Amidst these uncertain times, Winnipeggers can look forward to a boost of joy in the coming weeks because Festival du Voyageur is back for another year. Though it will look a bit different, Festival du Voyageur is finding new ways to reach Winnipeggers and celebrate Métis and French-Canadian culture from a distance.
The 2021 festival has moved primarily online and will be offering virtual programming this year. Not to worry, though — all your favourite events will be back in full force, including the annual concerts, competitions, kids’ activities and special collaborations with local restaurants.
From Feb. 12 to 21, audiences will be able to enjoy performances from over 40 artists such as Celeigh Cardinal, Kelly Bado, Super Duty Tough Work, Ariel Posen and the one and only Faouzia from the comfort of their own homes via Facebook or YouTube.
Throughout the eight days of concerts, various dates are dedicated to highlighting Indigenous and francophone talent. Feb. 12 will showcase emerging francophone musicians and Quebec’s Marie-Pierre Arthur and both Louis Riel Day and Feb. 20 are dedicated to showcasing Indigenous talent.
These concerts will present a wide range of programming such as music, spoken word poetry readings and puppet shows. Louis Riel Day will even feature a special performance from Tia Wood, renowned powwow singer and TikTok star.
Something new to the festival’s programming this year are two video series titled “Festival du Voyageur at Home” and “Minut Michif.”
“Festival du Voyageur at Home” provides families an array of festival-inspired activities to do at home. Some of these videos include lessons on French-Canadian cooking and how to build your own snow sculptures and instruments.
The “Minut Michif” series focuses on Métis traditions through a contemporary lens. These videos explore topics such as Métis fashion, art practices, bannock making and how traditions are passed down to each new generation.
In addition to this, the festival’s 2021 Kids Zone will be online this year and features free activities such a virtual tour of Fort Gibraltar, activity and colouring books and even the lyrics to traditional voyageur songs.
An exciting part of Festival du Voyageur that will also be continuing this year is the competitions. Whether you can cook, dance, fiddle or grow a beard, the festival has a place for you to let your talent shine from home.
For fiddling and jigging, participants will submit videos from home to be reviewed by judges with the winning results announced immediately after the competition airs.
The annual beard growing competition will take place entirely over social media, where participants will be judged in four categories — clean shaven, voyageur, open and novelty — for a chance to win beard-themed prizes.
Finally, the festival’s pea soup competition will be accessible through Promenade Café and Wine, where customers can pick up a kit with multiple soups from local restaurants and vote for their favourite online.
Promenade Café and Wine is also offering a variety of festive dishes to go — such as tourtière and bannock — that will be available for pick-up and takeout for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
For those 18 and over, specialty cocktails and ice glasses will be available to order from Patent 5 Distillery as well. This year, the distillery has created two Festival du Voyageur-inspired cocktails for you to enjoy at home responsibly.
One of the only festival features that will be available for in-person viewing is the snow sculptures and this year they will be quite a sight to see. There will be nearly 30 snow sculptures erected around Winnipeg for the 2021 festival — much more than in past years — with an interactive map online to help guide you to each of the beautiful sculptures featured around the city.
Last but not least, you can grab the latest Festival du Voyageur merch through its online boutique. This year, the festival’s official merchandise logo was created by Winnipeg artist Jordan Stranger and represents “the Sacred Fire that’s at every ceremony lighting our way and the warmth and closeness that so many are missing throughout the pandemic.”
Head over to Festival du Voyageur’s official website at heho.ca for more information on events, concert lineups and more.