I don’t know if you heard, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The kids are off on break, university students are jumping for joy, and the rest of us? We’re meeting with friends and family and finally giving into the hustle, bustle and good spirited cheer of the season. Make the most of this special time of the year with unforgettable activities and events around the province that will draw you into the holidays, take you into the great outdoors and spike a new curiosity for all that Manitoba has to offer. Here’s your complete guide to the best winter break ever!

Fall in love with the spirit of the holidays

Eaton’s Fairytale Vignettes
On display until January 3 | Children’s Museum

Celebrate the magic of Christmas with Eaton’s Fairytale Vignettes on display now at the Children’s Museum at The Forks until January 4. This is the last original display of the vignettes that used to grace the ninth floor of the Eaton’s downtown store. These fully restored vignettes include scenes from Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Humpty Dumpty and more.

Festival des Créches
On display until January 8 | St. Georges

The first nativity scene goes back to 1223 in Italy, but you don’t have to travel that far to see over 100 different versions at the 3rd Annual Crèche Festival at the Allard Regional Library in St. Georges, 1.5 hours north east of Winnipeg. The festival features nativity scenes (or crèche in French) created by artists from at home and abroad, including many provided by Ten Thousand Villages, a Fair Trade store that sells goods from artisans in developing countries.

Spend time with Santa Claus
Various dates and locations

You know he’s making his list and checking it twice, so schedule some face time to make sure you’re on Santa’s nice list this year. Go skating with Santa in Thompson on December 20 and in Selkirk at the Water Tower Wonderland, or snap a photo with the man in red at The Forks on December 4,5,18,20 and in Kleefield and Carman on December 5. If you prefer to stay off camera, join Santa for a pancake breakfast on December 5 at Little Britain United Church Hall in Lockport, La Rivière & Community Recreation Centre, or Warren Memorial Hall, or December 6 at Pilot Mound Millennium Recreation Complex.

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Reading
December 18 to 20 | Dalnavert Museum

The 1895 house of former Manitoba premier Sir Hugh John MacDonald is the perfect backdrop to hear a classic Christmas tale. Fully decorated according to Victorian tradition, you will have no problem becoming fully immersed in the iconic reading of A Christmas Carol. Gather to enjoy the timeless tale of Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the three Ghosts of Christmas, as well as warm beverages and holiday treats.

Island of Lights
December 4 to January 7 | Portage la Prairie

Be dazzled by holiday lights at Island Park, the brightest destination in Portage la Prairie. Drive through the Island of Lights and witness gorgeous light displays in an exciting show that is sure to get you in the spirit of the season.

Steinbach Christmas Market
December 19 | Mennonite Heritage Village

The first inaugural Steinbach Christmas Market will transform the Mennonite Heritage Village into a stunning marketplace, filled to the brink with holiday fun. Shop handmade goods or take a sleigh ride with Santa and his elf. Don’t forget to try some of the unique European treats!

2015 Winter Wonderland
Dates from December 5 to 20| Manitoba Agricultural Museum

The Manitoba Agricultural Museum’s Homesteader’s Village has never looked better. Travel through this quaint village and admire holiday colours in a fabulous light show, with a new nativity scene display by the St. Saviour’s Church. Afterward, gather round the bonfire for hot dogs and hot chocolate, try your hand at jam-pail curling and hop aboard a horse-drawn sleigh.

All That Glows: Then and Now
On display until December 27 | Manitoba Electrical Museum

Light em’ up. The Manitoba Electrical Museum is the go-to place for all things that glow and glimmer. Get inspired by a variety of Christmas light displays and revisit holiday memories of the past. Learn about the history of electrical development in our province, from a replica of a 1940’s kitchen during farm electrification to climbing aboard a streetcar – one of the city’s first uses of electricity.

Canad Inns Winter Wonderland
December 4 to January 2 | Red River Exhibition Park

Grab your friends and family, pack into the car, and celebrate the season of lights – all three million watts of them at a Canad Inns Winter Wonderland! From the comfort of your car, drive around the 2.5 km park to see a brilliant presentation of over one million lights in 26 different theme areas.

Sit back and watch the show

Mission Munschpossible
December 18 to January 3 | Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg

If you loved classic Munsch stories as a child, you and your young ones will love Mission Munschpossible by Prairie Theatre Exchange. Watch your favourite characters come to live and enjoy the best of Munsch, including Thomas’ Snowsuit, Mortimer, Angela’s Airplane and Something Good.

WWE Live Holiday Tour
December 20 | MTS Centre, Winnipeg

WWE returns to Winnipeg this winter break for a one night slam! See the WWE Superstars and Divas go head to head in a live action event, with performances by Kane, Cesaro, Roman Reigns and more.

Fred Penner
December 19 | Burton Cummings Theatre, Winnipeg

See one of Manitoba’s greatest entertainers live at the Burton Cummings Theatre and reminisce on your fondest musical memories. Fred Penner is adored and known for his contagious singalongs, including The Cat Came Back and Sandwiches.

Nutcracker by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet
December 19 to 28 | Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg

A heart-warming holiday tradition returns as Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents its beloved and timeless classic – Nutcracker. This year’s production returns with Hazel the polar bear and her twelve heart-warming cubs. What could be more fun for the family than to join young Clara’s Christmas fantasy, where toys come to life, the Sugar Plum Fairy spreads her magic, and mischievous Filbert the Bear steals the Christmas pudding! When midnight strikes, young Clara’s enchanted Christmas gift leads her into a wondrous world of mice, snow and sweets.

