My Top 6 Things To Do In Downtown Winnipeg This Winter – Plus 1 Bonus!

If the sudden* arrival of the white-stuff has you blue, here are my top 6 things to do in Downtown Winnipeg this Winter.

* How can it be sudden when this is Winnipeg? I’m sure you know what I mean…I’m never *quite* ready…

Indoor Downtown Winnipeg Farmers’ Markets

The Downtown Winnipeg Farmers’ Market goes inside at Cityplace from the beginning of October to the end of May!  Find your favourite bakers, makers and growers pretty much every second Thursday throughout the fall, winter and early spring months.

Visiting the Farmers’ Market is a great lunch-time activity to get you moving out of the office, even if you negate the fitness gains of a brisk walk through the walkways by buying a dozen cinnamon buns.  I don’t judge!

Winter Downtown Farmer’s Market Dates indoors at Cityplace: November 23rd, December 7th & 21st, January 18th, February 1st & 15th, March 1st, 15th & 29th, April 12th & 26th, May 10th & 24th

Spa Break

If the winter weather is getting you down, a spa treatment is always a sure-fire pick-me-up! Whether you’re looking for a quick pedi during your lunch break or a full-spa treatment, Downtown Winnipeg has many great options!

The Magic Room is my go-to for an on the go pedicure. They have a half-hour express pedicure that fits perfectly in my lunch hour.  A quick stop at their neighbour Second Cup for a peppermint hot chocolate and I’m back to the office with time to spare!

Spas in Downtown Winnipeg:  Ten Spa (Hotel Fort Garry), Riverstone Spa (Inn at the Forks), The Loft (also has a bar!), The Magic Room, Blacksmith Parlour (for the fellas!)

Fat Bike Rental

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a total fat bike junky!  I rented a fat bike a few times in February of this year and have been waiting all year for the snow to fly so that I could get out and play on one again!  Sick I know!

That being said – this is an amazingly fun way to kill a few hours, feel super energized and as a bonus you’ll have earned the amazing pizza that you’ll “need” to eat afterwards from Red Ember Pizza at the Common!

Rent a fat bike from White Pines, in the Johnston Terminal at the Forks – rentals start at $15 for an hours,  $25 for a half day (5 hours), $45 for a day (24 hours) – there are also special weekend and week-long rates.

Or…you know…buy one from White Pine Bicycle Co. or Mountain Equipment Co-Op!

Winter Downtown Winnipeg Tours

 I know we usually associate summer with the Downtown Winnipeg Tours – I’m looking at you, Patio Crawl Participants – but as of November 2017, I will be doing the Downtown Winnipeg Tours throughout the year.  I have also created two new Winter-Only tours – check them out on my previous blog post, here. Spoiler alert – one MAY involve fat bikes!

Book a Downtown Winnipeg Tour – www.downtownwinnipegtours.com

Dinner (or cocktails!) with a View

If you love the lights of Downtown Winnipeg this time of year, this one’s for you!  Let the earlier sunset work to your advantage and book yourself a table at Prairie360, at Fort Garry Place or Resto12, in the Radisson Hotel!  Both of these venues offer great food, innovative cocktail menus, superior wine lists and unparalleled views of Winnipeg!

Prairie360, of course, has a revolving view of Winnipeg and you can see as far as the horizon in all directions.  One of the waiters there told me that the restaurant does a full rotation in about 70 minutes – so plenty of time to take in the gorgeous lights while you tuck in to your choice of locally sourced mains!  If you’re really just looking to have a great cocktail, or two…or three, visit the Sky Lounge after 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays for a fab non-revolving view and some of the best cocktails to be found Downtown.

Resto 12, located on the 12th floor of the Radisson Hotel, has a premium spot on Portage Avenue and you get an amazing view of all of the lights at the heart of our Downtown.  They have a fab menu which includes local items and make a beautiful Caesar!  They also have a cozy lounge area if appetizers and cocktails are your jam!

A Night at the Theatre  

Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) is located on the third floor of Portage Place Mall and has just kicked off it’s 2017/2018 season.  Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project) is a very moving and uplifting play about connection, heritage and identity and is really a do-not-miss.

Ubuntu at the Prairie Theatre Exchange runs until November 26th, 2017

Salt-Water Moon is their next offering, which runs from January 25th to February 11th, 2018

Bonus!!!

Ice Castles are Coming to the Forks this Winter!

I’m so excited to see this!  Expected to open at the Forks in late December, these ice castles are made by “growing” icicles that end up growing together to create beautiful and eerie structures that look like all of your Narnia-dreams!

