The city of Winnipeg lives in the heart of Canada. If you’re from Winnipeg, you know about the changing temperatures, famous foods and activities that make the city great. But if you’ve never visited, you’re probably wondering: what is Winnipeg known for?
We’ve put together a list of some of the top Winnipeg attractions and staples from location, climate and food, to activities, festivals and sports. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt on some of our favourite summer activities, we’re optimistic knowing we are doing our part to flatten the curve. Hopefully we can get out and enjoy some Winnipeg summer fun very soon!
In the meantime, let’s reflect on the many things that make Winnipeg a great city.
Location – The Heart of Canada
Winnipeg is at the longitudinal centre of Canada. If you travel east on the Trans-Canada Highway, you can visit a park and monument that was created to represent the geographical centre. When you visit Winnipeg, you’re visiting the heart of Canada!
Winnipeg is also home to The Forks, a historic site at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Not only does the site have a deep historical meaning dating back to Indigenous peoples and the fur trade, it’s also home to plenty of local businesses. You can grab a drink at The Common’s outdoor patio, a fresh macaron from Jenna Rae Cakes, a veggie burger from Nuburger or a delicious pasta dish from Passero (and believe it or not, that’s not all). There are also plenty of local shops to browse and The Forks hosts countless events throughout the year. It should be a stop on your list!
Climate – “Winterpeg”, isn’t it?
Winnipeg is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to climate. The seasons are loosely defined here–you could either see a snowstorm or be wearing shorts in May!
In past years, Winnipeg’s temperatures have actually been as cold as the surface of Mars. It’s no joke when people say Winnipeggers are troupers! There aren’t too many places where the air actually hurts your face when you walk outside but this is all too common during Winnipeg winters.
On the flip side, Winnipeg can have beautiful temperatures during the summer. The beaches are packed and many people have gardens or even grow their own food in communal spaces. If you want to read more about the weather in Winnipeg, read our “What Is the Weather in Winnipeg?“ blog post.
Food – The Honey Dill Sauce & Food Festivals
When it comes to food, Winnipeg’s culinary scene is all about diversity. The city is filled with an incredible amount of local restaurants featuring all sorts of cuisines for all sorts of palettes.
There are too many local spots to list, so we’ll just give you the rundown on some of the foods Winnipeg is known for:
- Honey dill sauce. Honey, mayonnaise and dill. Who knew this combo would be so delicious? Winnipeggers pioneered this famous sauce and it’s been popular ever since. One of the most common things to eat it with? Chicken fingers and fries.
- Slurpees. In 2019, Winnipeg had been deemed the Slurpee Capital of the World for the 20th year in a row. That’s two decades of Slurpee creation and consumption, no matter the weather. Winnipeggers are known for going for a Slurpee run in the dead of winter.
- Food festivals. Winnipeggers love food. It’s a fact of life, which explains why the city has so many food festivals. Are you a burger fanatic? Check out local burger creations during Le Burger Week. Maybe potatoes are your thing? During Potahto Week, you can sample different potato dishes including soups, baked potatoes, pizzas and even desserts. Winnipeg even has a Poutine Week for french fry lovers.
Activities – The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and More
Winnipeg may have inconsistent weather but there sure isn’t a shortage of activities to do year-round!
One extremely popular activity that was founded in Manitoba (and Winnipeg by proxy) is the social. A social is a fundraising party, often for events like weddings, charity functions or business parties. It’s a way for the organizing party to raise money for a cause while giving their guests something fun to do in return. Think of it as a large dance – there’s typically music, drinks, snacks and prize draws.
Here are some other activities and destinations that are unique to Winnipeg:
- Parks, parks, parks! One of the best things to do during a Winnipeg summer is going for a walk, bike, jog or picnic in the park! There are numerous green spaces in and around Winnipeg including Assiniboine Park, St. Vital Park, Birds Hill Park, La Barriere Park, Kildonan Park and many more. You can search for Winnipeg parks here.
- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Winnipeg is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a National Museum located near The Forks. The Museum was created to inform the public about human rights and encourage reflection and conversation.
- Drive-in movie theatres. There aren’t too many that are still open though Winnipeg is close to a few drive-ins, including the Stardust Drive-in Theatre in Morden! This is a great safe and fun socially distant activity. The drive-in opens again on June 5, 2020!
Festivals – Nuit Blanche and More
One of the best parts about Winnipeg is the amount of festivals you can check out year-round! *Unfortunately some of these festivals have been cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but we thought it was important to mention these excellent events.
From fall to summer, here are some of the festivals Winnipeg has to offer:
- Nuit Blanche. For the city’s art lovers, there’s Nuit Blanche, a free all-night festival celebrating local art. The Exchange District, downtown and St. Boniface all take part and people can visit galleries, indoor and outdoor installations and listen to live music at the Cube in Old Market Square.
- Festival du Voyageur. Festival du Voyageur celebrates the French community every year at Fort Gibraltar. During the festival, you can visit Voyageur Park and experience French cuisine, music and art – including ice sculptures! It’s a fun way to learn more about French language and culture in Manitoba.
- TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival. Jazz Fest is one of Winnipeg’s famous summer celebrations. Typically held in June, you can see four days of free live shows in the downtown area and can purchase tickets for concerts over the next six days as well.
- Winnipeg Folk Festival. Folk Fest brings together countless Winnipeggers who love folk music and being outdoors. You can camp on the festival grounds, eat local food, shop local vendors and of course, enjoy some great music!
- Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. Every August, Winnipeg’s Exchange District lights up during the Fringe. Local performers of all sorts put together theatrical productions from musicals and one-person shows to dramas, comedies and improv. You can also listen to live entertainment in Old Market Square and grab a bite from the food trucks.
- Folklorama. Folklorama is an annual multicultural festival that celebrates the different cultures and cuisines Winnipeg has to offer. Each pavilion features food, entertainment and cultural displays from a specific country. The beauty of the festival is you can visit multiple pavilions per night and experience many different dishes and entertainment.
Sports – The Winnipeg Jets
Last, but certainly not least, we had to talk about the sports scene in Winnipeg. Here are the major sports teams in the city:
- Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg is passionate about hockey and extremely passionate about their Jets. The National Hockey League team plays at Bell MTS Place and if you go to watch, don’t forget to munch on a Jets dog!
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Blue Bombers were the latest winners of the Canadian Football League’s 2019 Grey Cup Championship! You can watch games at IG Field on the University of Manitoba’s campus.
- Valour Football Club. Winnipeg recently gained a soccer team in the Canadian Premier League coined Valour FC. They also play their home matches at IG Field.
- Manitoba Moose. The Manitoba Moose play in the American Hockey League and share Bell MTS Place with the Jets. Moose tickets are generally less expensive than the Jets and are a fun outing for the entire family!
- Winnipeg Goldeyes. If you want to see a baseball game, the Winnipeg Goldeyes play at Shaw Park during the summer. Load up the family, grab some food from the concessions and say hi to mascot Goldie!
So what is Winnipeg known for? We hope you have a better idea of what this city has to offer.