By Michelle Bailey
WINNIPEG — Be Brave. Be Warm. Be Voyageur.
With those words and several enthusiastic shouts of “Hé Ho,” volunteers and dignitaries including the Premier and Mayor welcomed everyone to the 47th annual Festival du Voyageur, the largest winter festival in Western Canada. The 10-day event opens to the public on Friday and, as in previous years, thousands of people are expected to descend on St. Boniface.
This morning, crews put the finishing touches on the venue and snow sculptors from as far away as Germany carved into massive mounds of hard snow scattered throughout Voyageur Park as organizers explained what visitors can expect this year.
A Torch Light Walk will officially launch the event Friday evening. It begins at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights at 6:30 p.m. and ends at Voyageur Park at 7:30 p.m. with a traditional friendship dance and fireworks.
Along with the traditional festival events visitors have come to know and love, there are some new themed nights that are being introduced this year. One of them is Singles Night taking place on Valentine’s Day, February 14.
“This is going to be a fun time for people 18+ looking to get out, enjoy the festival, play some dating games and who knows, maybe even meet someone,” said Festival du Voyageur executive director Ginette Lavack Walters. “We are also having a karaoke night Saturday, February 13, so these new additions are on top of what we are already famous for (like the beard growing contest).”
Another feature of Festival 2016 is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights very first outdoor exhibition.
“Let Them Howl: 100 Years in the Women’s Rights Struggle” features reproductions of 12 portraits taken of women to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women first winning the right to vote. An empty photo frame allows visitors to “pose” inside the frame to demonstrate the work that still needs to be done and share it by using the hashtag #LetThemHowl.
Additional information about Festival du Voyageur 2016 can be found by visiting heho.ca.