Traverse City Events: The laughs are coming back to Northern Michigan this winter with the return of a comedy fest, only this time the multi-day event also will present a daytime slate of outdoor family activities.

The Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival—a collaboration between Traverse City’s two largest summer events, the National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival (founded by Michael Moore)—is slated for Presidents Day weekend, February 14 thru 17.

“We’re trying to bring together some of the best elements of what was the Winter WOW!Fest and at the same time bring back the greatly missed comedy festival attributes for one big, high-impact weekend,” says Trevor Tkach, executive director of the Cherry Festival.

Festival evenings will serve up comedy performances by nationally acclaimed comedians like Mike Birbiglia, and films—mostly comedy films—at the State Theatre, City Opera House and Old Town Playhouse. Festival days will host activities and entertainment downtown on Front Street (organizers plan to close the city street to traffic). Expect a synthetic ice-skating rink, sledding hill, sled-dog pulls, soup tasting, and a Ferris wheel, bonfire, 3D imaging show and fireworks. Events formerly held in the public parking lot just north of downtown will move to the heart of the city. Evening events will be mostly ticketed, but daytime events will be mostly free or low cost.

“We want to do something that is really, really cool,” says Tkach, who worked with Deb Lake, executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival, on the new festival concept. “We’re working together for the good of the region.”

Organizers hope the festival is a shot in the arm for area businesses that may struggle during the colder months. “We’re trying to put together an event that’s not only enjoyable because it’s great fun, but because it’s an economic driver. We’ve got high hopes,” Tkach says.

Find more Northern Michigan events on our event calendar!