Summer in the city

Nothing to do? Ha! It's pretty much all festivals all the time in our fair burgh over the next three months


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Faced with the prospect of entertaining guests in the middle of January, Winnipeggers have come to rely upon a single phrase to save face.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/06/2013 (3520 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Faced with the prospect of entertaining guests in the middle of January, Winnipeggers have come to rely upon a single phrase to save face.

“You should really come visit in July,” we’ve grown accustomed to telling visiting friends, relatives, co-workers or new spouses from warmer climes, spinning yarns about lush, green elm canopies and crowded, mosquito-free patios.

As awe-inspiring as a Winnipeg winter can be, this city lives for its summers — and especially its summer festivals, some of which bring life to corners of the city in desperate need of a little humanity.

David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press archives Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival

To help you take advantage of the brief period when the nights do not require the wearing of fleece, here’s the best of what the summer-festival season has to offer, in Winnipeg and across southern Manitoba:

Winnipeg International Jazz Festival

June 13-23, downtown Winnipeg

What you get: Four days of free outdoor indie rock and jazz at Old Market Square followed by a week of concerts and club performances featuring jazz, funk and DJs. A total of 12 venues will host shows.

What you won’t get: A technical director happy with The Cube in Old Market Square.

Headliners: The Roots, Patricia Barber, George Benson and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Admission: The opening weekend at Old Market Square is free. A $200 super pass covers admission to all shows (except The Roots), while an $80 club pass gains unlimited access to all smaller venues. Individual show admissions vary. More info:

Red River Exhibition

June 14-23, Red River Exhibition Park

What you get: Midway rides, deep-fried delicacies and performances by classic rock bands at a magical spot where the City of Winnipeg butts up against Headingley.

What you won’t get: A performance by any name entertainer under the age of 44.

Headliners: The rides are the main attraction. Musical acts include Trooper, Colin James, Glass Tiger and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea.

Tickets: $9 in advance or $13 at the gate. Pay-one-price midway passes, which include admission, are $38.85 in advance or $45.15 at the gate. More info:

Dauphin’s Countryfest

June 27-30, Selo Ukraina Site

Winnipeg Folk Festival

What you get: Four days of country music on the north slope of Riding Mountain, plus the hardest-partying campground in the province. Every pickup truck in western Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan will be there.

What you won’t get: A hard time for setting up your tent right next to your truck.

Headliners: Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley.

Admission: Daily and weekend passes are sold out. Better luck next year. More info:

Winnipeg Folk Festival

July 10-14, Birds Hill Park

What you get: A chance to catch 75 folk and roots performers over five stamina-testing days in Birds Hill Park. Now in its 40th year, the Folk Fest has invited back performers from previous festivals and has expanded its footprint to encompass new stages.

What you won’t get: A chance to get the smell of campfire out of your clothes, among other scents.

Headliners: Serena Ryder, The Blind Boys of Alabama, City And Colour, The Flatlanders, Indigo Girls, Sylvia Tyson and Patrick Watson.

Tickets: Before June 30, weekend passes are $235 for adults, $135 for youths/seniors and $17 for kids 14 and under. Quiet camping is another $35, while the way more animated festival camping is sold out. Day passes are $80 for adults, $60 for youths/seniors and $6 for kids 14 and under. More info:

Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

July 17-28, downtown Winnipeg

What you get: No less than 169 different theatre and comedy shows scattered about 32 venues in downtown Winnipeg for a total of about 1,400 performances over 12 days. There’s also the free stage and beer gardens at Fringe Central at Old Market Square, no longer plagued by the construction at the neighbouring Union Bank Tower.

What you won’t get: Any assurance of getting into a five-star show, once the Free Press review is out.

Headliners: The year’s lineup includes return of The Warehouse/MTYP hit Jake’s Gift, poet Jem Rolls, comedy troupe Sound & Fury and locals Hot Thespian Action.

Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

Admission: All performances are $10 or less. Frequent Fringer passes offering admission to 10 shows are $79 at the Manitoba Theatre Centre box office. More info at

Manitoba Stampede & Exhibition

July 18-21, Morris

What you get: The province’s largest professional rodeo, chariot races and an agricultural fair.

What you won’t get: Urban Calgarians dressed up as cowboys for the weekend.

More info:

Brandon Folk Music & Art Festival

July 26-28, Brandon

What you get: Three days of folk and roots in the ground of the Keystone Centre in Manitoba’s second city.

What you won’t get: Agricultural anything. This ain’t the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.

Headliners: Hawksley Workman, Martha Wainwright, Stephen Fearing and Winnipeg’s Imaginary Cities.

Admission: Weekend passes are $64 for adults and $56 for students and seniors before July 17. More info at


Aug. 2-5, Gimli

What you get: A chance to get Bjorn again in Gimli, home to Canada’s largest Icelandic festival. The entertainment includes “Viking warfare tactics” and a shot-put competition.

Morris Stampede

What you won’t get: Icelandic delicacies such as roasted puffin and rotting Greenland shark. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble across ponnukokur, arguably the finest pancakes in the world.

More info:


Aug. 4-17, Winnipeg

What you get: Forty-six pavilions celebrating the food, music and culture of the multitude of ethnic groups and nationalities that call Winnipeg home.

What you won’t get: A visa allowing entry into a North Korean pavilion, which maintains cool relations with the rest of the pavilions.

Admission: $6 per pavilion or 12-ticket family packs for $54. More info at

Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition

Aug. 15-18, Winnipeg

What you get: Free electronic music at The Cube in Old Market Square and “after Cube” late-night events at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Pantages Playhouse.

What you won’t get: Verses, choruses and other conventional forms of song structure.

Headliners: Funk D’Void, Daniel Steinberg, My Favorite Robot and Trevor Moontribe.

Admission: Free admission to The Cube. After-party ticket info:

Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival

Aug. 17-19, Red River Exhibition Park

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press archives Folklorama

What you get: Blues and a barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The are four ‘cue categories: pork butt, St. Louis ribs, chicken and brisket.

What you won’t get: Veganism.

Headliners: David Wilcox, Wide Mouth Mason, Ana Popovic and Monkeyjunk.

Admission: Weekend passes are $45 plus fees. More info:

Morden Corn & Apple Festival

Aug. 23-25, Morden

What you get: Corn and apples, together again for the annual harvest celebration/town fair in Morden.

What you won’t get: So You Think You Can Dance Winkler, although that would be an awesome show.

More info:

— With files from Kevin Prokosh

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