Considered the heart of the nation and geographically located in the centre of Canada and North America, Winnipeg - or the 'Peg' as affectionately known by locals - is the capitol of Manitoba.
Rising above the prairie at the historic intersection of the Red and Assinboine rivers you’ll find a city that’s always celebrating. Local communities and businesses join together and will throw a festival for just about any reason and for any season, as long as it brings people together.
With more than 6,000 years of history and the centre of the Canadian fur trade from the 17th to 19th century, Winnipeg is a four-season, cosmopolitan destination with a character all to itself.
Time your visit for these annual events…
1. Winnipeg Folk Festival in July
2. Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival in July
3. Winnipeg International Writers Festival in September
4. Folklorama in August.
Winnipeg is filled with attractions for all ages. The most-eye catching and innovative structure you’ll see on the city’s skyline is The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Inside is just impressive as out, with 11 powerful exhibitions showcasing a journey of inspiration amongst human triumphs and struggles.
Situated next to the museum at the riverside intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers is the historic 'The Forks' area. Today The Forks is home to a bustling food and craft markets with a world-class ice skating rink during the winter months.
You don’t have to leave the city to see wildlife though. The Assiniboine Zoo is home to polar bears, red bears and snow leopards. A little further from the centre, but still within city limits, is Fortwhyte Alive with several lakes spread out over 640 acres of prairie land. It’s here you can see bison, canoe during summer and spring and cross-country ski or snowshoeing on its many trails during winter.
Get close to nature at these parks…
1. Assiniboine Park – popular park and event site
2. Kildonan Park – great for walks
3. Kings Park – near the university
Winnipeg’s dining scene has long been one of the city’s best-kept secrets but word is finally getting out. Do a little online research and not only will you find the traditional bar, restaurant and coffee house establishments, but also everything from secret diners to pop-up restaurants on frozen rivers.
International cuisine can be found on many of Winnipeg’s dinner tables with the city home to a high percentage of international migrants. Some of the city’s hippest eateries, such as French-inspired Bistro 7¼ are located at the South Osborne Street neighbourhood.
Further from the centre it’s worth a scenic trip to Food Evolution in Kildonan Park to try the locally sourced pickerel fish, or Pineridge Hollow, located on the outskirts of Birds Hill Park, to taste one of the Winnipeg’s best bison burgers.
Taste the world in Winnipeg at…
1. Segovia (Spanish Tapas) and one of Canada's top 50 restaurants
2. Jessie’s Kitchen (Ukrainian)
3. Peasant Cookery (Canadian)
4. Kalan Restaurant (Filipino)
You really can’t go wrong when choosing where to stay in Winnipeg - it rarely takes more than fifteen minutes to get from any point A to B. Staying downtown will have you in walking distance from most attractions, or a short taxi ride away.
Downtown is where you’ll find the landmark Fort Garry Hotel. The Fort Garry was built in 1913 and over the years has hosted many luminaries that have passed through the city. Other luxury options include Fairmont Winnipeg and the Delta Winnipeg Hotel.
Other popular districts to stay are St. Boniface in the heart of Winnipeg's French Quarter; Osbourne Village for boutique and budget motels and hotels; the Exchange District with turn-of-the-20th century terra cotta and stone-cut buildings or the ethnically rich and diverse West End.
Doing a tour of Winnipeg’s shopping districts is a great way to explore how diverse the city is. The three blocks around Obsborne Village make an ideal starting point and is where you’ll find the city’s trend setting boutiques. For something more upmarket, head to Academy Road or the converging Lilac and Corydon strips, where plenty of memorable souvenirs are waiting.
More ‘everything in one stop’ destination is The Forks, which year round is buzzing with events. The Forks Market is particularly popular with travellers, so too is the nearby Exchange District. With an artsy vibe, main street McDermot Avenue is home to Warehouse Artworks, a great place for local designs.
For unique souvenir shopping try…
1. Inuit art at Nunavut Gallery
2. October Boutique for hip women’s fashion
3. The Forks Trading Company – a classic for visitors
Winnipeg like a Local
Locals know a thing or two about having a fun day out for free. The local art scene is heralded throughout the city and on the first Friday of each month galleries in the Exchange District throw open their doors and waive the entry fee.
The city’s leading gallery, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, has also been getting in on the generosity with regular Friday promotions for out-of-towners. It’s here where you can see around 24,000 of the best pieces from both Manitoba, wider Canada and beyond.
It won’t cost you a cent to see one of Winnipeg’s over 400 public murals. Keep your eyes peeled when wandering the West Broadway, Wolseley and West End areas to see some of the best on offer.
See upcoming Canadian artists at…
1. Martha Street Studio – also offers print classes
2. Platform Gallery – digital art
3. Urban Shaman – leader in Aboriginal art