A breathtaking setting, world-class culture scene, eclectic, easy-to-navigate neighborhoods - the list of reasons to visit the picturesque capital of Manitoba is long. But no matter what draws visitors to Winnipeg, the city's diverse and friendly people are more than happy to accommodate them. Not surprisingly, Winnipeg's hospitable attitude has attracted a number of national and international events, including that of the Chemical Institute of Canada and Robert Burns World Federation Limited.
Winnipeg's welcoming spirit is matched by a wide range of spaces and amenities that are ready to accommodate any type of event. Its premiere location for meetings is the five-level Winnipeg Convention Centre. With over 14,865 square meters of exhibit space, the centre boasts a 300-seat theatre, 13 meeting rooms and an on-site caf. Restaurants, entertainment venues and over 6,000 hotel rooms are all within walking distance of the centre. In fact, a climate-controlled skywalk provides direct access to 393 lavish rooms at the Delta Winnipeg Hotel.
Also downtown, the MTS Centre is a fresh addition to Winnipeg's meetings scene. Recognized as a driving force in Winnipeg's urban renaissance, this multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility boasts over 40,875 square meters of space. Spread across four levels, the MTS Centre also features 46 private suites, two party suites, 12 concessions, and four skywalks that connect to Portage Place, City Place, the Somerset Building and the Powerhouse.
There is more to Winnipeg than its meeting space. Known as the diversity capital of Canada, visitors to this fascinating city get a true cultural experience. Invite up to 500 guests to a reception at the Manitoba Museum or up to 300 people to the scenic Rooftop Sculpture Garden at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Fort Gibraltar, a full-size replica of a 19th century fort, can transport guests back to the city's frontier roots in one of its three event rooms. Or, for a truly classic venue, the Millennium Centre offers a 557-square-meter Celebration Hall. Its marble floors and stained glass ceiling dome create a memorable setting for black-tie galas and cocktail receptions.
Situated at the geographical center of North America, Winnipeg's impressive facilities are convenient for both domestic and international travelers. The city is served by Canada's VIA Rail and the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, offering direct flights to cities in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The airport is in the midst of a C$585 million renovation project, set to include a new terminal and a four-level parking garage. Winnipeg offers both free downtown bus transit and an extensive way finding signage system, intended to make it easier for visitors to find their favorite attractions.
Winnipeg remains the headquarters of Canada's grain industry, housing the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange, the country's only commodity exchange and future markets. Other major businesses headquartered in the city are Great West Lifeco, Inc., Canwest Global Communications, the Canadian Wheat Board and IGM Financial, Inc. The University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and Canadian Mennonite University also have their respective campuses in Winnipeg.
Known as the "Gateway to the West," Winnipeg was the first major settlement in Western Canada. Established by French fur traders and Canadian and English trade companies in the 18th century, the city truly sprang to life upon the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Immigrants flooded the city, growing in population from fewer than 25,000 residents to over 179,000 in 30 years. Coming mainly from eastern and central Europe, newcomers joined the already resident Scots, English and French, resulting in the diverse cultural mosaic that exists today.
The 8th largest metropolitan area in Canada, Winnipeg's over 690,000 residents populate a variety of ethnic neighborhoods. Visitors can enjoy authentic Italian paninis and gelato at Corydon Avenue, known as Little Italy. Dim sum restaurants and specialty food shops lines the streets of Chinatown, marked by the multi-roofed traditional Dynasty Building that houses the Chinese Cultural and Community Centre. The grand St. Boniface Cathedral, Esplanade Riel, and bustling Boulevard Provencher characterize St. Boniface, Winnipeg's French quarter and the largest French-speaking community in Western Canada.
Though its culture reflects a range of global influences, Winnipeg boasts a number of Canada's own national historic sites as well. The 30-block Exchange District houses one of the most extensive collections of turn-of-the-century architecture in North America. Visitors can connect with the city's roots in fur trade at Lower Fort Garry, the oldest fur trading post still intact in North America. The popular Dalnavert Museum also offers a window into Winnipeg's past. Once home to former Manitoba Premier Sir Hugh John Macdonald and his family, the Queen Anne Revival-style museum houses Victorian antiques and Macdonald heirlooms.
Undoubtedly the city's most popular historical attraction is nine acres of land found at the meeting of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Known as The Forks, this national historic site has served as a meeting place for early Aboriginal peoples, European fur traders, riverboat employees and railway pioneers for over 6,000 years. Today, guests celebrate this convening of cultures at the Wall Through Time exhibit and Odena Celebration Circle. Visitors can also explore over 50 unique shops, restaurants and a fresh vegetable market at The Forks.
Aside from its historic appeal, The Forks is one of many areas to enjoy the great outdoors in the city. With Winnipeg seeing more sun during its winter season than any other Canadian city, scenic sites such as FortWhyte Alive, King's Park and Grand Beach can be enjoyed year-round. Assiniboine Park is truly the jewel of the Winnipeg's green spaces, boasting a zoo, conservatory and gardens, and the largest mature elm tree urban forest in North America. The park's 368 acres also encompass baseball diamonds, a cricket pitch, volleyball courts, soccer fields, a hot air balloon field, inline skating and jogging tracks and, during the winter, cross-country skiing trails.
