If you thought your decorative gourd centrepiece and pumpkin spice latte flaunted fall, just wait until you see Assiniboine Park and Zoo this season.
Winnipeg’s grand greenspace is about to show us what chunky sweater and spooky season is all about, with events and an atmosphere that will get you gourd.
Boo at the Zoo – evenings starting at 5:30 p.m. from October 6 to 29
The big event returns, and it promises to be even bigger, bolder and more efficient than ever!
As you enter the zoo you’ll be enveloped in an atmosphere that includes thousands of lights strung from the trees, while plenty of characters roam a new and expanded route that creates a large loop around the zoo’s western grounds.
Beware Banquo,* because these characters include a coven of witches (surely they’ll be withered and wild!). Stand guard Samwise for the spider’s den! And be warned Beowulf, trolls are afoot too! All literary references aside, you can also expect ghosts, pumpkin people and so much more scattered amongst the grounds. (And no worries if you have little ones – Boo at the Zoo is family oriented so there are no jump scares to make you scream. Be sure to encourage your little ones to dress up in a costume!).
Everywhere you turn during Boo at the Zoo you can catch a performance. "Fabulous Fire Dancers" can be found near Aunt Sally's Farm; there will aerialists near the entry to Journey to Churchill; a “Street Spectacle” outside Tundra Grill and Boo Bands for three hours straight in the Big Tent by the Pumpkin Patch.
Plus, there are midway rides – from gentle ones for your littlest ones, to some pretty thrilling numbers for the kid in all of us – all included in the price of admission. Nice!
And let’s not forget about the food! You'll find hot dishes throughout the zoo (particularly in the tents and at Tundra Grill) such as burgers, fries and those mighty fine big chewy pretzels, along with plenty of snacky things from the various kiosks. For all you adults, you’ll get a kick out of options like beer, wine and boozy coffees in the Entertainment Tent and at Tundra Grill. Grab an adult refreshment and venture out onto the paths to enjoy this incredible atmosphere with a drink in hand. How sophisticated is that?
As for new things that will make the event run even more smoothly: They’ve decreased the capacity for each evening while keeping the timed-ticket system. This will mean shorter lines to get in when you arrive and more space to enjoy all the freaky festivities. Plus, the zoo's events team has scheduled additional performances of live music in the tents and interactive outdoor shows (like fire dancers and aerialists). Expect a new street performance to begin every 30 minutes in convenient locations throughout the zoo, as well as more midway rides, characters, and brand-new displays that will blow you away!
Pro tip for parents of young kids and toddlers: Bring your wagon! Not only will it hold all your stuff, but it will be there for those little legs when you're looping back toward the exit. And should it be cold and you forget gloves (or accidentally drop one somewhere), the zoo’s gift shop has the seriously cutest animal mitts for sale. Our little one still wears his beaver mitts all the time.
Bring all your friends and family to the city to experience the zoo at its most 'spell-tacular' during this dazzling event and get your timed-tickets today.
Where to focus on the foliage (and find fall displays)
As you can see in the gallery below, Assiniboine Park is the place to see autumn in all its glory. If you’re looking to capture or watch all that fall foliage unfurl from the trees, may we suggest…
The Leo Mol Sculpture Garden - There’s something to be said about taking in more than 70 stunning bronze works from the master sculptor set against autumn's golden backdrop.
The Gardens at The Leaf – Climb one of the mounds and look out over the horticultural displays, including the Indigenous Peoples Garden and The Johnston Family Seasonal Garden, which is tailored to showcase the season.
Brunch or lunch at Park Café – The Qualico Centre's floor-to-ceiling windows provide sweeping views of the Riley Family Duck Pond and the forest behind it, the perfect setting to eat the city's best home fries.
The Leaf – Every season at The Leaf means new displays in the Babs Asper Display House, located at the back of the Mediterranean Biome. This season’s display is called “Abundance,” and as you can see, it’s a lovely fall showcase featuring begonias, crotons and Japanese maples.
For all things fall, with hours, admission prices and more, go to www.assiniboinepark.ca
*Shout out to Shakespeare. ‘Tis the season for Macbeth too!