Brite Winter Festival

December 11, 2014
Brite Winter Festival

Cleveland Hosts Up-And-Coming Outdoor Art and Music Fest…IN FEBRUARY(?!)

By: Lexi Hotchkiss

If we told you that Cleveland hosts one of the fiercest up-and-coming art and music festivals in the country, you probably wouldn't be too surprised. After all, this is the home of rock and roll.

But, what if we told you that this unique festival is held outside...in February...in Cleveland?

Before you look at me like I've got two heads, give me sec to explain.

It's called Brite Winter Festival and it's quickly growing to become one of the hottest (errrr coldest?) events in Cleveland.

Now in its sixth year, the one-day FREE event - which draws in excess of 20,000 people - is held in the beer-friendly neighborhood of Ohio City on Feb. 21 from 4 - 11pm.

So, what's it all about?

"Brite is a one-of-a-kind winter art and music festival that encourages festival goers to embrace the winter in Cleveland," Brian Horsburgh, Executive Director of Brite Winter, says. "Everyone knows Cleveland's got a great arts and culture scene. This is just one really cool to showcase what we've got - no matter the weather outside."

Brite Winter was the brainchild of a motivated group of Cleveland friends who, over drinks one summer night, agreed that young adults in the city needed a super fun way to enjoy the city between New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day.

So, they started what they thought would be a small outdoor music event and expected around 50 friends. Instead, they ended up with 800 people listening to music, building snow forts and sliding around on ski-bikes.

"You have to remember, Clevelanders are a hearty bunch," says Horsburgh. "We're proud of our city and proud that we can enjoy it 365 days a year."

Today, the festival takes over the entire Market District section of Ohio City - running from West 25th and Lorain up to West 29th and right around Bridge Avenue.

"I must say, the most unique place at Brite Winter is the outdoor festival village where we shut down about three streets with music stages, an art gallery and a beer garden."

Located on Market Avenue and West 25th Street, the festival village will be a popular spot for visitors to enjoy a couple of open fire pits to get warm without going inside. And, thankfully, Great Lakes Brewing Company (our most noteworthy local brewer) will be outside providing the adult beverages.

Of course, going inside is perfectly okay. In fact, the entire Ohio City neighborhood and its myriad of beery bars, restaurants and eateries come to life with drink specials, music and all sorts of craziness.  In fact, the party technically goes until 2am inside many of the neighborhoods businesses.

Music is certainly the driving force and one of the most popular aspects of the event. Brite Winter will boast at least eight stages - three of which will be outdoors.

While the bands have yet to be announced, Horsburgh promises they'll offer a diverse set of genres including rock, indie pop, punk, hip hop, singer/songwriters and even folk music.

Art is a big focus of the festival, too. Inside the Great Lakes Brewing Company's Tasting Room, you'll find a stage with a schedule of bands throughout the day. But what makes it even more unique is that there are several visual artists within the space who are creating winter-themed artwork right before your eyes.

Another really interesting art exhibition is the "Wall of Light," a 40-foot-long, 10-foot-high grid wall in which people can plug in lamps. Anyone can bring a lamp. Expect to see everything from the ever-popular A Christmas Story leg lamps to interestingly designed lighting creations from local artists.

"Brite Winter definitely embraces the weird and quirky," says Horsburgh.

Outside, visitors will find a light displays, a life-size skeeball game and a contraption for playing cornhole that is the size of a small child (yep, you throw huge stuffed animals instead of bean bags).

Horsburgh laughs, "The common theme we hear from people who've attended: THIS IS SO CLEVELAND!!"

And, when visitors are ready to start noshing, they're in luck. Brite Winter is expected to have 8 - 10 local food trucks outside, as well as the locavorian menus found inside the neighborhood's popular eateries.

"There's nothing better than hanging out with tens of thousands of people celebrating winter, drinking a couple of beers, hitting up local food trucks and listening to some incredible bands."

Tips on visiting? Well, for one, bring your hat and gloves (maybe a parka, too).

 "Come early. Plan to spend the day. Grab a bite to eat. Enjoy a beer," he said. "But more than anything, prepare to be totally surprised. You won't experience an event like this anywhere else in the country. "

For more information, visit www.britewinter.com.

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