The 2018 Winnipeg Folk Fest takes place at Birds Hill Provincial Park, July 5-8.
First Time Festing?
So, you’re thinking about coming to the Winnipeg Folk Fest? Ready to enjoy the outdoors, relax, meet some friendly music-lovers and discover your next favourite artists? Welcome! Let’s start you off by giving you the low-down on what to expect so you can come prepped and ready for fun.
- There’s something magical about Folk Fest that makes everyone who attends feel like their best selves. A special community forms at the festival, people of all ages that you’ve never met feel like neighbours and friends, making the atmosphere welcoming and relaxed.
- The festival is run by 18 permanent and contract staff and overseen by a volunteer board of 14 very nice people – it’s a nonprofit AND a charity.
- Over 2,700 volunteers help run the four-day festival. Many have been volunteering with the festival for 20, 30 and 40 years! They are happy to help you at any turn.
- More than just folk! We have a little something for everyone with a range of roots, world music, indie-rock, electronic, country, Celtic and Americana genres. And many of the 75+ artists in our lineup are playing in Manitoba for the very first time!
- We have nine stages throughout the festival site. During the day, these stages are home to concerts, workshops and family programming. In the evenings, Main Stage is where our headlining bands play while Big Blue @ Night has more alternative music to groove to.
- Daytime workshops are a huge part of the “discovery” aspect of Folk Fest, for festival goers and artists alike. Workshops allow artists to jam with other artists they may have never had the opportunity to collaborate with and YOU get to discover new music as part of a one-time-only experience!
- Award-winning Family Festivities. The Chickadee Big Top is home to live children’s music and fun Friday through Sunday. Located right beside it is the Family Area with games, crafts, reading, face-painting, puppetry and more. Families spend quality time together here throughout the weekend. But please note that this is not a drop-off area for kids to be looked after by volunteers.
On The Festival Site
- Download the Winnipeg Folk Fest app before you get to the festival for artist bios, schedules, a site map and other useful information.
- Join us in the Festival Village – a great meeting place and home to food vendors, a Tavern, a music store with festival and artist merchandise, ATMs and audience services where you can get a paper program book, charge your phone and check your bag if you don't want to carry it around all day. This area is also home to the Hand-Made Village where nearly 50 artisans from across Canada sell their handcrafted works including jewelry, clothing, pottery and musical instruments!
- Keep a Winnipeg Folk Fest tradition alive! Get to the festival grounds early to participate in the tarp shuffle to claim your spot for the evening at Main Stage. Chairs no taller than two feet are welcome in the seating area. Chairs taller than two feet and wheelchairs go to the left of the centre seating area. You’ll find a wheelchair charging station there as well. And if you want to get up and dance, there are big spaces to the right of the centre seating area and behind the Main Stage sound booth.
- Lots of space for all! You only have to be shoulder-to-shoulder with other folks if you want to be. There is lots of room for you to spread out and enjoy the music and atmosphere.
- Gotta go? We have many well-maintained porta-potties on site stocked full of toilet paper! There are over 150 of them, conveniently located and accessible so there’s never much of a wait.
What to Bring
- Stay hydrated. Environmental sustainability is top priority at our festival so we do not sell bottled water. Be sure to bring your own water bottle from home - or buy one at the music store in the Festival Village - and fill up on cool and clean water. Our taps on-site are marked with tall blue flags.
- Bring snacks. You must be nourished to fully enjoy the music! Bring your own snacks or buy from any of our 15 delicious food vendors with local, organic and fair trade food – including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options – for great prices.
- Be prepared for all weather conditions. This includes hats and sunblock for the hot sunny days and hoodies, raincoats and boots in case of cooler weather or rain.
- Get ready to be on your feet. The site is big and the last thing you want is a painful blister to ruin your weekend so make sure you have good walking (and dancing!) footwear.
