Free summer concerts, festivals, and events in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Note: Post updated with 2017 dates. See Schedule at bottom of post.
Manitobans love their summers. If you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba or plan to visit over the summer, you have many opportunities to attend concerts, festivals, and other events for free.
Since 2003, Heritage Winnipeg has hosted an annual Doors Open Winnipeg event at the end of May or in early June. The free event celebrates Winnipeg’s unique architectural and historic places. Over a two day period, historic and significant buildings open their doors to the public.
It is free to watch rowers compete in the annual Dragon Boat Festival, presented by the Canadian Cancer Society, together with the Manitoba Paddling Association.
The Downtown Concert Series offers free outdoor concerts at Air Canada Park Wednesdays at noon June through August, at cityplace terrace Tuesdays at noon June through August and Thursdays at noon on Edmonton Street during the month of August.
The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival takes place in mid June. On opening weekend, free outdoor concerts are held in Old Market Square in the Exchange District. Free concerts are also held noon hours during the festival.
Events throughout the city celebrate Canada Day on July 1. Free activities are scheduled at Assiniboine Park and The Forks. The Osborne Village Canada Day Street Festival features children’s entertainment and musical stages.
The Forks, where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet, has been a meeting place for 6,000 years and continues to bring people together today. Check The Forks events page to find the many free events scheduled over the summer. One of my personal favourite events is Salsa Sundays , when there is dancing under the canopy, complete with a free dance lesson. Each Sunday highlights a different dance, followed by dancing to a live band.
The Summer Entertainment Series in Assiniboine Park offers free musical acts and movies. Get your fill of jazz on Sundays with an afternoon concert in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and Sunday Night Smooth Jazz at the large outdoor stage of the Lyric Theatre. Watch a movie double feature Friday evenings. Musical acts scheduled through the summer include the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Pops Orchestra, Ron Paley Big Band and others. And there is Ballet in the Park by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
The Winnipeg Fringe Festival takes place in the latter part of July. Shows staged at several venues in downtown Winnipeg have admission fees, but entertainment at the outdoor stage in Old Market Square is free. Entertainers “pass the hat” for donations. There is also a free Kids Fringe activity area.
Tuesday evenings in August, Movies on Memorial offers the opportunity to watch a movie under the stars at Memorial Park in front of Manitoba’s Legislature Building.
Folklorama is a two week festival in August celebrating the life and culture of different countries, with over 40 pavilions throughout the city showcasing the life, food, and entertainment of a particular country. The event is not free – there are entrance charges to the pavilions and food is for sale – but the Folklorama Kick-Off is free. The evening show at the outdoor Scotiabank Stage at The Forks features local and international entertainers and is capped with a fireworks display.
As summer comes to an end, you can take in Manyfest in September. Manyfest is a downtown street festival featuring a kid’s play zone, live music, dancing at two stages, and a movie on a giant outdoor screen in Memorial Park.
Based on experience in past years, other free events are likely to be announced as we get further into the season. Do you know of other free concerts or festivals in Winnipeg this summer? Do you have a favourite free summer event in another city?
To find other free things to do in Winnipeg this summer, check out Free Winnipeg Museums, Art, and History and Free Winnipeg Parks and Outdoor Activities.
- Doors Open Winnipeg: May 27 and 28
- Dragon Boat Races:
- River City Dragon Boat Festival: June 2 and 3
- September Dragon Boat Challenge: September 8 and 9
- Downtown Concert Series: Dates TBA (watch this site)
- Winnipeg Jazz Festival: June 15 to 25
- Events at Winnipeg Forks: varied – see The Forks Events Page (Salsa Sundays not yet announced)
- Assiniboine Park Summer Entertainment Series – watch this page for details
- Winnipeg Fringe Festival – July 19 to 30
- Movies on Memorial – schedule here
- Folklarama: August 6 to 19. The free Kickoff celebration is Saturday July 29 from 4:00 to 10:00 pm in Memorial Park
- Manyfest: September 8 to 10