Rita Dunker enjoys a glass of German mulled wine at the 2018 Birmingham Winter Markt.

Rita Dunker enjoys a glass of German mulled wine at the 2018 Birmingham Winter Markt.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

Partying in a winter wonderland

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published November 22, 2019

METRO DETROIT — This is Michigan. Snow is to be expected.

Of course you know that. But what you might not know is how much fun it can be to forget the flakes and keep entertaining guests outdoors into the winter months.

In fact, there’s fun to be had all year long at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Pavilions, picnic areas and activities are a draw for some brave families looking for some chilly fresh-air fun, according to the park system’s chief of marketing and communications, Danielle Mauter.

“Our bonfire pits at the Kensington Farm Center are rented all year,” she said. “After 5 p.m., the farm requires that the bonfire pit rental be in conjunction with a hayride or sleigh ride. If we have good snow conditions, a sleigh ride makes a picturesque ending to a winter day.”

If there’s no snow on the way, though, cross-country skiing is still a go at the Huron Meadows Metropark, because they actually make their own snow. Guests can take advantage of a fun winteresque activity no matter the forecast, and then thaw out at warming stations along the trail.

“On Buck’s Run, snow guns lay snow on a 1.5-mile trail that is also lit at night,” Mauter added.

For those not willing to embrace the elements to that extent, there are plenty of restaurants and bars that turn their summer patio spaces into cozy heated areas for dinner or cocktails.

But if all the patios in town are booked for the season, fear not: There’s probably a party planner who would be willing to bring the frosty festivities to you.

Joe Peraino, the co-owner of Lorio-Ross Events and Entertainment in Royal Oak, said he’s put together a few snowy shindigs before. It’s tough to get the timing right, since the holiday season is pretty booked up for most folks, and the months to follow are just too frigid to enjoy safely.

Outdoor entertaining would definitely be a unique change of pace for guests if hosts are looking to take their seasonal soiree up a notch.

“It’s really just a matter of getting some space heaters and generators,” Peraino said.

He recalled curating a company’s holiday party a few years ago that was held outside the building, right next to a skating rink the business’s employees had built.

Guests were able to enjoy the rink, and then come back into the heated tent for catered food, drinks and live entertainment.

“We brought in some trees and made it look Christmasy, and a Santa Claus,” he explained. “We brought in a sleigh with reindeer. We had jugglers walking around and things like that.”