Ice Festival Gimli

The Gimli Ice Festival and the End of Winter

Have you ever kissed a frozen fish? I haven’t, but I have been in a frozen fish throwing contest! That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write in my life. But, since moving to Manitoba it seems I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do crazy things I’d never imagined (like eat brunch perched on the frozen river.)

Winter is almost over! Today we officially went onto daylight savings. In a few weeks it will be the first day of spring. And one of these days, I know I will look up and watch as the geese slowly soar into the city.

Gimli winter

With our gutters rushing, grass poking up beneath the snow, and the ditches melting into pools, it seemed appropriate to celebrate the warm weather with a trip up to Gimli for the annual Gimli Ice Festival.

festival gimli

Gimli is probably most famous for its Icelandic Festival over the August long-weekend, Islendingadagurinn. This is the only time of the year that it’s socially acceptable to dress up as a viking and walk through the streets half blasted, while scoffing down mini-doughnuts. Obviously I’m a fan.

The Gimli Ice Festival is much smaller and low-key than Icelandic Fest. But, they do have some crazy activities that I don’t think you can find anywhere else in the world. Have you ever seen car racing on a frozen lake? Check, I have.

car racing Gimli

I can now say that I have also watched kids carve sculptures out of ice blocks, adults play curling with chickens and people queue for the chance to putt a golf ball around the frozen harbour.

gimli festivalAnd, of course, it wouldn’t a festival without a bit of fish tossing. The lady was even nice enough to let me toss two (my accent has its advantages.) I was offered a third attempt at the target if I would kiss a fish. No thanks, holding them was quite enough for me.

gimli frozen fish tossYou have to give it to Canadians for having such a great sense of humour. We’ve just been through four months of cold and dark and they still find ways to embrace the deep freeze.

gimli fish toss

As exciting as it is that spring is almost here, it also means our days of winter activities are now numbered. If the temperatures continue to rise like this, the snow should be gone within the next few weeks (yes, I am an optimist.) Before we know it, the river trail will be closed and ice will start breaking up.

So on Sunday we strapped on snow shoes for what will (hopefully) be our last walk in the snow for the year.

manitoba winter trails

snow shoe gimli

Five minutes into our walk and we had already ditched our gloves and toques. The dogs bounded down the trail ahead of us, their barks the only noise breaking the silence of the woods.

snow shoe gimli

snow shoe gimliI’m going to miss our walks, the snow and the deep silence of winter. But after four months of layers I am itching to spend time outside without a hoodie and boots.

Winter, as always, it’s been real. We may still have two weeks until spring, but sunshine and temperatures above zero are good enough for me.

winter activities gimli

winter dogsHow do you celebrate the start of winter? Do you embrace the last days of cold or are you just ready for it to be over?




  1. As always Pascale you bring a smile to my face. I love how you embrace winter and manitoba. I could just picture you not wanting to kiss the fish xx

  2. Actually, I have kissed a frozen fish. It was a cod. I was in Newfoundland and I was getting “Screeched in”, becoming an honorary Newfoundlander. I had to repeat after me Screecher, Allan Russell, “I love you Newfoundland, and long will me big Jib draw!”. Then down a Newfie jigger (3oz) of Screech. After which I screeched and then gagged! But it was an extraordinary experience. Love you Newfoundland.

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