Winnipeg is famous for it’s winters. But not in a good way. More in a “I can’t believe you live there and don’t die” sort of way. But despite what most people think, there are quite a few things to keep you busy during the long and harsh winter. You just have to know where to look….
What to do during a Winnipeg winter
But before you get started on all these activities, you might want to check out our guide for how to survive a Winnipeg winter.
1) Skating on the river
Skating on the Assiniboine and Red rivers is a great way to get out and be in the heart of the city. It is actually the longest naturally occurring skating service in the world apparently. There are heated huts all along the river as well to warm up in. You can start from any of the entry points along the river, but if you don’t have your own skates, you will want to head first to the Forks where you can rent a pair for less than $5 per adult. Check conditions on the Forks website before heading out.
2) Tobogganing and Cross Country Skiing at Assinibione park
Assiniboine park is one of the jewels of the city that doesn’t disappoint during any season. In winter, the park embraces the cold weather sports and offers cross country skiing as well as tobogganing.
There are several cross country ski tracks which are groomed twice weekly during the season. Entrance is free, but you will need to provide your own equipment.
Manitoba is a prairie, which means you are hard pressed to find good tobogganing hills. So at Assiniboine park, they compromise, and build a man made tobogganing structure near the duck pond. There is a heated public space near by as well where you can enjoy a packed lunch, or simply warm up.
3) Festival du Voyageur
Festival du Voyageur happens for a week in mid Feburary and celebrates the culture of the French explorers who first explored this part of the country as part of the fur trade.
The festival takes place at Fort Gibralter in the french district of St. Boniface and festivities include ice sculpture, historic displays, and lots and lots of great food and music.
Winnipeg has a great art and theatre scene, and what better thing to do in winter then hang out inside! Of course, the biggest and most famous company is the Royal Manitoba Theatre Company which is located in the exchange district, but my favourite is the Prairie Theatre Exchange located in the downtown Portage Place Mall. Check their websites for listings.
Inside time! You can’t get enough of that in the winter. And what better way to spend some of your inside time than in a museum?
The newest and fanciest of the museums is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights located at the Forks and set to open in 2014.
However if you get here before this new museum opens, there is always the Manitoba Museum which includes a museum, planetarium, special exhibitions and science centre. I loved this museum as a child, and always take visitors to Winnipeg there.