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Winter Blast, downtown Detroit's annual cold-weather cornucopia of outdoor fun, returns this season with not one, but four weekends of programming. 

Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends is the new official name, and the fun runs Saturday to Monday, plus the following three weekends. This year there is no admission charge. 

Each weekend has a highlight, like free ice skating at Campus Martius (first and last weekend), the Winter Slide (Feb. 8-10) or the 300-foot-long Zip Line (Feb. 15-17). 

All four weekends will have a food truck rally, marshmallow roasting, local musicians and family-friendly activities like jugglers, clowns and science demos. 

Also consistent throughout Winter Blast Weekends is the Ice Sculpture Garden from US Ice. The Detroit News is sponsoring this feature in February. 

Sculptor Brad Groszkiewicz from US Ice Carvings says they’re creating many never-before-seen creations during the four Winter Blast Weekends. 

“We’re going to do some larger displays for some photo ops, some live demos and somebody will be carving pretty much every day at least once or twice, so they can see live carving and then we’re also going to be doing some festivities at night with fire and ice.”

Groszkiewicz — who uses chainsaws, custom-made bits and even computers to design and execute the ice sculptures — is part of a team that includes three full-time carvers on staff, and they’ll also bring in a group of artists from around the country to help mold the 200-plus blocks of ice they’re bringing to Winter Blast Weekends. 

“We’re scheduled to do 200 blocks over the four weekends, but here at US Ice we never do anything small, so we’re going to be surprising some people with some fun stuff.”

He says for each weekend of Winter Blast the Ice Scuptrue Garden will have a different theme, including sports, winter sports, landmarks and a beach motif. 

If it gets too warm, which is entirely possible considering the low-snow winter we’ve had so far, US Ice will be prepared. 

“We’re going to try to plan everything out in the freezer,” he said. “If it’s a warm day, some of the stuff we’re just going to have to make two of to be able to combat that. Honestly, we play that by ear.” 

Groszkiewicz says he’s hoping for temperatures in the 20s, which is perfect for the ice and not too cold for festivalgoers to hang outside. 

Another highlight to Winter Blast this year is a zero food waste imitative presented by Kroger and the fleet of food trucks that will feed hungry festival goers. As part of Kroger's Zero Hunger Waste Program, the food trucks will donate food those in need. 

Food trucks scheduled to appear this weekend are Beans & Cornbread, Taste of Nawlins, Chick A D, Fortune Cookin', Imperial Ferndale and Soaring Eagle Cuisine Machine. 

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.

Also Jan. 25-27, Feb. 8-10 and 15-17

Campus Martius Park

800 Woodward, Detroit

Free admission

(248) 541-7550 or winterblast.com

Schedule

Ice carving, marshmallow roasting, food trucks and live entertainment each weekend

Free ice skating, this weekend and Feb. 15-17

City Slopes ski and snowboard experience, Jan. 25-17

Strolling buskers, Jan. 25-27 and . Feb. 15-17

Winter Slide, Feb. 8-10

Polar Plunge, Feb. 8-10

Zip Line, Feb. 15-17

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