Manitoba’s winter festivals

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The fun in Manitoba doesn’t stop just because of the cold. Hardy Manitobans embrace winter with song, dance, arts, and sports. We have not just one, or two fun-filled winter festivals, but 18 (maybe more)! Here they are:

  1. (Canad Inn’s) Winter Wonderland (Winnipeg – Nov. 29-Jan.4, 2020) – It 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. You can also stop at a skating rink or take advantage of free horse-drawn sleigh rides every weekend. Please check the website for ticket information.
  2. Zoo Lights Festival (Assiniboine Zoo – Nov. 30, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020) – This event promises to be more than just lights (although it will have spectacular light displays). Be in awe of Polar Town, where a multitude of events will have more than 400 actors, musicians and entertainers. Each day will be unique. It will have concerts, late-night parties, bingo nights, salsa dancing, a mini-market, and even storytelling and craft stations.
  3. Canadian Power Toboggan Championships (Beausejour – Dec. 7-8, 2019 – Season Opener) – This is the premiere snowmobile racing event (and the longest-running) in Canada where over 100 racers from all over North America compete.
  4. Snowdance Festival (Falcon Ridge Ski resort, Falcon Lake – Around January – Dates to be announced) – Features skiing fun and other activities like Turkey shoot and skijoring (a person on skis is pulled by a horse, dog or motor vehicle). There are several concerts as well. This year’s tickets are all sold out, unfortunately, but there’s always next year.
  5. Vita and Area Winter Festival (Vita, Manitoba – Around January- Dates to be announced)- experience dogsled rides or participating in (or just watching) the borscht competition and other unique winter activities.
  6. Big Fun Festival (Winnipeg- Around January – Dates to be announced) – Hip music lovers flock to the Big Fun Festival in January. This is a five-day music festival that features multiple genres of music in several venues downtown. One ticket gives you access to all the venues and to performances of about 50 of Manitoba’s current and upcoming artists.
  7. Winterfest (FortWhyte Alive, January 20, 2019, 11 am to 4 pm) – It is a celebration of all things winter. If you want to learn and experience winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing, skating, ice fishing and more, here’s your chance! Admission will be waived on this day plus equipment will be supplied (except for skates). There is even a drop in Mini Ice Fishing Tournament for kids 14 and younger where they can win prizes.
  8. New Music Festival (Winnipeg – Jan. 26 – Feb. 1, 2020) – This is a contemporary classical music fest. If you love orchestra music as well as current tunes, this festival is for you. This year, there are seven concerts held at various venues around Winnipeg.
  9. Master Playwright Festival (Jan. 21 – Feb. 9, 2020) – The 2020 annual Master Playwright Festival will be presenting the most celebrated playwright of all time, William Shakespeare. Emerging and established artists will collaborate and present works by The Bard.
  10. Winter Adventure Weekend (Riding Mountain National Park – Usually February) – Enjoy skating trails, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, fat biking, live music and great local food and drink.If you haven’t tried winter camping, this is the best time to do it. Rent an oTENTik and enjoy the prairies in winter.
  11. Northern Manitoba Trappers Festival (The Pas– Dates to be announced) – this is an annual event held every third week of February. Its major events are the World Championship Dog Race and the King, Queen and Youth Trapper events. The activity-filled festival showcases various competitions on skills exemplified by the pioneers such as tree falling, wood cutting, canoe packing, trap setting and others. Aside from these, there are also arts and crafts shows, a talent show, the Fur Queen Competition, and mini-festivals.
  12. Festival du Voyageur (St. Boniface, Winnipeg – Dates to be announced, usually February) – 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. This year, they will be raising the age limit for free admission from 5 years old and under to 12 years old and under.
  13. Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival (Winnipeg – Dates to be announced) – The festival is all about contemporary art and music. Every year, artists from diverse artistic communities collaborate and experiment to create unique and thought-provoking concerts.
  14. Gimli Ice Festival (Gimli, March 6-8, 2020) – 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.

  15. Gimli Ice Festival by 1941Teddy
     

  16. Freeze Frame Festival (Winnipeg – March 8-15, 2020) – This is an international film festival for kids of all ages. It features quality films from all over the world chosen to entertain and challenge children to think about issues and situations not normally explored in mainstream media. Kids also have the opportunity to mingle with world-class filmmakers in the various workshops scheduled during the eight-day festival.
  17. Brandon Jazz Festival (Brandon – March 19-21, 2020) – 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.
  18. Winnipeg Scottish Festival – (Winnipeg, Dates to be announced) – This is a festival of Scottish heritage. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Royal Manitoba Winter Fair (Brandon Keystone Centre – March 30 – April 4, 2020) – 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).
  21. Winnipeg Comedy Festival (Winnipeg – April 25-May 2, 2020) – 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.

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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