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Heating Up Ohio’s Chilly February at Brite Winter

Cleveland is a diverse destination where cosmopolitan activities meet blue-collar sensibilities. The Rock n’ Roll Capital of the World ranks among the top cities in America and travelers will love the sheer amount of things to do. From touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to sampling the diverse collection of restaurants in the Tremont neighborhood, there’s something for everyone.


Entering its eighth year, Brite Winter is one of Ohio’s top winter celebrations. The event is primarily held outdoors, is free to enter,  and strives to bring happiness and joy to the Cleveland community during a cold midwestern winter. It will take place on the West Bank of the Flats near the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Attendees will encounter a mixture of entertainment including concerts and exhibitions from mostly local artists and musicians. The concerts and exhibitions will be held in warming tents so that guests can get a small break from the cold. Here will also be a variety of games and activities going on including ping pong, ski-ball, foosball, cornhole, ice bowling, and more. Dining options at the event will include a variety of food trucks, and local restaurants will be open during the festivities. got the opportunity to interview Brian Horsburgh, Executive Director of Brite Cleveland and Brite Winter Festival, to talk about this winter spectacular.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

BH: On February 18, 2017, we will celebrate our 8th annual Brite Winter!


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

BH: Our first event consisted of 800 people in an urban park. Last year we made the decision to move back to our roots on the West Bank of the Flats since it is pretty quiet during that time of the year. We calculated through sales and security estimates that we had around 20,000 participants. In previous years we were located on West 25th in Ohio City, and although it was difficult to separate who was there for Brite and who was just bar hopping on a typically busy Friday night, it was estimated that we drew up to 15,000 visitors.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

BH: Our goal is to attract a diverse demographic, we have more family focused programming earlier when Brite Winter begins at 3:00 pm. We recently expanded our footprint to include the DayGlo experience at Mulberry's which will feature hands-on artistic experiences for children earlier in the day and will transform into a warm party space for the more adult crowd later in the evening. There is something for everybody at Brite!


RAL: What makes this event unique?

BH: In the warm summer months you will find plenty of outdoor art and music festivals. Our event is unique because we decided to celebrate in the middle of winter in Cleveland. Brite Winter marries fire, participatory art, food, music, and games to build community while helping us embrace the underserved winter months!


RAL: What activities will attendees encounter?

BH: If we expect the public to brave the cold and wind, our goal needs to be making sure they are entertained from the moment they enter until the moment they leave. We accomplish this with a wide variety of activities. We have outdoor games including ski-ball, foosball, ice bowling, cornhole, ping pong, and more! We have also doubled our warm spaces, where we will have art installations and music inside heated tents. Guests can use these tents to warm up, experience the art activities and then head back out to enjoy the music.


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

BH: Brite Winter features 40 live bands and artists, most of which are local to Cleveland. You may be surprised to see your neighbor rocking out on the guitar, or discover your new favorite band!


RAL: What dining options will patrons encounter?

BH: Brite 2017 will feature the largest number of food trucks we've ever had in our eight years! We also have local venues, such as McCarthy's, if you would prefer to sit inside and eat.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging? Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

BH: We have a package available at the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Cleveland with a free shuttle running to and from the event. For those who want a more local feel, the Cleveland Hostel is only a short drive away!


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

BH: Brite Winter is the premier Cleveland event between New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day. It allows us to showcase Northeastern Ohio's artists, musicians, and creative culture.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

BH: People should come to our event because Clevelanders don't want to hibernate through the entire winter. This free event brings people of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds, allowing them to discover new music and art and enjoy the community.


For more information about Brite Winter, please visit the event website.

Photo Credit Brite Winter/Robert Muller