Festival du Voyageur hosts outdoor fashion show and first winter Pride event

Photo of the a snow sculpture at the entrance to Fort Gibraltor for the Festival due Voyageur.Photo by Norm Grywinski

Festival du Voyageur has grown to be Manitoba’s biggest winter celebration. While the events at Festival’s main site at Fort Gibraltor are sure to be fun, the Manitoban took a look at some of the lesser known events that readers may find interesting.

Winter Pride Celebration

As part of Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg’s first ever Winter Pride Celebration will take place on Feb. 18. The celebration will involve a skating event along the river trail, followed by a dance party and an afterparty at Jekyll and Hyde’s. All of the events are free and open to everyone.

Craig Larkins, Winter Pride Celebration’s organizer, grew up in Winnipeg going to Festival du Voyageur. He noticed there was a gap in LGBTTQ* celebrations during the winter months.

“Winnipeg is a winter city. Why are we not celebrating Pride in the winter?” said Larkins.

When he lived in Calgary, Larkins attended the Calgary Stampede’s LGBTTQ* events, and thought something similar could work with Festival. His goal was to create an inclusive community event during winter, so it made sense for Larkins to pair up with Manitoba’s biggest winter festival.

“They’ve been so helpful. From organizing, to marketing, to even sound equipment, Festival has been awesome to work with,” said Larkins.
The idea of having a winter Pride event seems so obvious for a winter city like Winnipeg. The daytime skate allows families to get out and celebrate with their loved ones. The outdoor component of the events – the Great Winter Pride Skate and the Winter Pride Party – will be hosted at Rendez-Vous on Ice.

“It’s nice to draw all the important people in your life into something that’s important to you,” said Larkins.

While gay bars can provide a community-building safe space, they are not accessible to teenagers and children, as well as other friends and family. With these free and public events associated with Festival, LGBTTQ* people are able to celebrate with friends, family, and the community.

The opening ceremony for the Winter Pride celebration will feature two-spirited members of the Indigenous community, as well as seven-year-old Rylee Sandberg, an Anishnaabe, Cree, and Métis hoop dancer. Larkins’ event company, Room Service #WPG, has lined up DJs and a drag performance for the night as well.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to come together and have a happy moment. Everything is so negative right now, so just come and dance, and be proud of who you are and happy to be who you are,” said Larkins.

Fashion on Ice

As it has for the past few years, Festival will also include Fashion on Ice, a show that will showcase local designers and models. The fashion show will be held on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. at Rendez-Vous on Ice. This year, the show has almost doubled in size, featuring local designers and 50 models.

“These people are chosen, submit themselves as a candidate and then choose based on fact that they’re mentors, inspirational,” said Lili Lavack, local designer and organizer of Fashion on Ice.

There will be photographers, lawyers, artists, and individuals from all walks of life modeling in the show. The models were selected based on their community involvement. They will also have the help of choreographer and model trainer Carly Van Ryssel.

The fashion show is a community-building event for local fashion designers themselves. The fashion designing industry is usually cutthroat and competitive, and very difficult to get into.

“Having a fashion show that reunites designers creates a sense of community,” said Lavack. The designers are able to network and see their pieces combined together on different models.

The show will highlight the variety of styles available from local designers. Working with the Forks Trading Company, the fashion pieces showcased will be available for purchase at the Forks. The items are affordable, unlike fashion showcased at many other fashion shows.
“Fashion started off as a creative thing. Fashion was social change, like when Yves St-Laurent created a line of trousers for women, that was a part of the feminist movement. It used to be very value-oriented, and has become so fast-fashion that we have forgotten the craft,” said Lavack.

Mass-produced, sweatshop-created fashion has become the norm, and the low prices of rapidly changing styles of clothes available at stores like H&M and Wal-Mart make it difficult for local designers to break into the fashion market.

Fashion on Ice brings Winnipeg’s local designers to members of the community that may be looking to buy more ethically, sustainably-made clothing, but are not aware of the wide range available to them in their own city. It also showcases the strength of Winnipeg’s community as a whole through the models themselves, celebrating all different kinds of talent.


For more information on the Festival du Voyageur’s events, visit https://festivalvoyageur.mb.ca/en/. To see a full listing of their official sites, visit https://festivalvoyageur.mb.ca/en/festival/official-sites/