, the annual winter music and arts festival, began a few years back in the Flats near what is now Merwin’s Wharf
Organizers had to learn a few hard lessons before they were able to turn into the well-oiled machine it has become.
“We literally weathered a blizzard our first year and found out the hard way that yes, you need to cover bands if you want them to play in the snow and a rear-wheel drive U-Haul van is tough to drive on unsalted brick roads,” says co-founder Emily Hornack in a press release announcing the return of this year’s event, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 18, on the West Bank of the Flats.
For the next four years, Brite Winter took place in Ohio City.
“Wow, has that neighborhood become a powerhouse,” says Hornack. “Craft beer and food are thriving, housing is booming, and artisans are bustling. Our time there saw a range of weather from those snow bands barreling across Lake Erie and dumping inches upon inches of fluffy white stuff on us; to two years in a row of temperatures so cold that we actually had to heat the beer in order to keep it flowing.”
Last year’s event, which took place on the West Bank of the Flats, featured record-breaking high temperatures of 66 degrees. The festival subsequently drew record-breaking crowds.
“We are thrilled to be returning to the Flats [in 2017],” says Hornack. “This is a neighborhood also in the midst of a positive transformation. We are changing the way we make decisions about the musicians and artists involved in Brite Winter, asking up to 50 members of the community to help us make programming decisions, and involving more people just like you in making art. We continue to reach out and try to get more individuals and more communities involved in our little winter festival. And more than anything, we wait in wonder with a healthy dose of anxious excitement, looking for what Cleveland will give us next.”