Winter Fun in Winterpeg and Manisnowba!
From the moment that the plane swooped in to land at Winnipeg airport, flying low over the sparkling streetlight lit roads, which shone like glowworms next to crystalline snow-covered roofs and picturesque snow laden trees, my six days in Winnipeg was packed with fabulous activities…..from snowshoeing by moonlight, relaxing in an outdoor Scandinavian style spa and riding fat bikes through the town, to visiting historical buildings where Masonic codes are ready to decipher, museums which are thought-provoking and highlight global human rights, as well as enjoying fine wines, beers and food, my perceptions of winter in the middle of Manitoba were changed, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much there is to see and do, even with minus 26C temperatures outside! Why Not Winnipeg in the Winter….is the title of my post today, and I hope you will see from the photos and itinerary below, just how much you can embrace the season with lots of fun activities and a vibrant social scene to enjoy too.
Today, I’d like to share with you a list of things to do, and what to see in this exciting Prairie City during the Winter, based on my recent press trip there. I will be sharing where to eat and where to stay in part two, a separate post, as well as sharing some fascinating museums and historic building tours, but for now, put the kettle on and get comfy, as I take you on a virtual tour of Winterpeg in Manisnowba, as the locals fondly call their city and province…….let’s embrace winter and go outdoors! Karen
Where to go and what to do in Winnipeg in the Winter:
This Nordic style Spa is situated on the outskirts of Winnipeg, and comprises outdoor and indoor treatment/exfoliation baths, pools and saunas. Set amongst beautifully landscaped gardens and terraces, I loved my Thermëa in Winter experience, and was captivated by the twinkling fairy lights on the snow laden fir trees, as I relaxed in one of the outdoor hot pools. They recommend the following routine for first time guests:
Step 1: Hot
In a sauna, the temperature of your body will rise, which will clean it from the inside by eliminating toxins.
Step 2: Cold
When transitioning from a hot to temperate or cold environment, your body releases adrenaline, a stimulating hormone. It is normal for your heart rate to increase.
Step 3: Rest
After a thermal transition, adrenaline is replaced by endorphins. This creates a sensation of deep relaxation throughout the body.
Repeating the hot-cold-rest thermal cycle three times will eliminate toxins from your body and bring about deep relaxation.
As well as enjoying several hours in the spa, I also had an amazing and innovative 4-course meal with wine in the Restö, where the food is healthy but hearty too. You can also treat yourself to the Canadian campfire classic, S’mores – roast your own marshmallows around the fire on the Restö patio…..with house made graham crackers, Lindt chocolate and fluffy marshmallows that you get to roast on the fire on the Restö patio. Special weekly events, including Foodie Wednesday, can be found here: Events (Be sure to stay for the special Signature Aufguss Ritual throughout the day and in the evening)
I had lots of time to appreciate this trail on the frozen river, where you can experience a Winnipeg tradition and skate, walk, run or sled your way along The Red River Mutual Trail. Starting in the heart of the city, the Guinness World Record-holding longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world offers the unique experience of seeing the sights of Winnipeg from the frozen Red and Assiniboine Rivers, which I did on foot as well as in a Zamboni!
As well as enjoying the Zamboni ride, I was also fascinated with the Warming Huts, including one that was designed by Anish Kapoor, called the Stackhouse, that line the trail. (You can hire skates in The Forks Market)
I enjoyed a game of Croki-Curl whilst at The Forks – this new game is a hybrid between the popular Canadian games of curling and the board game, crokinole, and certainly helps you keep warm! The Croki-Curl rink is located in the Market Plaza beside the canopy ice rink at The Forks, and there is a small brazier to keep you warm next to the rink, whilst waiting to play. Croki-Curl is free for anyone to play on a first-come, first-served basis, but people are asked to limit their games to one hour.
I’ve been to this wonderful Zoo before, where you can visit the orphaned polar bears. Assiniboine Park Zoo is home to many animals, but their biggest draw, and why not, are their polar bears, and especially the orphaned polar bear cubs, that we saw playing in the underwater glass tunnel.
The award-winning Journey to Churchill exhibit is home to polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic fox, wolves and other northern species. It is the most comprehensive northern species exhibit of its kind in the world, and we were lucky enough to see the wolves, muskoxen, polar bears and seals on the day that we visited. The Zoo is open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm in the winter – gates shut at 3:30pm.
This was my favourite activity of the entire press trip – Alive Adventure: Full Moon Backwoods Snowshoe & Bonfire was a nocturnal snow shoe trek by full moon, and this magical experience ended with toasting marshmallows around a campfire whilst sipping hot chocolate! There were three levels of snowshoeing treks, and as I’d never been snowshoeing before, I went in the beginner’s group, which was still quite demanding but huge fun.
FortWhyte Alive is an award-winning destination where you can get outside and experience nature first hand. They supply the wildlife, hiking trails, freshwater lakes, inspiring exhibits, and amazing experiences, of which the nocturnal snow show trek was one. FortWhyte Alive is dedicated to providing programming, natural settings and facilities for environmental education, outdoor recreation and social enterprise. In so doing, FortWhyte promotes awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions leading to sustainable living. You can check our their current events here: Events and Tours
Yoga on a frozen lake! Yes really! And, this hour-long class was both exhilarating and relaxing. The event was held at FortWhyte Alive again and, everyone was asked to come along to celebrate winter and join the local community of yogis for a one-of-a-kind yoga experience on a frozen lake. After the session, we all enjoyed s’mores as well as mugs of wildcrafted tea around a bonfire. There were also crafting station to make homemade sugar scrubs. The session was open to all levels of yoga practice.
Downtown BIZ Winnipeg were our hosts for lunch on its popular Moveable Feast dining tour. Riding through the snow on a fatbike, we pedalled our way from course to course through downtown Winnipeg, learning about the neighbourhood along the way. Stops included the revolving restaurant Prairie 360, Carbone coal-fired pizza and global street-food inspired The Merchant Kitchen.
Head to the French quarter of Winnipeg, St. Boniface, and get ready to see the city from a whole different perspective. That’s if you can make it to the top of this (approximately) 20 metre high tower of ice…….it wasn’t for me, with my fear of heights, but several people from our group were brave enough to climb the ice tower!
I hope you feel inspired to get outdoors in Winnipeg this winter after seeing all these amazing activities! The only thing to remember, is “There is no such thing as bad weather, it’s bad clothing that is the problem” I took the advice of Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba, and took ALL of the following items for my six days in Winterpeg:
Recommended Winter Gear Packing List:
• Well insulated, wind-proof winter jacket with hood
• Insulated ski pants
• Heavy insulated gloves/mittens, as well as thinner gloves for taking pictures
• Insulated winter boots
• Warm hat/toque (wool or fleece)
• Thick socks (a liner sock and insulating layer of wool or synthetic socks are recommended)
• Long/thermal underwear (top and bottom)
• Warm clothing that can be worn in layers
• Warm sweater, fleece or wool is preferable
• Note for ice-climbing tower – please dress warmly in layers instead of bulky parkas with good gloves and a small warm toque.
With thanks to the following people who made this trip happen:
Travel Manitoba Host: Tamara Soroka
Tourism Winnipeg Host: Gillian Chester
Disclaimer: I was the guest of Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba, as well as other hotels and restaurants that I will mention in my individual posts: all my flights, transfers, accommodation and meals were included, as well as all trips and extra excursions. With profound thanks to all the people and organisations that looked after me and made my trip so memorable and exciting.
More stuff to read!