GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Giant inflatable rabbits and an illuminated maze will take over downtown Grand Rapids when the World of Winter festival returns early next year.

“Winter is coming, everyone,” Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s Kimberly Van Driel declared once again before unveiling the proposed lineup of traveling art exhibits Wednesday.

Van Driel, who is director of public space management for DGRI, said more than 50 artists pitched bringing their exhibits to World of Winter 2022 — more than five times the number of submissions DGRI received last year.

Van Driel said despite the pandemic and subsequent gathering restrictions, last year’s festival attracted visitors from Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee.

“It’s not just becoming a four-seasons city now, it’s also becoming a destination spot for the winter. Rather than people leaving to go to Detroit, which they do awesome stuff and I fully support what they’re doing, but it’s great to have even people from Detroit look at us and say, ‘Well, look at what Grand Rapids has got going on.’ So we’re just as cool and maybe even cooler,” Van Driel told the DDA.

Using most of the $450,000 in funding approved by the Downtown Development Authority Wednesday, DGRI plans to bring the following installations to Grand Rapids:

(A photo provided by Amigo & Amigo shows its Trumpet Flowers installation.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 7 to March 6

This installation evokes the feeling of being “Alice in Wonderland,” with 27 trumpet flowers towering over visitors, standing roughly 6 to 19 feet tall. Lights and musical sounds come into the mix when each of the installation’s large trumpet keys are pushed.

(A photo provided by Amigo & Amigo shows its Crank Zappa Jellyfish installation.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 7 to March 6

Repurposed from plastic waste, this interactive sculpture lights up when sensors on the ends of its tentacles are touched.

“The jellyfish talks to you in a cranky tone and basically tells you to clean up after yourselves, this is what happens,” Van Driel explained.

Van Driel says the sculpture can also be customized to include local facts like how polluting the Grand River impacts Lake Michigan.

(A photo provided by Ilmex and Brut Delux shows their Light Maze installation.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 7 to March 6

An illuminated maze built out of acrylic glass panels standing about 65 feet tall. Dichroic film — the same colorful reflective material used in previous festival installation Prismatica — coats one side of the panels, lighting the way in day. LEDs bathe the maze in rainbow colors at night and highlight the patterns etched into each panel. The immersive maze will be open around the clock.

(A photo provided by Parer Studio shows its Bunnies of Intrude installation.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 7 – Feb. 2

Five large white inflatable rabbits take over the landscape, drawing attention to the contradictory nature of rabbits, from furry innocent fairy tale creatures to the proliferating intruder damaging Australia’s delicate ecosystem. The installation lights up at night.

(A courtesy photo provided by the artist shows the installation titled Control No Control.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 31 to Feb. 9

A cube of LED screens that react to touch and movement on their surface with illuminated patterns and sounds. Up to 48 people can interact with the piece. Handlers say while this installation has been presented dozens of times worldwide, visitors tend to behave the same way when interacting with it — a phenomenon that led to its name.

(A photo provided by CREOS shows its Loop interactive installation.)


Scheduled to display Feb. 3 to March 6

Inspired by the 19th century zoetrope toy, this illuminated musical installation invites visitors to sit inside an illuminated 6-foot wide cylinder, where they pump a bar to play flipbook-style movies. A music box in the center of each large wheel plays accompanying sound.

(A photo provided by Scroggin Studio shows its Massimals installation.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 7 to March 6

Abstract sculptures of polar bears created using a layering effect, known as the massing model in architectural design. Each sculpture is made out of wood and is “very interactive for kids,” according to Van Driel.

(This photo provided by Squidsoup shows its Wave installation.)


Scheduled to display Jan. 7 to March 6

Roughly 500 orbs that appear suspended in a wave-like formation connected through light and changing harmonies. This installation combines movement sensors and wireless connectivity with LEDs, speakers and microcomputers for an immersive walkthrough experience.

(This photo provided by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. shows the Seasonal Wonders projection mapping show by LiveSpace.)


A few World of Winter favorites are also expected to return for the 2022 festival, including Limbic Media’s Singing Tree installation, which DGRI purchased last year, and silent disco, which had to be canceled during the previous festival. DGRI is also working to bring back LiveSpace’s popular Seasonal Wonders projection mapping shows at least once a week.

DGRI plans to put its call out to local artists interested in showcasing their work at World of Winter in the coming months, after ArtPrize wraps up.

Van Driel says many World of Winter installations will be located near the Grand River to activate that space. Potential sites include Gillett Bridge, Ah-Nab-Awen Park, the Monroe Avenue Skate park, the Blue Bridge and Lyon Square as well as other downtown areas, including Studio Park.

“The love will be spread around for sure,” she said.

World of Winter 2022 will run from Jan. 7 through March 6.