To keep up to date on when they will be opening, they have a Facebook Page and will sell tickets through their website.

Stay tuned for my December Festive Activities List!

Downtown Bro Date Ideas

Can we just all agree that downtown Winnipeg is just about the best place to hang out and relax for an afternoon? You have the Jets in winter and the Goldeyes in summer, The Forks all year with the most amazing atmosphere and shops to grab things you won’t find anywhere else, and in the downtown you’ll find some of the best restaurants in the world waiting to feed you.

Have you met my new friend Jordan Cieciwa? He’s the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s new Ambassador of Health and Happiness. Myself, Jordan, and his friend and camera guy Jaremy Ediger headed out for an afternoon and evening of entertainment downtown recently.

Jordan works with NOTT Autocorp when he’s driving around downtown making his wellness videos, so we saw an opportunity to have a little fun in his car, and test Jaremy’s photo skills.

First we checked out The Forks. Jordan is guilty heading to The Forks only when they have events going on. Immediately I saw my chance to convert yet another Winnipegger into a “True Forks Believer”. You have to go people watch and check out the stores that have amazing artwork, unique clothing, and just about everything else including bicycles that scream “Winnipeg”.  It also gave Jaremy a chance to take a couple cool photos.

Photo by Jaremy Ediger

Even though I could walk and shop at The Forks forever, we had places to be and a fancy car to drive, so we zoomed off in style to our next stop, food at “La Roca“.

We found a pretty solid place to hang out with friends at La Roca. I’m not going to lie to you, the best part of La Roca is the amount of cheese in their quesadillas; well, that and the amount of people in the place having a great time. We were heading to the Goldeyes game next, and we weren’t the only ones there getting ready for the Goldeyes to be champs again. Lots of people in the place were gearing up for a good time downtown, and as always with La Roca, the atmosphere was electric.

We finished our food paid our tab and chalked another win up for La Roca. From there, things got real.

Real rainy that is.

We headed over to Shaw Park where we got the terrible news, game cancelled due to rain.

Photo by Jaremy Ediger

For those of you who don’t know, the Goldeyes just won their second title in two years and their third since 2012. The Winnipeg Goldeyes are the American Association Champs back to back, 2016 and 2017!

This team is a well oiled machine: they play with pride, and they play to win. There are a ton of cities in the states that know about Winnipeg because our baseball team crushes them each and every year, but who’s counting right? We were! Huge congrats to the Goldeyes. Even though you didn’t entertain us this night, you came through in the end. History was written, and the events leading up to the win were so “storybook” that even Sports Illustrated took note. The Winnipeg Goldeyes are famous!

However for our day downtown, we now had a bit of a gap.

As it turns out, Jaremy is full of fun facts about Downtown Winnipeg so he took us to some of his favourite spots to share some local history. As a guy that loves the music and entertainment scene, Jaremy has walked most of the downtown to see a ton of local bands and he blew our minds with a couple facts.

Photo by Jaremy Ediger

There was a team decision made that we are going to start a regular trivia segment on Instagram. The downtown is simply the coolest, and it should be celebrated.  So, speaking of celebrations, we want to see where you party… specifically where you partied to celebrate the Winnipeg Goldeyes winning the second title in two years. The best celebration selfie wins $100 at La Roca. I believe everyone needs to get down there to try their amazing food! Enter to win now by sharing your selfie on Facebook (find the post and share your photo in the comments), Twitter on Instagram by September 30th at 4pm. Tag me @downtownpeggy to enter!

See you downtown,

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Behind the Scenes of The Birds and the Bees

Get ready to laugh out loud at The Birds and the Bees, a hilarious new comedy at the Prairie Theatre Exchange! Playwright, Mark Crawford, tells a story we can all relate to, of love, chance encounters and fresh starts. The play which is closing the Prairie Theatre Exchange’s season is set on a bee farm owned by the character Gail.

Let’s set the scene: It’s nearly time for the last-ever annual Turkey Days Festival and the excitement in town is palpable. Sarah, a turkey farmer, has just left her husband and moved back home with her mother Gail who raises bees. Enter Ben, a 23-year-old virgin and an eager, athletic young grad student majoring in entomology, intent on studying the declines in the local bee population.

I recently got a behind the scenes look of the crew preparing to deliver this amazing show. When I first arrived I was introduced to the stage set up. The play is set on the top floor of Gail’s home where her daughter Sarah arrives after leaving her husband. Below is a miniature model of how the stage looks when you arrive.

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Birds and the Bees Stage Model

Set Designer Carole Klemm designed the set and gave the viewer the ability to really picture the events as if they were happening in real life. Below is the crew making a few final touches as they get ready for opening night.

