Christian band NewSong founded Winter Jam in 1995 and will be playing at the Schottenstein Center Feb. 22. Credit: Courtesy of Carol M. Anderson

Faithful fans can join Christian music tour Winter Jam this week for its 26th year.

The annual Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, one of the largest Christian music tours in the United States, is headed to Columbus, Ohio, Saturday. Hosted by local Christian radio station RadioU at the Schottenstein Center, the event brings live contemporary Christian music and gospel to a general audience, according to the Winter Jam website. 

The tour kicked off Jan. 10, with 12 acts on the main line-up, including Hillsong Young & Free, Building 429, Passion, Christian hip-hop artist Andy Mineo and Grammy winner David Wallace Crowder.

Winter Jam was founded by Christian band NewSong in 1995, and the band is a regular of the tour’s lineup. NewSong band member Eddie Carswell said the band honors the Christian message of Winter Jam by combining ministry and fun through music.

Carswell said Winter Jam is a continuation of what NewSong has done since the band’s start in 1981, fostering its relationship with Jesus Christ and how that relationship plays a part in the members’ daily lives. 

“We felt like this was what we’re supposed to be doing,” Carswell said. “We thought we were the calling, that God gave us this to do. And so, we never thought — if you had asked me back in the ’80s, would I still be doing it in 2020, I would’ve thought, ‘What?’”

Nikki Cantu, operations manager for RadioU, said the station has worked with Winter Jam for years to promote the bands performing. Cantu said the station tries to bring a different assortment of genres to Christian radio listeners.

Cantu said Winter Jam tries to add new artists each year that will create an interactive experience for fans.

“They have a chance to not only have artists that have been more established, but they also — each year — tried to introduce a few newer artists to help their career as well,” Cantu said.

Cantu said the religious themes found in the performing artists’ music pass along messages of love and forgiveness to their audiences.

“They make sure the artists that they have on this tour have that same positive message to be able to hear, with the music and the guest speakers and with the organizations that they promote at the event, as well with helping your community and being a part throughout the entire year,” Cantu said.

The Winter Jam Tour Spectacular opens its doors at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Schottenstein Center. Admission is a $15 recommended donation at the door.

Correction: A previous version of this story displayed the incorrect image. It has since been updated.