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Events

Here & Now: Yuk It Up!

Chris Cubas courtesy Oddblock Comedy Festival

Chris Cubas courtesy Oddblock Comedy Festival

AUG 25-28

Oddblock Comedy Festival, a block party styled fest on South Osborne, has the street bustling. Venue-hopping comedians and attendees can grab a bite from nearby restaurants and food trucks or relax on streetside beer gardens. Check out more than 50 comics including podcast favourite Chris Cubas, improvisor Kate Berlant, and experimental comedian Ian Abramson. Various venues, 204‑478‑7275, oddblock.ca

Here & Now: Hear Here

Photo courtesy Interstellar Rodeo

Photo courtesy Interstellar Rodeo

AUG 12-14

After enjoying a successful inaugural fest last summer, Interstellar Rodeo returns with out-of-this-world artists. Big name roots, Americana and indie acts take the stage at this music festival in the centre of the city, where gourmet food and wine pairings go hand in hand with the music. Headliners  include Wilco and newly-formed supergroup Case/Lang/Viers, made up of Neko Case, K.D. Lang and Laura Viers. Weekend passes and single day tickets available. The Forks, 1‑855‑465‑2459, interstellarrodeo.com

Here & Now: Film Fun

Photo courtesy Downtown Winnipeg BIZ

Photo courtesy Downtown Winnipeg BIZ

AUG 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30

Relive the golden days of drive-in theatres this summer. On Saturdays, a converted parking lot becomes a Downtown Drive-In showing Superhero flicks. Screen gems of years gone by are shown outdoors every Tuesday during Movies on Memorial. See Oscar-winning classics projected on an inflatable outdoor screen in Memorial Park. Free. Movies start at sundown (approx 9 pm). Call 204‑958‑4640 or visit downtownwinnipegbiz.com for details.

Here & Now: Culture Bash

Photo by Darcy Finley

Photo by Darcy Finley

JUL 31-AUG 13

A yearly highlight, two-week festival Folklorama is a multicultural extravaganza. More than 40 pavilions celebrate the diverse groups that call Manitoba home, with traditional dance, music and food turning each into a party. Crowds will line up for this popular fest, so book a spot on the VIP World Tour to stop in at three different venues in one night. For more information visit folklorama.ca or call 204‑982‑6210.

Here & Now: Tour de Food

Earth on plate. 3d render.

AUG 1-31

Sample global flavours during Ciao! Taste The World. This culinary event sees some of the city’s top dining establishments dishing up globally inspired specials for lunch throughout August. A $12 price tag makes it easy to transform lunch time into a world tour. Visit ciaowinnipeg.com for a full list of participating restaurants and menus.

Here & Now: Beautiful Ballet

Photo by Rejean Brandt

Photo by Rejean Brandt

JUL 27-29

See members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet plié, jeté and pirouette on an outdoor stage at Ballet in the Park. The annual free fresh air performances take place on warm summer evenings in lush Assiniboine Park. Audience members bring lawn chairs or curl up on picnic blankets in front of the Lyric Stage. Arrive early to score prime seats. Show starts at 7:30 pm. Assiniboine Park, main entrance, 2355 Corydon Ave. Call 204‑956‑0183 for details, rwb.org

Here & Now: The Play’s The Thing

Photo by Leif Norman

Photo by Leif Norman

JUL 13-24

Daring one-man shows, hilarious improv sketches and provocative plays can all be found at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, one of Canada’s largest. More than 170 companies present creative works that push the boundaries of theatre. Venues are scattered throughout the Exchange District, but Old Market Square is the festival hub, with beer gardens, free live music, an outdoor market and free children’s programming. Call 204‑956‑1340 or visit winnipegfringe.com for full schedule.

