Fabulous Cultural Options in Winnipeg

Winnipeg is a relatively small Canadian city of 705,000 residents in the metropolitan area, and just under 800,000 if you include the surrounding region. But it is very big on culture. There are many festivals and multi-cultural events that celebrate the culturally diverse faces of Manitoba’s capital that will warm your heart and lift your spirit–at any time of year. Unfortunately, 2020 and 2021 have been very different due to COVID-19 and all its variants of concern. So the in-person version of all the major cultural events have been postponed and some are holding mini-offerings online.

The Riel Esplanade Walking Bridge shown to the right of the vehicle bridge connects downtown Winnipeg to historic Saint Boniface, where you can experience French-Canadian culture.

As a subscriber to the Manitoba Theatre Centre‘s mainstage in Winnipeg for many years, I’ve seen many terrific plays (plus a few not so enjoyable performances) at this iconic venue. Several years ago, I switched my allegiance to the Prairie Theatre Exchange in the heart of Winnipeg as my theatre of choice, as I love the more intimate and informal venue, the lower tickets prices, free indoor parking, and other subscriber perks such as the Wine Wednesdays that community-based theatre brings. Unfortunately, there is no live theatre for the foreseeable future due to COVID. But there have been some performances offered online. There have also been other online options to enjoy, such as this year’s mini Winnipeg Folk Festival to be held August 13-15, 2021 in Birds Hill Park if the virus situation doesn’t get out of control.

enjoy the cultural options of winnipeg–virtually


Manito Ahbee is a terrific opportunity to immerse yourself in aboriginal culture.

The Manito Ahbee festival celebrates the aboriginal culture that is prevalent in Manitoba. This multi-day event is normally held at various venues throughout downtown Winnipeg. This year, Manito Ahbee is being held entirely online. The International Pow-wow is the highlight of the event, where you can see aboriginal musicians and dancers from around the world participating in various competitions. In the virtual version of the Pow-wow–which runs May 21-24, 2021, dancers dazzle and inspire us from their own home territories, versus all being in the same venue. Do check it out!

Some of the regalia (don’t call them costumes) that you will see at Manito Ahbee are really quite spectacular.

In addition to First Nations cultures, more than 40 other cultures are celebrated at Folklorama, a multi-cultural event that was launched in 1969. Folklorama is the largest and longest-running multi-cultural festival of its kind in the world, and is held the first two weeks of August every summer. August, 2019, marked the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Folklorama. It’s unfortunate that the in-person multi-venue offerings have been cancelled for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID, but Folklorama has come up with some creative options to satisfy our hunger for cultural creations. “Folklorama At Home” enables you to bring catered cultural events to your home or small venue. There are also Folklorama at Work, School, and Play options to investigate. Do visit the website for the creative options being offered during these difficult times.
Combine any of these cultural highlights in Winnipeg with a visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and you will develop a keen sense for why this Prairie city is so proud of its multi-cultural roots. The museum is an architectural wonder, and is the first national museum in Canada located outside of the capital region of Ottawa/Gatineau. It is also the only museum in the world devoted to global human rights and is now open again to the public with COVID-friendly practices.

winnipeg welcomes qaumajuq–the new Inuit art centre

The newest addition to the Winnipeg cultural scene is Qaumajuq–the new Inuit Art Centre located adjacent to the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The two galleries combined offer 185,000 square feet of viewing space. Qaumajuq showcases the largest collection of Inuit art in the world and opened to the public on April 7, 2021.

This limestone carving of a polar bear sits in front of Qaumajuq–the new Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (Photo supplied by WAG.)

I’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit Qaumajuq, but have watched several online presentations previewing it to the world and can’t wait to check it out in person. Qaumajuq–pronounced “low-ma-yourk” means “It is bright, it is lit” in the Inuktitut language of the Inuit people who have inhabited Canada’s northern territories for thousands of years. If you’d like to read more about Winnipeg and some of the highlights to plan your visit, please check out this post, as it lists five of my favourite things about my hometown.


















Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

48 Responses

  1. Winnipeg does indeed have fabulous cultural options. It’s nice to see the creative online options introduced during the pandemic.
    Donna E Janke recently posted…Qaumajuq: Illuminating The Largest Collection of Inuit Art In The WorldMy Profile

    • Hi Donna and thx for dropping by to comment. Yes, as much as Winnipeg has its difficulties, I’m encouraged to see the growing number of amazing cultural options we have in this great city! I enjoyed your post on Qaumajuq.

  2. I have updated this post to add the brand new Qaumajuq Inuit Art Centre that opened April 7, 2021, and have also updated information on dates for 2021 on the other festivals and events.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…exploring CancunMy Profile

  3. Beverly says:

    I enjoyed your post. The regalia pictured is spectacular. I love the ship in the museum someone mentioned. It is called the Nonsuch and is one of my favorite exhibits. I appreciate the positive attention your post has brought to Winnipeg.

  4. Wendy Peck says:

    What a great idea for an article while your wings are Covid-clipped.

