20+ free (and almost free) things to do in Manitoba

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Now that you’re in your new home, it’s time to experience 20 plus things that will make you love Manitoba more. A bonus is that you can avail of most of them for free or will cost you at least $18 or less.

(Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some events have been cancelled and public spaces closed until further notice. Please check before going. If they’re open, please follow prescribed public health and safety precautions.):

Discover the city through walking tours

You can read about it in books and locate places on maps but history comes alive during walking tours (even a self-guided one). There are several you can take:

  1. Take a self-guided tour and check out the city’s most prized architectural gem, the Legislative Building. Or take a guided tour. It’s free!
  2. Learn about Manitoba’s founding father, Louis Riel, at the St. Boniface Cathedral-Basilica.
  3. Be in awe of the Winnipeg Union Station, built by the same architects of New York’s Grand Central Station.
  4. Walk through the historic Upper Fort Garry Gate, all that remains of the Hudson Bay company fort.
  5. Take an Exchange District Tour and learn about Winnipeg’s illustrious past as the “Chicago of the North”. Tours at $10 from May to August.
  6. Explore more than 80 of Winnipeg’s most iconic and historic buildings. The public is allowed to tour buildings and spaces that may not be accessible throughout the year during Doors Open Winnipeg. This an annual event held on the last weekend of May to celebrate Winnipeg’s unique spaces, architecture, and history. This is free.

Relax in its many wonderful parks

Fresh air, lush greens, and free entertainment. What more can you ask for?

  1. On a balmy summer afternoon, relax outdoors at the Millennium Library plaza and admire the Emptyful sculpture, which is LED-illuminated at night.
  2. Stroll around The Forks and discover many wonderful things to see, eat and buy.
  3. In winter, you can skate down The River Trail at the Assiniboine Park. Summer opens up myriads of activities at the park such as strolling, roller-blading, and biking. Also catch the Ballet in the Park and Movies at the Park (all for free) usually in July and August.

Be inspired by its innovative museums

Spend an enlightening and reflective afternoon at these museums:

  1. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is Canada’s newest museum and the only one in the world dedicated to human rights. Check the hours and admission fees here.
  2. Trace the fascinating history of Manitoba’s electricity at the Manitoba Electrical Museum & Education Centre. Admission is $5 per person (children 5 and below enter for free).
  3. Check out 13 aircrafts that tell the story of military flights in Canada at the Air Force Heritage Park and Museum.
  4. The Winnipeg Police Museum offers an interesting peek into the city’s criminal history.
  5. History buffs will marvel at photographs, original documents, and artifacts from Holocaust survivors and their families at the Jewish Heritage Centre. The Education Centre is currently closed for renovations but will open soon. Watch out for the announcement on their site.
  6. The Ukranian Cultural and Education Centre (Oseredok) is the largest Ukrainian cultural centre of its kind. It celebrates the remarkable achievements and legacy of the Ukrainian Canadian community in Canada. It has a library, art gallery, archives, and a boutique.
  7. Tour the Royal Canadian Mint, where 55 billion coins have been produced for more than 75 countries around the world. Check entrance fees here: Visit the Mint.

Celebrate festivals

Immerse in Canadian culture while celebrating and having fun:

  1. Pride Festival at the Forks is a free outdoor festival with entertainment, concession stands and other activities. This is held in June.
  2. Cube Stage Events offer free entertainment which includes the Jazz Festival (June), Soca Reggae Festival (July), Fringe Festival (July), and BBQ and Blues Festival (August).
  3. Enjoy free corn on the cob, apple cider, entertainment, children’s events, parade, shuttle bus service and parking at the Morden Apple and Corn Festival. It is held in August.
  4. Folklorama is the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. The festival is held in July/August.
  5. Red River Ex is Winnipeg’s premier amusement park in summer (June/July). It features rides, carnival games, a petting zoo, shows and musical performances, and many food vendors. Meanwhile, Winter Wonderland is a drive-through light show with over one million lights in 26 theme areas. Check ticket information here (available in December): Winter Wonderland.

For more information on festivals read: Summer festivals in Manitoba and Manitoba’s winter festivals.

Explore its arts scene

Be amazed at Manitoba’s vibrant art scene and be inspired by the work of its talented craftsmen and artists:

  1. Get to know the Exchange District and spend a colorful afternoon/evening exploring the area’s unique shops and art galleries during First Fridays in the Exchange.
  2. Search for Winnipeg’s 400 outdoor public murals located throughout Winnipeg.

Still want more?

  1. Go off to the races at the Assiniboia Downs, Winnipeg’s horse racing track. Free from May to September.
  2. Summer means camping or hitting the beach at Birds Hill or Grand Beach. This is free, but there is a parking fee.
  3. Learn to ride a Kayak or Canoe at Fort Whyte from June to August.
  4. Movie on the Beach at Gimli is free. This is held in July.

Article updated May 18, 2022.
Sources:10 Manitoba Winter Activities you don’t want to miss; 20 Free things to do in Winnipeg, Bethany Zacharias, where.ca; and 30 things to do in Winnipeg for $15 or less.

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Community Resources

If you like road trips and have some money to burn, here are Top 10 Manitoba day trips you can take from Spectator Tribune.

Need some suggestions on where to eat, shop or what to see in Winnipeg (or in Canada’s other major cities)? Go to Where Canada’s Travel Planner.

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