Thousands welcome in 2018 at 16th annual WinterFest
New York City wasn’t the only place to bring in 2018 in style.
More than 400 miles away, thousands of people counted down to the new year on Dec. 31 inside the Vines Center on Liberty University’s campus. After a “3, 2, 1” countdown, the crowd erupted into cheers.
The fun was all part of the 16th annual WinterFest, the East Coast’s largest Christian New Year’s Eve party. Over the two-day celebration, attendants were entertained and wowed by 16 acts, including Crowder, Skillet, Switchfoot, Andy Mineo, and Hollyn, along with comedian John Crist, illusionist Justin Flom, and former MMA champion Chad Robichaux.
"This was the most star-studded WinterFest yet," WinterFest coordinator James Hobson said. "We had Grammy-award winning artists on both nights, along with big headliners from different genres giving attendants a great experience."
The party kicked off Saturday morning as eventgoers were encouraged to check out activities around Liberty’s campus, such as Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, the university's year-round ski, snowboarding, and tubing slopes, and the ramps at Liberty Mountain Skate Park.
A special screening of the upcoming film, “I Can Only Imagine,” which tells the story of the inspirational song of the same name, took place in the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall on both Saturday and Sunday.
Before the nightly WinterFest performances, guests had a chance to hear from the artists during a special Q&A session hosted in the LaHaye Event Space. Fans asked their favorite artists questions about their music, favorite movies, and anything they wanted to know.
On Saturday night, Crowder, Hollyn, the Liberty Worship Collective, and Switchfoot rocked the crowds. Flom also wowed the crowd with amazing tricks. He has appeared on Ellen, The Today Show, Racheal Ray, various network late night shows, and with WWE Wrestling stars. He has also toured with various musicians.
Sunday night was filled with laughs as Crist, who is known for his viral videos, “Millennial International” and “Road Rage in the Church Parking Lot,” entertained the crowd.
But WinterFest was also a time for attendants to reflect spiritually as the speakers touched on how they could start off this year anew in Christ.
Robichaux and his wife, Kathy, shared their story in a student session on Saturday afternoon. LU Shepherd Executive Director David Wheeler and Liberty’s Director of Camp & Outdoor Adventure Leadership Keith Oglesby spoke on Sunday night. At the end of their messages, each gave an altar call, which led to more than 200 people giving their lives to Christ.
Skillet closed out the festivities on Sunday night into Monday morning as the Vines Center was covered in a haze of laser lights to welcome the New Year.