When the snow hits, the first thing we tend to want to do is retreat from the harsh cold. But for the residents of Winnipeg, Manitoba, it’s a winter wonderland that can last half a year.
The capital city has the coldest winter in the country, but its people have found ways to make the most of the perpetually chilly weather. In fact, you’d be surprised at what Winnipeg has to offer. Aside from its icy roads, it has a bustling arts scene, mesmerizing architecture, and a thriving community just waiting to be discovered. So the next time you start to look for a winter escape in the form of some exotic beach thousands of miles away, consider embracing the cold weather on this idyllic Canadian prairie instead.
Here are some unique winter activities to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Visit The Forks
Credit: The Forks
At 6,000 years old, The Forks is a true Canadian institution and the heart of Winnipeg. Located at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, this popular district serves as a local meeting place. There’s a plethora of things to do for everyone — like watching skateboarders at The Plaza, exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, or grabbing a bite at The Commons.
Credit: Winnipeg Free Press
Just last year, CBC News featured the debut of “crokicurl” — a new, exciting game that combines the board game crokinole with the sport of curling. However, instead of using a traditional board, locals get to play on a sheet of ice using curling rocks for shooting discs. It’s becoming extremely popular in Winnipeg, and its combination of the two games has certainly made it a lot of fun.
Experience Festival du Voyageur
Credit: Rosalie Drysdale
French culture is essential to Canada, as seen in the annual celebration of the Festival du Voyageur. This major festive event pays homage to the first European inhabitants who found a home at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. It’s the biggest winter festival in town, welcoming thousands of visitors every year who come to enjoy the renowned snow sculpture contest, live music, dances, and food.
Explore the Manitoba Planetarium and Museum
Credit: The Manitoba Museum
For an educational experience, the Manitoba Planetarium and Museum has everything you need for a full day of culture and learning. It’s the largest museum in the entire city, and its interactive design allows you to fully immerse yourself in the city’s history — along with exhibitions about space, local wildlife, and more. Enjoyable for all ages, the Manitoba Planetarium and Museum is not to be missed.
Go Up the Ice Climbing Tower
Credit: Tourism Winnipeg
Climbing ice formations in the middle of the city may sound impossible, but the Ice Climbing Tower is actually one of Winnipeg’s most popular attractions. This free-standing monolith appears from a river bank every winter. With varying degrees of difficulty offered, anyone can try their hand at summiting the 20-metre structure.
Have an indoor adventure at CTRL-V
Staying inside to play video games might sound a little corny, but don’t write this one off just yet. According to Lottoland’s feature on the history of video games, they have evolved immensely over the years. Advancements in technology have allowed video games to flourish into entire worlds that its earliest creators could have never imagined, spilling over to the now über popular virtual reality (VR). Enter CTRL-V, the newest VR arcade in Winnipeg, which immerses players into the very depths of the digital realm. With 16 VR game stations to choose from, you’ll never run out of adventures to have.
See the Polar Bears at the Winnipeg Zoo
Credit: Winnipeg Zoo
Another exciting thing unique to Manitoba is its population of polar bears, who roam the northern part of the province along Hudson Bay. But there’s no need to venture that far out to get a glimpse of these majestic creatures. Head down to the Winnipeg Zoo and catch them at the polar bear tank, where they can be seen swimming and frolicking around.