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Your Ultimate Gay Guide for an Action-Packed Visit to Winnipeg

by | Jun 16, 2022

For the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to choose destinations that are welcoming and progressive. Winnipeg, Manitoba, is just that kind of city, and it should be on your bucket list of gay-friendly places to visit.

Winnipeg is an emerging destination choice for LGBTQ+ travellers. One of the most characteristically Canadian cities, Winnipeg possesses a bohemian spirit and vibrant arts community that is rarely seen anywhere else in the prairies. 

The rainbow Pride crosswalk outside of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It is an ideal destination for those looking to explore the dynamic and diverse culture of Canada, especially for a progressive city that offers an exciting night life beyond the typical pub scene. And it goes without saying—the culinary scene is fantastic!

Fun Fact: Winnipeg is essentially located in the center of North America, from the north, south, east, and west. 

A view of downtown Winnipeg from a guest room at the ALT Hotel Winnipeg.

Besides its obvious location as an international entry point into Canada, Winnipeg also has a long and strong history on human rights. In fact, it was perfecting its own art form of human rights advocacy before many other Canadian provinces. 

Fun Fact: Winnipeg boasts having the first openly gay mayor of a major city in North America, Glen Murray, in 1998. 

The inaugural Pride Winnipeg was one of the first Pride celebrations in Western Canada, following Vancouver in 1979 and Edmonton in 1980. 

A giant Pride flag being carried in the 2022 Winnipeg Pride parade.

Winnipeg hosts Pride week celebrations making it one of the largest Pride celebrations in central Canada, known Pride Winnipeg Festival, held annually at the beginning of June.  

This city is truly a haven for the social justice-minded gay traveller, who seeks out more than just a beautiful landscape or lively nightlife scene.

A group of people holding rainbow umbrellas and a LOVE made out of rainbow balloons at the 2022 Winnipeg Pride parade.

With plenty to do for queer people and a growing gay scene, you’ll feel right at home in Manitoba’s capital. Here’s all you need to see and do for the ultimate gaycation to Winnipeg:

Strong Human Rights History 

When it comes to human rights, Manitoba has a long history of social progress. This province was one of the first in Canada to recognize women’s suffrage at the end of the 19th century, and its had strong protections for LGBTQ+ individuals for decades.

Fun Fact: The word Winnipeg means “muddy water” in Cree and the city was established at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers – The Forks – a meeting place for more than 6,000 years and Winnipeg’s most visited tourist destination. 

A group of friends wearing a variety of gender and sexual orientation Pride flags at the 2022 Winnipeg Pride Festival.

It’s not just modern progressive ideals that make Manitoba a great place to live if you’re an advocate of human rights—this province has been at the forefront of social justice since achieving provincial status in 1870. In 1987, Manitoba was the first province in Canada to pass the Human Rights Code to include protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and has protected gender identity since 2012. Manitoba was also the first province in Canada to appoint a transgender judge. 

Manitoba stands tall as a province that values diversity and inclusion, including being the first major North American city to elect an openly gay Mayor. Manitobans have not only embraced this idea of equality and acceptance but have also been on the forefront of protecting it for generations to come.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights 

Overlooking Winnipeg’s downtown, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) was conceived to be a place where visitors could experience both the history and future of human rights. The museum was built in Winnipeg, Manitoba—a province with a rich history in LGBTQ+ history.

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The museum is home to an incredible array of exhibits and displays that cover a wide range of topics, from the Holocaust to modern-day human rights issues. The exhibits aim to promote human rights and inspire visitors with the courage of those who have fought for their own rights.

Phots of homosexuals during the Holocaust at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

Fun Fact: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first new national museum opened in over 40 years, and the first designated to be built outside of the capital region. It is located at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg, while you can also find it on Canada’s newest $10 bill.

Photos of same sex marriages in Canada at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

CMHR is quickly becoming a Winnipeg staple, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s an exploration of human rights around the world.

Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Winnipeg Art Gallery hold in trust the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art, including close to 14,000 works of sculpture, prints, drawings, and textiles. The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) is home to exhibitions of local, national, and international art, innovative education programs, a Gallery Shop, and the rooftop sculpture garden and contributes to Manitoba’s visual arts heritage. 

