DETROIT (WWJ) – The annual Meridian Winter Blast festival is moving up several weeks this year to take place in January with a brand new layout and winter-themed attractions for kids and adults.

Winter Blast, presented by Quicken Loans, is set to coincide with the last weekend of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday, Jan. 22.

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“The new festival date takes us back to our roots when we held the first Winter Blast in 2005 during the same timeframe,” organizer Jon Witz said in a statement. “This is all about activating the downtown area. Nearly 100,000  people come to Cobo Center for the last weekend of the North American International Auto Show and we anticipate Meridian Winter Blast’s move to an earlier date this year will also encourage Auto Show goers to visit Campus Martius Park.”

New Attractions

The all-new, redesigned Meridian Winter Slide will be one of the main focal points of this year’s festival, taking thrill-seekers to the next level of adventure. The 30-foot high slide will whisk riders through a pitch-black tube and quickly drop them at a steep, 40-degree angle. With speeds of up to 20 mph, this exhilarating attraction is one attendees will want to experience again and again. Children, and less adventurous types, can ride down a 30-degree drop slide that is still bound to excite festivalgoers.

One of the coolest spots at Meridian Winter Blast is certain to be the new Bedrock Ice Maze and Ice Bar. The 30-foot by 40-foot Ice Maze will be located on Woodward Avenue south of Campus Martius Park and includes hundreds of large ice blocks, creating an interactive, and chilly, puzzle. In the evenings, the Bedrock Ice Bar located on Cadillac Street north of Cadillac Square comes to life, and is guaranteed to be one of the best places to chill at the festival. Elements of the festival fully crafted from ice will include a 16-foot carved bar and tables, chairs and carafes of drinks. Adults can enjoy the portable heaters and music while sipping drinks ‘on the rocks’ from 6–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6–9 p.m. Sunday.

Also new this year, larger-than-life light installations by LA artist Alexis Roches will come to Detroit during Winter Blast weekend. Visitors will experience fifteen light sculptures, ranging in size from 12 feet to 120 feet, in and around the festival footprint.

The new Ice Garden pays special tribute to Warner Bros. films, depicting life-sized versions of characters from Lego Batman, Kong: Skull Island, King Arthur, and Wonder Woman. The beautifully carved and lighted sculptures will make for festive scenery, perfect for memorable family photos. On-site ice carving demonstrations also will take place during the festival.

Cruising into this year’s Meridian Winter Blast will be a Food Truck Rally. Nearly a dozen local restaurant and start-up food trucks will offer a variety of creative cuisine to help festivalgoers refuel during their visit. The list of participating food trucks thus far includes Beans & Cornbread, Bigalora, Buffy’s Mexi-cation Grill, Chef in a Box, Hero or Villain Deli, Mac Shack, Matt & Mo’s, Nosh Pit, Soaring Eagle Cuisine Machine and Shredderz. Food trucks will be stationed along Monroe Street starting outside the Hard Rock Café to serve festivalgoers with some of the freshest and most thoughtfully prepared food.

Detroit Interactive Sports Zone

The Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons will be front and center at the Meridian Winter Blast in the all-new Detroit Interactive Sports Zone. The new featured event will take place in the family tent on Woodward Avenue and feature dual interactive displays hosted by each franchise.

The Detroit Red Wings will bring the excitement with fan favorites including the Top Shot Electronic Hockey Net, Bubble Hockey, alumni autographs, photo opportunities with classic cutouts as well as a weekend-long raffle to win sticks, autographed photos, pucks and more.

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Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons will feature fan fun with their newly developed cinematic game experience called “One-On-One with the Detroit Pistons,” a mobile photo booth for social interaction, performances from the Detroit Pistons Entertainment Team, a Detroit basketball experience enter-to-win opportunity and much more.

Favorite Family Activities Return 

Festival patrons can participate in free ice skating at Campus Martius Park for the entire three days of the festival, courtesy of St. John Providence. Meridian Winter Blast is the only weekend all year long when visitors can skate for free. Attendees can also enjoy live skating exhibitions and performances by local skating clubs throughout the weekend.

Returning as a festival favorite is the MetroPCS Zipline Adventure. Partake in the longest, fastest mobile zipline in Michigan that allows two riders to zip simultaneously on separate lines, 34 feet above the ground. In just 20 seconds, this high-speed experience will take festivalgoers’ breath away as they soar through the crisp air and take in panoramic views of Campus Martius from high atop Cadillac Square, the new location of this activity.

Stay toasty and warm by one of the many roasting stations located throughout the festival, courtesy of Detroit Downtown Development Authority. Marshmallow and s’more kits will be available for purchase to enjoy a tasty treat with family and friends.

Admission and Charitable Giving

Meridian Winter Blast once again is teaming with Matrix Human Services and Chemical Bank to help those in need during the winter. Admission to the 2017 Meridian Winter Blast is $3 or three canned goods/non-perishable items or a children’s book, which will go toward helping to fight hunger in metro Detroit and continue the festival’s commitment to fostering literacy.

Meridian Winter Blast hours are Friday, 4–11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Meridian Winter Blast could not happen without the generous support of its sponsors, which include Meridian, Quicken Loans, Allied Marketing, Bedrock Real Estate Services, Chemical Bank, Cricket Wireless, DEGC /Detroit DDA, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, DMCVB, DTE Energy, Ilitch Holdings, Made in Detroit, Marketing Associates, MetroPCS, Michigan Lottery-Official Advertiser, Pepsi, Redico, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, St. John Providence, US Park and the Westin Book Cadillac.

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