Before you know it, the 2023 entertainment calendar will begin to fill up with annual festivals, outdoor concert series and farmers markets, but first … cold, snow and winter.
While we wait for brighter, busier days ahead, here are six things set to happen in the Green Bay area this year that are new to the lineup.
Opening of Carol & Bruce Bell Children’s Garden
Kids will have acres to explore, climb, crawl and slide when Green Bay Botanical Garden’s new children’s garden opens in May.
Five times bigger than the Gertrude B. Nielsen Children’s Garden that opened 26 years ago, the 2½-acre Carol & Bruce Bell Children’s Garden will be the largest in the state and one of the biggest in the Upper Midwest. Families will be able to learn about plants, nature, water and wildlife with lily pad splash and mushroom jumper woodland play areas, treehouse structures with views from 16 feet up, a hillside tunnel and cave, a raindrop garden and critter sculptures that include birds, badgers and turtles. More than 500 trees and 20,000 perennials also will be planted.
Favorite features from the existing garden, including Mr. McGregor’s Garden, a koi pond and the Stumpf Hobbit House restroom, will be incorporated into the new garden as Gertrude B. Nielsen Village.
Levitt AMP Green Bay Music Series
Leicht Memorial Park will kick off the first of three consecutive summers of free concerts, thanks to On Broadway Inc.’s successful bid for a $90,000 matching Levitt AMP Grant Award to help make it happen. Music lovers get 10 concerts each summer at the downtown park along the Fox River.
Preliminary plans for this year call for hosting concerts from 2 to 5 p.m. Sundays as an alternative to many of the evening and weekday concert series that fill up the calendar in Green Bay and the surrounding communities in the summer, said Brian Johnson, executive director of On Broadway. The series is expected to launch June 25 and run through Aug. 27, with the lineup of artists to be announced at a later date.
It’s the first time Green Bay has landed a three-year grant. In 2019, a $25,000 Levitt AMP Grant Award made a single summer of concerts at the park possible.
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Mulva Cultural Center opening
Since the project broke ground in August 2021, anyone who travels regularly through downtown De Pere has watched in wonder as the 75,000-square-foot glass structure takes shape. Made possible by philanthropists James and Miriam Mulva, the Mulva Cultural Center will host world-class touring exhibits, diverse cultural programming, film screenings and educational opportunities when it opens in late summer.
The building overlooking the Fox River will feature a 10,000-square-foot main exhibit hall with movable walls, a 200-seat auditorium with a 40-foot screen, an upscale café, gift shop, atrium, classrooms and a second floor-viewing deck.
The Mulva’s first season of programming and exhibits is scheduled to be announced early this year. The center will focus on history, natural history, science, arts and photography, pop culture, world religions and expects to attract high-profile touring exhibits.
Artfest Green Bay
Artstreet’s 40-year run as a fixture in downtown Green Bay came to end last summer when Mosaic Arts Inc. moved the free juried art fair to Ashwaubomay Park in Ashwaubenon. Art lovers who miss the browsing experience on downtown streets will have a new art and culture celebration to check out this summer.
Downtown Green Bay Inc. will host Artfest Green Bay July 28-30 with exhibiting artists, music, food and demonstrations. The free event will be held in what organizers have called “the heart of downtown,” likely including some of the same streets utilized by Artstreet. Artfest is hoping to attract local, state and national exhibiting artists. Artist applications accepted until March 1 at downtowngreenbay.com.
Yes, it’s just what it sounds like — a full day’s celebration of all things meat. The first-time event is planned for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 20 inside and outside (weather permitting) the Resch Expo in Ashwaubenon. The early plans call for more than 50,000 square feet of food trucks, cooking seminars, a beer garden and a children’s area with mini golf. The Meat Smoking Club of Wisconsin will host an amateur competition out on the plaza. You can almost smell it now. An on-sale date for tickets is still to come.
‘Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’
The good news: The traveling event’s website still lists a stop in Green Bay and promises details are “coming soon.” The bad news: We don’t know anything more about the where or when than we did in 2022 when Green Bay was first listed among the cities getting a future visit.
The multimedia spectacle brings more than 300 of the famed Dutch post-impressionist painter’s works to life through cutting-edge projections onto walls, floors and columns in a large space. The installation is accompanied by a symphonic score. As guests walk through, they’re immersed in larger-than-life images that flow across multiple surfaces and appear and disappear.
Stay tuned for updates on the Green Bay visit at https://vangoghgreenbay.com.
A couple of reminders about Rock the Dock and Polar Express …
Rock the Dock is changing locations. The music festival that debuted in 2019 on downtown Green Bay’s CityDeck is heading to Voyageur Park in De Pere this year to allow for more room for its multiple stages and drone show. The fun runs from noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 19. The band lineup has not yet been announced. Proceeds benefit Compassionate Home Health Care Inc.
Polar Express tickets go on sale in July. If you want to enjoy the Hot Chocolate Dance in your jammies and a train ride to the North Pole during the holidays, you have to be quick with the tickets in the summer. The Polar Express Train Ride at National Railroad Museum in Ashwaubenon sells out quick (12,400-plus tickets for 40 shows in less than 24 hours last year). Tickets for this year’s performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 17 through Dec. 10 go on sale at 10 a.m. July 25. The purchasing process will be posted when available at nationalrrmuseum.org.
Kendra Meinert is an entertainment and feature writer at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Contact her at 920-431-8347 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.