2023 Year in Review

December 21, 2023 |

Photo: Anna Verbytska

Happy Holidays

Another year has passed and we’re so grateful that we could share it with you! May your 2024 be filled with incredible memories, good company, and of course, great music! Keep scrolling to look back on our amazing musical year.

Festival Highlights

Photo: Terry Proveda

This summer saw an overall attendance of 74,500 for the 48th edition of the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This made 2023 the second best-attended Winnipeg Folk Festival in its history, compared to 2019, which reached an attendance of 76,000.

Photo: Jenn Kostesky

The 2023 Winnipeg Folk Festival featured over 70 artists who performed 130+ hours of music over four days. Folkies enjoyed Main Stage acts such as Boy Golden, Charley Crockett, Emmylou Harris, and Vance Joy. At Big Blue @ Night the crowd danced to Balaklava Blues, Dongyang Gozupa, Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, and Witch Prophet.

Photo: Chris Douglas

The Festival offered a grand total of 85 concerts and 31 workshops across its nine stages, making for a truly unforgettable weekend. Attendees were treated to an impressive array of performances spanning over 30 musical genres including Americana, rock, bluegrass, country, folk, indie-folk, and singer-songwriters, a little something for everyone.

Photo: Jenn Kostesky

The most popular workshops according to our app were Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground featuring Charley Crockett, Kelsey Waldon, Mariel Buckley, and William Prince, as well as our always-popular Manitoba workshop Wheatfield Soul. The all-local workshop featured Andrina Turenne, Field Guide, Fire & Smoke, FONTINE, Leaf Rapids, Matt Foster, and William Prince.

2023 Artists

Below are just SOME of the Festival favourites this past summer.

*Top save as determined by most concert saves on our mobile app used by 67% of our audience.

Around the World

This year, we brought artists from all over the world. In addition to Canada, we welcomed artists from Australia, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, South Korea, and the United States totalling 10 countries.

Social Media

Volunteer

Photo: Joey Senft

Thanks as always to our incredible volunteers! Your commitment, generosity, and enthusiasm are what keep the Festival community alive!

  • We welcomed 2,305 volunteers to the Festival and filled ALL our crews in advance for the first time in over a decade!
  • We piloted a Volunteer for a Day program for folks unable to attend the Festival for the full weekend, adding 60 new people to the volunteer community.
  • A total of 27 folks graduated from our Festival Security Program, filling out the Security Folk team and providing amazing people-centred support to our patrons.
  • We want to shout out our 50/50 raffle, merch and tavern crews for hitting record sales leading us to our highest 50/50, merch, and tavern sales EVER!
  • Huge thanks to our team of 160 crew coordinators – we would simply be lost without their hard work and strong leadership on the ground! We began celebrating coordinator milestones to recognize their dedication. We were able to recognize 63 of these amazing folks who have been working alongside us for at least five years, and ONE as long as 40!

“I loved the opportunity to be an ally to the newcomers to Canada on our crew. Many commented on how difficult it is to find meaningful work without Canadian experience and I’m proud of Winnipeg Folk Festival for being intentional about providing this experience. I saw crew members go from hesitant and tentative to skilled and efficient in only a couple of days. It’s a welcome opportunity to support each other in a loving way and improve all of our life skills.”​ – Winnipeg Folk Festival Volunteer

“It’s a fantastic experience! Really amazed by how well the Winnipeg Folk Festival has been running through all the years, and how much patrons enjoyed themselves – this is something I never had the chance to see or experience before in my own country!” – Winnipeg Folk Festival Volunteer​

Sustainability

We made some incredible strides this year towards our ever-present sustainability goals including increasing landfill diversion and reducing overall waste per attendee

  • Campground waste totalled 13,760kg which is down 22% from 2022.
  • Site waste totalled 18,020kg which is down 20% from 2022.
  • Total waste diversion for both the Festival site and Campground is 47%, which is up 1% from 2022.
  • For the first time since tracking began, the total waste per attendee for all waste streams was less than one pound at 0.9lbs!