- Get charged up. Using your phone to access the festival app, connect with friends and snap great pictures is going to drain the battery. Bring your phone’s charging cord and drop your phone off with the volunteers at the MTS Charging Station for free. They’ll look after it for you while you enjoy the music.
- Bring cash. We do have ATMs on site but if you’re looking to avoid lineups, come with cash in your wallet for the Tavern, food vendors and the Hand-Made Village as not all of them take credit or debit cards.
Transportation to Birds Hill Provincial Park
- The Folk Fest Express is a popular, free bus service that runs every half- hour from downtown Winnipeg to Festival Drive in Birds Hill Park. It takes just under an hour and all you need is a ticket or wristband to ride!
- If you’re driving to Birds Hill Park it only takes 20 minutes from the north perimeter of the city up Highway 59. We encourage carpooling! Our parking area is divided into two lots – the east lot and the west lot – and both require a brief walk to the gate. Fair warning: be prepared for a short wait at the end of the night as it takes time to make sure all attendees get out of the park safely.
- We facilitate a Bike Ride to Site for campers from downtown Winnipeg to the festival where we will haul your gear out and back.
First Time Camping?
There are two separate campgrounds that operate specifically for the festival weekend. The Festival Campground opens at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, July 5. The Quiet Campground will open at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, July 5. Come early to get the spot you want! The provincial park campground is also available to Folk Festers but spots for the weekend get booked up immediately when they become available in March through the park’s reservation system.
The Quiet Campground should be your choice if you’re looking for a good sleep after a long day of basking in the sun and dancing to the music. It's a popular spot for families and is located in a beautiful forested area located about 4 km from the festival site. A shuttle can take you to the festival and back. Biking is also a nice way to get to and from!
The Festival Campground is a busier campground with amenities to discover like food stations, late-night art projects, group activities and live music jams. The campground is a big group-use area and while there are many spots away from the action to get a good sleep, we recommend bringing a pair of earplugs just in case. It is about a 10- minute walk from the campground gate to the festival site, or 20 minutes from the far end of the campground. Biking is also a popular way to get around there. A few special things you need to know about this place:
- There’s a fun, community vibe that exists in the Festival Campground. Often you’ll hear a ripple of cheers take over the campground and you’ll wonder where it came from. All it takes is a simple yell of “Happy Folk Fest!” and the cheering soars over the tree tops and through the campground. Our campers look out for each other, too. So if you have any questions – ask another camper!
- The campground comes alive! With our art and animation program you can enjoy music, cool places to hang out and play games with your fellow campers.
- Pope’s Hill. A stunning feature to Birds Hill Park with access from the campground. It’s a great place to meet up with friends and make new ones as you watch beautiful sunsets turn into northern lights.
What all campers need to know:
- Take care of yourself! Drink lots of water, make sure you’re keeping fed, have your sun protection handy, stay away from that pesky poison ivy (“leaves of three, let them it be”) and keep your shoes on to avoid hurt feet.
- Make sure you are equipped for a weekend of camping. You need to bring shelter and enough things for sleeping, eating, hydrating, varying weather conditions and finding your way to the porta-potties in the middle of the night.
- Eat well. Bring enough food to get you through the weekend - it’s important that you stay nourished throughout the festival. In case you need, there are a few food vendors that operate only in the Festival Campground to feed your midnight (or anytime) snack craving.
- Ask for help! Campground Central is there to help. Located in Zone 1B, Campground Central is staffed 24 hours by safety volunteers who are there to help you out with anything you need!
- Need a hand? Pollock’s Hardware Co-op Fix-it Shop is located in the Festival Campground and they can assist you with fix-it jobs from a bike tune-up to a broken chair or tent pole at your campsite.
- Where to park? There are campground parking lots that are used specifically for campers that require overnight parking. Camp in the campground and not in your car! And don’t forget that you need your provincial park pass.
If you need more help, remember that folkie neighbours are the best neighbours and are always willing to lend a hand!
We are so happy to welcome you to the Folk Fest family. We hope you’ll have a great time at this year’s festival and be back for years to come.