Hé-Ho! Program for 51st Festival du Voyageur released

This year's Festival du Voyageur will feature the usual favourites, but will be adding things to make the festival more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

Staff focused on making festival more inclusive, environmentally-friendly

Programming for 51st Festival du Voyageur was released Thursday. The festival kicks off on Feb. 14. (Bert Savard/CBC)

Hé-Ho! The 51st edition of Festival du Voyageur will feature longtime favourites mixed in with new ways to make the party more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

"With our 50th anniversary milestone behind us, we spent the past year focusing on our next 50 years," said Festival du Voyageur executive director Darrel Nadeau.

The full program for this year's festival was officially released at a media conference Thursday.

UMEARTH, a student-led group from the University of Manitoba, will be conducting an energy and efficiency study at Festival du Voyageur this year.

To measure energy consumption, UMEARTH will track propane usage, says president Trina Semenchuk.

As for heat, the group will also be setting up temperature sensors on both the inside and outside of each tent, which will record data that will help determine exactly how much heat is being lost.

UMEARTH will be studying how efficiently energy and heat is being used at the festival this year. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

After all the data is collected and reviewed, the group will provide recommendations for better insulation and alternative energy sources that the festival could use moving forward, to help it become more sustainable.

Semenchuk said it will take UMEARTH up to two months to analyze the data, but they hope to have a final report prepared by June.

Festival program

This year, Festival du Voyageur focused on how to keep the festival's uniqueness and the experiences it provides, as well as being a modern, socially-responsible festival, Nadeau said.

The Bell MTS-Red River tent is larger, and the goal is to make it "the largest and most energetic venue you've ever seen at Festival du Voyageur," he explained, adding that this year's tent has capacity for more than 1,000 people — up from 650 a year ago.

"All of your senses will be engaged in this tent," Nadeau said, citing a larger dance floor, local brewers to taste, a brighter projection on the roof of the tent to see, and a live band to listen to.

The sensory experience should help people with "forgetting that it's winter, just for one night," he added.

Traditionalists will still be able to get their fill of maple taffy rolled over snow.

"Taffy on the snow" is a staple at every Festival du Voyageur. (Pierre Verriere/Radio-Canada)

The Forest Tent at Whittier Park will have more Indigenous programming, says Robyn Adams, Indigenous initiatives co-ordinator.

One of the programs Adams highlighted is an ice sculpture and live performance by visual artist Jaime Black, who started the REDress Project for missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

There will also be Indigenous music performed by Manitoba artists on Feb. 15.

Some events not on the program that will be announced at a later date, include an Indigenous cuisine pop-up, says Nadeau.

More information about the program can be found at the festival's website.

The 51st Festival du Voyageur kicks off Feb. 14.


  • An earlier version of this story said that the festival's tent at The Forks will have more Indigenous programming this year. In fact, that programming will be in the Forest Tent in Whittier Park.
    Jan 10, 2020 11:41 AM CT


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