The fun in Manitoba doesn’t stop just because of the cold. Hardy Manitobans embrace winter with song, dance, arts, and sports. However, the pandemic has put a damper on many activities this year and a lot of festivals are on hold. Even then, here are some events that are pushing through or are tentatively set so please check before you go:
- (Canad Inn’s) Winter Wonderland (Winnipeg – Dec. 11, 2020 tentative opening) – This is Manitoba’s largest drive-thru light show. It features over a million lights more than 26 theme areas and displays along the 2.5 km. drive.
(If you like seeing Christmas lights displays, check out the Winnipeg Christmas Lights map for 2020. You and your family can take a socially distant drive around Winnipeg to see fabulous homes lit up for the season).
- Canadian Power Toboggan Championships (Beausejour – Dec. 12-13, 2020- Season Opener cancelled/March 6 & 7, 2021- Canadian Championship) – This is the premiere snowmobile racing event (and the longest-running) in Canada where over 100 racers from all over North America compete.
- Northern Manitoba Trappers Festival (The Pas– Dates to be announced) – Features the World Championship Dog Race and the King, Queen and Youth Trapper events. They also showcase various competitions showing off pioneer skills such as tree falling, wood cutting, canoe packing, trap setting and others. As if these are not enough, they also have arts and crafts shows, a talent show, the Fur Queen Competition, and mini-festivals.
- Festival du Voyageur (St. Boniface, Winnipeg – February 12-21, 2021) – This is the largest winter festival in Canada held at Winnipeg’s French Quarter. It is a wonderful way to learn and experience French Canadian, Metis and First Nations histories through the many attractions at the park. Many look forward to the festival’s traditional cuisine, snow sculptures and musical performances. You can still enjoy these in February but virtually. The festival will have concerts, contests, educational vignettes and even meal kits you can have at home as you enjoy the virtual show.
- Gimli Ice Festival (Gimli, Usually March – Dates to be announced) – Enjoy many family-friendly winter games and activities like ice car races, borcht and chili contests, frozen t-shirt contest and many more. Learn more about Viking culture and art while you’re having fun.
- Freeze Frame Festival (Winnipeg – March 7-14, 2021) – This is an international film festival for kids of all ages. It features quality films from all over the world to entertain and challenge children to think about issues not normally explored in mainstream media. Kids also have the opportunity to mingle with world-class filmmakers in the various workshops during the eight-day festival.
- Brandon Jazz Festival (Brandon – The 2021 event is cancelled but this is usually held in March) – This is a non-competitive event with more than 3000 participants from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, and the United States. The festival emphasizes music education, specifically jazz education. Young musicians play (or sing) for adjudicators and receive feedback on their performance. The festival also showcases discussion sessions with featured guest speakers, clinics, workshops and special evening concerts with guest artists. Hopefully, we will have the festival back in 2022.
- Winnipeg Scottish Festival – (University of Winnipeg downtown campus, usually held in March) – For 20 years now, the event has brought together the best bagpipers and drummers all over the Prairies and from BC, Ontario, Minnesota and North Dakota to compete for prizes. There are also vendors and cultural displays aside from the contests. Admission is free.
- Festival of Fools (Winnipeg – Spring break) – This is a free family event held at the Forks in time for spring break. It features jugglers, clowns, acrobats, swinging trapeze and circus workshops and other fun shows. Kids will love the activities and shows as well as the free balloons and face painting.
- Royal Manitoba Winter Fair (Brandon Keystone Centre – 2021 event cancelled) – It is one of Western Canada’s largest agricultural events and the largest event in Brandon. Featured in the festival are show jumping and heavy horse competitions, livestock sales and displays, hands-on agricultural awareness programs (including Thru the Farm Gate), live entertainment, and around 300 commercial and agricultural exhibits. The Fair has the distinction of being one in only two fairs in Canada to receive Royal patronage from Queen Elizabeth II (the other one being The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto).
- Winnipeg Comedy Festival (Winnipeg – April 26-May 2, 2021) – The festival features gala shows (stand-up comedy acts) from some of Canada’s top comedians. It also features an improv showcase, panel discussions, and even a karaoke night. Over the years, the festival has grown to include year-round outreach programs, rural tours and workshops. Its television broadcasts attract over two million viewers annually.
Gimli Ice Festival by 1941Teddy
Article updated December 11, 2020. We’ll continually update this list as information becomes available.
Sources: Travel Manitoba; 7 Manitoba winter festivals that will make you fall in love with the season, Travel Manitoba; and Manitoba Business Facts.
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1. If you enjoy contemporary classical music, this festival is for you.
2. If you are looking for something funny and lighthearted, this is the festival for you.
3. You can catch jugglers, clowns and acrobats at this festival.
4. Learn about French Canadian, Metis and First Nations histories and traditions at this festival.
5. If you like to compete in a snowmobile race, this festival is for you.
6. Agricultural awareness programs and exhibits are held at this festival.
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