Bring your kids to winter camp

Fort Whyte Alive Winter Camp

FortWhyte Alive, Winnipeg
Starting December 21

Experience a natural adventure at one of FortWhyte Alive’s Day Camps! The two camps this break are Nature Day Camp and FortWhyte Farm Camp, where participants can explore what happens on the farm in the winter. Fresh air, fun and learning are all part of the experience.

Oak Hammock Marsh
Starting December 21

Enjoy winter by joining the marsh for a frosty good time at winter camp! Activities may include snowshoeing, bannock baking, winter games and more. This camp has both indoor and outdoor components and is sure to please! For ages 6 to 9. Register today!

Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg
Starting December 22

This innovative winter camp shows children human rights-themed programming and encourages awareness about human rights through activity-based learning. The four day camp themes include Peace around the World, The Gift of Love, Protect the Planet and Aspire to Change. Participants will take part in gallery tours, scavenger hunts, crafts, theatre, music, games and more.

Tap into a world of curiosity

Birding Hour – Winter Birds
December 20 | Oak Hammock Marsh

Birding doesn’t stop in the winter, but only 10% of Manitoba birds stick around for our cold season. In this workshop with Oak Hammock Marsh, learn how to identify your backyard visitors and how to care for your winter guests.

Astronomy Night
December 17 | Oak Hammock Marsh

Oak Hammock Marsh has the best skies. When it isn’t full of birds, it’s littered with the brightest stars. Attend the next Astronomy Night  and get to know our winter stars and the stories behind them. An outdoor observation session from the rooftop will let you explore the night sky.

Assiniboine Park
Open daily | Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

There’s a snow flurry of fun to be had at Assiniboine Park in winter! Visit Hudson and all his furry friends at The Zoo, skate like graceful swans on the duck pond, fly down the Toboggan Hill, or enjoy the beauty of the park while skiing the groomed trails.

Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre
Open daily | Morden

Trek out to Morden to see the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada. If you like dinosaurs or sea monsters you will love “Bruce” their 43 ft Mosasaur, the fiercest of all the marine reptiles. He’s bigger than a T-Rex and just as scary. It’s because of him that the Cretaceous seas were considered the most dangerous of all time.

Get outside and play

Snow tubing
Open weekends | Adrenaline Adventures, Headingly

Put on the ski pants and get ready to tackle the snow tubing hills at Adrenaline Adventures! Winter activities begin this weekend with several lanes open for tubing featuring a variety of bumps and lots of speed. For those seeking something a bit more adrenaline-pumping, we’re introducing some extreme snow tubing lanes which will have you yelling in delight all the way down.

Horseback Riding
Open daily | Birds Hill Park

Mosey on over to Birds Hill Park Ranch to enjoy a trail ride or sleigh ride in and around the park while breathing in the crisp air and viewing the spectacular scenery. Don’t forget to bring your camera! You may see deer, owls and various other wildlife.

Arctic Glacier Winter Park
Open daily | The Forks, Winnipeg

Head down to The Forks for the official celebration of winter at Arctic Glacier Winter Park! Skate on the many trails, slide down the toboggan run, or try your tricks in the professionally designed Snowboard Fun Park.

Riding Mountain National Park

There are 43 kilometres of groomed snowshoe trails, as well as the unlimited possibilities that await you when you set out “off trail,” including the challenge of snowshoeing Mt Agassiz. Riding Mountain’s snow conditions and six designated snowshoe trails make it one of the best places to snowshoe in Manitoba.

Winter in the Whiteshell

If you haven’t experienced the Whiteshell in winter, it’s time to give it a try. Start your staycation in the cozy Falcon Trails Resort before hitting the outdoors. In a paradise for nature-lovers, you can glide along cross-country ski trails, get back to nature on horseback, sled over groomed snowmobile trails, wait for the big catch while ice fishing, or break through fresh snow by snowshoe all while keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife. Visit Experience The Whiteshell for more information or get a glimpse of what cross country skiing the area is like through the eyes (and skis) of Hike Bike Travel.

Ring in the New Year

Murder Mystery Dinner & Dance
December 31 | Hotel Fort Garry, Winnipeg

Bring your sleuthing skill and suspicions to this sparkling event, where you will enjoy cocktails and a 3 course dinner among new friends. But what you don’t know, is which of these individuals are guests and which are professional actors. After a dramatic murder, it’s up to you to discover who is the culprit. What a way to ring in the New Year!

Rock Around the Clock
December 31 | RBC Convention Centre, Winnipeg

It’s a blast to the past at the RBC Convention Centre this New Year’s Eve. Jive, swing, twist and jitterbug to retro tunes and enjoy special treats inspired by the 1950’s in a 5 course gourmet meal. Dress for the era and rock around the clock to welcome 2016.

Asessippi Family New Year’s Eve
December 31 | Asessippi Ski Area & Resort

Ski into the new year at Asessippi Ski Area & Resort. Bring the whole family for two displays of fireworks, a scavenger hunt and movie showings. Midnight is marked by an exciting midnight torch run, welcoming in the New Year in style.

Wawanesa Insurance Family New Year’s Eve
December 31 | The Forks, Winnipeg

The early 8 p.m. fireworks at the Wawanesa Insurance Family New Year’s Eve celebrations means you can spend time with your kids well before midnight. The Forks is the place to go for families this New Year’s Eve, with activities such as horse drawn wagon rides, the Arctic Glacier Winter Park, face painting and live entertainment.

New Years Eve at Thermea
December 31 | Thermea

If you’re not so much into parties and large gatherings, head to Thermea and ring in the New Year in complete relaxation. This all-inclusive spa package includes the thermal experience, a festive menu, Aufguss rituals, sparkling wine and more.