Free summer concerts, festivals, and events in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Note: Post updated with 2016 dates.
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. The 2016 event takes place May 28 and May 29.
It is free to watch rowers compete in the annual Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Shirley Water Ski Park. The Canadian Cancer Society, together with the Manitoba Paddling Association, present this event June 3 and 4.
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 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. 2016 dates for the Jazz Festival are June 16 through 26.
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 favourite events Salsa Sundays returns in 2016. On the evenings of July 3, 10, 17 and 24 there will be dancing under the canpoy, featuring a free dance lesson, with focus on a different dance each week, 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. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet has performances scheduled at the Lyric Theatre July 24 and 25.
Ballet in the Park, family-friendly performances by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park, have been a tradition since the 1970s. The 2016 season runs July 27 to 28.
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. The 2016 Fringe Festival runs July 13 to July 24.
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 on July 31, 2016 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 on September 9 – 11, 2016. 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.