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Crew making final touches to the stage design

The Birds and the Bees play wouldn’t be complete without an actual beekeeping suit! I got to take an up close look at the actual suit used in the play.

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Beekeeping Suit used in Birds and the Bees play

The all-local cast features some pretty remarkable actors including:

  • Mariam Bernstein as Gail
  • Tristan Carlucci as Ben
  • Robb Paterson as Earl and;
  • Paula Potosky as Sarah

The actors have rehearsed for countless hours, including some long twelve hour days, and are ready to give you a show that will definitely entertain you!

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Actors Tristan Carlucci and Mariam Bernstein – Photo Credit: Haanita Sevel
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Actors Robb Paterson & Paula Potosky, with stage management and director at tables – Photo Credit: Haanita Sevel

Robert Metcalfe, Artistic Director of Prairie Theatre Exchange says, While it’s obviously about “the birds and the bees and this thing called love”, I like the play because it’s set against the background of actual birds and bees (turkeys and bee colonies), and because it’s about several generations in the pursuit of love. People trying to negotiate their love life (and their sex life) are always hilarious because they’re always desperate to get it right – and there’s so much room for things to go oh-so-wrong!

The Birds and the Bees will be at the Prairie Theatre Exchange until April 16th and I want to send you and friend to check it out! Share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter and tag both @PrairieTheatre and @DowntownPeggy. You will be entered to win a pair of tickets to this hilarious show on Thursday, April 13th!

You can also visit their website at http://www.pte.mb.ca/ to learn more about their exciting new 2017-2018 season (their 45th!) and how to become a subscriber.

See you downtown,

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Delicious Honey, Coming Straight from your Neighbourhood

For centuries, honey has been known as “nature’s gold” for its great taste and amazing health benefits such as the prevention of heart disease, reducing throat irritation, and the healing of wounds. How amazing is that! Honey is definitely a favourite of mine and when I found out that we had hives here in downtown Winnipeg, I was super excited to find out more!

Chris Kirouac, the founder of Beeproject Apiaries, started his company as an experimental project, as the bee community and the ability to extract a pure and natural food from them, piqued his curiosity. He now refers to it as his out of control hobby!

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Chris initially started out with five hives and he and his wife now maintain over 140 in the Gimli/Winnipeg area, including some in our very own downtown. Last year, Beeproject produced Neighbourhood Honey by beehives kept on the Manitoba Hydro Place rooftop, where they fit perfectly with the sustainability mindset that the building was created with. While downtown, these bees discreetly pollinated local flowers in their search for local pollen and nectar.

One of the many great things about Beeproject is that they promote urban beekeeping and are committed to using sustainable methods by using organic techniques of hive management whenever possible.

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With its great taste and amazing health benefits, it is sad to see that the honey bee population is globally declining with over a third of the population disappearing over the last five years. What this means is that our agriculture is in serious danger. More than 130 fruits and vegetables that make up a nutritious diet, depend on the cross-pollination of honey bees.

Urban settings such as the rooftop of the Manitoba Hydro Place are ideal for honey bees, as they are shielded from the many bee-killing pesticides linked to industrial agriculture, while also gaining more days for pollinating due to warmth and wind protection.

The Urban Pollination Project, an initiative created by the Beeproject, is generating awareness about these issues and continues to promote urban beekeeping which is so great for these honey bees and our downtown! Find out more by visiting their website at http://www.beeproject.ca.

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WHERE TO FIND BEEPROJECT HONEY: Beeproject’s creamed honey can be purchased at a number of retailers throughout the city, while their Neighbourhood Honey can only be purchased directly through their website or exclusively through Parlour Coffee and Chew Restaurant.

We also have some exciting news to share! Beeproject will be opening a storefront in the Osborne area this Spring (launch is TBA). Be sure to check them out!

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FUN FACTS:

  • Neighbourhood honey which is produced in urban settings has subtle fruity and floral notes and both the flavour and colour changes throughout the season as the dominant type of flower changes.
  • Natural raw honey will crystallize over time and if you prefer your honey to be softer or liquid in consistency, simply warm your honey to the desired consistency. You can also enjoy it in the solid form with all its flavour and health benefits fully intact.
  • If stored appropriately (with the lid on and only clean cutlery used in the jars), it should last forever!
  • Honey is great to include in hot beverages like tea or coffee, on fresh baking or paired with soft/ fresh cheeses. Raw honey easily replaces refined sugar in many recipes.