First Nations art on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Fun Fact: Winnipeg Art Gallery is home to Qaumajuq, an innovative new museum dedicated to Inuit art and culture, led by Inuit voices. 

First Nations art on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has always been a cultural center for the people of Winnipeg and Manitoba, but it’s also been a place that welcomes everyone. It is no surprise then that the Gallery has an exhibit dedicated to the stories of the First Nations LGBTQ+ community. The stories of First Nations people are often told from an outsider’s perspective, but this exhibit gives them the chance to reclaim their own narrative and tell their own stories. 

A handmade outfit covered in fabric flowers at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Fun Fact: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a $56 million world-glass Inuit art centre that opened in spring 2021.

It includes artwork, historical documents, and photographs that show not only the discrimination faced by First Nations members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history, but also how they used art as activism to fight back against discrimination and bigotry.

Photos of Manitoba artisans on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The Exchange District

The Exchange District is one of the most iconic and vibrant neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. This National Historic Site features an exceptional collection of heritage buildings built between 1880 and 1920. 

A historic building in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Nicknamed the ‘Chicago of the North’, the Exchange features massive stone and brick warehouses, elegant terracotta-clad buildings, narrow angled streets as well as some cobblestone paths and alleyways. The architecture provides a stunning backdrop for local restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, museums, attractions and so much more.

A beautiful park in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Learn about the queer history of Winnipeg. The Exchange District BIZ offers a variety of walking tours that will engage both the sense of sight and hearing on this theme. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, take a gay ghost tour!

People taking a walking tour of downtown Winnipeg with Exchange District BIZ.

West Broadway 

Winnipeg doesn’t have a ‘gaybourhood’; there are pockets of gay-owned and queer-friendly businesses and spaces throughout Winnipeg. West Broadway has evolved into a neat collection of queer-owned and operated businesses, including restaurants, a vintage clothing store, brewery, and general store. It’s a cute, gay-friendly neighbourhood to explore and support. 

The Forks Market

The Forks is Manitoba’s number one tourist destination, attracting more than four million visitors annually and marked in 6,000 years of history. The 56-acre site offers year-round shopping at The Forks Market and Johnston Terminal, along with a variety of dining experiences, including organic bakery goods, ethnic cuisine, casual restaurants, fine dining, and a food hall that includes a craft beer and wine kiosk.

The Forks Market in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Forks Market is a great place to meet and mingle. It has been the meeting place for thousands of years by indigenous people, who considered it a sacred place—a natural meeting place.

Thousands of people attended the 2022 Winnipeg Pride Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Forks is where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet in downtown Winnipeg. The rivers have always been important to the people who live in this area. They provided food, transportation, and water for drinking and bathing. Today, The Forks Market is still a gathering place for many people who live in Winnipeg. It’s also known as the heart of Manitoba’s arts and culture scene.

The Forks is where Pride Winnipeg Festival is hosted and is adjacent to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. 

The Tallest Poppy

The Tallest Poppy is a restaurant and bar located in West Broadway, at the front of the historic Sherbrook Inn. The Tallest Poppy serves up lowbrow, high-end family recipes led by owner/chef Talia Syrie. Sandwiches, salads, and soups are all on tap for lunch. Breakfast is a thing of beauty (available all day). 

The exterior of The Poppy restaurant in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Try the authentic French waffles made by the in-house waffle chef. This casual spot is a big hit with a wide swath of regulars including professionals, moms, students, seniors, and drag queens (who are invited to their monthly brunches).

The menu at The Poppy restaurant in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Queer Beer at Little Brown Jug

Located in a former livery in the historic Exchange District, Little Brown Jug (LBJ) has become one of Winnipeg’s most-popular breweries. Its signature beer, the 1919 Belgian Pale Ale, that you can find on many taps across the city, is delicious, sweet-yet-sour and refreshing. 

A local small business decorated for Winnipeg Pride.

