Beer, Tigers & Frosty Fun: Winter Festivals of Metro Detroit

By: Amber Ogden | January 5, 2015

Winter in Michigan can be a miserable time, but like most things, it’s what you make of it. While you could certainly spend the next few months indoors complaining about how cold it is, you could embrace the winter chill instead!

I know, easier said than done. However, it’s much easier to do so if you attend a winter festival! While you may think that festivals in Michigan are just a summertime thing, they’re not. There are plenty of them to enjoy in southeast Michigan during the next few weeks. Let’s take a look!

The Plymouth Ice Festival is the first to kick off the winter festivals, on Friday, Jan. 9 through Sunday, Jan. 11 in downtown Plymouth. The opening ceremony and ribbon cutting takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, and throughout the weekend, you can get your picture taken with an interactive ice sculpture! If you have the chance to swing by on Saturday, you’ll want to do so around 7 p.m., when the Dueling Chainsaw competition takes place. It sounds dangerous, but is awesome! It’s a competition where two carvers get 15 minutes to create a project.

A full list of events for the Plymouth Ice Festival can be found here. The festival begins at 3 p.m. on Friday and ends at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Royal Oak Beer Fest is a celebration of beer, and I for one am more than ready to take part in such a festivity no matter the season. The festival takes place on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, where 61 breweries and over 125 beers await.

If you’re not a beer fan, there’s still plenty for you, including over a dozen varieties of hard cider and wine, spirits, games, food vendors and live entertainment, including Detroit’s own Kaleido. General session tickets cost $45 (includes 15 samples and a tasting cup) and VIP tickets cost $65 (includes 20 samples, a tasting cup, early admission and first access to rare and limited edition brews).

The event is of course only for those 21 and up, and a designated driver ticket is available for $15. Keep an eye on the Royal Oak Beer Fest Facebook page for updates, including participating breweries and food vendors.

Winterfest will take place at West Bloomfield’s Marshbank Park on Saturday, Jan. 17. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., enjoy ice sculptures and demonstrations, cardboard sled races, a family snowman-building contest, s’more roasting and more.

There will be frozen bowling, a frozen pie eating contest (I’m not sure how I feel about this particular activity. Frozen pie?), and horse-drawn wagon rides available to those who attend. You’ll even have the opportunity to meet sled dogs and a professional musher! Dog sled rides will be available for children ages 3 to 12.

Fire & Ice Festival is being held in downtown Rochester the weekend of Friday, Jan. 23 through Sun., Jan. 25. Head to the corner of E. Third Street and Water Street for a free weekend of fun, including activities like cross-country skiing, ice skating, dog sled rides, ice sculptures and more.

Have you ever wanted to try out snowshoeing? Now is your chance! If you’re feeling athletic, you might want to participate in the Brooksie Way Chill at the Mills 5K Race, which takes place on Sunday at 9 a.m. You can register for it online here.

TigerFest is a celebration of something we all know and love: Detroit baseball! It takes place on Saturday, Jan. 24, and unfortunately, is already sold out. However, those of you who already have tickets (or are going to purchase some online for triple the price or try to win a pair) will get to enjoy an inside peek of Comerica Park, as well as explore the Ernie Harwell Media Center and more.

A Kids Zone, live demonstrations (of bat carvings and ice sculpting) and Q&A sessions with players are also on the agenda.

Motown Winter Blast promises “great times and cool events” in downtown Detroit the weekend of Friday, Feb. 6 through Sunday, Feb. 8. Ice sculptures, free ice skating at Campus Martius Park, snowshoeing, marshmallow roasting and professional and amateur figure skating exhibitions are a few of the festival’s highlights.

Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac is providing special Winter Blast weekend hotel rates, so if you’re staying the night in the D for this event, you’ll want to check it out.

Fire & Ice with Spice is the perfect Valentine’s Day date for you and your sweetheart, as it takes place in Clawson on Saturday, Feb. 14. Head to South Main Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and you’ll see everything from ice sculptures to fire breathers and jugglers!

A dozen ice carvers will take part in a carving contest, and there will also be a chili cook-off!

Aqua Freeze Festival brings the winter fun to St. Clair Shores beginning on Friday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 22. This year’s theme is “Winter Nights at the Oscars,” so show up wearing your best ball gown! Just kidding. You’ll be ice bowling, ice skating, mini golfing and sledding, so probably dress for the elements instead.

If you enjoy extremes, you might want to sign up for the Polar Plunge as well! The 2nd Annual SCS Polar Plunge takes place on Sunday at 2 p.m. Pay $25 to jump into a freezing cold (read: literally frozen) hole, and your money will support future Aqua Freeze Festivals. Signing a waiver is required, so keep that in mind.

To look the part, and/or warm up after the Polar Plunge, take a peek at all of the official logo apparel for sale.

As you can see, there are plenty of winter festivals taking place in southeast Michigan that will keep you from feeling sad and dreary as the weather gets colder. Grab your friends and make the most of winter in the D!