Band performing on stage at Brite Winter in Cleveland (photo by Dan Segal)

Embrace Winter at Cleveland’s Outdoor Music Festival

Brite Winter began in 2010 as a way to bring northeast Ohioans out for live music and interesting art and has become a February tradition in the city. 

What’s a better place to throw a party than along the Lake Erie shore in the middle of the snowy season? Cleveland’s Brite Winter festival knows just how to spark some mid-hibernation warmth and excitement. Since 2010, the festival has drawn crowds who eagerly bundle up for a day packed with art and live music in a variety of genres. 

The event brings more than two dozen musical acts from across the city and beyond to outdoor and tented stages on the West Bank of the Flats where Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River meet. The range of acts routinely spans rock, hip-hop, punk, soul, indie-pop, DJs and more, including many newer acts.

“It is often their first time playing in front of a crowd this size,” says Emily Hornack, co-founder and executive director of Brite Winter. 

Large-scale art installations built by professional artists and local groups like the Cleveland Institute of Art and Ingenuity Cleveland are part of the festival fun, as are themed warming tents across the festival grounds where attendees can step into an environment created by a particular artist.

Hornack was a graduate student at Case Western Reserve University when she and her friend, Jimmy Harris, developed the inaugural Brite Winter festival. Focusing on Cleveland’s rich arts scene, the pair got to work on a do-it-yourself event that drew around 800 people in its first year. Since then, Brite Winter has grown to host between 12,000 and 15,000 attendees and has included headliners such as Welshly Arms and Colony House. Tickets are $17 day of and $12 in advance, and a list of acts can be found on the festival website.

“The city kind of falls asleep between New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day” Hornack says, “but people will come out to spend time together, even in the cold.”  

The 2024 Music Lineup: This year, the Cleveland-formed band Wayama, an energetic five-piece act that merges reggae, hip-hop and funk, headlines Brite Winter. The day’s lineup also includes Chayla Hope, The Monday Program, LoConti, M.O.O.K.Y., Radderall, Ray Flanagan & The Mean Machines and many more. Visit the festival website for the full lineup. 

1153 Main Ave., Cleveland 44113,