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12 Things to Do in a Michigan January

by Lisa Diggs

It’s a new year and filled with places and events to explore. These are just a sample of the many exciting options from which to choose throughout the state in January.

Jan 1-29 Work on Paper Labor Art Exhibit – Flint

The labor movement is a critical element of Michigan history, including a transformative 44-day sit-down strike that took place at the General Motors Fisher Body Plant. It began on December 30, 1936, so in recognition of the 80th anniversary, the Flint Institute of Arts is hosting an exhibit of prints and drawings that relate to labor, workers' rights, and protests. Spanning the late 19th to the mid-20th century, the artists in this exhibition depict men and women at work, mostly in factory settings. Many works are from the decade of the 1930s, the era of the Great Depression, which saw many changes to labor, from the picket line to the unemployment line. It will provide an excellent conversation-starter for grandparents, parents, and children. www.flintarts.org 

Jan 15,22,29 Snowshoe, Wine & Brew – Old Mission Peninsula 

Snowshoeing is one of our state’s most relaxing winter endeavors, and the fine folks on Old Mission Peninsula are embracing the opportunity every Sunday from January 15-March 5, depending on weather conditions of course. Guests may bring their own snowshoes or head to Brick Wheels and rent a pair for the day and then join in the revelry. Park at Jolly Pumpkin to board the TC Brew Bus and start your trek. The bus will transport patrons to Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery. From there you can follow a flagged snowshoe trail across Old Mission Peninsula to Bowers Harbor Vineyards, then hike back to where you parked at Jolly Pumpkin. The tours start at 10:45, you should arrive at your first winery, Brys Estate, by 11:00. Tickets are $20 per person. www.tcbrewbus.com/events    

Jan 14-15 Dog Sledding Experience – Gaylord

It’s always a thrill to see some beautiful sled dogs in action so head to Treetops in Gaylord to join Team Evergreen and Liza Dietzen. They are training for the world famous Iditarod race in Alaska, and you can join in on the journey. Take an exhilarating 2-mile ride through the peaceful trails of the Jones Masterpiece Golf Course behind this masterful team of dogs, or simply get a close-up look at these incredibly athletic creatures. Sled rides start at $50. www.treetops.com/winter/activities

Jan 14-21 Beer Week – Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo is one of the cornerstones of Michigan’s highly popular and widely admired craft beer scene. Whether you are already well-versed in the industry, or a novice hoping to gain a better understanding, Kalamazoo Beer Week, affectionately known locally as KBW, has something for you. You’ll find special tastings, dinners, and interactive events. Mingle with the brewers themselves during KBW, and learn about what it takes to develop intricate, highly desired brews. www.kalamazoobeerweek.com

Jan 15-20 Restaurant Week – Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor has earned a reputation as one of the greatest foodie destinations in the state, if not the nation, and there is no better time than Restaurant Week to explore. Squeeze in as many visits as your schedule will allow with special $15 lunch options and $28 pricing for 3-course dinners. Many restaurants are also offering 2 for 1 deals.  www.annarborrestaurantweek.com

Jan 20-22 Meridian Winter Blast – Detroit

January brings many opportunities to embrace the beauty of winter, but few are in a big city like the Winter Blast in downtown Detroit. The unique celebration centers around Campus Martius Park. Events and attractions include a winter slide, free ice skating, a zip line, and marshmallow roasting, along with live entertainment and professional skating demonstrations. www.winterblast.com  

Jan 23 The Russian National Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake – Pontiac

This isn’t just an incredible opportunity to see some of the globe’s finest dancers, it’s a chance to be part of local history. You can be there for the Grand Opening of the historically refurbished Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts in Downtown Pontiac.  The exciting new venue boasts luxury seating, intimate sight lines, and state of the art acoustics. It will be an ideal setting to take in a performance by the world renowned Russian National Ballet Theatre. www.flagstarstrandtheatrepontiac.com

Jan 20-29 Thunder Bay International Film Festival – Alpena

There are few pleasures more enticing in the winter than settling in for a good movie. Perhaps that’s why the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary bring the world of cinema to Alpena at this time each year. For five days in January, northeast Michigan is treated to some of the most impressive ocean and Great Lakes-inspired films from around the world. It’s an opportunity to see screenings of films you might not ordinarily see, and take part in social events, educational activities, and even opportunities to meet filmmakers. www.thunderbayfriends.org/film_fest.html

Jan 25-30 Zehnder’s Snowfest – Frankenmuth

Sure most of us can make a snowman, but that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the frigid creations you’ll find at Zehnder's Snowfest. Known as one of the top snow sculpting events in North America for the past 25 years, professional carvers from around the world will amaze and excite visitors with their creative, larger than life snow sculptures and beautifully detailed ice carvings. Families can also enjoy entertainment in a warming tent, a fireworks display, petting zoo, and a variety of children’s activities. www.zehnders.com

Jan 27-28 SnoDrift Rally – Atlanta           

While downstate cars are primarily on display in January, up north they are taking to the streets to show off their capabilities. The SnoDrift Rally is a performance rally that features 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive cars racing on real roads in a time-based competition. The rally features two days of racing on Montmorency County roads over snow and ice. It is the only planned snow event on the Rally America National Championship schedule and many teams consider it to be their favorite due to the unique experience of running the icy, snow banked roads at high speeds without studded tires. This year’s event will feature 17 stages that run a total distance of 130 miles. www.sno-drift.org 

Jan 27-28 Ann Arbor Folk Festival – Ann Arbor

It seems as though, for generations, folk music has been a bit of a soundtrack for A2. The first Ann Arbor Folk Festival took place in 1977, and since then it’s grown in scope and depth, as have the performers. The range of genres and styles is large, but the sense of tradition is consistent when all the evening’s performers join together in song at the end of the Saturday show. All funds raised through the Festival benefit The Ark, Ann Arbor’s non-profit home for folk, roots, and ethnic music. Scheduled performers this year include: Kacey Musgraves, Jenny Lewis, Kiefer Sutherland, Margo Price, and Indigo Girls. www.theark.org

Jan 30 Pure Ludington BRRRewFest – Ludington

Cold weather doesn’t lessen the appeal of cold brews in this state, so the third annual Pure Ludington BRRRewFest is back by popular demand. It should be even bigger and better this year, with over 50 brewers from throughout Michigan showcasing their best. It’s an afternoon of beer and live music at Ludington's community garden. Tickets are $25 in-advance and include 6 drink tokens and a 5oz. commemorative tasting glass. Best of all, proceeds benefit Friends of Ludington State Park, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting that beautiful park. www.pureludington.com/beer.cfm


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