Rink supervisor Antoine Johnson tests out the skating rink at Campus Martius Park at a press event Nov. 28 to announce the 2019 Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends in January and February.

Rink supervisor Antoine Johnson tests out the skating rink at Campus Martius Park at a press event Nov. 28 to announce the 2019 Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends in January and February.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Winter Blast expands to 4 weekends, adds free admission

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published December 11, 2018

 Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends will include a variety of attractions, such as shopping in the winter market, local food trucks, live music, ice skating, ski and snowboard lessons, and roasting marshmallows.

Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends will include a variety of attractions, such as shopping in the winter market, local food trucks, live music, ice skating, ski and snowboard lessons, and roasting marshmallows.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

 Chad Pisarski and Tristen Riley,  of U.S. Ice  Carvings, put the finishing touches on an ice sculpture during the Nov. 28 press conference to announce the Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends in January and February.

Chad Pisarski and Tristen Riley, of U.S. Ice Carvings, put the finishing touches on an ice sculpture during the Nov. 28 press conference to announce the Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends in January and February.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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DETROIT — The Detroit Winter Blast festival is returning with more weekends, free admission and a slightly new name.

Now called Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends, the event originated in 2006 as an attraction for the Super Bowl that Detroit hosted that year in February. Winter Blast returned in subsequent years as a fun attraction in the city. It was always hosted over a single weekend, and attendees were charged an admission fee to get inside until this year.

The festivities will now take place Jan. 19-21, Jan. 25-27, Feb. 8-10 and Feb. 15-17 at Campus Martius Park. 

Free skating in the park will be available during both the first and last weekends, while there will be a charge of $10 for adults and $8 for children and seniors for skating on weekends two and three.

On weekend two, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain will provide free ski and snowboard lessons on a miniature ski hill created around the festival grounds.

The third weekend will feature a four-lane, 30-foot winter slide, while weekend four will include the longest mobile zip line in the state, both at no cost. The first two weekends also will coincide with the North American International Auto Show happening at nearby Cobo Center.

Attendees also can get a variety of snacks from some of the Detroit area’s favorite food trucks, go shopping at the winter market — which will feature 35 local vendors — and warm up listening to local musicians and grabbing some treats in the festively decorated Cadillac Lodge.

“We’ll have different ice sculptures, different food trucks and different activities to see, hear and do each weekend,” said festival producer John Witz. “We want to make sure there’s something different each weekend so people will want to return for each one. … There will be zip-lining one weekend and skiing another. There will be a nice variety for families.”

The changes were made possible by Quicken Loans becoming the primary sponsor of the festival, taking on the lion’s share of the costs necessary for the expansion.

“We’re transforming the Winter Blast to Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends, so instead of one weekend of fun, we’ll have four,” Witz said. “By going to four weekends, each individual weekend had to be scaled back a bit, so we wanted to make it all free.”

Witz said the decision to make the event free to the public also was related to the desire on the organizers’ part to open up the event to the city and show off the downtown area.

“We definitely got feedback from our stakeholders that with all of the growth downtown, removing the fences would let us showcase all of the new businesses and changes happening,” he added. “Without fences to keep people out, there was little reason for us to charge people to get in anyway.”

He said that as an added bonus, the changes will mean that Woodward Avenue will no longer need to be closed down for the event and that the new QLine can be utilized to take people directly to the Winter Blast grounds around Campus Martius Park.

Quicken Loans Community Fund Vice President Helen D. Johnson said that their hope was that getting more involved would allow the festival to have a stronger impact on the community. 

“We’ve been involved for many years, but this is our first year as title sponsor,” said Johnson. “Changing it from one weekend to four makes it easier for people to put it into their calendar. Spreading across multiple weekends also just amplifies everything going on.”

The sponsors said they hope this brings some fun and cheer to the city during its coldest months.

“We like investing in the city through programs like River Days; Arts, Beats and Eats; and, of course, Winter Blast,” said Tim McCullough, the vice president of guest relations for event sponsor Soaring Eagle Casino and Resorts. “We love to let people know Soaring Eagle is a great way to get out of the city in the winter. They can be entertained here and we want them to be entertained there.”

The organizers said they believe they are putting on the best Winter Blast yet and they think it will be great fun for anyone who attends.

“I’ve got two kids and a husband, and we will be here for all four weekends,” Johnson said. “There’s so much to do both inside and outside. You can shop, get food, roast marshmallows or do a family activity.”

For more information, visit winterblast.com

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