Grand Rapids celebrates its sixth ‘World of Winter’ festival

Caroline Cook leading a tour group through Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of Kara Wheeler.

Story by Reporter Kara Wheeler

Photos by Kara Wheeler

Although Michigan winters are notorious for cold and brutal weather, urging most people to stay indoors and escape the frigid temperatures and wind chills, the ‘World of Winter’ festival inspires Grand Rapidians to get outside and enjoy the city.

The festival, put on by Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. and other partnered community foundations, commenced this past week, marking its sixth year celebrating West Michigan’s winter weather. Festivities kicked off on Jan. 7 with a ‘snowperson’ building contest, and hundreds of events are planned for city residents to partake in until its final day on March 6. 

One of the events offered was a walking tour on Jan. 15, led by Caroline Cook, a tour guide from Grand Rapids Running Tours. She took us on a scenic route throughout the city, visiting art pieces brought from around the world as a part of the festival.

With temperatures just above single digits, participants began the free tour at one of the city’s most notable landmarks, Rosa Parks Circle. Cook led the group through the streets of Grand Rapids, stopping at each installation to explain background information on the pieces’ artist and their history, its material and origin, as well as occasionally commenting on the art itself.

‘The Singing Tree,’ an interactive lightshow-and-song experience created by Limbic Media. Photo courtesy of Kara Wheeler.

The tour’s route began at the Blue Bridge and moved to the outside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, weaving around the different installations until the group reached Ionia St.

All art will remain up for the duration of the festival, with some lit-up pieces made especially breathtaking with the winter’s earlier dusks in mind. In addition, all activities are free of cost, so grab your friends and families and enjoy the winter weather in downtown Grand Rapids. For more details and information on activities and events, visit the World of Winer’s website.