Home for the holidays with Winnipeg cheer

By Geoff Kirbyson

You know you’ve got a hot vacation spot when it’s included in the “Showcase Showdown” on The Price Is Right.

Earlier this month, the iconic game show had a trip to Winnipeg and Churchill to see the polar bears, the polar opposite kind of sun-and-sand
vacation normally up for bid on morning television.

Promising contestants “a winter they’ll never forget” with the opportunity to “watch polar bears in their natural habitat in beautiful Canada,” the prize featured a six-night stay in the king executive suite at the Fort Garry Hotel plus a full-day trip to Manitoba’s northernmost community.

In the Dec. 4 show, one contestant, Lee Norton, is seen smiling, clapping and seemingly genuinely excited at the prospect of visiting Winnipeg and Churchill in the winter. He went on to win the prize, which also included an SUV and a motorcycle, with a bid of $29,235. The total value was $43, 390 — a difference of more than $14,000 — but when his fellow contestant overbid on a prize package that included a trip to Morocco, a decidedly non-polar-bear destination, Norton won.

If you’re like most Winnipeggers, you have friends and family who come home for the holidays from all across the country and sometimes further afield from that.

While they’re back, you might as well show them a good time and subtly rub it in that they made a mistake in moving away in the first place.

The first thing to do is take them to a Winnipeg Jets home game at Bell MTS Place. If you don’t have tickets and can’t find any for the games during the holidays, take them to a downtown sports bar so they can cheer for one of the Stanley Cup favourites in the proper atmosphere. (A good bet for tickets is the team’s seat exchange portal at winnipegjets.com.)

Next up on your list should be The Forks, the one-time abandoned rail yard that morphed into Winnipeg’s No. 1 tourist attraction.

If you’d like to channel your inner Patrik Laine or Blake Wheeler, you can go skating on the Red River Mutual Trail, a truly unique experience where you can take in parts of town that you could only see otherwise by boating down the river in the summer.

You can also play crokicurl, a hybrid of curling and crokinole, just a stone’s throw away from the canopy skating rink.

“The Forks is a four-season destination that really comes alive in the winter,” said Matt Schaubroeck, corporate communications manager for Economic Development Winnipeg.

When you’re done outside, take them inside to check out the many local shops selling all kinds of wares that you can’t get at a big box store and to Fools & Horses for hot chocolate or The Common, one of the best places in town to get a craft beer.

In fact, why stop there? With the proliferation of microbreweries around town the last few years, you can go on a microbrewery crawl and never have to be subjected to a Bud Lite.

“The Nonsuch Brewery is the talk of the town. The interior decor alone is worth checking out and the beer is better than that,” Schaubroeck said of the Pacific Avenue outlet.

There’s also One Great City near CF Polo Park, Stone Angel Brewing on Pembina Highway, TransCanada Brewing at the south end of Kenaston Boulevard and Torque Brewing at the north end and Barnhammer Brewing on Wall Street, to name but a few.

If you’d like to leave the driving to somebody else, give Winnipeg Tasting Tours a call. They offer excursions to three different microbreweries where you can take a tour, have dinner and sample some of the most delicious beers in town.