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No one appreciates the long days and warm nights of summer more than the folks from my hometown of Winnipeg. Over the years, Winnipeggers have made summer festivals like Folkorama, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and Canada Day into family traditions. These three events will be extra-special in 2017 as the city celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday. Here’s the scoop on where to join the fun in the ‘Peg.
Canada Day 150 Celebrations – July 1, 2017
Pick your style and celebrate
Winnipeg’s Canada Day 150 celebration comes in three sizes this year. For an intimate festival atmosphere, head to Osbourne Village where a lively street fair will be taking place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The one kilometer route is dotted with five live stages, fourteen patios, a Village Market featuring work by over 40 local artists, handicraft booths and food vendors. The massive Family Zone has a petting zoo, pony rides, inflatable bouncers and a giant hamster ball obstacle course. Like any good birthday party, there’s cake! Join in singing Happy Birthday Canada at 1:00 p.m. at the Bell Tower Stage. This festival starts on Thursday, June 30th and runs to July 2nd.
Assiniboine Park has acres of green space for your little ones to explore. The musical entertainment starts at 1 p.m. and kid friendly activities continue until the evening fireworks. Dozens of roving ambassadors from Folklorama pavilions will be on site, dressed in their traditional attire. Take a break and visit the Winnipeg Zoo while you’re here. You can see polar bears and seals swim overhead in the new Sea Ice Passage in the Gateway to the Arctic exhibit (tickets required).
Celebrations at The Folks will start off gently with a pow wow and indigenous storytelling at sunrise, followed by a day of free, family-friendly programming on five stages across the site. At 5 p.m. the Festival Stage show kicks off an evening of performances that includes The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and headliner Whitehouse. The evening ends with the biggest bang in town – a stunning fireworks display at 11 p.m.
Winnipeg Folk Festival (July 6 – 9, 2017)
Have you heard this?
It’s entirely possible that there are people who have attended the Winnipeg Folk Festival every year of their lives. That’s because the festival began in 1974 and has continued to bring music lovers together for four days of harmony every year since then. This year’s lineup of over 75 acts on 9 stages includes The Shins, Feist, Bruce Cockburn and Daniel Lanois.
The festival takes place in beautiful Birds Hill Provincial Park, 24 kilometers north of Winnipeg. There’s free bus transportation to and from downtown Winnipeg if you’re staying in the city. Children and their parents can enjoy live music, games, crafts and puppetry at the Chickadee Big Top. If you’re camping, the Quiet Campground about four kilometers from the venue is recommended for families. Children under 12 are admitted to the festival and the campground at no charge.There are plenty of dining options with over 15 LOFT (local, organic, fair trade) approved food vendors. The award-winning environmentally friendly composting program for all plates, cutlery and packaging lets you do your part for Mother Nature while getting your groove on.
Folklorama (August 6 – 19, 2017)
Get out the stretchy pants!
Heading into its 48th season, Folklorama is proud to be the largest and longest running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. Each of the 41 volunteer pavilions showcases the best that their country has to offer, from delicious food to exciting entertainment and unique cultural displays. Calypso to an African beat, thrill to traditional Japanese drumming or catch a high-energy Bollywood-style bhangra performance. Taste authentic Ukrainian cabbage rolls, visit the German brat hut or try fejouada, a Brazilian stew. Learn how to tie a turban, discover the history of tequila or take a pop-up samba lesson.
With so many pavilions to visit, you’ll have to pace yourself during the two-week event. Here are some quick tips. Pavilions are open weekday evenings with a few performances taking place on the weekends. Pick up your official Travel Guide at various locations around town or online. Find three pavilions that are close to each other. Arrive early at your first choice and make new friends in line. You won’t be alone. Thousands of people from all over the world flock to Winnipeg every year to enjoy the festival. Sample appis at the first venue, dinner and dessert at the next two and don’t forget to try a pavilion-themed beverage. You’ll go home energized, entertained and enlightened. Tickets are $6 at each pavilion or choose an economical Multi Fun pack or a VIP tour option. Entry is free for children 12 and under.
If You Go:
Stay at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Winnipeg Downtown, part of the InterContinental Hotel Group. It’s modern, quiet, and convenient for reaching all the celebrations and festival locations. A big plus – kids stay and eat free (2 children per parent). See website for details.