After an active day outside and about town, a filling meal is not hard to come by in Winnipeg. Enjoy a range of ethnic fare, from Ukranian to Jewish to Filipino, at the eclectic West End. Over 70 restaurants line this neighborhood's streets, from the Vietnamese Viva Restaurant to the Greek dining spot Homer's. For authentic regional cuisine, restaurants such as Fude prepare traditional delights such as fresh pickerel and Manitoba bison. For dessert, the chocolatier Mordens' of Winnipeg has been a city tradition for over 40 years. One of the shop's famed Russian mints is sure to be a sweet finish to a memorable visit.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Known for its long, cold winters, Winnipeg is also home to Canada's windiest corner, Portage and Main. Here, winds average 16.9 kilometers per hour annually. Temperatures average 0°C from mid-November to mid-March, but the sun helps to counteract the chill. In fact, Winnipeg has the sunniest winter season in Canada and an impressive 2,300 hours of sun each year. Summer temperatures average 20°C, with humidity sometimes making it feel warmer.
Winnipeg sees both rain and snow accumulate to an average 513.7 millimeters of precipitation each year. Late summer to early fall is the best time to visit the city, as the temperatures begin to cool but have not yet reached below-freezing winter numbers.
Winnipeg Convention Centre
Located in the heart of downtown, the five-story Winnipeg Convention Centre welcomes events of all types and sizes to the city. Two levels provide parking for up to 560 vehicles, and the remaining three levels boast a total of over 14,865 square meters of exhibit space. The first floor has 2,006 square meters of space, which can be divided into 13 separate rooms. The second floor boasts a 1,783-square-meter main room, 300-seat theatre, the Cecil Richards Boardroom, 385-square-meter Pan Am Room, and 246-square-meter Millennium Suite. Home to the primary exhibit hall, the third floor offers 7,245 square meters of pillar-less space.
Though varying in size, all three levels feature amenities including direct Internet access, high-speed data lines, on-site catering, a caf, a family lounge, audio-visual services, and a hair salon. The centre's Business Centre provides fax, photocopy and telephone services. Recipient of the Building Owners and Managers Association's Go Green Certificate, the London Convention Centre strives to find and implement environmentally-friendly measures in its building operations.
Opened in 2004, the multi-purpose MTS Centre is downtown Winnipeg's prime sports and entertainment facility. Its eye-catching glass faade framed by steel and red brick both reflects the street of Portage Avenue and allows its colorful interior to truly shine from within. The 15,000-seat, C$133.5 million facility is often credited as a major force in Winnipeg's cultural and business renaissance. The centre is home to the Manitoba Moose hockey team and has hosted a number of international superstars such as Lenny Kravitz, Reba McEntire and Sheryl Crow.
MTS Centre has over 40,875 square meters of space on all four levels. It is capable of center-stage concert seating for over 16,000 people and concert bowl seating for 2,200 to 8,097 people. The centre also features 46 private suites, two party suites, 12 concessions, and four skywalks that connect to Portage Place, City Place, Somerset Building and the Powerhouse.
Though the centre features on-site catering, it also has easy access to three restaurants: the Exchange Restaurant and Beer Market, Moxie's Classic Grill and Tavern United Powerhouse Pub. About 7,000 parking spaces are available within a five-minute walk of the centre, and 13,000 off-street spots can be found within a 10-minute walk.
Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)
Approximate taxi fare: $13-15 USD
Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, Canada's 7th busiest airport, serves Manitoba, northwestern Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nunavut. About three million passengers pass through its gates each year. As of 2005, the airport is undergoing a C$585 million redevelopment, with Phase 1 completion expected in 2010. Plans include the construction of a new terminal capable of attracting wide body aircraft. A four-level parking garage for 1,559 vehicles and a new access road were both completed in 2006.
Travelers can enjoy a variety of shops and eating spots both before and after the security check in the airport, including Virgin Books & Music, Front Page Sports and Showcase Manitoba. Here, travelers can pick up a Winnipeg Blue Bombers shirt or another souvenir from over 100 artists. Wi-fi hotspots are also placed throughout the airport.
In addition to the new parking garage, two short-term lots and two economy lots are available. Some hotels offer shuttle service to guests, and in 2009 Greyhound Canada bus service will be moving its terminal to the airport. Greyhound plans to offer passengers pick up and drop off services between downtown and the airport.
Airline carriers serving Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
Located downtown, the grand Neo-classical Union Station building was designed by the same architects responsible for New York City's Grand Central Station. Opened in 1911, the station, along with the still-active 220-acre Canadian Pacific Rail Yards and the Winnipeg Rail Museum on Tracks 1 and 2, is a reminder of the city's status as the transportation hub to the West. At the museum, visitors can see vintage railway cars including the Countess Dufferin, the first locomotive on the Canadian prairie, and artifacts from the track's construction to Churchill.
Today, two Canada VIA trains use the station. The Canadian line runs from Toronto to Vancouver and connects with Amtrak in both cities. The Hudson Bay line connects Winnipeg to Churchill.
Winnipeg Transit operates a fleet of over 500 buses in the city of Winnipeg. Buses run more than 80 routes throughout the city, 19 of which operate regularly downtown. Three special routes, designated as Downtown Spirit buses, offer free service on their loop through the central core, stopping by the Manitoba Legislature, the Exchange District and other major downtown destinations.
Regular bus fare is C$2.25 for adults and C$1.75 for seniors, children ages 6-16 and students with identification. Children ages 5 and under ride free when accompanied by an adult. Pre-purchased tickets can be bought in sets of five at a reduced price of C$1.95 for adults, C$1.35 for students and C$0.97 for seniors.
Six rental car companies service the airport: Avis, Budget, Dollar Thrifty Car, Enterprise, Hertz and National. Rental car desks are located on the first floor of the Administration Building.
Taxis are a fast way to get around Winnipeg as well as the main option for airport travelers not staying at one of 10 hotels that offer shuttle service. Once in the city, hailing taxis on the street is difficult, so travelers are advised to schedule pick-up in advance. The rate for a taxi from the airport to downtown averages C$17.
Photo Credit : Destination Winnipeg Inc. / Juncatta International
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