If you are looking for a ‘best of’ experience in Winnipeg all in one area, look no further than the forthcoming CURRENT festival at The Forks.
From August 12 to 14, the city’s most popular tourism destination is going to be transformed into an epicentre of culture, all following the three pillars of “local, luxury & location” while providing “sips/sounds/arts/eats.”
The motto of the festival is “unapologetically extra”–something that is immediately apparent when you look at the live music lineup along with all the members of Winnipeg’s creative community that have collaborated to bring this thing together.
We’re talking plush tents to hang, a farm-to-table food hall that’s all about freshness, and some of the city’s most acclaimed bands taking to the stage beside the Skate Plaza. It's a true showcase of what Winnipeg's creative community is all about.
“Over 35 small, local businesses involved. If it's available locally, it is sourced locally,” said CURRENT Founder and Festival Director, Monica Derksen. “From beer to merch to art to ingredients in the menu.”
The whole swish atmosphere–think disco balls, custom lawn games, chandeliers and vibrant art installations to take in between shows–focuses on the finer things in life. Plus, it’s 18+ only.
On the CN Stage
Let’s start with what’s on stage, as the lineup of performers is so impressive, ranging genres from folk to rock to country and experimental.
The festival kicks off on Friday afternoon with a performance from Sierra Noble for the opening VIP reception (3:45 p.m.). The main gates then open at 5 p.m. with Leonard Sumner taking to the stage at 5:45 p.m., and Super Duty Tough Work at 7:15 p.m., before Begonia brings down the house with her amazing vocals and incredible backing band starting at 8:45 p.m.
On Saturday, the gates open at noon with a lineup of performers that includes Ila Barker (1:15 p.m.), Cassidy Mann (2:45 p.m.), Field Guide (4:15 p.m.), the Dirty Catfish Brass Band (5:45 p.m.), and iskwē–who is known for her powerful performances that celebrate her Cree-Métis heritage, at 7:15 p.m. After, it’s indie darlings Royal Canoe closing out the evening at 8:45 p.m., with a performance that’s guaranteed to get you grooving.
Sunday, again starting at noon, is equally stacked as far as local star power goes. Jivetown will kick things off at 1:15, Kelly Bado is up at 2:45, Attica Riots at 4:15 then Mise en Scene at 5:45. That evening, headliners include multiple-award winner William Prince, who will be bringing his rich soulful voice (just check out his recent NPR performance; it’s glorious) to the stage at 7:15. Closing out the whole festival is The Bros. Landreth, who will be bringing their guitars, beards, and own brand of country-rock to the stage at 8:45 p.m. These guys are so respected in the industry that Bonnie Raitt just covered their song “Made Up Mind” on her new album.
On your plate
You can expect plenty of food and beverage to be served up with all the above acts.
On the food side of things, everyone’s favourite caterer, chef Ben Kramer, will be highlighting so many local ingredients in the food hall, located within the CN Stage (here’s a map). With a resume that includes some of the biggest events Manitoba has seen (including regularly feeding all the staff, bands and volunteers at Folk Fest; along with Table for 1200 More), you’re sure to be dazzled by the plates coming out of his kitchen.
On the sips side of things, it’s again a celebration of all that’s local. Coffee service is being provided by Never Better Coffee, while beer comes courtesy of Sookram’s, Nonsuch and Barn Hammer, with Good Neighbour Brewing supplying non-alcohol sparklingly hop waters, which is super cool.
For sips, the Nomad Box-Bar will be curating the cocktails on the festival grounds, creating signature drinks to represent each band (along with mocktails too), while local company Prism Kombucha will also be served onsite.
There will of course be wine, including cute cans from Keep Calm, while there’s a whole tent called the Cava Cabana by everyone’s favourite light blue label, Villa Conchi. We tell you, it’s one swish affair. The full beverage program can be found here.
A visual feast
Festival founder Monica Derksen’s expert curation continues with the festival’s aesthetics, whom she’s hired Fireside Design to execute. As some locals will note, this dynamic duo is responsible for some of the city’s coolest dining rooms including Nonsuch Brewery, Harth, and the brand-new Parcel Pizza. Just imagine what they can do with all that space at The Forks.
For merch, there’s totes by local designer star Leonard Taylor and Tees by artist Zephyra Vun, while the festival will also have body painting, cocktail-making classes, a 360-degree video booth, hoop dancing demos and lessons from Shanley Spence and readings from local authors.
Tickets for CURRENT, with weekend passes for $200 and day passes for $100, are available here.