HUGE thank you to all of you and especially our Site and Campground Enviro crews for keeping our home at Birds Hill Park clean and green!

“Really appreciated the volunteers throughout the ​festival–friendly, helpful, and patient. Especially ​noted the diligence of parking and recycling ​volunteers (and the sincere effort to get to Zero Waste).​” – Winnipeg Folk Festival Attendee

Site Improvements

Photo: Anna Verbytska

NEW MAIN STAGE

Our new Main Stage improved the Festival experience for crews, artists, and the audience. Improvements included increased working space, upgraded lighting and sound, video screens hung on the stage wings, and enhanced sight lines for audience members. This stage also supports our commitment to sustainability, being made of 75% recycled materials.

Photo: Jenn Kostesky

NEW CAMPGROUND STRUCTURES

The new campground tower was added and dubbed “The Bird Cage”, playing host to nighttime jam sessions and serving as a meet-up place for friends. Additionally, we had 60+ incredible submissions to our Campground Design Contest with Genital Valley taking home the grand prize!

Photo: Jenn Kostesky

MORE SHADE ADDED

Three shade tents popped up on site in 2022 and we added another two to the Festival site and one in the Festival Campground, doubling our shade structures in 2023. Additionally, we planted 94 new trees around the Festival site including maple, ash, poplar, bur oak, elm, spruce, and MORE!

Community Support

With the help of our community, we can continue to write our story and ensure that future generations can experience the magic of the Festival. This year, we received donations from 292 donors, 94 of which were new supporters. We also gained 3 new monthly donors, bringing our total to 64. Our success would not be possible without your generosity and belief in our mission. We look forward to continuing many future Festivals with you! Thanks, as always, for your support.

“I am thrilled to become a monthly donor to the Winnipeg Folk Festival. It is my hope that these funds will help to strengthen the ongoing work of the Festival and allow it to flourish. Thank you for this opportunity to give back.” – Karen-Denise Cyr, Monthly Donor

Folkie Love Notes

“Can’t wait for next year! All of the hard work that goes into planning and putting on the festival certainly isn’t lost on me or any of the other attendees. Loved the atmosphere and looking forward to future festivals.​” – Festival Attendee

“Thank you to the staff. Thanks for your efforts during ​COVID and for making Manitoba Canada’s music capital, ​as I heard several guest artists say.​”​ – Festival Attendee

Concert Series

Photo: Matt Duboff

All of you concertgoers supported us year-round by getting tickets to our Hear All Year Concert Series. We are so thrilled to see your love for music and your support for the talented artists we help bring to Winnipeg stages.

Photo: Matt Duboff

This year, you bought over 18.9k tickets to 24 shows with nine of them selling out, including two Leith Ross and Ocie Elliott shows, Choir! Choir! Choir!Tim Baker, and the ever-popular JP Hoe Hoe Hoe Holiday Show.

Photo: Matt Duboff

We hosted 37 artists for the concert series, showcasing headliners as well as talented opening acts. The lineup featured stellar local favourites  Boy Golden, Del Barber, FONTINE, and more.

Photo: Matt Duboff

The concerts were held at eight local venues across the city including Burton Cummings Theatre, Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, The Good Will, The Park Theatre, West End Cultural Centre, among others!

Sold Out Shows

Thank You!

We want to acknowledge and thank everyone for your continued support through, volunteering, donating, buying a ticket, or sharing kind words, we greatly appreciate every ounce of your generosity.

The outpouring of love from the Folk Fest community is why we have a Festival to come home to every summer. Your ongoing support will ensure the Winnipeg Folk Festival continues to deliver a world-class musical experience and a sustainable ‘home’ for the generations of folkies to come.

Our offices are closed for 2023 as of tomorrow and will reopen on January 8. Wishing you all a beautiful holiday season and a very happy new year!