Image source: Tourism Winnipeg
What's the best thing to do when it's the middle of winter, the snow is piling up, and it's so cold the river has frozen over? Throw a huge party!
The city of Winnipeg proves every year that Canadians know how to have fun in the snow at Festival du Voyageur, a celebration of winter that pays tribute to French history in Manitoba. The 2015 edition of the event will run Feb. 13-22, and features 10 days of music, food, history, and outdoor - yes, we said outdoor - activities. Here are some top things to check out in this winter wonderland.
A competition draws professional teams from all over Canada and other nations to build gigantic snow sculptures that will take your imagination to new places. Visitors can walk around amongst them and admire the craftsmanship.
The fort serves as a centerpiece for the entire festival. The North West Trading Company built the fort in the early 1800's, and visitors can be taken back to that era; the present-day fort is populated by people who are dressed from the time period who will show you how to do blacksmithing, trade furs, or keep an outdoor fire going in the snow. You'll also learn about the "voyageurs" for which the Festival is named.
One of the highlights of the Festival is the food and drink available at various venues, including pop-up gourmet restaurants. Hit the Sugar Shack to take part in a tradition of rolling maple syrup in the snow to make delicious maple taffy. The most notable drink is the "Caribou," a fortified wine served in a glass made of ice. Other traditional favorites include poutine and pea soup, but there's something for every taste to be found throughout the Festival.
When the rivers freeze over, it's time for skating, and the Red River Mutual Trail, at four miles long, on the adjoining Assiniboine and Red Rivers, is the world's longest naturally frozen skating trail. There are hockey rinks, places to walk, and even an outdoor bar and grill complete with fire pits. Getting a chill? Stop in one of the designer warming huts that are placed along the trail as part of an annual architecture competition. These are more than just a fireplace and chairs; they are high concept works meant to appeal to the eye as much as anything else. When you get off the ice, head into The Forks, a mall adjacent to the river where you can rent skates before you head outdoors, and then get a hot beverage and find local food and shopping when you get back from your skate.
Dozens of artists playing everything from hip-hop to local folk music appear at multiple venues ranging from the intimate to the party-centric. If you can't find what you're looking for, you're not looking hard enough.
Winter is no time to sit indoors by the fire. In Winnipeg, it's a time to celebrate! Learn about what makes the people of Winnipeg so friendly and unique at Festival du Voyageur.
What are your favorite wintertime festivals?
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Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin are hosts of The Travel Brigade Show - a weekly travel and destination podcast. Kathleen Curry is experienced in both the travel industry and broadcasting. She has worn the hats of travel writer, photographer, travel agent and hospitality evaluator. Her advice of, “No excuses, just travel!” reaches out to listeners who pick up on her enthusiasm for travel and benefit from her savvy advice. Her travel guilty pleasures are eating at a street-cart vendor so she can splurge later to order room service, finding deals to rack up sky miles so she can book her next flight and hoping her social security comes through some day because she has spent her future retirement savings trekking the globe.
Geoff Griffin is a reformed attorney turned travel junkie with over two decades of experience as a journalist and editor specializing in sports, outdoor recreation and travel. His current philosophy is that there are two stages in life - You’re either on a trip, or you’re planning your next trip. His travel guilty pleasure is trying recreation adventures that require the use of an expert guide to keep him from harming himself or hopping on a plane knowing nothing about his destination other than the airport code and wandering about a new town while relying on the locals to point him to the best places.
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