December 17, 2013 : By Drew Menard
The buzz over the 12th annual Winterfest, set for Dec. 30-31 at Liberty University’s Vines Center, is amplifying.
Staff are expecting a record crowd of 8,000 guests for the largest Christian New Year’s party on the East Coast.
For the first time, millions of viewers will have the chance to experience the event live via a television broadcast reaching 200 million homes across America and around the world. In cooperation with the Liberty Flames Sports Network, Winterfest will be aired in more than 40 cities across the United States — including Chicago, Honolulu, Hawaii, San Francisco, and New York City — and at least 14 other countries, from Canada to China. It will also be broadcast online via the Liberty Channel.
“This will be our largest broadcast domestically that we’ve ever had,” said Liberty Special Event Coordinator Matt Hockensmith, who is in his third year working with Winterfest.
Concert-only and all-event tickets are still available for purchase, but they are selling faster than ever.
“It’s a real possibility we could sell out,” Hockensmith said, who noted that more than 7,400 tickets had been sold as of Tuesday.
With capacity at 8,000, the staff are optimistic that this year’s attendance will break the record of 7,729 set in 2009.
“We’re excited as it continues to build,” Hockensmith said. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. As Liberty begins to expand to its next phase of enrollment, it is events like Winterfest that allow us to achieve our goals.”
This year’s event will feature a lineup headlined by Skillet, Third Day, and Audio Adrenaline (now led by Liberty alumnus Kevin Max, formerly of dc Talk). Other favorites include Tenth Avenue North, Building 429, The City Harmonic, Unspoken, We As Human, Andy Mineo, and Jason Lewis, a Liberty alumnus better known as Humble TIP. The program will also showcase testimonies and messages from special speakers such as YouTube sensation and spoken-word artist Jeff Bethke, the teens of Duck Dynasty (John Luke, Sadie, Cole, and Reed Robertson), and Liberty campus pastor and popular author and evangelist Clayton King.
“It's a great time with New Year’s Day approaching and a lot of people making resolutions,” Hockensmith said. “We want to make sure they draw close to God and build a relationship with Him, or recommit their lives to Jesus Christ.”
The event schedule will also include optional sessions for youth leaders and students, giving guests a chance to tour Liberty and interact with band members and speakers.
In a new feature of this year’s Winterfest, the two winners of a November “Battle of the Bands” competition — 3 Shades of Blue from Philadelphia and The Remedy from Augusta, Ga. — will perform on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, respectively.
Between shows, visitors also can take advantage of Liberty’s world-class facilities. Winter sports enthusiasts can ski or snowboard at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre and ice skate at the LaHaye Ice Center. Guests can also rock climb, swim, or play basketball at the LaHaye Student Union, play soccer at the Thomas Indoor Soccer Center, or skateboard at the Liberty Mountain Skate Park.
“It’s mostly geared toward high school and college-age students, but people from all different walks of life come to Winterfest every year,” Hockensmith said, noting that the majority of guests come from Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia, but some have journeyed from as far away as Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and even California. “When it comes to Winterfest, there’s something for everyone.”