No fests, no fuss

Summer like no other not without entertainment options


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OK, so there was no folk, no fringe, and no Folklorama.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/07/2020 (802 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OK, so there was no folk, no fringe, and no Folklorama.

But the absence of festivals in this strangest of years doesn’t mean summer has to suck. There are still tours to take, live music to enjoy and ingenious watering holes that offer new views of Winnipeg.

In this instalment of Take 5, the Free Press offers five ways to soak up summer in the city — while maintaining physical distance and respecting all other provincial health guidelines, of course.

MATT DUBOFF PHOTO Richard Gillis Quartet performs at Dalnavert Museum at the Sunday launch of Jazz Winnipeg’s Jazz Age Garden Parties series.

1. Belly up to the… shipping container?

Yes, that’s correct. At a couple of cool new spots, humble shipping containers have been transformed into buzzed-about outdoor bars.

First up is the Beer Can, a beer garden anchored by a shipping container bar, which popped up on Main Street in the lot between the Fortune Building and the Winnipeg Hotel last month and has quickly proven to be a popular place to grab locally brewed pints. A partnership with the neighbouring Times Change(d) means the Beer Can has also been doubling as an al fresco venue for live music; from July 31 through Aug. 1 you can catch a ton of local acts — as well as a stream of the Jets vs. Flames game on Aug. 1 — for $20 a day.

Next up is Cargo Bar, which made its debut last year popping up at outdoor events and festivals all over the city. This year, the mobile shipping container bar is stationed at Assiniboine Park for the season, in an idyllic spot right by the duck pond. The rooftop — er, container-top? — patio offers full views of the pond, fountain, and the Pavilion, and there are plenty of shady spots to enjoy a cocktail crafted from spirits from local small-batch distillery Patent 5 (or craft beer, wine, mocktails, or coffee) post-walk, bike ride, or cricket match.

Both spaces are dog-friendly and have parking for bikes.


2. Retreat to the WAG rooftop

During the week, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s rooftop sculpture garden offers a relaxing oasis of calm high above downtown, where you will be surrounded by a gorgeous Winnipeg skyline as well as collection of 20th- and 21st-century bronze, steel and stone sculptures by Inuit, Canadian and European artists.

LEIF NORMAN PHOTO Rooftop pop-ups concert performers JayWood entertain at the WAG on Thursday.

On select nights, the rooftop retreat hosts Rooftop Pop-Ups, featuring performances by local musicians, film screenings, yoga classes and more. And every Friday night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. the WAG hosts the Rooftop TGIF Drop-Up, which boasts finger-lickin’ barbecue from executive chef Barry Saunders of Smith Restaurant and outdoor games such as croquet and ring toss. Food can be purchased à la carte on the rooftop, and a cash bar is also available. Entry is included with gallery admission, and is free for members.

Visit for a full calendar of pop-up events.


3. Catch a free concert — or workout — downtown

If you’re jonesing for a live music fix, and you work or live downtown, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Downtown Sounds concert series is back. On Tuesdays at True North Square Plaza and Thursdays at Air Canada Park, local acts will perform live over the lunch hour. A trio of powerhouse singer-songwriters — Fontine, Romi Mayes and Sol James — round out the rest of July’s calendar; August’s lineup will be announced soon.

If getting a sweat on is more your thing, the BIZ is also offering a selection of noon-hour fitness classes Monday through Friday at the Millennium Library Park (Tuesday through Thursday) as well as the Legislative grounds (Monday and Friday). The classes are offered by 9Round, Morfit and Yoga Public, and range from kickboxing to strength and cardio to yoga.

Visit for schedules.

LEIF NORMAN PHOTO Rooftop Pop-ups concert performer Sebastian Gaskin entertains at the WAG on Thursday.


4. Explore public art — on bike or on foot

The Winnipeg Arts Council is offering summer walking and biking public art tours, making it easy to get outside, get active and get cultured.

Three ArtRides are scheduled into October. On Aug. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m., participants will begin at the Kildonan Park Duck Pond and visit Bokeh by Takashi Iwasaki and Nadi Design, Along the Creek by Becky Thiessen with Knowles Centre, and Life Journey by Denise Préfontaine & Kildonan-East Collegiate Girls’ Club. On Sept. 17, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., saddle up for Our Stories, which features nine artworks — including The Square Dancers by Kenneth Lavallee and Bloody Saturday by Noam Gonick and Bernie Miller — in and around downtown. The ride on Oct. 1, which goes from 6:30 until 9 p.m., will take participants down the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor, where they will see such artworks as Ian August’s giant Rooster Town Kettle.

ArtRide participants must provide their own bike and helmet. Face masks are encouraged.

Nine ArtWalks, meanwhile, are also scheduled through October in various areas of the city. Both the walking and biking tours are free but registration is required; go to for the full schedule and how to register.


5. Attend a garden party

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSJoe Curtis performs at True North Square Plaza on Tuesday as part of the Downtown Sounds Concert Series.

Step back in time to the Roaring ’20s on Sunday afternoons in the garden of Dalnavert Museum, which is hosting a series of Jazz Age Garden Parties in partnership with Jazz Winnipeg. Performances go ahead rain or shine and will feaure the Zachary Rushing Quartet (July 26), led by Seattle transplant Rushing, chanteuse Jennifer Hanson (Aug. 2), western swing purveyor Woody Holler (Aug. 9), the genre-spanning Daniel Koulak Quartet (Aug. 16) and folk/roots/pop trio Sweet Alibi (Aug. 23).

Period attire is encouraged. Concertgoers will be able to participate in garden-party activities such as croquet and garden bingo, and enjoy light fare and refreshments available for purchase. Tickets are $25 plus GST and are available via Eventbrite.

Twitter: @JenZoratti

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Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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