April 29 2009 by Julie Drossos
What may surprise you is that Winnipeg plays host to one of the largest musical events of its kind in all of North America - the Winnipeg Folk Festival, held at the sprawling and beautiful grounds of Birds Hill Provincial Park which is located northeast of Winnipeg. The festival consists of 4 days, 7 stages and over gifted 250 artists. And it's not just all about folk music - there's something to catch anyone's fancy at this festival, including craft markets, international foods, and a number of programs especially for kids. It's an event to remember and a wonderful way to get out and enjoy live music, culture camping and food as a family.
The first Winnipeg Folk Festival was in 1974, and the intention was that it would be a one-time event, in celebration of Winnipeg's 100th Anniversary. 35 years later the festival is one of the most successful outdoor music festivals in the world, with attendance exceeding 62,000 people! Here is the low-down on the festival:
When: July 9 - 12, 2009
Where: Birds Hill Provincial Park, approximately 24km north of Winnipeg
Tickets: Tickets are purchased through Ticketmaster. Kids under 4 are free. Tickets can be purchased for individual days or for a series of days.
Performers: Hundreds of performers will take the stages at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, including headliner K.D. Lang. Check out the complete line-up.
Stay onsite: To take in the full festival experience, consider camping onsite! Just remember that if you would like to camp there you will need to purchase a camping pass in addition to your festival pass(es). Camping passes can also be purchased through Ticketmaster. You also need to provide all of your own camping gear. The festival workers have a glowing reputation of doing an excellent job of keeping the grounds in prime condition.
Stay offsite: If camping is not your thing or you prefer to stay offsite to have a "break" from the festival, there are a number of decently priced hotels in Winnipeg, including Best Western's Pembina Inn & Suites and the Charter House Hotel located downtown. Staying in Winnipeg will also enable you to take in some of the city's tourist sites and attractions.
Recommendations: A long-time Winnipeg Folk Festival-goer gave me her top two favorite spots at the event - a themed "old-time" Saloon complete with a piano and bar that sold liquor, and the Trading Post where campers could actually trade whatever extras they had for necessary camping items that they may have forgotten to bring with!
Family Fun: Visit the Chickadee Big Top for singing and kid-oriented entertainment including juggling, stilt walking and craft-making. There's also the Hand-Made Village, a craft market showcasing artisans from Manitoba and all over Canada. Ceramics, soaps, instruments, clothing and unique jewelry are abound.
Eat, Eat, Eat: You won't go hungry here. All of you foodies will think you have struck the jackpot when you see the festival's Food Village you'll find a variety of delicious foods from all over the world. There are lots of options to please those festival-goers with adventurous taste buds.
For a comprehensive overview of the festival as well as FAQs and loads of valuable information, visit the official Festival Website.