I am slowly becoming a believer that the best possible time to be a Winnipegger is in its cruelest, coldest month.
January has become a dangerous time to plan events, just because the calendar is already so packed with internationally and locally beloved stuff — The New Music Festival spans two weeks with unprecedented access to some truly brilliant artists, Big Fun unveils a beautifully curated lineup of local talent and RAW: almond takes pop-up dining to new levels.
Meanwhile, warming huts are popping up on the river, our DJs are spinning in bone-chilling temperatures and our gem of an independent theatre is booking docs you'd only be lucky to catch in bigger Canadian cities.
All of that to say, I really do think it's worth heading out and spending some of your hard-earned cash seeing Winnipeg at its absolute best this weekend -- if only to see people geek out about what they're super passionate about.
WHAT: MUSIC — Big Fun Festival
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: All over the city!
Cost: FREE to $70 for a fest pass
Big Fun is back with an even more impressive lineup this year.
My top picks are the early shows at Handsome Daughter and Thom Bargen on Saturday. The lineups are amazing.
As for the big, fun dance parties, check out the Manitoba Music showcase at the Good Will Friday night with Ghost Twin, SC Mira, FINN and Somebody Language.
On Saturday, I recommend Micah Visser and Close Talker at the WECC or the House of Gold Diamonds dance party at RAW: almond.
My best advice is not to skip the free afternoon shows in West Broadway, though.
WHAT: ARCHITECTURE — Haute Hot Hut
When: Friday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.
Where: The Forks Market Centre Court at 1 Forks Market Rd.
The final build week for The Forks warming huts ends on Friday with an unveiling and a dance party in the market.
This year, they've planned a mixer with the architects behind the huts and added music and food.
William Prince, one of my absolute favourite locals, is performing with Scott Nolan, The Middle Coast and The Solutions. Mama Cutsworth also has a set!
The Forks Centre Court is a strange venue for a Friday night, but it's in the centre of a ton of winter festival stuff.
Just outside, there's an ice festival on, and a short walk away, RAW: almond is running almost 24 hours a day between its dinner and brunch service as well as the Big Fun dance parties.
Oh, and if you leave early enough, you can run down and catch the Living Hour's 10:30 set at RAW.
WHAT: COMEDY — Roast of Tim Gray
When: Friday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.
Where: Wee Johnny's at 177 McDermot Ave.
A bunch of comics are roasting the very funny Tim Gray at Wee Johnny's Friday night, and if you can snag tickets, they're only $5.
Gray's partner in crime and HUNKS co-star Dana Smith is hosting, with roasters Lara Rae, Paul Rabliauskas, Tyler Penner, Ryan Ash, Ben Walker and more on the bill.
It's a birthday celebration for Gray, but even if you aren't familiar with his comedy or HUNKS (which would be a shame!), you'll still be in for a solid night of comedy.
WHAT: FILM — Fort Whyte's dinner and a movie
When: Saturday, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m.
Where: Fort Whyte Alive at 1961 McCreary Rd.
While you're waiting for Big Fun and the New Music Festival to get started on Saturday, check out Fort Whyte for their dinner and a movie night.
They are opening up their solar greenhouse, serving veggie chili and screening the doc In Defense of Food.
The greenhouse is a pretty cute, cozy space even without the twinkle lights and date-night programming, so it's a good place to relax before a big night at a festival.
It is tiny, though, so you have to call in advance to reserve a spot.
WHAT: MUSIC/FILM — New Music Festival
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: Centennial Concert Hall and Cinematheque
Cost: $25 per show
The New Music Festival wraps this weekend with one final night with the WSO and a double-feature at Cinematheque.
Friday night they're doing Stephen O'Malley's Un vide dans le ciel and Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 4.
There'll be a pre-show panel, a post-show Q&A, and of course snacks, drinks and a DJ in the piano noble.
WSO conductor Alexander Mickelthwate has a great way of making the talks super accessible and comfortable, so even if you have zero musical background (like me!), you can totally enjoy them and learn some stuff.
On Saturday, Cinematheque has a late-night premier of a doc on Sonic Youth's Lee Renaldo called In Doubt, Shadow Him.