Craving some honey yet? I have the perfect solution. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag both @BeeProjectCa and @DowntownWpgBIZ. You will receive one free jar of Beeproject’s Neighbourhood Honey (produced on the rooftop of Manitoba Hydro Place) while supplies last!

See you downtown,

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Something’s Happening on Graham

Graham’s a street that sometimes gets overlooked – it’s not as prominent as Portage, not as big and full of food trucks as Broadway, and because a lot of it is designed for transit and bikes, not that many of us drive down it every day. But over the last little while, I’ve seen it changing piece by piece around Kennedy – and it’s gradually transforming into one of my favourite little blocks downtown! If you’ve never explored it, go check it out on your lunch hour – it’s worth checking out these spots that are new to the block.

Seeing the downtown grow doesn’t always mean massive exciting skyscrapers – although I love seeing those go up too! It’s the building of these little intimate neighbourhoods too, places that draw people to walk around that make the sidewalks fill up with people, and I think their successes are worth celebrating.

Art:

There are murals tucked in between the buildings, including a cute mural tucked away beside Second Cup with adorable helicopter bees (I really don’t know what else to call them). It’s also the street when the incomparable Kal Barteski installed her Love Every Body interactive artwork – I went down to take a selfie, and you should too!

There’s an amazing farmers market:

The Downtown Farmers’ Market started here last year. The plaza behind Manitoba Hydro Places is already a great place to sit for lunch when it’s sunny, but when the Thursday market comes out, it’s packed with people like looking for an excuse to leave the office for lunch and buy fresh-baked cookies!

Constantly changing menus at Sana SoupHouse:

They’ve been there less than a year and already I’m not sure what I’d do without their soup of the day list when it’s a rainy day and I need a cozy lunch. Plus, how many places in the city actually have soups like Chilled Strawberry, West African Peanut, and Pumpkin Apple Spice?

Rare finds at Bison Books:

This used & rare book shop relocated here a few years ago, and I never get tired of visiting it to see what literary oddities they’ve dug up. My favourite recent find, courtesy of their Facebook page: Elvis’ Favourite Recipes.

A new shop has popped up:

Pop-up events and pop-ups shops are all over the downtown this year, and I can’t get enough of it! The latest – Chook, at the corner of Graham & Vaughn, which has clothing, skateboards, and comes complete with a skateboard ramp inside! It wasn’t open when I was there, so I shamelessly peered in the windows to take pics.

 

The Urban Bakery is back home on Graham:

After nearly 10 years on Portage Ave, the Urban Bakery renovated a space on Graham and added a ton of creative touches, from a shoe wall to a handcrafted wood slab checkout counter, to an entrance that leads off the back alley!

It’s coffee heaven:
Alright, these aren’t new, but they’re essential! There are no fewer than 3 coffee places within this block: Starbucks, Second Cup, and the independent coffee house Twist Cafe. Second best of all, they all come with patio areas to sit and sip in the sun. Best of all – the Second Cup names their plants.

Graham Ave Second Cup

 

Worst Winter Ever? I’m not so sure

It apparently became official over the weekend – we had the snowiest, coldest, winter in this city since 1898. (I know, I’m sure we’re all shocked.)

But I’m seeing lots of headlines that are translating snowiest/coldest to ‘worst.’ And I’m not so sure about that. As hard as it was, to me this winter was also…actually kind of awesome.

I’ve written about this before, but I think this year was the year we really started OWNING winter. Didn’t matter if it was cold and windy outside, we were going to create amazing things to do and start celebrating the fact that yes, we live in a winter city!

So despite the snow, and the cold, I think this will still go down in my memory as one of my favourite winters ever. Remember this good stuff?

1) The restaurant on the river came back and was a HUGE hit.

2) The Jets hit the ice of the Red River and practiced outdoors for Winnipeggers to watch.

3) JUNO awards just came through town and brought a whole week of extra musical events, from awards night to Junofest

4) Extra-whimsical warming huts this year, IMHO.

5) A snow maze built for and by kids

6) Hundreds of cyclists from around the world came to town to bike our streets and talk about winter cycling ideas

7) Painted pianos appeared

8) The revolving restaurant spins again as Prairie 360

and I’m sure there’s lots more I’ve missed out on seeing myself.

So a cold winter? Yes. And I hope Mother Nature gives us a break next year as much as anyone. But based on this year, no matter what we get thrown at us we can make the most of it.

Hockey time!

Who’s still jazzed about the AHMAZING comeback the women’s hockey team made at the Olympics yesterday? I’ve watch gifs of the winning shots and the goalpost bounce 10 times this morning already.

