May 252014

Old Market Square Cube

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 Forks Canopy

Canopy at The Forks

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.

Scotiabank Stage

Scotiabank Stage with a view of the new Canadian Human Rights Museum on the left.
Photograph was taken in early spring. The area will be much greener in summer.

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.

2018 Schedule

  • Doors Open Winnipeg: May 26 and 27
  • Dragon Boat Races: TBA
  • Downtown Concert Series: Dates TBA (watch this site)
  • Winnipeg Jazz Festival: TBA
  • Events at Winnipeg Forks: varied – see The Forks Events Page
  • Assiniboine Park Summer Entertainment Series – watch this page for details
  • Winnipeg Fringe Festival – July 18 to 29
  • Movies on Memorial – schedule here
  • Folklarama: August 5 to 18
  • Manyfest: TBA

  19 Responses to “Free Summer Concerts and Festivals in Winnipeg”

  1. A great round-up Donna! I lived in Winnipeg for many years and loved the summers with the long warm nights, sunny skies and lots of festivals to attend. I met my husband at Folklorama 25 years ago so I’ve got a soft spot for that event!

    • The long warm nights are one of my favourite things about the summer here. It’s so nice to sit outside on a warm evening with light lasting until ten o’clock in early July. What a nice story about meeting your husband at Folklorama.

  2. You’ve offered a great list of reasons for visiting Winnipeg!

  3. There sure is a lot of music in Winneoeg in the summer. We have a lot in Santa Fe, too.

    • Yes there is a lot of music and plenty of variety. There are more options when you add in events with admission fees, including jazz on the art gallery rooftop, a folk festival just outside the city, a blues festival, and a reggae festival.

  4. I’ve never been to Winnipeg, but would love to visit. I don’t hear about maybe outdoor concerts that are free. Sounds like a nice place to live.

  5. How wonderful that Winnipeg has so many free events to offer. So many places are expensive to take a family and your very detailed list gives so many events to enjoy without breaking the bank.

  6. I’ve never been to Winnipeg but this is enough to make me want to! What a wonderful round-up. And it really splendid that there are so many offerings for free.

  7. After the long, tough winters, it is no surprise that Canadians love their summers. They’ve earned them! It sounds like there is enough going on in Winnipeg during the summer to make it a worthy destination.

  8. Canada and Wiinipeg have so much to offer! thank you for sharing-

  9. Winnipeg sounds like a beautiful city that welcomes visitors and keeps its own citizens entertained with quality concerts and activities. I would love to see the Doors Open Winnipeg event, especially some of the historic places.

    • Doors Open Winnipeg is a great chance to visit historic buildings you might not ordinarily get a chance to see. I’ve seen some interesting buildings in the past but haven’t been able to attend for the last 2 years due to other commitments. I’m looking forward to taking in some of the offerings this weekend.

  10. […] free summer activities in Winnipeg, read my posts Free Winnipeg Museums, Art, and History and Free Summer Concerts and Festivals in Winnipeg. Do you know of a park or other free outdoor activity in Winnipeg to add to this list? Do you have […]

  11. […] To find out about other free activities, visit Free Winnipeg Parks and Outdoor Activities and Free Summer Concerts and Festivals in Winnipeg. The 12 hectare Living Prairie Museum is home to over 160 species of native plants. Walk through […]

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