For those of us who choose to live in Michigan, embracing each season is part of the joy. The state is a winter wonderland come this time of year, with plenty of January events and opportunities. Here are a dozen to consider.
Jan 5 Treetops Skiable Feast – Gaylord
Often the only downside to enjoying a gourmet feast, is needing to work off all of those calories. What if you could enjoy one, while accomplishing the other, and in a pristine setting? This culinary adventure takes you on a 6 km (3.8 miles) cross country ski excursion that features food and beverage stations along the way. The event runs from 9AM-3PM and is $89 per person. If you miss it on 1/5, you can schedule for 1/12, 1/19/ 1/26, 2/9, 2/16, 2/23 or 3/2. Beginner level skiers or snowshoers are welcome.
Jan 11-20 Beer Week – Kalamazoo
Any time you visit Kalamazoo, there’s an argument to be made that it’s a beer week, but in January, it’s official. KBW includes a series of events to celebrate craft beer including special tastings, dinners, and interactive events. You can participate in a walking tour to get an introduction to local brews and pubs, tour a brewery, fill up growlers at a discounted rate, and of course taste a wide range of intricate, unique, flavorful products.
Jan 11-25 Stars of the Pharaohs – Bay City
Mid-January is a great time to make a trip to the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center in Bay City. A special exhibition reveals how science was used to tell time, make a workable calendar, and align huge buildings in ancient Egypt. It’s also a unique opportunity to experience some of the most spectacular temples and tombs of the ancient world recreated in all their original splendor.
Jan 12 Sips and Soups – Leelanau Peninsula
There’s a perfect wine for every dish, or in this case, every bowl. Combine the warmth of Leelanau hospitality and hot broth, with the rosy glow that comes from a great wine, and you’ve got an ideal winter event. Savory soups and hearty chilis are paired with delicious Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, and Chardonnays along the Sleeping Bear, Northern, or Traverse Bay loop. Tickets are $20 and include a souvenir glass with $5 going to support local food banks.
Jan 12-14 International Ice Sculpture Festival – Plymouth
Plymouth’s Kellogg Park might well be the coldest selfie hotspot in the state each January. Each of the hand-carved sculptures on display is a stunning, albeit temporary, work of art. You never know what you’ll see. Previous masterpieces have included castles, monsters, and even Mount Rushmore. Check them out, pose for pics, and pop into a local downtown eatery or shop to warm up. You can even munch on a delectable taste of Michigan from our friends at U.P. Pasties Co. on Forest while in town.
Jan 19 River Raisin Battles Commemoration – Monroe
River Raisin National Battlefield Park preserves a bloody piece of American history that took place in Michigan during the War of 1812. In honor of the 206th Anniversary of the Battles of the River Raisin, and to help new generations learn more about what happened, the park will feature a series of events on Saturday January 19th including: Tales from the British 41st Regiment at 9AM, a tactical demonstration at 11AM, a flag and wreath ceremony at Noon, and a talk by historian Ellen Kennedy at 2:30PM.
Jan 19-20 Winterfest & Snowmobile Races– Caro
Michigan is a magical place to snowmobile, but it can be equally incredible to watch others take part in the sport, especially when they are the best of the best. Head to the Thumb for a truly fun winter extravaganza. Watch professional snowmobile racing, enjoy meet-n-greets with the drivers, check out the chainsaw carving competition, partake in a local pub crawl, listen to live tunes, bid in a silent auction sled, dine, drink, and be merry.
Jan 19-27 North American International Auto Show – Detroit
2019 marks the last year that the eyes of the world focus upon Detroit in January. The city’s annual auto celebration will be moving to June in 2020. While, undoubtedly the summer option will bring many advantages, there’s something special about seeing the town spring to life in the middle of winter. Streets fill with bundled up journalists and tourists at a time that is otherwise sleepy. The new year starts with exciting reveals from several manufacturers. Whether you’ve never been, haven’t been in a while, or go every year, don’t miss this last chance to experience the winter carnival of car shows.
Jan 23-27 Thunder Bay International Film Festival – Alpena
We Michiganders love our water, but when it’s too cold to be on it or in it, we have also been known to curl up with popcorn and a good movie to await the spring thaw. Thankfully, each year the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary combine the two. For five days in January, northeast Michigan hosts some of the most impressive ocean and Great Lakes films from around the world, complemented by social events, educational activities, and opportunities to meet filmmakers.
Jan 23-28 Zehnder’s Snowfest – Frankenmuth
What Plymouth likes to do with ice, Frankenmuth likes to tackle and also add snow to the mix. If you want to inspire your family to create frozen art that extends beyond a man with a carrot nose, then this is the place to be. Pros gather at Zehnder’s Snowfest each season for one of top snow-sculpting events in North America. These larger-than-life snow and ice sculptures are beautifully detailed. Marvel as they’re being made, or simply walk amongst the completed pieces. When you’ve seen enough, or seen them all, grab some of that famous fried chicken or get a local-centric meal from the fine folks at Michigan on Main.
Jan 26 Ice Wine Harvest Festival – Old Mission Peninsula
What better time than January to explore the wonders of ice wine? For those unfamiliar, the category derives its name not from how it is served, but from the way it is made. Ice wine is a delectable sweet treat that can only be made from grapes that are frozen on the vine. During this unique celebration, guests are invited on one of 3 tours to follow the path of the frozen grape in the Chateau Chantal cellar where ice wine is made. There will also be plenty of opportunities to taste and purchase the sweet nectar.
Jan 26-27 Orchid Show – Grand Rapids
Even while embracing winter in all its glory, sometimes it helps to be reminded of warmer climates and flowers. Nowhere is it easier to get your floral pick-me-up than at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park at the end of the month. The Grand Room will be filled with beautiful orchids, competing for ribbons and the coveted American Orchid Society Awards. There will also be plenty of educational talks and opportunities to purchase orchids and hard-to-find orchid-growing supplies for the would-be Orchidists among us.