The quieter months on the East End are cherished as a time to interact and truly get to know the community. Long Island Winterfest welcomes those near and far to experience the area like a local, and also brings in some much-needed tourism. Now in its 12th year, LIWF kicks off Friday, February 22, with a party at the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead, and runs through March 24.
Diane Tucci has been involved with LIWF for three years and this is her second as organizer. “The goal is to highlight what the East End has to offer in the winter, to bring people together to enjoy the music, shows, and arts,” said Tucci. “Also, to encourage people to stay overnight in our hotels and bed and breakfasts.”
Winterfest will include organized tours of local vineyards and breweries. Vineyard tour packages are available for March 9 and 16, brewery tour packages on February 23 and March 23, and a mixed tour package on March 2 that includes Long Island Vodka and Riverhead Ciderhouse.
The festival, which has been held primarily on the North Fork in years past, has expanded its event locations to include South Fork entities such as the Southampton Cultural Center, Parrish Art Museum, Bay Street Theater, White Fences Inn, Topping Rose House, The Maidstone Hotel, The Baker House 1650, and The 1770 House.
Harborfrost, taking place in Sag Harbor Village on February 23, and THAW Fest, the Hamptons arts weekend festival, held March 22 through 24, also fall under events Winterfest is promoting.
Hotel Indigo in Riverhead has been involved with LIWF since its inception, partnering with local musicians, breweries, and wineries to bring something extra to guests. “We’re very excited. This will be our third year hosting the Winterfest Kickoff,” Kristen Reyes, vice president of operations at Hotel Indigo, said of the party taking place on Friday, February 22, from 7 to 10 PM. “It’s becoming more of a whole weekend event.”
The day after the kickoff party, Hotel Indigo will have live music by Cold Spring Harbor on Saturday, February 23, from 7 to 11 PM. Other live music events at the location include Bakithi Kumalo and Southbound.
Country music fans can kick the dust up at Spirit’s Promise Equine Rescue Farm in Riverhead for its American Country Friday Night dancing on February 22 from 7:30 to 10 PM. Down the road, Twin Stills Moonshine will be hosting a free drop-in karaoke from 1 to 4 PM on Saturday, February 23.
Long Island Winterfest will feature musical talent across all genres, including the HooDoo Loungers at Clovis Point Vineyard, Fred Acoustic at Long Ireland Beer Company, Julia King in the Local Music Series at Sound View Greenport, Greg Parr at the Cooperage Inn, and jazz duo Amanda & Rob Scalici at Borghese Vineyard.
Events including local brew and cocktails will also be part of the five-week long event. For example, Moustache Brewing Company will have the Mattitaco Food Truck for a Firkin Friday Special Cask Tapping. Long Island Spirits will host an Art of Distilling class and a Craft Cocktail Seminar.
The LIWF website also suggests the Bedside Reading Authors Weekend with “Cocktails Welcome,” an event with author Amy Impellizzeri at Topping Rose House. Book signings will also be held at The Maidstone Hotel, with author Sandra Block, The Baker House 1650 with Kelly Simmons, The 1770 House with Amy Reichert for “Coffee Break with Hampton Coffee,” and at White Fences In with Kristy Woodson Harvey along with a “tea tasting.”
On the art front, William Ris Gallery of Jamesport will showcase works from local artists, including from the North Fork Art Collective.
To promote responsible driving, LIWF has partnered with Lyft for guests to receive free rides on the North Fork. For a full list of events, specials, and partnerships, visit www.longislandwinterfest.com or call 631-209-4244.