Winnipeg's iconic intersection at Portage Avenue and Main Street was party central over the lunch break on Friday, as part of a series of fun events that officials hope will showcase the intersection's potential as a public gathering place.

On the last Friday of each month through September, the four corners of Portage and Main are hosting "pop-up" events ranging from farmers markets to local beer tastings.

The first event was a midday Culture Corner featuring Folklorama performers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

The other events are:

  • July 29: Farmers market (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
  • Aug. 26: Battle of the Beers (5 p.m. to late).
  • Sept. 30: Biggest Dance Party, featuring four DJs (5 p.m. to late).

Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, said he's "really pumped" about these summer events and hopes people will take these opportunities to explore Portage and Main.

"We know Winnipeggers are starting to come back downtown by the millions, and this is just another opportunity for people to rediscover this iconic place," he said.

Brian Bowman at Portage and Main event

Mayor Brian Bowman checks out the festivities at Portage and Main on Friday. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg and the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ have been seeking public input on reopening the intersection, which has been closed to pedestrians for almost four decades.

Currently, people can only cross Portage and Main through an underground concourse. The summer events are taking place on the sidewalk corners around the intersection itself.

Grande said the downtown BIZ, the Exchange District BIZ and the city are working on ways to "really help Winnipeggers understand that this is a special corner."

"Over the last number of decades we've only [crossed] this corner by car, but imagine if we can walk across," he said.

Portage and Main

Taiko drummer plays at Portage and Main with help from the Folklorama Llama. (Julianne Runne/CBC)

"Just imagine some of the best places in North America — or Winnipeg, for that matter — where you see people just hanging out, enjoying the beautiful summer that we have in Winnipeg. And we think this corner is prime not only to be that, but to really help us connect the different districts that are emerging, that are growing, that now aren't connected because people just simply can't walk across the street."

Another event launching on Friday near Portage and Main is a nighttime market that is setting up shop in the east Exchange District starting at 4 p.m. Alleyways Market is running the market four times during the summer.