When you plan a trip to Winnipeg in winter, you will likely want to add winter activities to your list. The climate in Winnipeg can be harsh, but that does not mean you will not be able to have fun and see all things Winnipeg has to offer. In reality, there are plenty of winter attractions in Winnipeg.
Combine your visit to Winnipeg with Festival Du Voyageur and you will have a perfect trip. The Festival Du Voyageur is the largest winter festival in Western Canada and it takes place in the last two weeks of February in Winnipeg’s French quarter, Saint Boniface. The festival opens to all ages and it has something for everyone, especially the one looking for a quick winter getaway.
Here are reasons why you should attend Festival Du Voyageur.
Learn the aboriginal culture
Winnipeg is a bilingual city and the French culture is very abundant, but another culture that absolutely flourishes during the Festival Du Voyageur is the first nation’s culture. Walk around the park; you will have chances to meet the Cree and Dene members, watch the lamb stew cooking demonstration outdoors under the fire pit, visit their tents to learn about their way of living, the hunting and clothes-making process, the fur trade period, and their technique for surviving the frigid winter climate.
Experience the local food
There are several food stalls and tents that offer snacks, drinks, and meals for purchase. The outdoor food vendors feature typical Canadian food including poutine, beaver tails, and mini-doughnuts. Tents are set up on sites where pies, pea soup, beef chili, and pull pork are made to order. Most visitors purchase poutine from the food vendors and order pulled pork and pies from the tent, and share it with family and friends.
Winnipeg knows how to make the most of its winter, specifically with snow and ice. During the festival, you can enjoy an outdoor adventure by riding the sleigh with a group of people, and you can choose to sit on the top or on the edge. I found sitting on the edge is more fun as you can sit back, and put your feet up to rest a bit. Halfway through the ride, you will see a small stadium, and get a view of the park and Winnipeg downtown. The ride lasts for about five minutes, but you will feel like you are away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility the park has to offer.
Try something new at Apprenticeship workshops
To learn more about the culture of the first nations, you can take an apprenticeship workshop at Fort Gibraltar. The workshop takes place between 11am to 4:30 pm. There are several workshops for you to choose from, including but not limited to: beading, weaving, and pottery. There are beautiful beading patterns, gloves, and bags created by local artists to show the local crafts you will be making during the workshop. You will probably not be able to finish making them in the short space, but it is a great opportunity to mingle with the artists, learn a new skill, and get to know more about the first nations.
Concerts all day and all night
The trip to Festival Du Voyageur is not complete without a live music party. At the Cabane a Sucre, you can cheer with the band, hit the dance floor close to the main stage, and dance your afternoon and night away. There are several other tents where I saw families and kids dance together under the live music with people laughing, clapping, singing, and simply enjoying the cozy atmosphere.
I went to the Cabane a Sucre in the early afternoon, and I enjoyed the cheerful live music performed by the French band Le Bal a l’Huile amidst the warm atmosphere. For a full list of the concerts and their timetable, please visit https://festivalvoyageur.mb.ca/en/
Test-tasting the pea soup at the pea soup competition
Who does not like the taste and smell of pea soup on a wintry day? This year, you will have the opportunity to taste eight different pea soup recipes and vote one of your favorites. You can also chat with the chef and learn the different ways and ingredients to make the pea soup.
The festival is a great time where you can gather with your family and enjoy a wonderful experience together. Many families brought their children to the festival to experience the culture and different activities. Take your children to the Milk Bubble and let them jump with others, put them on a toboggan ride anywhere at the park, purchase the hats and gloves for your children, and dance with them during the live music concerts to make an unforgettable childhood experience.
Embrace the winter
Festival du Voyageur takes place in February and the weather can be predictably, well, Canadian. There are multiple fire pits in the park where you can sit down and warm up your body. Many activities are held inside warm tents where live music is on display and hot soups and beverages are offered to boost your energy. I went to several tents and also walked outside for a while. It was nearly freezing but felt amazing after. Needless to say, the entire experience was excellent and I wish to return to Winnipeg in the future to enjoy the festivity.
It is easy to see why Festival Du Voyageur is one of the most popular winter activities in Western Canada, but, after my winter visit, I would like to say that it was one of the best experiences during my winter travels.
Have you ever been to Festival du Voyageur? What were your favorite activities?
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