All-round good times are a guarantee when you come to Winnipeg.
When your city’s most-famous new landmark is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights – the “first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights” – you better believe you are in the right spot when it comes to LGBTQ2 travel.
Winnipeg is always out there – and proudly so. We’re home to a diverse and tight-knit LGBTQ2 community with a rich history of inclusion and recognition, including being the first major North American city to elect an openly gay mayor (1998-2004).
Same-sex marriage has been legal (and celebrated!) in Manitoba since 2004 (at the time we were only the eight jurisdiction in the world to do so), while Pride Winnipeg has been staged annually since 1987.
Needless to say, when you travel to The Peg, you can expect a safe and inclusive city ready to welcome you with open arms (all while bringing the good times too).
A (somewhat brief) LGBTQ2 History of Winnipeg
Winnipeg has long been a welcoming city, with a community that has seemingly always fought for for LGBTQ2 rights. You’d have to look all the way back to the 1920s to find our first underground gay establishments – which you can, via the University of Manitoba’s Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archive’s Oral History Project.
One of Winnipeg’s first notable gay bars was Club 654, a members only after-hours club where liquor was not sold. Club 654’s opening, on a Sunday afternoon in 1970, attracted more than 200 people. A year or so before this, on Halloween night in 1968, the first drag ball was held in Winnipeg at the Sildor Ballroom.
Unlike notorious “raids” at other gay clubs in cities across Canada, there were no raids at Winnipeg’s gay bars. This tolerance has been attributed to the work of people like, the Honourable Ruth Krindle, the now retired judge who was instrumental in advocating LGBTQ2 rights, including being counsel for Winnipeg’s first gay club in 1969.
Within this environment, by the early 70s, notable establishments like Happenings Social Club (1974-2002) and the Mardis Gras offered the community a place to call their own. The 70s also saw a good deal of equal rights marches which had been fostered by Winnipeg’s politically active university campuses. It was also during this time that the Manitoba Gay Coalition was established, which included organizations from the more rural communities of Thompson and Brandon.
Winnipeg’s community has always been well represented in its artistic endeavours. A noteworthy example was the 1980s public access television show Coming Out. This program, which featured openly gay people, was pretty much unheard of at the time. Also of note in the 80s was the opening of Giovanni’s Room in 1982. This legendary club, which would become Gio’s Club and Bar, stayed open for 31 years and was often considered the heart of Winnipeg’s LGBTQ2 scene.
Winnipeg’s first pride parade took place on Sunday, August 2, 1987 on the heels of Manitoba’s Human Rights Code -- which protected the rights of gays and lesbians – being past. This first parade featured 250 participants, several of whom wore paper bags over their head for fear of being ostracized. The Pride Winnipeg Festival has taken place ever since, growing from a single day event to a 10-day celebration.
It was a huge moment in Winnipeg’s proud LGBTQ2 history, one that may only have been eclipsed when Glen Murray – an openly gay man who had spoke to Manitoba’s legislature before the passing of The Human Rights Code – was elected mayor in 1998. He would later be re-elected in 2002.
The term Two-Spirit was also coined in Winnipeg by academic Albert William McLeod, who, in the words of the University of Winnipeg (where he holds an honorary Doctor of Laws), “has led the way for rights and recognition of 2S people in North America since 1986.” This includes working “with LGBTQ Indigenous people across the continent to organize under the name ‘Two Spirit’ to remember the honoured roles of non-binary gender people in pre-contact First Nations, and the important spiritual role they played within their communities.”
Two-Spirit is derived from the Anishinaabeg term niizh manidoowag – a reference to a person who embodies both a masculine and feminine spirit.
For more on Winnipeg’s proud LGBTQ2 history check out One Gay City: A History of LGBT Life in Winnipeg, a documentary by the CBC which you can watch here.
