As the Winnipeg Jets return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so does whiteout season! Whether you’re a die-hard hockey fan or just want to support Winnipeg’s team, the #WinnipegWhiteout gives you a chance to come together and celebrate!
What to Expect
The energy on the streets during the whiteout is unmatched. There’s something special about half of your city piling onto the streets, decked out in white and the hometown team’s apparel.
Starting this year, there’s a cover fee of $5.00, but the fun you will have is priceless. All proceeds are going to The United Way, which will scatter the funds to several organizations in the city helping individuals with mental health and addiction services.
But that seems to be the only thing that’s changing—seasoned whiteout goers can expect to see the same parties, with huge screens playing the game, local food trucks, beverages (both adult and youth-friendly), snacks, and activities. If you have tots in tow, the alcohol-free family zone at the Millennium Library Park has room for up to 4,000 people!
Prepare for a Whiteout
Whiteout parties start exactly 2 hours before each game and the streets get packed fast, so make sure to get there on time if you want to get the full whiteout experience. Buying a ticket doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the street. The street party is capped at 15,000 people for safety reasons (unless you have a ticket to the game).
From personal experience, I recommend coordinating beforehand if you’re meeting a group of friends. Cell reception can be a bit dodgy and slow with the giant mass amount of people around you, and texting them “I’m by the screen, I’m the one wearing white!” doesn’t exactly work in this situation.
Don’t have a white Winnipeg Jets jersey? Don’t fret! Every white get-up is welcome, even a basic white tee-shirt. If you’re feeling extra festive, get creative! Grab a white wig, a white tutu, or whatever—there’s no better time to bust out that funky white hat stored in your Halloween costume box.
Pack the Essentials
Water bottle and a snack: You’re going to spend hours watching the game, chatting with your friends, and just enjoying the hustle and bustle of the party. Stay hydrated and energized by keeping a small snack and a water bottle with you. This also will save you a few bucks!
Battery Pack: You’re going to want to capture every Instagram-worthy moment, and that is going to drain your phone fast!
Jacket: As we get further into spring, we Winnipeggers tend to get a bit overconfident about what will be warm enough for us to wear. It may not be that cold at 5 pm when the parties start, but towards the end of the night, you’ll want something to wrap around you. Pack a lightweight jacket (white, obviously) just in case!
Get Around Downtown
Whiteout parties are great for those of us going, but if you can’t make the excitement, navigating around downtown can be torturous! Here are the roads that will be closed during whiteout parties:
• Donald between Portage and St. Mary
• Graham between Hargrave and Smith
• Smith between Portage and St. Mary
These streets will be closed from 11:30 a.m. Friday through 6:30 a.m. Saturday for today’s party.
My first whiteout was last spring, and as soon as I jumped off the bus onto Graham street, it was if I walked into a different dimension! For as far as my eyes could see, everyone was decked out in white. My nose quickly caught a whiff of the food trucks surrounding me, and my ears were bulldozed with the laughter and chatter of the crowd around me. I followed a mass of people to the center of the street, where hundreds upon hundreds of people were already gathered, getting ready for the game to light up the massive screen in front of us.
You don’t have to be a die-hard fan for the excitement to exist in you. Before experiencing my first whiteout, I enjoyed the occasional hockey game. But as soon as the screen switched on and the first puck hit the ice, I was roaring in unison with the crowd around me. We were loud and proud, screaming the second the Jets hit the ice, singing along to the Canadian anthem, and we kept up that enthusiasm until seconds before the Jets sunk their winning goal at the end of the game. It was like the entire crowd—no, the entire city—was holding its breath. Silence overcame the streets as our eyes were glued to the screen, waiting for the puck to hit net. As soon as it did, we were like a shaken soda bottle—the street exploded in deafening cheers! There must be cracks in the foundations of the buildings around us thanks to the deafening noise the Winnipeggers on the streets were making. I am honestly surprised we didn’t get a noise complaint from our neighboring city. I hugged everyone around me, people I had never seen before—but they felt like long-lost friends.
If someone not from Winnipeg were to ask me how patriotic Winnipeggers were, I would just show them a 10-second clip of a whiteout party. From that, they would get a good idea of what Winnipeggers are all about. Do you know how dedicated your fan base has to be to make a crowd look like that, sound like that?
The whiteout is a time for Winnipeggers to come together and bond over their pride in Winnipeg and their love for hockey. It doesn’t matter who you are- there’s always a place for you during whiteout season.