There is not a more iconic Winnipeg winter tradition than Festival Du Voyageur. The anticipation begins early in February, upon seeing the blocks of snow being prepared on city boulevards, and doesn’t subside until you get the full Festival experience. Now, after a couple of bleak winters, Festival Du Voyageur returns to lift our mood, get us outdoors, and enjoy the rich cultural experience. And maybe a couple Caribous. Heho!
The feeling of celebration is everywhere as the best winter festival is underway. As the crowds move into the park, the smell of wood fires, conversation, laughter, and fiddles fill the air. Even before you enter the park, you are welcomed by numerous sculptures. The snow sculptures are always a feat of creativity and engineering. Keep your eyes open as they can be found all over the festival grounds. And while each installation is incredible, don’t miss the tallest sculpture, which can be found near Tente des Neiges
Fort Gibralter houses some of the daily life of voyageurs, traders, and trappers, in the form of reenactments. There is a blacksmith, a trading post, and much more to highlight the different needs of people living two centuries ago. Taking a climb to the overlook provides a wonderful view of the fort and festival and all the people milling about.
For a chance to warm up, the Maison Chaboillez is a cozy option. Situated to the [north] side of the fort, this small square structure provides atmosphere and camaraderie within its walls. With a chorus of musicians playing traditional Metis music, the atmosphere is something else.
The sound of music can be heard coming from every tent you pass. Upon entering, each tent is full of conversation and bodies, many people seated and enjoying the hearty pea soup being offered. As one finds a seat to sit down and enjoy the experience, you forget that that it’s -20 outside. The feeling of winter has been pushed away by energy and excitement.
Set up near the entry gate is the Tente Riviere-Rouge. It is positioned as a hub of activity with room for all sorts of events. When the wood carving challenge (which is the first event to take the stage on most days), has been completed and the stage will be swept clean for the long list of musicians to follow. Throughout the day, one can pop in every couple of hours to hear all sorts of performers, up to the end of the night.
We had a great time at Festival Du Voyageur, it was so exciting to see it return to its joyous, celebratory, exuberant self. Our little roundup here is just a small portion of all the exciting things going on. You could return to the festival every day and each time would be its own unique and wonderful experience, and we wholeheartedly suggest that you do.
For a full list of events, for more festival information, or to get your tickets, head to heho.ca