It’s cold. Some days, it’s so cold even the polar bears are wearing heavy winter parkas and Kodiaks, but winter shouldn’t be all bad. Manitoba has a number of activities and events throughout the winter months that will have you loving the snow and dreading the return of the hot summer sun.
1 – Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland
Running from December 2, 2012 to January 7, 2013, Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland is the largest outdoor Christmas light show in the province. Said to have a million lights, 25 themed areas, and displays up to 125′ x 40′, you can enjoy the show from the comfort of your warm car every day from 6pm – 10pm. Want to see the lights in style? You can get free horse and sleigh rides on the weekends.
2 – Whiteshell Provincial Park
If the weather has turned cold and the ground white, a trip to Whiteshell Provincial Park is definitely in order. Why? If the wealth of trails, unforgettable ice fishing opportunities, and abundance of animals can’t convince you, you’ll definitely love the relaxing and luxurious places to stay, the peace and serenity of the park’s natural sights.
3 – Lockport Children’s Festival
The annual Lockport Children’s Festival is two full days of (indoor and outdoor) activities and events for children of any age. There’s so much to do, it’s highly unlikely that two days is even enough time to try it all. Just some things to do here include snowmobile and sleigh rides, miniature horses, petting zoo, wild animals, a fish pond and crafts.
4 – Festival du Voyageur
Winnipeg has always been extremely proud of its French community, and does it know how to celebrate. Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur is a full ten days of fun, excitement, culture and history that you don’t want to miss. It runs from February 15th to the 24th and includes all kinds of events and activities including a beard growing contest and snow sculpting (a definite must-see).
5 – Northern Manitoba Trappers’ Festival
If you travel to The Pas, Manitoba, try to time it as the same time as the Northern Manitoba Trappers’ Festival. It’s Canada’s oldest winter festival and one of the only festivals in the world to honour northern pioneers. Try your hand at arm wrestling, learn to make moose calls, bake your own bannock and make yourself comfortable for the annual parade. Who knows? You might even be voted King or Queen Trapper.
6 – Manito Ahbee
Manito Ahbee is THE annual festival honouring Aboriginal and international First Nations culture. While many festivals focus on historical culture and activities, this festival includes hoop dances, hip-hop performances, a full marketplace and the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. The entire thing runs from October 31 to November 4th, 2012, so there’s plenty of time to see and do everything.
7 – Riding Mountain National Park
One of my favourite places on the planet is Riding Mountain National Park. This place is amazing in the summer, but it’s equally stunning and exciting in the winter. Snowmobiling and horseback riding are favourite activities for locals and travelers to the area, but there are endless activities and events here throughout the winter season. If you visit the area and are looking for a place to stay, I strongly suggest the Elkhorn Resort, Spa & Conference Centre.
8 – Adrenaline Adventures
Located just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Adrenaline Adventures is an interesting mix of outdoor activities and luxurious amenities. Its restaurant and conference facilities are some of the finest in the city, but outside, you’ll be treated to snow tubing and snowboarding. You can also try Xorbing, which I must say looks like one heck of an adrenaline rush. Adrenaline Adventures also hosts a number of events, concerts and fundraisers throughout the year.
9 – Manitoba Planetarium
If you’d like a break from your outdoor activities, and are searching for something indoors (and a little warmer), try a visit to the Manitoba Planetarium. The theatre recreates the night sky and instantly turns visitors into astronomers. And when you’ve explored the stars, search farther and learn about the planets and far away galaxies.
10 – Rail Travel Tours
If you’d like to make the trek from Winnipeg to Churchill, but don’t want to make the treacherous drive on your own, I highly recommend making the journey by rail. It’s not the same old boring train ride you’re likely thinking of. As VIA Rail winds its way through the stunning (and often seemingly untouched) countryside, you’ll travel in style, enjoying warmth, beverages and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Interested? One site to check out is Rail Travel Tours.
So, there you have it… my list of top 10 winter activities and events in Manitoba. What would be on your list?
(Images Courtesy of Travel Manitoba)