Story by Amanda Koehn

When Brite Winter returns to the West Bank of the Flats Feb. 26, it will shine even brighter than before on the local musical talent Northeast Ohio has to offer.

For the Cleveland winter music and art festival’s past 12 years it offered a mix of live performances from musical acts living near and far. But after going virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, of the 30 acts that will perform this year, 29 are from Northeast Ohio. The headliner, Colony House, is an indie rock band from Nashville, Tenn.

The focus on local music came naturally this year, said Morgan Passek, programming and marketing committee chair on Brite Winter’s board. The selection process involved 50 community members evaluating more than 400 acts that applied. After they were narrowed down, a committee met to pick the lineup to book.

“As we were in that small committee process, we realized the top of the top were all Northeast Ohio acts,” Passek told Canvas.

Brite Winter also includes interactive art experiences, food and drink trucks, family activities and more.


After the remote shift, Passek said it feels surreal and exciting to be back in the Flats this year. The theme is lucky 13 – marking Brite Winter’s 13th year. Its intention is to celebrate the luck, gratitude and positivity that has persisted during the challenging events of the last couple years, she said.

Thirteen items to bring luck will be placed throughout the festival’s completely outdoor space. For example, it will feature a florescent star-scape art installation, created in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and attendees will write down their wishes to interact with the artwork, she said.

“We kind of played on the idea of what symbolizes luck in many cultures and we worked with specific groups throughout the community to really showcase that,” Passek said.

Brite Winter 2022 will also mark the first time the entire festival will be hosted outside, making for a safer setting amid the pandemic. While attendees do not need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or wear masks for general admission, VIP ticket holders must be vaccinated and wear a face mask to take advantage of the VIP area. Privately owned businesses like bars and restaurants near the festival may also require masking or have different policies, Passek said.

Artists take the stage at a 2020 performance at Brite Winter. | Canvas Photo / Alyssa Schmitt

Brite Winter’s four staff members manage on-site logistics, while the working board helps operate the festival each year. While the festival costs $5 for general admission this year, charging a small fee helps ensure Brite Winter is able to compensate each artist and band member performing, Passek said.

While supporting local artists monetarily through this continually challenging time is paramount, exposure from the festival can also be invaluable to the performers and creators.

“I would say the simple act of posting their experiences at Brite Winter and tagging the bands on social media can go a long way,” Passek said. “It gets their name out there and aids in music discovery.”

She said while she was thrilled to have chosen almost completely local acts for the festival’s in-person return, it will make for a challenging choice to decide which of the four stages to watch at any given time.

“Every stage is packed with wonderful talent,” she said. “I’m going to have to run my feet off to try to see everyone because the lineup is just so good that it’ll be hard to pick one over the other.”

Canvas and its sister publication, The Cleveland Jewish News, are media partners of the event.