Oh, hello there, Mr. Winter. It’s been awhile, but it’s nice to see you grace us with your presence once again as your signature grand entrance (snow) touches down in many regions of Manitoba today. While some people may not be overly excited by your arrival (outrageous, I know), we’re here to remind them that winter is actually really fun – especially when you happen to be walkin’ in the winter wonderland that is southwestern Manitoba. So if you find yourself in the area of Virden, Minnedosa and Brandon (and that’s just a few of the highlights of the region), add these activities to your bucket list to slide, snowmobile, skate and ski through winter….
Valley View Tubing Hill
Slide, slide and slide some more at the Valley View Tubing Hill in MacGregor, open from mid December to mid March. The Valley View Tubing Hill is a perfect day trip for families or large groups, or those who already miss tubing behind a boat on the lake. And take it from me, tubing down a snow covered hill requires a lot less coordination than barreling down a hill on two skis – so if downhill skiing just isn’t your thing, try this winter activity instead.
You see those beautiful forests? Imagine yourself enjoying that view all day long as you cruise down hundreds of kilometers of groomed snowmobile trails in southwestern Manitoba, coming upon rolling hills and wide open prairie vistas.
Get to know the area’s Provincial Parks on the 9 snowmobile trails of Spruce Woods Provincial Park and the 90 kilometers of trails in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. A SnoPass is required and there are plenty of warming shelters, service stations and restaurants in the area to accommodate your trip.
11th Annual Skate the Lake
February 18 to 19, 2017
Is there anything more quintessentially winter than hockey? Skate the Lake is an annual, volunteer-run, non-profit pond hockey tournament that brings out the entire community of Minnedosa for a day on the ice. Lake Minnedosa is prepared by volunteers so that multiple games can be played at the same time and happens to make a pretty spectacular backdrop. It’s fun to participate in and fun to watch, which is why it brings out the crowds year after year.
Pelican Lake Fishing Derby
March 4, 2017
This winter will mark the Pelican Lake Healthy Water and Fish Committee’s 4th annual ice fishing derby. This fun day of fishing is open to the whole family, with kids under the age of 15 fishing for free. Last year, the event brought out 560 adult anglers and 85 junior anglers with the hopes of reeling in the biggest catch of the day. There are plenty of prizes to claim, with all proceeds going towards the Healthy Lake Committee’s aeration projects in Pelican Lake.
One of the best ways to take in the scenic views of the area is on a cross-country ski. Head 3 kilometers east of Virdin (more specifically, go 3 kilometers east of the cement plant on Hwy #1, south on Rd 150 W and 5 kilometers until you reach a parking lot on the left) to find Hellman’s Ski Hill and 5 kilometers of free, groomed trails that will take you through valleys and over hills. Spruce Woods Provincial Park is also known for its incredible cross-country ski routes, with 11 different trails of various difficulties to embark on.
For those who prefer a bit more adrenaline, the Minnedosa Ski Valley is top notch with 9 runs for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. It’s a one-stop shop with equipment rentals and on-site dining, making it particularly convenient for day trips and group outings.
14th Annual Brandon Winter Festival
So, you prefer to stay indoors, do you? The cultural diversity of Brandon takes center stage at one of the largest winter celebrations in Manitoba, no snow required. The 14th Annual Brandon Winter Festival draws in up to 60,000 people who navigate the many pavilions that showcases the multicultural diversity of southwestern Manitoba’s community. The highly anticipated, highly accessible event is made even better with no admission charge and free bus rides between pavilions to ensure guests get to take in the entire experience.
Power Smart Waterfall of Lights
December to February
If you’re looking to fully appreciate and celebrate the season, look no further. The popular winter venue located at the west end of McGregor Avenue in Brandon is transformed into a winter oasis from December until the end of February. Wander through The Power Smart Waterfall of Lights and stop in to mingle and listen to festive music at warm-up shacks or around the fire pit.