Cleveland’s Brite Winter Festival Celebrates Its 13th Year

The annual non-profit festival took place on the West Bank of the Flats, underneath the West Avenue Bridge

An ice sculpture made near entrance of the Brite Winter Festival. Photo by MaKayla Brown

On Feb 26, Brite Winter — a one night only, non-profit festival, finished its 13th year in the West Bank of the Flats, underneath the West Avenue Bridge.

Starting at 3 p.m. and ending around midnight, Brite Winter featured music from 30 bands of various genres, including mainly Ohio based artists, across four different stages. This list of musical artists included: Chanelle Kazadi , Angela Perley , The Super Babes , HALLIE, Swamp Meet, Who Saved Who, and Corry Michaels and more!

The headliner, Colony House was the only non-Ohio based band. This indie rock band came in from Nashville, Tennessee to perform for Clevelanders’. The full music line-up for the 2022 Brite Winter Festival can be found on their website.

School of Rock’s empowering performance kicked off Brite Winter at 3pm on the stage under the bridge, with Liz Bullock’s incredible voice on ports petroleum stage at 3:20 p.m.

Continuing on in the evening, Taylor Lambon’s dynamic performance could be seen on the Hyland stage, on Elm St along with the powerful raps of Free Black! — accompanied with a push-up show — on the stage under the bridge.

Later on in the night, the indie tunes of The Buffalo Ryders could be heard from the stage in the lot and the hip-hop beats of R The Czar on the petroleum stage.

Brite Winter began in 2010 when Emily Hornack and her friends, previous graduate students at Case Western Reserve University, noticed a lack of winter programming in Cleveland. They wanted to create a festival during the often quiet time of year. Ever since Brite Winter began, it has been very popular amongst the Cleveland community.

In addition to music, this year Brite Winter featured large art displays, like local artist Jessica Sheeran’s psychedelic pyramids and Amanda Nyx’s “Dream Gate” featuring paisley benches and a bejeweled elephant. A lucky-13 “slot machine” where players could win dance parties, a fortune teller box with a live teller, a psychedelic “take a peek” display that showcased a galaxy on the inside- and asked on goers to make a wish. As well as ice sculptures – some of which were being created live, were some of the other many art features presented at Brite Winter this year.

In typical Cleveland fashion, the weather for this February event ranges every year from sunny, to rainy and freezing cold temperatures. This year, festival goers braved 25 degree and dropping weather to attend. The weather didn’t seem to slow this year’s Brite Winter down, as thousands of people came bundled up and ready to have a good time.

In some parts of the festival, bonfires and hot cocoa could be found to help keep festival goers warm. Additionally, local West Bank of the Flats bars, McCarthy’s and Harbor Inn welcomed festival goers inside for a drink or two. Brite Winter 2022 beanies were also being sold for anyone who forgot to bundle, or just wanted a souvenir.

In 2021, Brite Winter was canceled for in-person gathering due to COVID-19 but was made virtual via Facebook and YouTube live, and re-named TwiBrite, featuring 15 musical artists. To combat the cancellation from last year, the typically free event charged patrons $5 for tickets, which could be bought ahead of time. In pre-caution to COVID-19 this year, the festival took place completely outdoors instead of having some indoor stages and tents like in past years.

Every year, Brite Winter forages a wonderful celebration of music, art, and community which keeps Clevelanders’ and tourists coming back, no matter what the weather may bring. For more information and details about next year’s festival check out Brite Winter’s website!

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