In Cleveland, Outdoor Festivals Aren't Just for Nice Weather

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

I think Brite Winter might be the Clevelandiest of Cleveland events: It's an outdoor concert... in February... under a bridge, next to the Cuyahoga River. Did I mention that it's outdoors in February? In Cleveland?

First things first, why does Cleveland do this? I know that's what you're asking, especially if you're the kind of warm-weather person who wears a winter jacket when it gets as "cold" as 50 degrees. But here's the thing you have to understand about the Midwest: It gets cold here, & sometimes it sucks, but a lot of the time? Well, a lot of the time it's mostly OK by us.

I, for one, have always preferred cold weather to warm weather. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want 365 days of polar vortexes, but overall, I prefer coldness over warmmth. I'm too sweaty to function during summer, & I look cuter in sweaters than in shorts, & maybe my internal thermometer is off, or something, but I've always felt very Elsa about winter. You know: The cold never bothered me, anyway. 

Brite Winter is a celebration of that aspect of Cleveland life: that, yes, it gets really cold here, but no, life doesn't stop when it does. As a city of robust activities & events during the warmer season, why should we have to stop all those activities & events when it gets cold? 

I’ve only been to Brite Winter once & wanted to go this year because one of my favorite bands, Smallpools, was the headliner. Exciting! Mike’s friend Adam was visiting from Brooklyn, & he was surprisingly enthusiastic about joining us at this outdoor event on a cold, windy Cleveland night.

What’s it like to attend a festival beneath a bridge in the middle of winter? Imagine:
·         Two stages with live music throughout the day & late into the night
·         Drink tickets at varying price points, to be redeemed for Mancan wine, Tito’s cocktails, & a variety of beers from local brewery Platform Beer Co.
·         Lots of lighting – including snowflakes, pro-Cleveland slogans, & names of event sponsors –  projected onto the side of the bridge & other architectural elements
·         A food truck court featuring a few of the best local mobile eats, including Swenson’s. We decided Adam had to try a Galley Boy & Potato Teezers!
·         Photo ops like ice sculptures, the roving #ThisisCLE statue, & large seating structures shaped like ice formations
·         Warmth provided in the form of bonfires in trashcan-like receptacles… with $5 s’mores kebabs for sale to roast over them.

Unfortunately, due to incoming rain & a particularly intoxicated member of our party, we did not get to see Smallpools play live. In fact, we were back in our apartment by 9:30pm, doing a Disney movie-themed power hour & eating pizza from Edison’s. But I was glad we went at all & especially that we got to show an out-of-town friend one of Cleveland’s finest & more unique events. Brite Winter makes the rest of winter feel a little bit more bearable!

I didn't get many photos, & the ones I did get are terrible. You can see some really good ones in this roundup from Cleveland Scene, taken by local photographer Nathan Rogers. 

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