Winterruption brings creative disruption to dark, cold Saskatchewan January

Into the depths of what can be a cruel month comes the infusion of music, comedy, drama and storytelling that is Winterruption.

This year's festival takes place from Jan. 23 to 27 in Regina and Saskatoon

JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman will play the Sheraton Cavalier in Saskatoon on Jan. 26 and the Exchange in Regina on Jan. 27 as part of Winterruption. (Dustin Rabin )

Into the depths of what can be a cruel month comes the infusion of music, comedy, drama and storytelling that is Winterruption.  

"Our goal was always just to give people a reason to leave their house in the coldest, longest darkest month of the winter," Kirby Wirchenko, artistic director of the Broadway Theatre, said about the genesis of the festival.

Winterruption has expanded since its inception four years ago to include a combined 23 shows across eight venues in Saskatoon and Regina, plus outdoor events, from Jan. 23 to 27.

The Broadway Theatre and Regina Folk Festival partner up to bring performers to both cities. In some cases they share musical acts.

Among the notable Saskatchewan artists performing this year are Regina's spoken-word poet Jolissa Simon and Saskatoon-based poet Zoey Roy.

Other performers include Lindsay 'Eekwol' Knight, a future CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 winner, whose music covers powerful themes of female empowerment, as well as folk musician Ellen Froese, an up-and-comer who's been signed to DevilDuck Records and will be part of the 2019 Youngbloods tour.

Lindsay Knight, also known as Eekwol, will be among the Saskatchewan performers at Winterruption. (@therealeekwol/Instagram)

Acts from out-of-province include Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq and Terra Lightfoot. Some performances have already been sold out, including Royal Wood's performance at Regina's Artesian. Wood will be performing songs from his album Ever After Farewell, which covers a year that saw the musician lose his father, fall in love and get married.

One of the fastest sell-outs was the first night of Bob the Drag Queen, winner of season 8 of RuPaul's Drag Race Superstar. It sold out within half an hour, according to Wirchenko, but is just one of three nights of Bob at Louis' Pub in Saskatoon.

Bob the Drag Queen has three shows at Louis' Pub in Saskatoon. (Source: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

Outdoor activities in Saskatoon will take place around a central storytelling teepee, erected for both the students at Victoria School and for the public during Friday and Saturday Winterruption events.

Storytelling Tipi at this year's Winterruption (Broadway Theatre)

"We feel whether it's music, comedy dance theatre, all that stuff, in its own way it's cultural storytelling," said Wirchenko. 

He said there will be an Indigenous storyteller or a new Canadian presenting regularly inside the heated teepee. There will also be hot chocolate handed out, sleigh rides, crockicurl and other outdoor events unfolding around the site.

Winterruption is of an active winter scene in Saskatchewan, with school, work, theatre, music and sporting events all taking place alongside each other, according to Wirchenko.  

"I think it's interesting that our city, like some other cities, are trying to start focusing on, 'Hey, let's celebrate we're a winter city, instead of pretend we're not.'"

Find more information on Regina's Winterruption lineup here and Saskatoon's here


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