World of Winter Festival
January 12 to March 10, 2024
Downtown Grand Rapids transforms into a dazzling winter wonderland every winter. Our World of Winter Festival is the largest winter festival in the Midwest – and one of the 10 Most Epic U.S. Winter Festivals Worth Braving the Cold For, according to TheTravel website.
The two-month festival includes massive art installations, entertaining events and fun activities for all ages – making it perfect for a family outing, friend meetup or romantic getaway. This is what we know so far about World of Winter 2024 – keep checking back as more details are announced.
More than 20 large-scale, interactive and Instagram-worthy art installations from local and international artists will be on display around downtown throughout the event. You can easily walk from one to the other – but you might want to plan for several days of sightseeing just to take it all in.
Here’s a look at what to see where. All installations will be available for viewing from Jan. 12 - March 10 unless otherwise noted:
Lunar Lamp Posts by Amigo Amigo will be located at 555 Monroe for World of Winter.
Photo by Lunar Lamp Posts by Amigo Amigo
555 Monroe Skatepark
Massimals. These colorful bears came to town for World of Winter 2022 and they’re about to depart – come wish them a fond farewell! From Kentucky-based design practice Scroggin Studio.
- Four Directions. Multi-media installation uses sound, light and form to create an interpretive expression of the Indigenous Native American Four Directions teaching. By local artist Two Eagles Marcus.
- Lunar Lamp Posts. This giant interactive light installation inspired by the cycles of the moon is from Australian-based Amigo & Amigo. Jan. 19 - March 10.
See Stargate by Chalk River Labs in both the daylight and at night for a different viewing experience.
Photo by Stargate by Chalk River Labs
Come and see the eight giant inflatable frogs at Ah-Nab-Awen Park.
Photo by Nightwalkers by Amigo & Amigo
- Nightwalkers. Eight giant inflatable and illuminated frogs from Australian design firm Amigo & Amigo.
- Stargate. A sculpture by day and projection show at night, from Australian creative studio Chalk River Labs.
- Retro Rapids. Play the videogame on your phone and watch it come to life on a giant wall, courtesy of local artists Damon Hartmeier, Michael Conley and Zecharya of Lucid Aesthetic.
Three large colorful Mastodons will be on the Blue Bridge.
Photo by Permafrost by Fisheye
- Permafrost. Three large and colorful Mastodons made out of metal and safety glass by Belgium-based artist Fisheye.
Experience a light and music show every 10 minutes in a giant dome at Calder Plaza.
Photo by Dandelion by Amigo & Amigo
- Life is But a Dream. Illuminated steel sculptures resembling folded paper boats are lit from within to create a playful atmosphere. By local artist Valerie Wahna.
- The Shoveler. A life-size push puppet intermittently shovels a pile of snow to enchant and surprise visitors. From Ann Arbor-based artist Avery Lawrence.
- Dandelion. This giant dome plays a light and music show every 10 minutes. From Australia’s Amigo & Amigo. Jan. 19 - March 10.
- Winter Chronicles: Portal to Narnia. Mixed-media archway inspired by “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” beckons you to walk through and embrace wonder along the Riverwalk and beyond. From local artists Marissa Fellows & Kasia Kociuba.
- Starlight. This gorgeous steel structure features cut-outs of celestial patterns that glow from within. By Grand Rapids-based VW Design Studio.
Walk across the Gillett Bride in a corridor of lights changing around you.
Photo by Sonic Runway by VW Design Studio
- Sonic Runway. Walk across the bridge to see a corridor of lights change around you. From American artists Rob Jensen & Warren Trezevant.
- Grand Legacy Mural Immersive Experience. Stroll the tunnel underneath Gillett Bridge, accessible from Ah-Nab-Awen Park, to view murals from an assortment of local artists.
Grand Rapids Art Museum
- Breath is My Raft. Stop by at night to see a series of projections that weave the hardships of humanity and suffering into a story of resilience. By local artist Jasmine Bruce.
Monroe Center Parking Ramp (Ionia & Louis)
- Skeleton Snowflake Crew. Five skeletons made of vinyl adorn the windows of this parking ramp, all getting into the spirit of the winter season. By local artist Kenzi Goss.
Take a seat and swing a bit at Six Street Park.
