Out and About: Frozen Festivities in Southeast Michigan

WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
PHOTOS| PLYMOUTH ICE FESTIVAL

Imagine enjoying the quintessential summer sport of putt-putt golf during a snow-covered Southeast Michigan winter; the golf club, ball, and the hole with its traditional swirling windmill are all made of ice! This is one example of the creative pieces of interactive icy art on display at the Plymouth Ice Festival.

According to James Gietzen of JAG Entertainment, another favorite of the Plymouth festival is an ice carving competition among local college students who create some wonderful works of art. The remarkable, unique creations are “selfie-worthy,” states Gietzen. The festival is a “world-class event that is exciting and fun for the whole family,” according to its website, and takes place January 12-14.

Ice sculptures can be viewed round the clock and remain standing as long as the weather permits. Also, a dueling chainsaw competition is back by popular demand. In this fast-paced, entertaining event, ice carvers are given 15 minutes, one ice block, and their chainsaws to create some of the most amazing carvings.

A “Winter Wonderland Michigan Market” features vendors with products and food from around the mitten state. There’s also an ice playground and a petting zoo with horses, donkeys, goats and more. Horse-drawn trolley rides are also available.

To warm up, intrepid visitors can embark on a totally different experience at the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex on the corner of Church and Main. Collect hidden messages, uncover cryptic clues, and decipher puzzles as you attempt to escape from a vintage Airstream provided by Escape Room Studios. (You must prebook online at EscapeRoomStudios.net)

Several other major “cool” celebrations are planned across the Southeast. The Oakland County Parks, City of Rochester, and Downtown Rochester come together to host the Fire & Ice Festival in Rochester, January 19-21. This free family event will be celebrating its 11th year with a variety of outdoor activities designed to keep appetites satiated and attendees entertained and athletically challenged. DowntownRochestermi.com/fire-ice-festival

Another inviting frozen festival is the Motown Winter Blast, now renamed the Meridian Winter Blast, January 26–28 in Detroit.

According to its website, the redesigned Meridian Winter Slide was a main attraction of last year’s festival, taking thrill-seekers to “the next level of adventure.” The 30-foot slide whisks riders through a pitch-black tube at a steep 40-degree angle. With speeds up to 20 mph, attendees want to experience this exhilarating attraction again and again.

The Bedrock Ice Bar and Stage allow adults to enjoy music and cocktails at a 16-foot carved ice bar. Portable heaters keep the area comfortable, and DJs keep the music flowing. Other activities include an outdoor ice garden with lighted ice sculptures, ice skating, marshmallow roasting, and food trucks. Attendees can duck inside the heated tent to listen to live music from a variety of musicians throughout the weekend. WinterBlast.com

Icy celebrations are planned in many smaller communities as well. The Ice Festival in downtown Utica, in February, humbly bills itself as a smaller version of Rochester’s Fire & Ice Festival, featuring fireworks, illuminated ice sculptures, face painting, skating, and a warming house. Other cities to host ice festivals include Beverly Hills, Berkley, and Northville, to name a few.

Get out there and enjoy one of these great frosty festivals!