Here & Now: Music for all Folks

Photo courtesy Winnipeg Folk Festival

Photo courtesy Winnipeg Folk Festival

JUL 7-10

The Winnipeg Folk Festival has been a summer highlight for music fans for more than 40 years. This year, the outdoor stages in Birds Hill Park host artists like Ryan Adams, The Bluegrass Situation, Coeur de Pirate, Sam Roberts Band and Basia Bulat. On-site food vendors provide local, organic, and fair trade eats in earth-friendly packaging. Those staying downtown can catch the Festival Express bus to the site. Birds Hill Provincial Park, 204‑231‑0096 or 1‑866‑301‑3823, winnipegfolkfestival.ca

Winnipeg’s Best New Attraction 2016

Anything But Conventional

With its stunning design and massive new expansion, the RBC Convention Centre represents the vibrancy of Winnipeg’s downtown. For helping to cement our city’s status as an outstanding destination, WHERE Winnipeg Magazine has named the RBC Convention Centre as Best New Attraction for 2016.

By Joelle Kidd
Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Even the most lively discussion seems to pause when a group of travellers reaches York Avenue. Suddenly, they are awash in colourful light from glittering bulbs suspended over their heads. Most likely, the colours were chosen by an event organizer; rainbow stripes for the city’s Pride Parade, the logo colours of a corporation hosting a conference. Streetside, it hardly matters—all eyes are gazing upward.

This display is part of what has surely become downtown’s new showpiece. It’s hard not to gush about the newly expanded RBC Convention Centre, with its colourful lights, spectacular glass faÇade, and airy, open spaces stretching on and on.

What can’t be seen are the years of dreaming and meticulous planning that led to this building’s creation.

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

The Vision

The Winnipeg Convention Centre (as it was then called) has been a staple of the city’s downtown since 1975. Holding the distinction of being the first purpose-built centre of its kind in Canada, the space was imagined as a revitalizing force for Winnipeg. The project had its share of detractors—after all, it involved recognizing the destination potential of a relatively small prairie city. But jump forward a few decades and demand had far outgrown the building’s limitations.

Winnipeg, steadily and surely, has been growing, and with that growth have come numerous attractions: the MTS Centre and the return of the beloved Winnipeg Jets, an award-winning airport, the state-of-the-art Journey to Churchill Exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo and the stunning Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The energy is infectious, and the Convention Centre found itself at the heart of it all. With everything from annual trade shows to massive conventions clamouring for the space, it was clear that it was time for an upgrade.

Plans for the expansion began in 2000, when the Convention Centre’s architectural firm, LM Architectural Group, was approached by President and CEO Klaus Lahr. As architect Terry Danelley remembers, “We made drawings, created budgets … and then we waited.” The process of approval for plans and funding led to a 16 year gestation period. Finally, ground was broken for the new addition in 2012.

More than three years and countless man-hours later, in late November of 2015, the project was nearly complete. A one-day occupancy permit was secured to celebrate the way Canadians do: by watching the Grey Cup. The Big Game was being hosted in Winnipeg. It was the perfect time to show off the new space. At the end of the glittering gala that took place in the newly completed City View Room, a shower of fireworks rained over the glass walls.

The showy display was not just a celebration of the city and the event; it was recognition of an accomplishment more than a decade in the making.

Spectacular Space

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

SEE AND BE SEEN

The most striking feature of the new Convention Centre is its glazed faÇade, the glass walls of the third floor exhibition space (the City View Room) flooding the building with sunlight during the day and transforming it into a glowing beacon at night. This design choice was born out of the need to create a large enough exhibition space by spanning over York Avenue, which presents an architectural challenge: to build across the street without blocking light or disrupting flow. The floor to ceiling windows of the Centre’s public spaces along York Avenue and Carlton Street keep these downtown thoroughfares pedestrian friendly, giving passersby a glimpse at the excitement inside.

