Pictured Above: Bassist Bakithi Kumalo (with ukelele) and friends (pictured at the Hotel Indigo at a previous Winterfest) are just a few of the great musicians who lend their talents to the five-week festival.

As Long Island Winterfest prepares for its 12th season beginning Feb. 22,  the festival is expanding its focus, from its origins in jazz music at wineries, to an expansive series of events that now includes partnerships with music and arts organizations, theater, destination businesses and the East End’s growing brewery and distillery industries.

The festival has also grown to encompas Sag Harbor’s HarborFrost on Feb. 23 and the ThawFest March 22 through 24, which includes programming at arts organizations throughout the South Fork.

This year’s festival will include customized ‘experience tours’ of vineyards, breweries and restaurants, with overnight accommodations at one of four hotels: Residence Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Hotel Indigo and the Duncan Inn. 

 Tours include Brewery Tours on the weekends of Feb. 23 and March 23, a mixed winery and brewery tour on the weekend of March 2 and  Vineyard Tours on the weekends of March 9 and 16.  For details and reservations, email liwinterfest@gmail.com or call 631.209.4244.

The North Fork Promotion Council is working on a partnership with the ride-sharing app Lyft to offer free subsidized rides to Nork Fork venues during the festival. The Lyft service will be offered to Winterfest attendees and venues. 

The Winterfest Kick-Off Party is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 22 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Hotel Indigo East End, featuring music by Paul Mahos of New Life Crisis, the East End Trio and special guests, tastings by Winterfest-participating local restaurants, vineyards and breweries, a photo booth and Chinese auction. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at longislandwinterfest.com.

Arts programming includes gallery openings and talks, book signings and readings, live music, comedy and karaoke.

M&T Bank has signed on as the presenting sponsor of this year’s festival.

“Winterfest is an important economic driver to the East End in the slow winter months, which has made measurable impact over the past 11 years,” said Lead Winterfest Coordinator Diane Tucci. “M&T’s support helps Winterfest provide expanded marketing, programming and outreach.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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