Luckily, excitement is SO far from over. The men’s Olympic semifinal is starting right away – Canada vs the US.

 

UPDATE – we’re in the gold medal game! And you’ve probably heard by now, there are bars opening at 5AM on Sunday to air the game! Here are the places downtown I’ve found so far – if you know more, add in the comments!

Shark Club: Big TVs, and lots of them.

After the Olympics game, you can see our very own Jets hitting the ice – but a very different kind of ice than they’re used to. They’re hosting a practice on the river at the Forks! From 1:30 – 2:30, the team and all the regular coaching staff will be running their practice on the trail, free and open to the public to watch! Yes, this is going to be popular. So the Forks has been good enough to draw up a little map of where they think the best spots to watch are going to be:

Jet Practice

1:30pm – 2:30pm. Practice is FREE and open to the public. The Jets along with the full coaching staff will skate for approximately one hour as they prepare for the final stretch of the regular season.

A totally unscientific poll on the Portage & Main crossing

Behold – the beginning of the Portage & Main underground concourse, and a looong debate.

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The idea of Portage & Main being reopened to the public seems to resurface every few years to me – but over the last few days/weeks it seems like the discussion’s gotten bigger than ever, because in just a few years there might be an option to take down the barriers. Result: this news article, this one, and these ones too, plus a whole lot of debate in the comments and on twitter.

I’ve heard pros and cons, and if I were going to cast my vote, I’m all on board with opening it! I admit, when it gets chilly walking in the winter I’m the first to scurry to the walkways and underground – but in the long run walking with people next to on the street is SO much more inviting! Having all the pedestrian traffic at Portage & Main underground makes it basically invisible – and a corner with no people on it is a whole lot less appealing to walk down.

The second part of the debate has been what kind of crossing to create, if it were to open up. And that’s the very unscientific poll I want to take – should it be:

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So, what’s your vote?

Outdoor dance cardio. On skates!

Hit the lights, add the music - there's a dance party happening here tomorrow!
Hit the lights, add the music – there’s a dance party happening here tomorrow!

As promised, I’m on the hunt for to find out what’s awesome about all the workout and healthy eating options downtown for those of us who are working on living healthier this year as a resolution! First up was a look at Goodlife Downtown, now – outdoor cardio!

 

What: The Forks Arctic Glacier Winter Park & The River Trail
Where: The Forks
What’s awesome about it: Three words: Outdoor dance cardio. On skates. Ok, that’s really five words. Tomorrow, plus Jan 13th, 20th, and 25th, there’s an event at the Forks called Soul On Ice –  where DJ Hunnicut and DJ Co-op set up at the Canopy Skating Rink and transform it into a dance floor on ice! Fun, fitness-resolution helping, and something only downtown Winnipeg could have 🙂

If you can’t wait till tomorrow with that beautiful sun shining, there’s tons to do already to get active: Distance skating on the river trail, skating under the canopy, pick-up hockey next to the Scotiabank stage, snowboarding in the park, tobogganing down the hill (yes, I think walking up the hill dragging your sled gets you fitness points! 🙂 ), and I’ve seen cross-country skiiers taking to the trails as well!

Next up – Getting in some “Oms” with yoga!

On resolutions…

Ah, New Year’s resolutions – they give you a great feeling of starting fresh, and having a whole new year ahead of you. And you do! But I think we all know how easy it is to fall of the wagon with them – especially when they’re resolutions to exercise and eat healthy! So I’m starting a mini-project this month to discover what’s fun and or/delicious about healthy living and healthy eating downtown to help all my friends, and myself, keep up with our resolutions! I’m going to try out the gyms and the healthier dishes on restaurant menus, and share everything I find with you all! And if you’ve got places you want me to visit, just let me know!
OK, first up – I’m starting with fitness!

What: Goodlife Downtown
Where: 7th floor, 201 Portage
What’s awesome about it: Funnily enough, the “where” is also the “what’s awesome” here. And I don’t just mean that the Portage & Main location is super-convenient for a lunchtime run. It’s the fact that it’s the whole 7th floor of the 201 Portage building – that means it’s got a fantastic view, and they work it! The spin class has big floor to ceiling windows along the side that give an amazing views to help keep you feeling good when your legs start to feel like they’re going to fall off. The room for their classes is the same – think doing yoga or cardio gazing over the rooftops of downtown. But the treadmills are the best of all – they’re all arranged right up against the windows that overlook Portage & Main. Running in the sky? Yes please! Makes it MUCH easier to keep on going back.

Next up – I’m going to try some outdoor cardio! 🙂