Here in Winnipeg we don’t just embrace winter, we hug it tight with two gloved hands then shape it up to make one of the most creative cities you’ve ever seen. When our rivers freeze, they become one of the world’s longest skating trails, boasting works of architecture from some of the world’s best designers. We provide the opportunity to get (nearly) nose-to-nose with swimming polar bears, play host to one of the best winter festivals, and have attractions that epitomize the phrase, “winter wonderland.”
Awe-inspiring Winter Experiences
Winnipeg’s number one tourist attraction, The Forks has it all. Get a group together for a game of Crokicurl then rent skates and glide down Red River Mutual Trail along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers past Warming Huts that have been celebrated in the New York Times, LA Times and countless design publications. For an even more magical experience on ice, hit the on-land trails of Arctic Glacier Winter Park at night, where you’ll skate under a canopy of lights strung from the trees and archways. Après skate (or simply go for some fabulous dining) inside to The Forks Market where there is a wine, beer and food hall – along with countless shops brimming with local designs like moccasins, candles, art and more.
For 50 years now, Western Canada’s largest winter festival has brought forth 10 days of live music, French food, dancing, ice sculptures, and plenty of family fun with jaunty costumed interpreters who are living the circa-1810s lifestyle within the walls of Fort Gibraltar. This celebration of the fur trade era takes place in St. Boniface – the city’s charming French District – from February 15-24, 2019, while new to this year – along with a few extra special things to celebrate half a century of fun – will be an outdoor ice bar location in the Forks harbour.
This stunning nature reserve – located right inside the city – offers endless winter fun, from snowshoeing, to ice fishing, birding, bison spotting, tobogganing, hiking, and countless guided programs that will show you how the region’s Indigenous peoples thrived during the winter months. Plus, there’s the Buffalo Stone Café, a mighty fine little restaurant where many of the featured ingredients are grown onsite at FortWhyte Farms (which is also worth a visit).
Celebrated by locals and visitors alike, this Scandinavian spa brings new meaning to total relaxation. Situated in the snow-capped forests of Fort Garry – just a ten-minute drive from downtown – Thermëa is an open-air spa featuring thermal pools, Finnish saunas, luxurious steam rooms, and several relaxation chambers, all of which are enhanced by the colder winter gets. The onsite restaurant – where dining in your robes is mandatory – specializes in holistic (and delicious), locally sourced fare, with an excellent wine, beer and craft cocktail program.
Visit the swimming polar bears, Arctic foxes, muskox, wolves, snowy owls and seals at the multi-award winning, Journey to Churchill at Assiniboine Park Zoo, then explore the sprawling setting of the park – where you can skate on the duck pond and all along the Terry Fox Fitness Trail, which snakes through tree-lined pathways. The Qualico Family Centre does a banging breakfast and brunch, while the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden is simply majestic with a fresh sprinkle of snow.
Manitoba’s “first and only fashion outlet” features more than 100 brands spread across over 400,000 square feet of stylish indoor space. They have everything under one roof like coat check, an excellent food court, free WiFi, phone charging stations and a nursing lounge for moms, with new brands including Lacoste, Kate Spade and G by Guess, along with popular numbers like Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Nike, Under Armour, Saks Off 5th and DSW.
Chef Mandel Hitzer and architect Joe Kalturnyk’s winter pop-up restaurant (January 24 - February 17, 2019) staged on the frozen Assiniboine River has been celebrated in the New York Times, LA Times, Globe and Mail, Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Maclean's, and Eater – to name but a few publications – as there is simply nothing else like it in the world. The three-week restaurant brings in renowned chefs from across North America to collaborate in Winnipeg, serving extravagant multicourse meals in a super stylish tent and wood structure right on the ice. It’s so cool that you can literally skate to dinner and proceed to dine in your skates. Tickets are released in December for the event at The Forks on a first-come, first-served basis, with the remainder being sold online.
It's an embarrassment of riches this winter for Winnipeg's celebrated performance groups. Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet winter season includes Nutcracker (December 19-29) and Romeo & Juliet (February 13-17), while the celebrated Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has dozens of performances from pop, to live film soundtracks to the classics throughout winter. Theatre buffs are in for a treat with Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Prairie Theatre Exchange, who have plays being staged seemingly every night, while the Club Regent Event Centre plays host to legendary touring groups and great stand up, with a winter lineup that includes Boney M, Michael Bolton, Jeremy Hotz, Streetheart and Rick Springfield. Plus, there’s Justin Timberlake (February 4) and Disney on Ice (February 21-24) at the Bell MTS Place.
Puck in The Peg
Winnipeg is hockey crazy, so whether you are looking to catch a game or learn a thing or two about the history of hockey, we have you covered this winter. Both the NHL Winnipeg Jets and the AHL Manitoba Moose call Bell MTS Place home, where you can catch dozens of home games this winter in an atmosphere that is the envy of both leagues. The Moose are a fantastic and affordable option for families and groups, while the Jets – whose games are regularly sold-out – have been tipped by many insiders to win the 2019 Stanley Cup (not to jinx it!). Off the ice, the Manitoba Museum currently has two exciting hockey exhibits, including Manitoba: Heart of Hockey, featuring some priceless artifacts, and Hockey: The Stories Behind Our Passion, a national touring exhibit (both on now until January 13), while the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame always has a top-shelf selection of Winnipeg’s hockey history on display in their gallery.