Top 10 Winnipeg Must Sees
Journey to Churchill at Assiniboine Park Zoo
With the possible exception of seals, everybody loves polar bears — that’s why they are the main attraction at the sensational new Journey to Churchill exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo. Watching these majestic mammals dive, swim, and frolic above you through the exhibit’s glass dome will take your breath away, while the vast new terrain also features an incredible selection of animals, like muskox, wolves, moose, and seals. The zoo also features uber-rare animals, like red pandas and snow leopards, along with over 200 other species.Visit Website
Royal Canadian Mint
One of Winnipeg’s most beautiful buildings, its reflective glassy exterior is a sight to behold at sundown, glowing under an orange prairie sky. On the inside you’ll find guided tours that will have you holding a $600,000 gold bar (it’s really quite heavy), ogling over the Olympic gold medals that were made for Vancouver 2010, and witnessing coins being produced for over 70 different countries. A trip to the Mint is surely worth every penny.Visit Website
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Architecturally striking and centrally located in the heart of downtown, the WAG houses an internationally acclaimed collection (with exhibitions having been shown from New York, to Barcelona, to Tokyo) of nearly 24,000 works featuring a great deal of Canadian and Manitoba-centric pieces, including the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art. Critically acclaimed touring shows are also constantly brought in, featuring everything from the Renaissance to Dadaism, to Ancient Greece and the best in contemporary photography.Visit Website
The Manitoba Museum
How many places do you know that can take you from the ancient creatures of the Cretaceous Period, across the cosmos through space and time, to the prairie plains all under one roof? If your answer is none, then you haven’t been to the Manitoba Museum. The immersive permanent galleries in this award-winning museum will enthral kids and adults alike. Whether you're catching a Planetarium show featuring one of the world’s most advanced projection systems, or viewing some of Canada’s most important historical artifacts and specimens in the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection, the Manitoba Museum is sure to please.
Check out the new Winnipeg Gallery and hear the stories of the people and events that have shaped Manitoba’s capital city.
Hermetic Code Tour at the Manitoba Legislative Building
Dan Brown would be at a loss trying to decipher all the meaning enlaced in Canada’s finest provincial legislative building. The grandiose interior of this ode to Olympus is studded with hieroglyphics, freemasonic symbols and numeric codes, all of which are unveiled in the Hermetic Code Tour — a must for anyone with a sense of intrigue. On the top of the building is Winnipeg’s most beloved citizen: the beaming Golden Boy, our nod to Hermes who was crafted in Paris and holds a sheath of wheat.Visit Website
Saturated in 6,000 years of history, the meeting of the Red and Assiniboine rivers has always been a gathering place for peoples. Across 54 beautiful acres you’ll find a bustling central market, exceptional dining and accommodations, vast treelined paths overlooking all the bends in the riverbank, a world-class skate park, a children’s play area and water park, and all the best things a Winnipeg winter has to offer, like skate rentals and access to one of the world’s longest skating rinks. It also bridges, via the sexy Esplanade Riel, the très-European St. Boniface — with its restaurants, cafés, artistic heir and francophone flavour — and the downtown core.Visit Website
Six hundred-forty acres of pristine prairie beauty are waiting to welcome you in this oasis just south of the city. In summer, feel the wind in your hair canoeing or sailing on one of FortWhyte’s several lakes. In fall, sip a locally brewed beer on their restaurant patio while witnessing North America’s largest animal (the bison) roam in its natural habitat as migrating birds fill the sky. In winter, go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on its many trails or take the kids out for a ridiculously fun day of sliding on the Richardson Rrrun Toboggan slide. No matter what the season, there is always an adventure to be had at FortWhyte Alive.Visit Website
The Exchange District National Historic Site
One of Canada’s architectural marvels, this 20-block district boasts North America’s most extensive (and handsome!) turn-of-the-20th-century buildings. While walking its charming streets, you’ll find some of the city’s trendiest and tastiest spots including small plate restaurants and bistros, who flaunt their exposed brick and beam; up-and-coming and established galleries; vintage and antique shops, and some of the best the city has to offer in coffee and café culture.Visit Website
Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature
The newest jewel in Winnipeg’s luxuriant-spa crown, Thermëa brings a bit of Scandinavia to the heart of the Canada. Let the stress soak out of you in thermal pools situated amongst the pines; indulge your senses in Finnish saunas; treat yourself to the best in body treatments and massage therapy. Then, finish your day with some exquisite dining because hey, you're worth it.Visit Website
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Designed by architect extraordinaire Antione Predock, Canada’s newest, most eye-catching attraction dominates the Winnipeg skyline, shining like a beacon. Inside an immersive experience that you can’t possibly shake awaits as 11 powerful, interactive and awe-inspiring exhibits gradually climb to the CMHR’s pinnacle, the Tower of Hope (which provides a stunning view of the city). An ambitious museum meant to foster dialogue and promote change for a better world, the CMHR provides a stirring account of the human experience unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed.Visit Website
Festivals & Events
Businesses Waving the Rainbow Flag
Meet the Community
Synonym Art Consultation
LGBTQ Welcoming Hotels
- ALT Hotel Winnipeg
Located in the heart of the Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED), Alt Hotel Winnipeg is an unmissable destination for business and leisure travelers in Manitoba’s capital....
