The fun doesn't stop in Grand Rapids just because it's winter! You're invited to experience the season of snow like a true local does, and do it for free! Here's a list of what's free for families in Grand Rapids this winter:

Events

Great Skate Winterfest at Rosa Parks Circle January 21-22, 2017

This action-packed festival lets kids, families and Griffins hockey players mingle with their Skate Around the Clock event, running 10PM Saturday to 10PM Sunday. You'll also get to see to sled dogs, winter sports demonstrations, ice sculpting, a silent auction and get crafty in the Family Activity Tent. Admission to the festival is free, but there is a nominal skating fee of $2 per adult and $1 per child. Great Skate Winterfest proceeds support the Griffins Youth Foundation.

Birds in the Winter February 4, 2017

Families with children ages 6 and up are invited to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve for a free educational program about birds in the winter. You'll learn how to identify West Michigan's common winter birds, discover how they've adapted to survive cold temperatures and discover how you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The program is free and runs from 10:30AM-12PM. 1750 East Beltline Ave SE.

Snow Days – A Festival of Frozen Fun February 10-14, 2017

DGRI's five-day downtown festival puts the fun on ice. Search and find over 50 ice sculptures throughout downtown during Valent-ICE 2017 (February 10-14).  While you're there, stop in and watch serious snowboarding moves at Ah-Nab-Awen Park during Rail Jam on February 11. Finally, check out a laugh-out-loud game of Human Hungry Hungry Hippos on the ice of Rosa Parks Circle on February 12

Valent-ICE Sculpture
Ice sculptures abound during Valent-Ice. Photo credit: Melody VanderWeide

WinterWest 2017 February 12, 2017

Head to Richmond Park from noon to 5PM for this free winter festival on Grand Rapids' Westside – it's fun for the whole family! Watch or join in on the Crazy Cardboard Sled Races, crafts and nature walk to experience Grand Rapids' neighborhood fun at it's best. 1732 Tamarack Avenue, NW.

WinterWest Festival
Family fun for everyone during WinterWest. Photo credit: Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

Taste of Soul Sunday Sunday, February 19, 2017

Get ready to sample African American culture at Grand Rapids Public Library's Taste of Soul Sunday! Expect to find musical performances, hair wrapping presentations, African American food samples, history, literature and art as part of this free afternoon. It all starts at 1PM and finishes at 4:30PM. Main Library –111 Library NE.

Ongoing

Browse the Galleries at Kendall College of Art and Design

Interested in art? Choose to explore two KCAD locations, The Fed Galleries at KCAD or Helen Miller Gallery. From student and faculty work to award-winning Art-Prize exhibits, you are sure to find something to interest everyone. Exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

Hike and Learn at Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve

Forty Acres and a mile of easy trails make the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve the perfect winter hiking destination for families. Numbered stations correspond with information on the trail guide, so you can learn about your surroundings as you hike. Additionally, you're invited to visit the Bunker Interpretive Center to experience hands-on displays, see Michigan frogs and turtles, read books, and interact with the staff. Walking trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission to the trails and the interpretive center is free. The interpretive center is open weekdays in the winter from 9am-5pm. 1750 East Beltline Ave SE.

Grand Rapids Art Museum Meijer Free Days

If you haven't been to the Grand Rapids Art Museum, you're in for a treat. This art-filled space is waiting for your family, and on Tuesdays (10AM-5PM) and Thursday evenings (5PM-9PM), admission to the GRAM is free! If you're visiting with kids, be sure to ask for a scavenger hunt at the front desk when you check in. Visitors are also invited to participate in complementary programs and tours on these days.

Finally, be sure to save some energy for ice skating on Saturdays and take advantage of GRAM's Skate and Create program, where free hot chocolate and a $1 off GRAM coupon help you warm up while you make your own art masterpiece in the museum's hands-on studio.