Festival du Voyageur 2023: Weekend One

Festival du Voyageur 2023: Weekend One

Festival du Voyageur’s opening weekend did not disappoint, featuring national and local talent (with a handful of international artists), the 53rd annual festival continues to keep us warm and happy through the final weekends of brutal Winnipeg winter.

The winter festival is extremely ambitious. With incredible acts that far exceed the reasonable (however steadily climbing) ticket prices. If you plan to make the most of your festival pass you are getting more than your money’s worth. Of course, you should attend the two sets of weekend shows but there is something special, particularly being at the park post-lockdown, about spending the afternoon at the festival to enjoy some of the park activities, specifically the stunning Snow Sculpture Symposium. Although we primarily cover evening acts, don’t miss out on catching a daytime show. Some of the fiddlers and singers could easily close the night in any tent, and honestly, with the craving for a good party tent at the end of the night, it might be something we see in the future. Because there is nothing more that I want to see at 11:30 at FDV than two people playing the same fiddle at once. 


This year there were amazing line-ups, particularly with routinely sold-out local acts and some exciting international artists. If you have been itching to catch locals such as Roman Clarke and Fontine, your best bet at getting tickets for you and all your friends with ease is FDV. There is tons of room to dance and grab a drink but be warned, you need to have patience to weed through the people simply there to have a good time if you want to enjoy the music. 


The local music scene has evolved so much over the past few years that we aren’t dipping in to the same pool of headliners, and for the most part, the Tente Riviere-Rouge Stage saw bands that haven’t played the big tent in years past. While some of the local staples still played the festival, the programming matched the artist to the appropriate venue size. Fan favourites still saw shoulder to shoulder packed shows and short but quick line-ups for more engaged shows that did not have the grandeur and unfocused excitement of the larger shows. The Tente Forest brought back to back nights of Goodwill Social Club sized shows with excellent acts and more intentional audience attention. 


Vocal and musical powerhouse shows were a highlight of the Festival. Most notably, but not exclusively, the ever impressive vocal performances from Ami Cheon, the emerging solo project Fontine (with a new release check it out!), and Sarah Degas. These artists have been favourites both as front and centre performers and backing up other local musicians but this festival they all took the opportunity to shine on the main stage.


To say the weekend went without a hitch is not true, however, the increased tent capacity, appropriate programming for each tent, and the variety of genres playing at the same time made lines short and/or quick and the experience extremely enjoyable. The extra cost of the ticket is worth the decrease in attendees and spending it indoors rather than paying to stand outside with your frozen fingers and toes crossed that you will get in a tent, which was the case in years past. 

Though the festival is stacked with original talent, some of the most entertaining and fan pleasing shows seemed to be cover shows, most notably LA funk outfit Scary Pockets, who headlined the Tente Riviere-Rouge on Saturday night. But also includes a packed night of Dolly Parton, Tragically Hip, Cake, and a mish-mash of other covers which only shows that any time is a good time at Festival. That being said, no matter where you end up at FDV, if you have patience, a couple bucks for a caribou, and are ready to have a good time, you’re going to have a good time. 


words by Olivia Michalczuk, photos by Mat Kleisinger (@kleistea)

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