The 55th edition of Festival du Voyageur is just weeks away from opening.
For ten days in February, Parc du Voyageur will be transformed into a festive experience for the entire family.
This is only the second year Festival has been back in person after going online during the pandemic.
"It's really nice to be able to gather, and I think there's still a lot of energy in the community for gathering together and for having these celebrations," said Breanne Lavallée-Heckert, executive director of Festival du Voyageur. "I know all throughout the ten days of the festival, there's going to be a lot of different opportunities for different communities to come together, to share stories, you know, just really get to know one another and spend time together and have some fun."
This is Lavallée-Heckert's first year with the team. She says she is excited for this year's event.
"I've been going to Festival my whole life, and it's been really amazing to get to be part of the team this year and to see all of the different components that go into, you know, throwing a festival of this calibre," said Lavallée-Heckert. "Everything from the educational activities, the cultural activities we have in February, to the bands that are playing in the tents, to how we're talking about the fur trade, and how we're representing indigenous cultures at the park. There's so many different components to the festival, and it's been so fun to be part of."
As in previous years, the festival will feature large heated tents, snow sculptures, music, dance and family activities.
"There's a couple of new elements at the park, if you go this year. There will be some surprises, but there are some things we are excited about," said Breanne. "There's an indigenous art gallery that's going to be set up, and it's going to be next to the Wintering Trading Camp where the teepees are set up. There is also going to be some new programming in those teepees that we're going to see."
Also included in this years programming will be fiddling, jigging, beard growing and pea soup competitions. Family activities such as historical interpretation, snow sculptures, Fayt a la min workshops, horse sleigh rides, a snowshoeing trail, children's playground, new sliding tubes and wood carving demonstrations are all part of Festival du Voyageur this year.
Breanne says one of the most exciting parts of Festival du Voyageur each year is the music, with this year being no different. Over 150 artists will be featured in the program, including The Strumbellas, K’naan, The Lytics, Amos the Kid, Noah Derksen, Attica Riots, Men in Kilts, Dust Rhinos, Al Simmons, Pow Wow 101 and Winston Wuttunee.
"We're excited to be able to foster all those kinds of relationships and give space for diverse voices in francophone music and in the city."
Festival du Voyageur will run from Feb. 16 to 25 at Parc du Voyageur.