The 40th annual Festival du Voyageur kicks off in Winnipeg Friday night with a torch-lit walk down Provencher Boulevard.

The Grand Rendezvous on the Boulevard begins at 6:30 p.m., when participants will be able to attend musical performances during what is billed as the biggest winter festival in Western Canada.

Immediately after those festivities, people can make their way down to Voyageur Park, which will be open to the public from 8:30 p.m. until midnight, offering activities and entertainment.

People can also visit the Snow Bar to play a game of Clou'Donc or head over to the Cabane à Sucre for musical entertainment.

Fort Gibraltar will also be open from 8:30 p.m. and feature more entertainment. The public can also experience a real kitchen party in the Cabane des hivernants. For history buffs, guided tours of the fort will be available.

Patti and Richard Beaver come up from the United States every year for the festival.

"The people are just unbelievable. They're so warm and welcoming, and the entertainment is first class," Patti Beaver told CBC's Information Radio Friday morning.

Snow sculptures unscathed by warm weather

Despite the mild weather in Winnipeg earlier this week, the snow sculptures are still in great shape. The festival's executive director, Josee Vaillancourt, said many of the sculptors are used to weather that is less frigid than what Winnipeg normally gets.

Many of them have already made snow sculptures in Quebec and Ottawa, she said.

"It just creates different conditions to sculpt. They can create different pieces and they can create different types of details when the snow is a bit wetter," she said earlier this week.

"We are quite used to having crisp snow here in Winnipeg, so this year it's going to be sort of a little challenge for our sculptors and I'm sure they'll rise above."

Most snow sculptures are in Whittier Park in St. Boniface but there are others located around the city.

The Festival du Voyageur will be open daily until Feb. 22.