Winter Fest comes to Milwaukee
I know, I know – who can think about winter on a lovely summer day such as this? I admit that it was a bit unsettling to hear holiday tunes like “Jingle Bells” as I entered the Frontier Airlines Center ballroom yesterday morning, but considering the announcement, it was only fitting.
Milwaukee Winter Fest launches Dec. 21-31, 2011. Organized by the Wisconsin Center District and Professional Events and Consulting, the festival will features family-oriented games, activities and entertainment. Mayor Tom Barrett, along with community leaders and business owners, met with the media Wednesday morning to share their excitement over the renewal of the annual festival.
“We all know that Milwaukee is a city of festivals, and [Winter Fest] extends that spirit into the winter,” said Barrett. “This is going to be the place for families to come, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”
But before you catch a chill from not-so-distant memories of sub-zero temperatures and mountains of snow, you should know that Milwaukee Winter Fest is an indoor event. The entire ten-day festival will take place across 150,000 square feet within the Frontier Airlines Center.
Highlights are a synthetic ice-skating rink, a rock-climbing wall, live music and dance, an indoor theatre, and a wintry village display, designed and created by MSOE students. The Adirondack Mountain Stage will host performances from local musicians, theater companies, various ethnic and cultural groups, magicians and comedians.
“The third floor of the Frontier Airlines Center will be totally transformed into a winter wonderland,” said co-organizer Jean Lynch of Professional Events and consulting.
When asked if there would be an outdoor activities, such as snow or ice sculpting, Lynch said that festival organizers are still looking at options for additional activities, but the details are TBA.
Over the course of the festival, organizers also hope to break a few world records. On Tuesday, Dec. 21, Winter Fest will partner with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee to lead 6,000 children in story time. The event would break the Guinness Book of World Records for “most children reading together led by an adult.”
The following day, 1,001 guitarists will gather at the Fest to play and sing along to a Bob Dylan song as part of “Strummerfest,” which would break the American World Record.
Representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and Visit Milwaukee said the fest could potentially increase tourism in Milwaukee during a typically slow season.
Frank Gimbel, Chairman of the Wisconsin Center District, added that it could also be a boon to the local hospitality industry. If Winter Fest catches on, area hotels, restaurants, taverns and retails spaces could see a boost.
“[Winter Fest] would help facilitate the hospitality industry in Milwaukee…and industry which generates many jobs,” said Gimbel, adding that winter is usually a slow season for those working in service. “Winter Fest helps alleviate the winter slump and spread the holiday spirit.”
Winter Fest will take place Dec. 21- 31, 2011 at the Frontier Airlines Center (400 W. Wisconsin Avenue). More information, details and tickets can be found here.