiday Extravaganza full of live entertainment on December 20th.

Clemons_PicAre there any other light displays or even houses that you visit every year?

Maureen Clemmons is your resident Royal Oak local (Royalocal), beer drinker, concert goer, road tripper, ice cream advocate, cat lover, and MSU Spartan. Learn more on Twitter, @moreangrim.