The Victoria Day long weekend has begun, giving many in Winnipeg a reason to celebrate the unofficial start of summer and say goodbye to a long, cold winter.

Some in the city started their long weekend early on Friday, kicking back on patios during the day and enjoying the sunny weather.

Downtown at The Forks, some people took in the first Splash Dash river boat tour of the season.

"I think everyone's had the worst winter in, what, 116 years or something like that?" said Splash Dash owner Gordon Cartwright.

"I think everyone just wants to be out and having fun."

After having to endure the coldest winter since 1898, along with a cooler than usual spring, Winnipeggers can look forward to sunny skies and daytime temperatures of 18 and 20 C on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Elsewhere in Winnipeg, Barb Cullen said she plans to spend the long weekend working on her garden.

"Everything just comes alive when you get the garden going with all your flowers," she said, while buying geraniums and other supplies at Lacoste Garden Centre.

Lacoste owner Jorden Hiebert said the May long weekend is generally one of the busiest times for the greenhouse, with gardeners like Cullen eager to start planting.

"This year it probably won't be the busiest because we had a delayed spring. So this will be the kick-off to spring for a lot of people," he said.

"We probably expect the weekends to follow just to be a bit busier … even into June."

Hiebert advises gardeners to look carefully at the weather forecasts for signs of frost before putting any sensitive plants into the ground.

At least 29,000 campsites have been booked at provincial campgrounds across Manitoba so far this year, but the provincial government says many sites are still available to book.