Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s largest winter festival, returns to Winnipeg February 16-25

Featured image by Sophie Dumontier, via Festival du Voyageur

Every year since 1970, Winnipeg, Manitoba, has hosted Western Canada’s largest winter festival in the French quarter of Saint-Boniface. Voyageur, Métis and First Nations’ histories are brought back to life at Fort Gibraltar, Voyageur Park, and other sites (view map of official sites). Music, art, and delicious local cuisine are also among the wide range of activities designed for all ages during this 10-day celebration.

Here are some highlights.

Wood Carving Challenges

Six internationally known sculptors will carve chunks of wood with chainsaws and their work will be sold in an auction during the festival. For two challenges, they’ll sculpt from wood five to seven feet long and 30 to 40 inches thick. For the third challenge, they’ll have 30 minutes to create a small masterpiece. Stop by and watch them work.

Photo by Sophie Dumontier, via Festival du Voyageur

Brewmaster’s Lunch

A beer-tasting event pairing Big Rock brews with foods prepared by Chef Leighton Fontaine, ranging from buffalo sloppy joes to chipotle and smoked Goldeye baby arugula caesar salad. Big Rock Brewmaster Dan Ellis hosts this lunch. Tickets are $65 per person and can be purchased at the Brewmaster’s Lunch page.

Great-West Life School Program

Allows children to experience the historic character and daily life of the voyageur. The program consists of a basic package of activities repeated annually, which are in the history and folklore of the fur trading period and/or are the most in-demand activities. Themes and activities are rotated every few years to add variety to the program. Learn more about the programming and registration process.

Winterer’s Camping

What was it like to be a voyageur camping in a tent on a winter night? Find out at the winterer’s encampment. Eat a dinner of smoked pickerel from Lake Winnipeg, deer stew, corn flour bannok, blueberry brownies, and Labrador tea cooked on a wood stove. Then enjoy live music and entertainment at the festival. After the festival ends for the night, fall asleep in the comfort of a woodstove-heated tent. Awake the next morning with a homemade breakfast sandwich flavored with fir and maple sugar, dried fruit, and coffee or tea. The camping experience costs $175 per person. Make reservations by contacting 233allo@sfm.mb.ca.

Other Activities

Other activities include shopping at Market Days, beard growing contest, International Snow Sculpture Symposium, and concerts by Klô Pelgag with teen sensation Faouzia and Justin Townes Earle.

Many more performers are on the schedule. View the entire list.

Here’s the complete festival schedule.

Admission to the festival ranges from $10 to $65, depending on the type of ticket or package you buy. Get details about ticket options.

For more information, visit the Festival du Voyageur website or call (204) 237-7692.

Photo by Sophie Dumontier, via Festival du Voyageur

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