WINNIPEG — Hé Ho! Festival du Voyageur is nearly ready for another year and organizers can’t wait to celebrate western Canada’s largest outdoor winter festival.
From the annual staples like maple taffy, kitchen parties and jigging, to snowshoeing and capot-adorned festivalgoers, the 51st edition (which kicks off Friday) is also packing some new additions for 2020.
Opening weekend includes a demonstration on how animal hide is tanned to produce leather (Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m).
Festival-goers can also try their hand at throwing an axe — a popular voyageur pass-time. Axe throwing will be outside of Fort Gibraltar and available for the first weekend of festivities.
On Monday, special Louis Riel Day activities are planned for the entire family with Indigenous art, stories, languages and music taking centre stage.
What’s a winter festival without snow?
The massive, hard-to-miss snow sculptures are taking shape inside the walls of Voyageur Park as part of the International Snow Sculpting Symposium.
Seven sculptures are being crafted this year, with teams from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, and Canadian teams from Saskatchewan, Steinbach and Peguis First Nation.
More room to party
The addition of the new Bell MTS Red River Tent and Le Foyer (Maison du Bourgeois in the Fort Gibraltar) this year has increased capacity for visitors to Voyageur Park by 18 percent.
The extra space comes from up to $250,000 in funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada’s Economic Development Initiative.
Aside from the increased physical space, Festival du Voyageur has bumped up the number of artists performing in support of Manitoba 150, which will not only highlight Indigenous musicians, but also Indigenous languages, stories, and visual arts.
Tickets are available now at heho.ca or at the Festival du Voyageur office at 233 Provencher Boulevard.
Festival du Voyageur runs February 14-23.