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Things to Do While in Town for Hockeytown Winter Festival

Posted on Thursday, December 05 2013 in Events

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It’s one of the biggest celebrations of the sport of hockey ever and it’s happening at the end of this month. If you’re visiting the Detroit area for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic matchup of Original Six rivals Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day, you’ll want to come early to make the most of your time in metro Detroit! For hockey fans (even those without tickets to the big game), a wealth of hockey-related activities await.

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Leading up to the NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™, an outdoor hockey extravaganza scheduled Dec. 27-31. The infield of Detroit’s open air Comerica Park will be transformed into a hockey rink that will showcase all levels of play. (See below for complete schedule).

More Fun for the Fans

The Coke Zero Fan Zone takes place outside of Comerica Park in conjunction with the festival. The fan zone is free to ticket holders of each day’s Winter Festival hockey games or just $5 admission per day for non-ticket holders.

The Fan Zone will fill three giant heated tents with tons of fun and excitement for hockey fans of all ages including:

Hockey-Themed Exhibits, Games & Activities:

  • Hockey Hall of Fame artifacts exhibit
  • Full-size street hockey rink for ages five and older
  • Open skate on a full-size synthetic ice rink (hockey skates only, please)
  • Hardest shot radar cage game
  • Top shot electronic hockey net game
  • Mini-sticks game
  • Bubble hockey game
  • Video game challenges

Autograph & Photo Opportunities

  • Stanley Cup display with photo opportunities
  • Q&A sessions with Red Wings and Maple Leafs alumni
  • Alumni autograph booths
  • Locker room displays and photo opportunities

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Food & Entertainment

  • SnowZilla simulated toboggan slide
  • Bounce house
  • Local musical acts
  • Food truck vendors
  • Detroit restaurants
  • Hot cocoa and s’mores stations
  • Fire pit warming stations

Coke Zero Fan Zone hours complement the Hockeytown Winter Festival:

  • Friday, Dec. 27 from 1-10 p.m. (Great Lakes Invitational games MSU vs. MTU – 3:30 and WMU vs. U-M – 7 p.m.)
  • Saturday, Dec. 28 from 1-10 p.m. (GLI Consolation Game – 3:30 p.m. and GLI Championship Game – 7 p.m.)
  • Sunday, Dec. 29 from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (OHL games Windsor vs. Saginaw – 1:30 p.m. and London vs. Plymouth – 5 p.m.)
  • Monday, Dec. 30 from 1-8 p.m. (AHL game Toronto Marlies vs. Grand Rapids Griffins – 5 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown games – 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.)

The eagerly anticipated Alumni Showdown games are a highlight of the festival, chock-full of Hockey Hall of Fame players and coaches from the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.

Click above to get your official fan guide to the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™.

But wait, there’s more!

While Detroit proudly celebrates its Hockeytown nickname, we’re also known as the Motor City and Motown. Clearly, there’s more to us than just hockey. Since no one likes to live with regret, be sure to save time on your itinerary for some of Detroit’s other top tourist venues.

The Henry Ford in Dearborn is one of America’s greatest history attractions. At Henry Ford Museum, you’ll explore ideas and inventions that changed the world. The Ford Rouge Factory Tour provides a peek behind the curtain at the auto manufacturing experience. Limited tickets may still be available for Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, an event that allows visitors to time travel to Christmases past. Fans of the movie “Avatar” won’t want to miss James Cameron’s Avatar: The Exhibit.

You’ll be wowed by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals are a Detroit icon. A special traveling exhibit, Watch Me Move: The Animation Show, runs through Jan. 5 and covers 150 years of animation history.

The Motown Museum celebrates one of Detroit’s most important exports — the Motown sound. A tour of the humble beginnings of Motown Records at Hitsville USA will have you Dancin’ in the Streets!

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Refuel at one of downtown Detroit’s plethora of dining options. For casual fare try nearby Hockeytown Cafe or Elwood Bar & Grill. Want to treat your palate to some authentic ethnic flavors? Try Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine, New Parthenon Restaurant in Greektown, Bucharest Grill for quick-serve Mediterranean or Fishbone’s for some Cajun flare. Looking for a more upscale dining experience? Coach Insignia, Opus One or The Whitney are some of Detroit’s gems.

For evening entertainment options, take Lady Luck for a spin around the dance floor at one of Detroit’s three casinos, MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino. Cliff Bell’s is a Detroit original with live entertainment nightly. Want to see where the Red Wings play their home games? Joe Louis Arena will host the WWE Live Holiday Tour Dec. 28 and ambitious country music fans can ring in the New Year with the Zac Brown Band Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Visit olympiaentertainment.com for tickets to either event.

Travel Tips

Snow this time of year is a real possibility here, so dress for warmth and comfort — abandon fashion for practicality just this once — and be sure to pack some snow boots!

If you haven’t already made lodging arrangements, visitdetroit.com is your link to downtown hotels. And the current Visit Detroit magazine provides all the information you’ll need to make the most of your stay in The D, including a cover story with more info on the NHL Winter Classic!

Have you planned out your day in The D for the Hockeytown Winter Festival? What’s on your agenda?


About the Author: Freelance writer Michelle Fusco expects a visit to the Hockeytown Winter Festival to be one of the highlights of the holiday break for her three young hockey fans —and hockey fanatic husband.

Photo Credit: Bill Bowen, Detroit Red Wings