Head outside and explore all W. MI has to offer in winter at ‘World of Winter’

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Proving that West Michigan is much more than its beautiful lakeshores in the summer, World of Winter is working to pull people out of the winter slumber and get them back outside.

World of Winter has placed a few snow bunnies in downtown Grand Rapids. A couple of them as tall as three stories.

“At night they’re fantastic because they glow and light up too, so they’re these glowing bunnies at Ah-Nab-Awen Park right by river, which is really beautiful to see,” Kimberly Van Driel, director of public space management with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., said.

Van Driel says Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. took a page from the ArtPrize playbook when planning World of Winter knowing that people love big installations.

“They’re basically dangling light curtains that change color to music that is played,” Van Driel said of an installation on the Gillett Bridge.

While the bunnies are not made from snow, World of Winter is because Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. wants people to start thinking about the city as a year-round destination.

“Everyone tries to do things in the summer rather than celebrating where we are in the winter and that’s what this is all about is celebrating us being Michiganders, because we chose to live here, right?” Van Driel said.

Lynn Hill gets it. She and her hiking group were out for Day One of World of Winter.

“These are my friends. We hike all over Grand Rapids and West Michigan, and this is the way we’ve gotten through COVID the last two years,” Hill said.

From kayaking in the summer to snowshoeing, cross country skiing and a return trip to World of Winter, this Hill’s hiking group works to take in all West Michigan has to offer.

“We were here for the scavenger hunt last year and we loved it, so we decided to come down again this year,” Hill said.

The group has been together for the last two years finding ways to beat the isolation of the pandemic.

“We’re all kind of going stir crazy. We want to socialize but we want to be safe at the same time,” Hill said.

A lot of people are concerned right now as COVID-19 cases surge, and the World of Winter thought about that when making all the events outside so you can socially distance.

World of Winter lasts for two months and boasts 50 events and more than 30 installations, most of them interactive. Organizers hope you’ll choose to be like Hill and her friends this winter by getting out of the house and into the snow.

“It’s trying to get people to experience something that they may not have experienced in the past,” Van Driel said.

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