    I moved to Winnipeg because all three of my kids were here, and I wasn’t sure what came next in my life. That was 13 years ago. The kids are all long gone, but I am home. Love this city.

  5. Lexmark says:

    Great blog post. So many fun and colorful things to do there .and We’re visiting Vancouver in 2019 and I’m currently researching other areas to visit.

  6. Chantal says:

    Sounds like a place we need to visit!

  7. We’re visiting Vancouver in 2019 and I’m currently researching other areas to visit. Winnipeg is certainly on my list now. Where else would you recommend for a Brit?

  8. Phoenicia says:

    Winnipeg sounds as though it is buzzy and a magnet for tourists. I always welcome shows in the UK and when I travel abroad particularly those which are cultural based. I support our community theatre as it is important to invest in your hometown. My daughter has even performed in a show there!

  9. Adam Liyak says:

    Winnipeg seems to be very rich in festivals and traditional culture.

  10. Cindy says:

    I’ll have to check out the First Nations’ festival. We try to get up there every few years, but it has been more than a few now. . . waiting for the WAG to open their new exhibit space!

  11. Ravikant says:

    Wow , Would like visit Winnipeg. I’d like to get involved in the cultural fest. It’s great fun to be at such places.

  12. Taaza Tadka says:

    Winnipeg sounds like a wonderful destination to learn a ton of cultural aspects I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for the insight.

  13. Loved the photo of the regalia and learning more about the things to do in Winnipeg! If I ever make it, I’ll be certain to try to check out one of the multicultural offerings in the area. 🙂

  14. Lynda says:

    I need to add this destination to our bucket list!

  15. Looks like Winnipeg is not the remote city I thought it is…a real cultural hub! I have so many Filipino friends there so I know there is diversity. With the indigenous past, those two are usually good indicators for a rich culture.

    • You are very right, Carol. Winnipeg is right in the centre of Canada. Not remote. Just a bit farther north than most people go, but just 450 miles north of Mnnpls. The aboriginal culture, partnered with the Filippino and other cultures really enhance the persona of the city. If you make it here, let me know and we’ll meet up!

  16. I love learning about all the cultural events happening “up north.” Sounds like you could spend your whole summer doing things around Winnipeg!

  17. I had no idea there was so much culture in Winnipeg! The First Nations festival looks like a great event.

  18. Summer would be the perfect time to visit Winnipeg. So many fun and colorful things to do there!

  19. Sue Reddel says:

    Canada just continues to surprise me. Winnipeg sounds like a wonderful destination to learn a ton of cultural aspects I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for the insight.

  20. I met my husband at Folklorama so I have a soft spot for Winnipeg’s multicultural extravaganza! But the truth is there are so many things to do in Winnipeg and its so relatively easy to get around ( compared to Toronto) that it’s easy to get out and about to soak up some culture. I used to really enjoy going to the ballet and opera as well as the various concerts held in churches around town. And of course all the art galleries. I’m long overdue for a trip back

  21. I was in Winnipeg in the winter, but I did experience the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. What a moving and important museum no matter where someone is from. Excellent post!

  22. Margaret Anne Fehr says:

    As a Winnipeg ex-pat approaching 6 years here in Ontario. I’ve had the experience of viewing Winnipeg from a distance and hearing opinions from the locals about their impression of my former city. Comments like “Winter-peg,” mosquitos as big as houseflies and sandbags in spring come up but I think that’s slowly changing with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and other cultural events that are making Winnipeg more of a destination location. Of course, I’m putting in my two cents to inform people that we’re way more than a hockey city (though that’s a added bonus) and tell them that the undercurrent of Winnipeg has been a robust cultural base that goes back a long, long way. Planning to visit this fall so I’m sure there will be many pleasant surprises, including visiting you, Doreen.

  23. Beverly says:

    I love Winnipeg as well. There is so much to see and do. I would enjoy reading more posts about Winnipeg. There must be many upcoming spring and summer events your readers would love to read about.

  24. I remember a short visit to Winnipeg when I bought a all-time favorite flannel nightgown and saw a huge ancient ship inside a museum. No more details, but good memories. I’ll keep these festivals in mind for my next visit.

  25. Linda says:

    Ah, I celebrate our so civil and generous neighbors across the border. While you all happily celebrate diversity, my country is being ripped to shreds by a lunatic that fears everything not white.
    Actually my town, though very Caucasian, does celebrate it’s diversity with a yearly Gay Pride Festival, a Greek Food Festival, and I think I just heard that there’s a Russian Festival going on somewhere. First and foremost, though is Jaialdi, the Basque Festival, celebrated every 5 years. It brings 30-40,000 visitors (many from the old country) to town.

  26. Esther says:

    I love the cultural events. In all the cities in which I have ever lived in Canada, some version of “Folklorama” is held, where all cultures are celebrated. Cheers!

    • Hi Esther, and thanks for commenting. Winnipeg is really quite exceptional in celebrating its multi-cultural heritage. Many other cities do have some form of multi-cultural celebration, but nothing to the scope of Folklorama. You’ll have to come and see the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It has taken the theme to a whole new level.

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