A version of this post was originally published on the Travel Manitoba blog.
When you live in a place affectionately nicknamed Winterpeg (and sometimes, ManiSNOWba), winter isn’t just a season, it’s a way of life. As a result, Manitoba embraces the season with a rich array of events and activities you simply can’t experience any other time of the year.
Here are 9 reasons why you should join in the fun and embrace the season in Manitoba.
1. The Forks
If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of The Forks during the wintertime, it’s time. Strap on your skates and glide down one of the longest natural skating rinks in the world, stopping along the way to admire the warming huts scattered along the trail (many, of which, are designed by world famous masterminds like Anish Kapoor and Frank Gehry). Take to the land trails and cross through canopies of lights and over the rail bridge, all before stopping into The Forks Market for a craft beer flight from The Common and a bite to eat.
New this year is a sauna right on The Forks grounds where you can heat up after your skate (reservations recommended).
2. Hygge (Hoo-gah)
While the Danish may have coined the term, Manitobans have fully embraced it when it comes to getting warm and cosy in the wintertime. Recommended activities include: lighting a Cable Knit Sweater candle from Coal + Canary, cuddling into a snow-covered cabin in Riding Mountain National Park or Whiteshell Provincial Park, and of course hibernating under a warm blanket in front of a crackling fireplace.
3. Comfort food
Comfort food is made to stick to the bones and keep you warm through the winter, so do as the Manitobans do and fully embrace it. Dig into a steaming bowl of smoked cheddar macaroni from King + Bannatyne, a heaping pile of delicious fried chicken poutine from Banh Mi King, or Pineridge Hollow’s fried chicken and waffles. Comfort food requires an equally cosy settling like Smith, with Hudson Bay blanket booths and candles on each and every table. And if you want to mix a bit of sweet in, opt for homemade strawberry pop tarts from La Belle Baguette or the most decadent peanut brittle donuts from Bronuts.
4. Snow and ice
Catch a thrill exploring our vast winter landscapes by ski, skate, snowmobile and snowshoe. Skate across the stunning surface of Clear Lake, or get your motor running on a snowmobile across Lake Winnipeg. Try to win big by dropping a line during the Lake of the Prairies Ice Fishing Derby, or explore the forests of Spruce Woods by snowshoe. You’ll feel the wind on your back on the downhill slopes of Aessippi Ski Area & Resort and along the trails of Hecla Island.
5. Thermea Nordic Spa
There’s no winter experience quite like Thermea, Winnipeg’s outdoor nordic spa. Sink into a steamy pool as snowflakes float overhead and admire the sparkle of the surrounding snow-covered evergreens. As part of the necessary hot-cold cycle, head into a sauna or steam room and breath deep into the warm air. Sip from a piping mug of hot tea as you unwind around the roaring bonfire - there’s no better way to melt into a puddle during the winter months.
6. Festival du Voyageur
Festival du Voyageur is ready to knock your ceinture fléchée off. As Western Canada’s largest winter festival, Festival du Voyageur brings the energy with 10 days of incredible music, food and culture. The festival celebrates Manitoba’s Metis heritage, meaning you can join into a number of cultural activities including jigging at a kitchen party, trying rolled maple syrup at the cabane à sucre and getting your fill of a number of traditional dishes such as bannock, pea soup and Caribou shots. With historical reenactments, mind-blowing musical acts and snow sculptures that defy physics, this festival celebrates winter as it was intended.
7. Cosy fashion
If you love layers, you’ll love winter fashion. Get cosy with beaded, fur-trimmed mukluks from Manitobah Mukluks and don’t forget your HBC stripes. You can even take it a step further and head to Wolseley Wool to knit your very own snuggly sweater.
8. Warm beverages
Whether you prefer tea, coffee or something a bit stronger, warm drinks are a staple of the season. Find your perfect brew at Three 6 Tea in Selkirk or at Joy’s Tea in Winnipeg. If java is the name of your game, head to Flatland Coffee Co in Gimli or to Thom Bargen in Winnipeg. In December, Winnipeg’s Exchange District serves up the best hot bevies for one week only during Hot Beverage Week.
9. Stunning scenery
Beaches are nice and all - but it’s winter when Mother Nature does her best work. Picture sparkling hoarfrost, delicate branches, snow-capped trees and white evergreens. Winter is a beauty to behold.