Photo by Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 by Esrawe + Cadena
Sixth Street Park
- Manidoo Bawating. This 11-foot-tall steel sculpture honors important symbols and unique traditions of the Native American community that thrived along the Grand River. Created by the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and local artist Alan Campos.
- Kalopieron. A human-size illuminated kaleidoscope dazzles with interior and exterior LED lighting. By local artist Two Eagles Marcus.
- Icicle Lanterns. Lanterns made of 100% silk ribbon resemble glistening icicles adorning towering trees, from local artist Craig Merchant.
- Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0. Eight colorful “homes” invite visitors to come in and take a seat on their swings. Artists: Mexico-based Esrawe + Cadena. Jan. 19 - March 10.
Van Andel Arena
- 3-DC Grow. Peer through the giant 3-D glasses in front of this installation to join the journey of three diverse Grand Rapids kids as they blossom into adults. From local artist Alayah Dudley.
Location(s) to Be Announced
- Ghost Town 2.0. This is an Augmented Reality exhibition featuring four soap boxes, each painted by a different local artist and highlighting the talents of a different local/regional musician. You can scan the QR code at each soapbox to see a performance. Conceived by local artist Brandon Copeland.
There will also be 50+ ice sculptures located around town starting February 9 (and lasting until they melt). Free walking tours are available that weekend and Ice Breaker, a live ice carving, will take place in front of Rosa Parks Circle on Feb. 10. (Vote here for what the 5,000-pound sculpture should be.) It’s all part of WoW’s annual Valent-ICE celebration.
World of Winter also brings the fun with events for both families and adults, starting with a series of pre-festival Luminary Workshops (Jan. 5, 6 & 7) that will teach you how to make your own lantern for the Luminary Light Night Opening Event Parade on Jan. 12 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. Take part in the Luminary Walk, enjoy food trucks and firepits, dance to DJs and participate in interactive activities.
And there’s much more, including:
- Fire & Ice, with fire performers gliding and jumping on the ice at Rosa Parks Circle, Jan. 13.
- Two Ice Piano Performances (Jan. 19 & 20)
- Ice Park + Food Truck Rally at 555 Monroe, with ice games, beatbox sound immersion and more, Jan. 20.
- Soundbath @ the Dandelion musical dome in Calder Plaza, Jan. 26.
- Silent Disco at Calder Plaza, with DJs, food trucks, fire performers & more, Jan. 27.
- Winter’s A Drag, a drag queen performance at Calder Plaza, Feb. 3.
- Snowga at 555 Monroe, a yoga session, training run and walk with hot beverages, prizes & snacks, Feb. 10.
- DJ Pop-up @ the Stargate sculpture in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, Feb. 10.
- Love on Ice at Rosa Parks Circle, featuring an ice sculpture photo op and 2-for-1 skating, Feb. 14.
- Paint the Park, a street partly inviting you to paint the ice at Rosa Parks Circle, enjoy food trucks & more, Feb. 17.
- DJ Pop-up @ the Dandelion musical dome in Calder Plaza, Feb. 23.
- Great Lakes Snow Snake Competition at Sixth Street Park, featuring a traditional northern Native American game, Feb. 24.
- Human Hungry Hippo Tournament at Rosa Parks Circle, Feb. 25.
- Circus Wonderland at Calder Plaza, with jugglers, fire performers, aerialists & more, March 2.
- Soundbath @ the Dandelion musical dome in Calder Plaza, Feb. 3.
- Noodle Fest @ Calder Plaza, featuring hot noodle dishes, DJs, kids karaoke & a spicy noodle-eating contest, Feb. 9
You can also participate in a Scavenger Hunt over the course of the festival – winners are picked every two weeks to win a prize – and take free walking tours of the downtown area highlighting World of Winter art installations, Black history & more. Visit our Events page for dates and times.
Food and drink are an integral part of World of Winter, with numerous food truck events and the Noodle Fest competition. (Food and drink are available for purchase.) Much of the festival grounds overlap with our Downtown Refreshment Area, which allows you to stroll around outdoors with an alcoholic (or otherwise) beverage from a participating business. There are nearly 150 restaurants, breweries and cocktail bars downtown, so you can easily refuel with a quick bite, leisurely meal or luscious libation during your WoW experience.
Before you visit, you’ll also want to check out other great ways to celebrate winter in Grand Rapids!
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