Longing to make a getaway beyond the state lines this summer? Venture out of the Twin Cities and visit the land of your friendly neighbors up north in the province of Manitoba. Winnipeg, the province’s capital city, is just one hour away from the border, making it an easy drive from the upper Midwest. Even better, the strong US dollar makes travel costs 30% cheaper for American visitors.
As the home of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg is a center for arts and culture in North America. And in the summer months, the city transforms into a lively festival city, showcasing the best in regional, national, and international talent. From Folklorama to Rock Fest, here are Winnipeg’s most anticipated summer festivals that will make you want to join the party and sing, dance, shout, and cheer.
TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival
PHOTO BY DUNCAN MCNAIRNAY/ TRAVEL MANITOBA
June 15-25: Now in its 28th year, Winnipeg’s International Jazz Festival offers a swingin’ good time of lively jazz instrumentation and vocals across six days of concerts in the downtown area’s theaters and clubs. The city’s historic Old Market Square hosts four days of free programming, including free nightly shows (like Latin night on the 21st) throughout the duration of the festival.
Winnipeg Folk Festival
PHOTO BY TRAVEL MANITOBA
July 6-9: Be surrounded by acoustic jams and good company in Winnipeg’s natural paradise at the city’s annual folk festival. This friendly celebration of roots, indie, and Americana music features over 70 acts such as City and Colour, The Shins, Feist, Barenaked Ladies, Brandi Carlile, Foy Vance, and John Paul White. The festival’s unique creative community environment is best expressed with the daytime workshops, which allow artists to collaborate with their peers through impromptu jam sessions. If you’re camping on the campground, don’t miss going up to the viewpoint on Pope’s Hill to watch the sunset turn into the northern lights.
Fringe Theatre Festival
PHOTO BY TRAVEL MANITOBA
July 19-30: Watch as performers let their freak flags fly at the second largest alternative theatre festival in North America. In honor of the festival’s 30th anniversary, Winnipeg Fringe promises to be the biggest one yet with over 190 shows presented by 160 theatre companies from across Canada and around the world. From comedies and dramas to musicals and improv, there’s bound to be a performance for everyone. And with the experimental artistic freedom of the performers, you never know what surprises you’re going to get at a show.
PHOTO BY TRAVEL MANITOBA
August 6-19: Broaden your cultural horizons at Folklorama, the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. Starting in 1970 in celebration of Manitoba’s centennial, Winnipeg’s very own expo includes over 40 international pavilions featuring diverse cultures such as Africa/Caribbean, Scandinavian, Israel, and Celtic-Ireland. Pavilions offer cultural displays, entertainment performances, ethnic cuisine, and ambassadors dressed in traditional attire, allowing visitors the unique experience of exploring the entire world within a couple weeks.
Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival
PHOTO BY COLIN VANDENBERG / WINNIPEG BBQ AND BLUES FESTIVAL
August 11-12: Got a case of the blues and a craving for some good ol’ grillin’? Then Winnipeg’s annual BBQ and blues festival is just what you need! Located along Smith Street is the food and beverage garden, along with the Pit Masters barbeque competition. Nearby Burton Cummings Theatre is where headlining acts The Fabulous Thunderbirds with special guests MonkeyJunk, and Blind Boys of Alabama are set to perform on stage. It’s hip shakin’ and lip smackin’ soul food for the ears and taste buds of music lovers and foodies alike.
Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME)
PHOTO BY SHAWN FILLION
August 17-20: MEME is the leading annual electronic event in Western Canada that highlights the experimental convergence of electronic music, digital arts, and creative technology. All concerts feature VJs alongside the music acts, bringing together a synergy of senses through audio and visual multimedia. Announced performers include The Orb, Mr C, Haitras, Flipside, Esette, DJ Shine, and Kloves. In addition to a free concert series at The Cube in Old Market Square, MEME hosts late night “After Cube” events at The Winnipeg Art Gallery, The Pyramid Cabaret, and The Pantages Playhouse.
Interstellar Rodeo at The Forks
PHOTO BY MATT DUBOFF / INTERSTELLAR RODEO
August 18-20: The Forks is perhaps the most famous area in Winnipeg; located in the heart of downtown at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, this lively cultural district is the perfect place to host Interstellar Rodeo. Beck, Broken Social Scene, Shakey Graves and a host of other artists will perform for a crowd of music and food lovers, who can also enjoy wine pairings chosen specifically for each act throughout the weekend.
Winnipeg Classic RockFest
PHOTO BY WINNIPEG CLASSIC ROCKFEST
August 29: For those all about classic rock, Winnipeg’s Classic RockFest salutes you! The city’s first annual festival for the legendary music genre is set to amp up the baseball field at Shaw Park. Their inaugural line-up features a headlining farewell performance by Streetheart, in honor of Kenny Shields, along with special guests Honeymoon Suite, Harlequin, and The Pumps & Orphan. Situated in the heart of the downtown area along the scenic banks of the Red River, Shaw Park is the perfect setting for a supercharged night of rock music.