Olé, Olé, Olé! Wel-come-to, Win-eh-peg!
Much like Christine Sinclair bearing down on the net for Team Canada, good times in Winnipeg is a guaranteed goal during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Like The Peg's own Desiree Scott, our events and attractions will dominate the midfield and win every heart with hospitality that is crushing (in the nicest way possible).
Winnipeg is hosting some of the best teams in the tournament over four days between June 8 and 16, including games between the #2 ranked US playing both #5 ranked Sweden and #10 ranked Australia, while we'll also get to see the #1 ranked Germans, and defending champs Japan.
While all of you international fans will be coming first for the action on the pitch, be sure not to miss some great off-field entertainment.
Here at Tourism Winnipeg we've partnered with a number of local attractions to create a team delegate pass, whereby all you fine folks who are employed by the national teams will get complimentary admission to participating attractions including:
- Assiniboine Park and Zoo: home to the Journey to Churchill, which is one of the most amazing places ever (read more about it below).
- Canadian Museum for Human Rights: which provides an experience unlike anywhere else in the world (more on that below).
- Oak Hammock Marsh: a world-class birding hot spot where expert guides can demonstrate songbird banding, or take your crew out in a canoe to view 300 species of birds – along with a host of amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
- Fun Mountain: where your kids can race down water slides, splash around on bumper boats and putt around with mini golf.
- FortWhyte Alive: a pristine nature reserve right in the city which features North America's largest urban bison herd roaming amongst lakes, forests, and other natural scenery elements.
- Royal Canadian Mint: where tours worth every penny will show you how currency from all over the globe comes into circulation.
- The Manitoba Museum: whose planetarium can take you across the universe while utilizing one of the world's most advanced projection systems.
- St. Boniface Museum: where Manitoba's French history is detailed inside the The Grey Nuns’ convent, Winnipeg’s oldest building.
- Winnipeg Art Gallery: which is currently showcasing Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin featuring priceless sculptures dating from 5th century BC to 2nd century AD.
Of course, you don't have to be a delegate to enjoy these fun and insightful places, so make sure they are on your agenda when you are in The Peg.
At night, after the games finish, downtown will arguably be the place to be throughout the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Nightlife will be a guarantee -- even after Monday games -- with the announcement that bars can stay open until 4 a.m. (serving liquor until 3 a.m.).
Being the clever folks that they are Downtown Winnipeg Biz has partnered with the Winnipeg Trolley Company to provide a free transportation service to the hottest bars and restaurants downtown during the tournament.
Their “Free-Fa Bus” will do laps downtown after every game (June 8, 12, 15, and 16, from 9 p.m. to midnight) where you can check out stops including The Merchant Kitchen, Winnipeg’s coolest new restaurant/bar whose menu celebrates street food from around the world (which is located in the trendy new Alt Hotel); Carbone Coal Fired Pizza, whose pour-your-own beer tap system sees this Vegas-style spot go from restaurant to club for the bar star crowd; Rudy’s Eat & Drink, whose Mad Men aesthetic also flaunts downtown’s biggest patio; and the iconic Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club, which you really have to see to believe.
Winnipeg’s stadium is located in the south part of the city, about a 10-15 minute drive from downtown (use this handy guide to plan your route). It is rather marvellous looking, with curved beams that reach out into the prairie skies which, given Winnipeg’s flat surroundings, you can see above the trees in all directions leading up to it.
The bar of note in closest proximity is Barley Brothers Stadium, which the most hardcore US fans – that being the America Outlaws – will be making their gathering location. Barley Brothers specializes in – you guessed it – beer! With their Stadium location featuring the most taps of craft beer in all of Canada.
If you are looking to relax before the games, then Thermëa by Nordik Spa Nature is a must. Located close to the stadium amongst the forests and golf courses of Fort Garry, Thermëa features multiple pools, saunas and steam rooms for hot-cold-hot cycle treatments that are ridiculously good. You can spend hours upon hours here, making your body hit the reset button in the best way possible. They also have an exquisite restaurant where eating in your robe is mandatory. It really doesn’t get any more indulgent.
Also of note for total relaxation is Ten Spa in the Fort Garry Hotel. Amongst many fabulous treatments in this pristine, near opulent facility is the Hamam treatment, which involves lying in a steamy room on heated marble while people pour soothing water over your limbs and forehead (yes, it’s just as awful as it sounds). If you are a player, book your appointment now as I could not imagine a better post-game ritual.
In fact, Winnipeg is full of amazing spas, all of which will provide the ideal recharge before you take to the stands at the stadium to scream out your lungs.
As to some of the must-see sights, let's start at The Forks, where the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is located.
The CMHR is unlike anything you’ve seen or experienced before. No other building in the world can boast such lofty goals in being the sole museum dedicated to presenting, discussing and projecting human rights issues from the past, present and into the future.
Inside this immense glass-wrapped museum, 11 exhibits climb from a cavernous ground floor up to the illuminating Tower of Hope, which offers outstanding views of the city.
The Forks itself is a sprawling attraction-laden locale that is visited by more tourists than any other Winnipeg location. The Forks Market is where you’ll find locally produced, artisanal wears and food stalls, along with a port on the riverbanks where Splash Dash water tours will show you the city along the waters of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
While we wish we had space to cover all the top attractions and destinations within the city (which would extend this article to a Tolstoy-esque length), we feel it best to end at Assiniboine Park where lush botanical gardens (featuring the not-to-be-missed Leo Mol Sculpture Garden), a super cool children’s nature park (which features splash pads, a massive play area, and giant creatures made from vegetation which kids go crazy for) and Assiniboine Park Zoo await.
The Journey to Churchill at Assiniboine Park Zoo is so amazing that it often brings tears of joy to adults (I’ve seen it) as they watch the playful, rescued polar bears swim and roughhouse one another in their giant pool.
You can view this spectacle from below in a giant acrylic tunnel, which the bears dive around in, putting you nearly nose-to-nose with these huge, cuddly looking guys and gals (it’s simply breathtaking stuff). The mammoth grounds of the Journey to Churchill also house so many interesting Arctic species like muskox, Arctic fox and snowy owls, while the rest of the zoo has animals like snow leopards (new cubs were just born), red kangaroos, squirrel monkeys, Amur tigers, lynx, and everyone’s favourite, the adorable red panda.
Also be sure to check out our Tourism Winnipeg website for comprehensive listings and details on all of Winnipeg's attractions (along with a handy events calendar), while our food website Peg City Grub is Winnipeg's best culinary guide.
Lead photo supplied by Assiniboine Park and Zoo