Not headed to the folk fest? That doesn’t have to mean a live-music free weekend.
The Winnipeg Soca Reggae Festival
• The Cube at Old Market Square: Friday and Saturday noon-2 a.m.; Sunday noon-midnight.
• Tickets: $10 daily or $25 for a weekend pass. Children under 12 admitted free with parent or guardian.
The 14th annual Winnipeg Soca Reggae Festival, a fusion of Canadian and Caribbean culture, features three days of music, dancing food and drinks at The Cube in Old Market Square starting Friday.
Festival publicist Page Laurent is excited about several changes debuting at this year’s event, including extended hours Friday and Saturday nights until 2 a.m., and relaxed liquor rules.
"For the first time, we have an open beer garden," says Laurent, who has worked for the festival since 2013. "The entire park is licensed, and everyone is free to walk around with their beverage."
Local and international reggae, soca and steel bands are on the bill as well as numerous DJs.
The festival kicks off Friday night with music by Jah Cutta x Jah Vibes Band, Qway-C, Tempo Rise, Kapone, DB & Deadbeats and Benjamin Tamana.
Saturday’s lineup features Jake, Shaentii, CELEB, Teosha, Glen Williams Band and the Peacemakers Band join Jah Cutta x Jah leading up to festival headliner Lyberal.
The fun wraps up Sunday with spinning by DJ Maxwell, DJ Samurai, DJ Kohnect, DJ Mastahpiece and DJ Keesh and promised special-guest performances.
Toronto’s Lyberal will be debuting their new EP, Falling Free, Saturday night, offering "high vibes and conscious feel-good reggae music."
Beyond the non-stop entertainment and food carts, there are games, face-painting and contests, Laurent says, adding the festival is "all about the local community."
Laurent, who sheepishly admits that he has never been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, says the Winnipeg Soca Reggae Festival is, because it takes place downtown, accessible to all; not everyone has the means to get out to Birds Hill.
"No matter where you go, you’re going to get great music and great people and enjoy some good food, music and live entertainment," he says.