Whether you and your family have cabin fever, or if you’re looking for a fun date idea or even a solo night out, check out these fantastic events that tie Grand Rapids’ food, drinks, culture, and art scenes together.
We’ve put together the top 12 things to do this winter and spring. Some of these events (my favorites) are outdoor - so plan ahead and wear the right clothing before you hit the road.
Capture the magic of winter art with Valent-ICE.
Photo Credit: Melody VanderWeide
Valent-ICE: A World of Winter Event
Rosa Parks Circle
Love will be in the air again! The annual Valent-ICE: A World of Winter Event held at Rosa Parks Circle's ice rink celebrates love and winter. During this Valentine’s Day-inspired event, you can enjoy watching live ice carving, ice skating, and a walking tour of dozens beautiful ice sculptures. There’s plenty of street and ramp parking available. Grab your sweetheart or your family to check out this free event.
Pro tip: Fill two thermoses of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows to enjoy while checking out the sculptures!
Winter Games 2020 by Meijer State Games of Michigan
Various locations in Michigan
Bundle up and watch thousands of local athletes go head-to-head in winter sports at the Winter Games 2020 by Meijer State Games of Michigan. Athletes of all ages and abilities will compete in Olympic-style events like snowboarding, fat biking, speed skating, cross country skiing, and luge. You can also catch athletes competing in indoor events like basketball, archery, karate, fencing, wrestling, weight lifting, and more.
Take advantage of Beer Month GR to fill your Brewsader Passport.
Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids
Beer Month GR
February 15-March 15
The 15th annual event takes place from February 15 to March 15 and will consist of a variety of beer-related events, including Cool Brews. Hot Eats., Winter Beer Festival (listed below), and more.
Explore Grand Rapids' many craft breweries and fill your Beer City Brewsader(R) Passport in the process. For more information on the Beer City Brewsader Passport, download the mobile app available for Android and Apple devices, or pick up a paper passport at a participating brewery.
Make the most out of your excursion by taking a look at exclusive hotel packages for this event.
Enjoy beer, food, and live music at the Winter Beer Festival.
Photo Credit: Marty Dunham - Michigan Brewers Guild
15th Annual Winter Beer Festival
Fifth Third Ballpark
One of the most popular events for beer lovers is the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark! Over 140 Michigan breweries and brewpubs will be on-site, in addition to local entertainment, food options, and ice sculptures.
You can enjoy your drinks to the sounds of live, local entertainment or grab a bite to eat from the variety of food stalls on-site. Pro tip: make a “pretzel necklace” using a piece of heavy string and looping pretzels or other treats to wear around your neck for a tasty snack in between beverages.
The event takes place during Beer Month GR, so get your tickets early because this event sells out quickly! Each ticket comes with 15 tasting tokens, and attendees will have over 1,000 different Michigan-brewed beers to choose from.
This year, guests at select area hotels will receive an Uber code to help get them to and from the Winter Beer Festival safely.
With performers of every kind, there is surely a laugh for everyone to have at LaughFest.
Photo Credit: LaughFest GR
Various locations in Grand Rapids
Catch a few comedy shows during LaughFest for lots of laughter and to raise money for a great cause as it celebrates its 10th year!
The 10-day festival features headliners such as Jim Gaffigan, Miranda Sings, Russell Peters (my personal favorite), Adam Cayton-Holland, and more. There will be plenty of ticketed and free events that include stand-up comedy, improv, live shows, films, authors, and community showcases, just to start.
Proceeds from LaughFest will be donated to Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids to support emotional healthcare for cancer, grief, and support resources.
Amway River Bank Run
Downtown Grand Rapids
Cheer on thousands of runners (including me!) as they compete in the 43rd annual race through downtown Grand Rapids. The Amway River Bank Run holds the title as the largest 25K road race in the country and offers the only 25K wheelchair racing division in the world, along with a 25K handcycle division sponsored by Mary Free Bed. Join me as I run the 5k for the fourth time!
Experience the spring blossoms at Holland, MI's Tulip Time.
Photo Credit: Matthew Makowski
Downtown Holland, Michigan
You don’t have to travel too far from downtown to check out Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan! This annual festival features over five-million beautiful tulip bulbs, delicious food, entertainment, cultural events to honor West Michigan’s Dutch heritage, and even fireworks!
Walk through Holland’s Dutch market, watch the parades, and stay for the fireworks for an entire day of outdoor family fun.
Cider Week GR
Cider Week GR celebrates the local GR cider scene with seven days of events and activities culminating with a cider festival downtown. Visit the Cider Week GR events page for more details on upcoming restaurant specials, tastings, and other fun apple-themed events.
Join in the various art happenings at the Festival of the Arts.
Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids
Festival of the Arts
Downtown Grand Rapids
This annual festival is one of the most popular attractions for people of all ages. Bring a good pair of walking shoes and experience different art on display throughout downtown.
Artists will display their many forms of art, including two-and-three dimensional objects, poetry, dance, theatre, music, storytelling, films, and more.
Food, artwork, and themed gifts will be available for purchase, and proceeds from each purchase will be donated to West Michigan communities.
Annual Homecoming of the Traditional Three Fires Pow Wow
Early June TBD
Celebrate with the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians at their annual Three Fires Pow Wow, which is open to the public.
Head to Riverside Park with family and friends to celebrate the weekend-long event that's free to attend. Entertainment, food, and cultural activities will be available at the event. Stay tuned for more details!
Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival
Explore new cultures at the fourth-annual Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival. Enjoy cultural demonstrations, musical performances, children's activities, and, of course, food during this family-friendly annual event.
What events are you most looking forward to attending in 2020? Let us know in the comments below! Visit the events page to stay up to date with all local events.
Find all kinds of celebration and community at Pride 2019.
Photo Credit: Pride Festival. Performer: Batty Davis, 2018. Photographer: Eric Zuniga
Grand Rapids Pride Festival
Downtown Grand Rapids will be transformed into a sea of rainbow during this festival. Celebrate Pride Month at the Grand Rapids Pride Festival taking place at Calder Plaza.
The weekend-long event is filled with parties, national entertainment, drag shows, live music, family activities, and a street fair, all hosted in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Visit the Grand Rapids Pride Center’s website for more information about this year’s event.