If winter at The Forks was a hip hop jam, it would most certainly be “”Whoomp! (There It Is).”
For instance: Skating? Yeah, the Red River Mutual Trail, the Canopy Rink and the on-land skating surfaces (“Whoomp! There it is).
Family Fun? How about sleigh rides, furniture made out of snow, The Snowboard Fun Park and the Toboggan Hill (Whoomp! There it is).
Okay, you see what I’m getting at here.
So before I start breaking it down Tag Team style — which would go like something like this: “Mister Pegs back again, check it, top wreck it, now let’s begin. Party people in The Peg let me hear some noise, talking ’bout The Forks is what give me joys,” — let’s just get into it shall we?
The Forks — Winnipeg’s most-visited tourist destination — has it going on this year, so much so that it’s hard to know where to begin.
One of last year’s frozen creations at The Forks (Tourism Winnipeg)
But let’s start with a party, because there ain’t no party like a Haute Hot Hut party!
Haute Hot Hut, say what!?! Okay, let me break it down because this Friday, January 29 starting at 8 p.m. at The Forks Market the official celebration begins for the iconic Warming Huts that line the Red River Mutual Trail.
For years now The Forks has been at the forefront when it comes to winter design.
Their annual Warming Hut design competition is open to international architecture firms and creative types to design a structure that will look cool and tell a story. The winners that are selected by the judging panel are then built in Winnipeg and put out on display along The Red River Mutual Trail (which is one of the world’s longest skating trails), and on The Forks grounds.
This year there are six new Huts — including one that was designed by Polaris Prize wining recording artist Tanya Tagaq in collaboration with Sputnik Architecture — that will be joining the already incredible roster of Huts from years past.
At the Haute Hot Hut party (which is only $20 for general admission, $12 for students – you can purchase tickets at this link) you can meet the architects and artists behind this year’s winning Warming Huts, while sweet tunes will be playing from the likes of DJ Mama Cutsworth, Hay Fever, The Middle Coast, and The Solutions.
Winnipeg photographer Rob Tibbs always takes amazing photos, like this one of the Red River Mutual Trail. Check him out at http://www.instagram.com/robtibbs/
And the Red River Mutual Trail itself, well it’s the bomb track, featuring kms of skating goodness where you can glide under bridges, push people along hip red chairs, work on your stick-handling skills, and just simply enjoy all that glorious Winnipeg winter sunshine (of which we get a lot).
Throughout winter you can rent skates at Iceland Skate Rentals right inside The Forks Market Tower Atrium. Rates are just $3 for kids and seniors, and $5 for adults. If you are looking to book a bunch of rentals for a group, give them a shout at 204.257.0288.
And how about the Arctic Glacier Winter Park? Well kiddies, this is where you can see Mister Peg practicing his rail slides at the Snowboard Fun Park, a nifty little terrain park located behind the Inn at the Forks.
Every Sunday until February 28th they have free programming in this area including snowboard instruction from a certified instructor (1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.), horse-drawn wagon rides around The Forks (1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., rides leave in front of the Travel Manitoba centre), and indigenous programming at Buskers Lookout where elders share stories and make bannock inside The Forks’ two teepees (1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.).
Your kids can learn how to catch some air at the Forks’ Arctic Glacier Winter Park (the Forks)
If you are wondering how to find all of these fabulous attractions for yourself check out their handy map.
And this is just a snippet of what you can find at The Forks this winter. Their upcoming events calendar alone is stacked with fun events including opening night of The Canadian Sport Film Festival (January 29th), a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience where sport films are projected onto an outdoor snow screen; The Subaru Canada Ironman Outdoor Curling Bonspiel (February 5-7), Canada’s largest outdoor bonspiel where 88 teams will be competing on The Forks’ 10 outdoor sheets; and Rendezvous on Ice: Festival du Voyageur at The Forks, where all the joie de vivre of one of the world’s best winter festivals takes over the Red River Mutual Trail with Francophone food, drinks and more music then you can dare jig to.
Finally, on now until the end of February at The Forks, is The Great Ice Show. Inside its grounds you can see some incredible ice sculptures, go sliding down multiple ice luges (one of which is shaped like the Manitoba Legislature, where you can catch some serious speed), explore igloos, and even ride bumper cars — all on ice of course.
Igloos, ice slides, and ice sculptures galore at The Great Ice Show (Tourism Winnipeg)
The Great Ice Show is based on the Harbin Ice Festival in China and it features the creations of 40 ice sculpting artists who have also worked at that world famous festival. It is open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on weekdays and Sunday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
At night it looks absolutely spectacular with colourful lights shining through the amazing ice structures, while daytime is also a great time to visit as you can really see the detail of these stunning works. It’s really like walking through a sculpture garden in a gallery.
There is even an ice bar and restaurant by the fine folks from Mon Ami Louis where you can sip (out of ice-sculpted glasses) Kronenbourg beer and signature cocktails, hot drinks like boozy hot chocolates and coffees (they have non-alcohol drinks too, of course) all while eating sweet or savoury crepes.
Ice, ice, baby (Tourism Winnipeg)
For tickets and more info about The Great Ice Show click here.
So there you have it folks. That’s my Forks snow shovel. Can you dig it?
note: the top image is by Dan Harper