Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Carve out part of day to take in Winterval

Lots of activities planned for city’s annual festival

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published January 19, 2022

Just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason to get out and have fun in Fort Wayne.

The 11th annual Winterval has a day full of activities designed to get you out of the house to celebrate the fact that Old Man Winter has been pretty kind to us so far this year. In all, fourteen indoor and outdoor events or activities will be held Saturday, Jan. 29, with the entertainment taking place at various locations around the Summit City.

Getting Day off to a Hot Start

The fun-filled, family-friendly day begins at 9am with a “Winter Hike” in the woods of the 110-acre Lindenwood Nature Preserve. The guided hike will offer a chance to view some local wildlife as well as several optimal chances for great photos that have that special Indiana winter background. A bonfire will be held afterward to help warm everyone up and get them ready for the days next activity.

Celebrate at the Botanical Conservatory from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with a free ice carving demonstration outside. Inside, the Conservatory is offering “Bird Feeder Craft” and an opportunity to take home a free plant with the price of admission. The spectacular “Under the Big Top” exhibit will be something you’ll want to visit allowing you the chance to stroll through the greatest circus garden in town.

Science Central will host “Fire and Ice” from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. In addition to the normal attractions of this Fort Wayne staple, the special attraction of “Fire and Ice” will see attendees having fun while exploring the properties of liquid nitrogen with unique bubbles and colorful flames. Admission to this event is $12 for adults and $10 for kids.

Plenty of Downtown Activities

Ice skating can be a fun fitness activity for the whole family or simply a way to get outside and socialize. The perfect place to do those things is Headwaters Ice Rink in Headwaters Park, which will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Believe it or not, mushing, the practice of traveling via dogsled, is not all that uncommon, even in Fort Wayne. While you are in Headwaters Park, take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about this activity as the Heartland Mushers will have sled dogs participating in several educational demonstrations from 1 -4 p.m.

Winterval at the Library is all about the kids. From 1-4 p.m., the downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library will focus on winter crafts for kids. Meet in the Children’s Services Department for maximum creativity.

Lawton Park Trailhead will host a free “Trek the Trails” bike ride beginning at 1 p.m. A guided 6-mile ride on the Pufferbelly Trail to Franke Park will show off the best of what the Fort Wayne trails have to offer. The Pufferbelly Trail is one segment of a State Visionary Trail that will ultimately be 80 miles long, running from Pokagon State Park in Angola to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.

Family Fun

The Winter Carnival, another free event, takes place at the Community Center from 1-4 p.m. Among the activities that will take place are a unique chance to play Ice Sculpted Miniature Golf and witness a Candy Luge, as well as opportunities to make snow crafts, play winter games, take a carriage ride and watch live ice sculpting.

Also on tap at the Community Center is the first annual Warm Heart Market. Take advantage of the chance to buy one-of-a-kind handcrafted and homemade items while supporting local businesses. Bring the big pocketbook as there will be plenty to buy. The sale is noon-5 p.m.

Man’s best friend won’t be left out of Winterval as “Dog Sweater Day” will give you a chance to show off the best in canine fashion from 3-5 p.m. in Promenade Park. Whether it’s a cable knit sweater, warm scarf, puppy leg warmers or a killer canine overcoat, have your dog’s picture taken in the Bandshell to enter the “Cutest Dog Contest” with the winner determined by most likes on Facebook.

History buffs will want to stop by the Old Fort for Nouvelle Annee 1750s. Watch how French soldiers, settlers, voyageurs and their Miami Native allies endured the chilly winter months in skits reenacting actual historical events from the history of Fort Wayne from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be a celebration in the Fort without some of that sudsy stuff. The Winterval Beer Trail features twelve regional breweries and cideries culminating March 6 with a limited-seating trivia night at Hop River Brewing Company. Pick up a passport at any of the participating locations, get it stamped and turn it in at the Community Center during Winterval to earn a prize.

Rare Winter Celebration

As you can see, just because warm weather and the traditional festival season is still months away, it doesn’t mean festival lovers have to wait until the Three Rivers Festival to enjoy some family fun.

While many may argue that there isn’t a lot to enjoy about Indiana winters, Winterval will provide at least one bright day in an otherwise normally gray season. It likely won’t be possible to take part in everything you want to do, but there is no doubt that attending any of these Winterval events is bound to put a smile on many faces.


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