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

LOCAL FLAIR

By its very nature, a convention centre has to be able to transform into anything—which makes it difficult to build a space that captures the spirit of its city. From first designs to final result, maintaining a local connection in the building has been an important consideration. In the planning stages, Winnipeg-based companies LM Architectural Group and Number Ten Architecture partnered with a design team from LMN Architects in Seattle. To ensure the design represented Manitoba and its people, they prepared a collection of 18 images of the province, carefully selecting photos that showed off the colours and textures of Manitoba’s many environments. The open design showing the vast prairie sky, colour scheme, and use of wood all reflect these themes. Most impressive is the lighting installation criss-crossing the ceiling of the City View Room, the snaking, geometric pattern of which was inspired by a photo of cracked ice. The commitment to Manitoba’s land and people goes beyond stylistic choices, however: the building is LEED Silver Certified for sustainability, and on the walls you’ll find a donated collection of 60 pieces of Indigenous art.

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

LUNCH BREAK

The original building has been seamlessly integrated into the new addition with its own décor update. Along with multipurpose meeting and conference rooms, the space houses the Centre Place Café. The Centre’s stellar food service team shows off their skills to visitors at this cafeteria-style spot. Full entrées are offered daily for lunch, like fillet of salmon and carved roast beef, ringing in at a very per-diem-friendly $10-$15. In lieu of a dining room, seating is spread throughout the glass-enclosed walkway over York Avenue that separates the original building and the new addition, giving diners a birds eye view of the downtown street.

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

Photo courtesy RBC Convention Centre

CHANGING IT UP

A far cry from the fusty images of chintz and chandeliers that may be conjured up by the word “ballroom”, the York Ballroom is an ultra-modern and tech-integrated addition with free Wi-Fi, massive projection screens, and a stylish mix of hanging pendant and round lights to match the glittering eye candy hanging over York Avenue. The ballroom, like the third floor exhibition space, is infinitely customizeable. This flexibility was proven over one weekend, when the RBC Convention Centre played host to a business forum with attendance in the thousands, a national dance competition, and the biennial convention of the Liberal Party of Canada. Since opening, the third floor exhibition space has hosted events as diverse as a massive boat show, volleyball championship, and International pow wow.

Upcoming Events

See the space for yourself during these public events held within the Convention Centre:

Jul 6-10ScotDance Canada Championship Series

Jul 15-17Ai-Kon Anime Convention

Jul 31-Aug 6Folklorama Cuba pavilion

Aug 7-13Folklorama Mexico pavilion

Hot Dates: Get Jazzed

Courtesy Jazz Winnipeg

Courtesy Jazz Winnipeg

JUN 16-26

The annual TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival returns. A range of artists span genres from blues to pop, with headliners including the eclectic Tedeschi Trucks Band, pop crooner Royal Wood (pictured), and jazz legend Oliver Jones. Stop by Old Market Square for free lunchtime and evening open-air concerts featuring local bands. Various venues. Call 204‑989‑4656 or visit jazzwinnipeg.com for full schedule and tickets

Hot Dates: Take Pride

Courtesy Pride Winnipeg

Courtesy Pride Winnipeg

MAY 27-JUN 5

Strut your stuff during Pride Winnipeg, the annual LGBTTQ* inclusive celebration, festival, and parade. This year’s theme, “Be Authentic”, is a call to live out your true self every day. A week of community events leads up to the 2 day outdoor concert and festival at The Forks, featuring local artists like Iskwé and Mise en Scene, and a Pride Parade through downtown Winnipeg. Visit pridewinnipeg.com for full schedule of venues and events

Hot Dates: Sacred Celebration

Courtesy Tourism Winnipeg

Courtesy Tourism Winnipeg

MAY 18-22

Named after a sacred site in Manitoba, translated as “where the Creator sits”, annual festival Manito Ahbee brings together art and Aboriginal culture in an inspiring celebration. Five days of musical performances, workshops, and youth education culminate in an International Pow Wow. Features traditional dancing and drumming, jigging competition, art expo, and Indigenous trade show and marketplace. Most events at RBC Convention Centre, 375 York Ave, manitoahbee.com