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Grand Rapids offers wide variety of holiday activities

Photo Courtesy Devan Vander Kooy
Photo Courtesy Devan Vander Kooy

Do you find yourself looking for a distraction from the endless studying and stress that comes along with the end of the semester? Look no further than our own city, Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids offers a wide variety of holiday activities that appeal to every taste. These activities range from holiday concerts and exhibits to outdoor activities.

One of the most popular outdoor activities is ice-skating. Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink offers ice-skating in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

Junior Alyssa Meyer commented enthusiastically on her experience at Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink.

“It’s a great way to experience the downtown culture,” Meyer said.  “It’s perfect for floor dates because it’s easy for everyone to get involved and it isn’t expensive.”

Junior Josh Jacka also reflected on his experience at Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink. Last year, his dorm floor went on a floor date to the rink.

“It is a place where you can get away from campus and enjoy a great night,” Jacka said.

He went on to describe his most memorable experience at the rink.

“The coolest part was going there late one night after it snowed,” Jacka said. “No one was there, and the ice was snow covered.”

Jacka also mentioned Rosa Parks Circle Ice rink as an ideal place for both seasoned skaters and less gifted skaters.

The rink will open Dec. 5 in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

Other popular outdoor activities include snow skiing and snow tubing. Cannonsburg Ski Area and Bittersweet Ski Resort are popular skiing sites in the area. Those who are looking to try snow tubing can visit Pando Winter Sports Park.

Junior Sandra Ouwinga has visited Pando Winter Sports Park in the past, and she appreciated its lighthearted atmosphere.

“I think Pando is fun for people who aren’t hardcore skiers or snowboarders,” Ouwinga said. “You don’t need to have special equipment, and anyone can do it.”

In addition to the range of outdoor activities available in Grand Rapids, a variety of musical events will take place this holiday season.

The Grand Rapids Symphony is hosting two events, including the Nestle Gerber Holiday Pops and the Fifth Third Cirque de Noel.

The Nestlé Gerber Holiday Pops, held Dec. 5, 6, 7 and 8, will feature traditional holiday favorites, including a Christmas sing-along and the Hallelujah Chorus.

The Fifth Third Cirque de Noel, held Dec. 17, 18 and 19, will feature Cirque de la Symphonie acrobats performing impressive feats to classical holiday musical selections.

Freshman Hillary Glover has attended the Fifth Third Cirque de Noel in the past and was captivated by the performance.

“The music was amazing,” Glover said, “but then to make it even better, there were acts of people contorting themselves, flying from trapezes, hanging from ropes and doing other incredible things I could never do. Quite mesmerizing to watch!”

Glover went on to comment on show’s uniqueness.

“What made it unique was the fact that Cirque de la Symphonie was up in front of the stage while the symphony was playing,” Glover said, “which made it no ordinary concert. It was a fun and festive twist to the Grand Rapids Symphony. It’s a kind of show you don’t have the opportunity to see everyday.”

Karen Mueller, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Grand Rapids Symphony, emphasized the show’s distinctive nature.

“This event is unique primarily because of the live orchestra behind the Cirque artists,” Mueller said. “Many other Cirque shows simply use pre-recorded music. The musicians add a new level of artistry to the show … It has really turned into a Grand Rapids holiday tradition.”

In addition to its array of holiday musical events, Grand Rapids offers special holiday exhibits.

One of these exhibits is the Frederik Meijer Gardens Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World. The exhibit features an impressive display of lights and Christmas trees from around the world.

Fifth Third Ballpark also features a lights display. The Nite Lites Christmas Display is Michigan’s largest Christmas light show, which features approximately one million lights.

These events and activities are only a sampling of what Grand Rapids has to offer this season.

 

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