- Delta Hotels By Marriott Winnipeg
Located in Winnipeg's Sports, Hospitality, and Entertainment District in the heart of Winnipeg's Downtown, Delta Hotels by Marriott Winnipeg is the city's largest 4 1/2 star hotel. Delta Hotels by...
- Fairmont Winnipeg
The Fairmont will instantly charm as you experience the service that has made them famous, well-appointed guestrooms, suites, and historic surroundings. Located at the historic corner of Portage...
Take advantage of these local and international LGBTTQ resources:
Winnipeg Pride is the Pride of the Prairies – one of the largest celebration of LGBTTQ culture between Toronto and Vancouver. We invite everyone from far and wide to join our welcoming community and celebrate Pride in Winnipeg – the heart of the continent!
Gaywinnipeg.ca is an online social community that connects Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people with friends and others who work, study and live in Winnipeg. You can use gaywinnipeg.ca to reach other gays in your area and to learn more about those people you meet online. We are the first and only community based information website for Gay, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Two-spirited people in Winnipeg. We have been online since June 4th 2002. We invite you to explore gaywinnipeg.ca and to take time to familiarize yourself with the site and its many features.
Rainbow Resource Centre
Since 1999 – but with roots dating to the early 1970s, when it was just a student group at the University of Manitoba known as the Campus Gay Club – The Rainbow Resource Centre has been serving Manitoba’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and two-spirit communities. It is the longest continuously running LGBT2SQ+ resource centre in Canada, supporting the community in the form of counselling, education, and programming for individuals ranging from children through to 55±. It also supports families, friends, and employers of LGBT2SQ+ individuals.
REEL PRIDE exists to celebrate queer media arts and to contribute to community vitality by programming materials that focus on issues of importance to Winnipeg’s queer community. We promote queer media arts to foster dialogue on issues of importance to our community in a public, accessible and safe space, as well as celebrating queer artists and stories both locally and from around the world.
Travel Gay Canada
Travel Gay Canada is Canada’s national LGBT tourism industry association. Its goal is to provide LGBT travelers with products and services that meet their needs and expectations, and to better inform them of the unique and vast travel opportunities and experiences available within Canada.
A comprehensive website dedicated to listing LGBT welcoming hotels and attractions, the perfect choice for pleasure, business, or meetings and events.
IGLTA: The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association
IGLTA - The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is the world's leading global travel network dedicated to connecting and educating LGBT travelers and the businesses that welcome and support them along the way. Whether it's for individual, group, corporate, or student travel, we have affiliates in the world's most sought after locations offering the most competitive packages for your perfect getaway.
Gay Cities Winnipeg
GayCities is the #1 gay travel website and App where you can find the best experiences at home and in over 220 cities across the globe.
Manitoba LGBT Chamber of Commerce
The Manitoba LGBT* Chamber of Commerce exists to help build a strong Manitoba economy supported by, and supportive of, diverse communities. Our mission is to cultivate, contribute to and promote a thriving community of LGBT* owned and allied businesses, professionals and business students in Manitoba.
Out There Winnipeg
Out There Winnipeg is an umbrella sports organization for the queer community in Winnipeg, providing opportunities for everyone to participate in sports and other recreational activities in good company with other members of Winnipeg’s LGBTTQ* community.
Serving the GLBT Community Since 1994. Outwords is a non-profit organization that publishes outwords a free magazine that provides news, analysis and entertainment for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer community and its allies.
Out and About Travel
The evolution of travel starts with Out'n About Travel. We are proud to serve the LGBT community with integrity and dignity. We want you to feel safe and comfortable as you make your travel plans. Show your pride with #outnabouttravel