The tasting room is quite the stunner; it’s been completely opened and made shine so you can see everything – from the brewer working the tanks to the storage areas – while sitting on the teak furniture in the swish tasting area. LBJ also gets green bonus points: all the heat created during the brewing process is captured and used to heat the room in the winter, while the inverse will happen with regards to the brewing cooling equipment that will be converted to air conditioning in the summer. 

Brew tanks at the Little Brown Jug brewery in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Little Brown Jug is a gay-owned business, and employees many LGBTQ+ people. They also produce a special ‘Queer Beer’ during Winnipeg Pride.

Queer Beer by the Little Brown Jug in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Club Happenings at Osborne Taphouse

Winnipeg’s Osborne Village neighbourhood is the place to be for a great night out, and that includes Club Happenings at Osborne Taphouse. This BIPOC and Latinx 2SLGBTQIA+ owned and operated nightclub offers a great atmosphere, live music, quality drinks, and comfort food for all. Featuring a large variety of vodkas and local craft beers on tap, you’re sure to find something you love.

Club Happenings is Winnipeg’s newest gay bar and it’s quickly become a favorite of the locals. There are regular drag shows, a dance floor, shots bar, gay DJs, and both male and female go-go dancers. It’s a welcomed addition to the Winnipeg nightlife scene. There is also 200 Club and Fame Nightclub located in Winnipeg, so there are several options to get your groove on.

You’ll want to strategically plan to ride share from one bar to the next since Winnipeg does not have a traditional gayborhood with bars and clubs. 

Thermëa Spa

Enjoy a unique relaxation experience in nature! Located only 8km from downtown Winnipeg, the $11-million Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature is a haven that features world-class thermotherapy facilities inspired by some of the best Scandinavian traditions. 

Take the time to unwind and re-energize in the baths (hot, cold and temperate), saunas, exfoliation room and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas. Revitalize your senses with a massage or body treatment and try a comforting meal at the restaurant with terrace!

Stay at the ALT Hotel Winnipeg 

Located in the heart of the Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED), Alt Hotel Winnipeg is an unmissable new destination for leisure travellers in Manitoba’s capital. 

The exterior of the ALT Hotel Winnipeg.

The hotel has been designed as an oasis from busy city life — a sanctuary where LGBTQ+ travellers who want to explore all that this incredible city has to offer can recharge their batteries without having to worry about feeling safe or comfortable anywhere they go because this hotel is a safe haven for queer travellers.

The lobby of the ALT Hotel Winnipeg.

Getting to Winnipeg

Winnipeg is easy to get to. It’s located in the center of Canada (east to west). It’s services by Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. You can easily fly into Winnipeg. The easiest way to get around Winnipeg is by rideshare.

Fun Fact: Opened in 1928, Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, then called Stephenson Field, was the first international airport in Canada. In 2011, the airport opened Canada’s first LEED-certified terminal, and it was named one of the world’s iconic airports by Travel Channel.

Tourism Winnipeg

Located at the geographic centre of Canada and North America, Winnipeg is Manitoba’s vibrant capital city. Bordered on either side by Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, Manitoba is considered the gateway to western Canada and the heart of the nation.

A treelined street on a spring day in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The city has more than 6,000 years of history because of its significance as an indigenous meeting place. From the 17th to 19th centuries, the area flourished as the hub of Canada‘s for trade and then later again is a key site of early railroad development.

With a population of 766,900 (2020) culturally diverse people, Winnipeg is a four-season destination with a cosmopolitan flair and warm, wealthy welcoming spirit.

Winnipeg acknowledges that they are located on Treaty one territory, the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples and on the homeland of the Metis Nation.

Cherry blossoms blooming in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Tourism Winnipeg can help you plan your ultimate gaycation to Winnipeg. Start planning today!

Travel Manitoba 

Manitoba is where golden wheat fields meet an infinite blue sky. Cool, clean lakes and waterways, all 110,000 of them, beckon the adventurer and the rejuvenator in you. Venture out to rediscover Manitoba’s wide-open spaces, breathtaking landscapes, and deep cultural roots.

A lady proudly stands outside the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Manitoba has a strong history in human justice. In 1987, Manitoba was the first province in Canada to pass the Human Rights Code to include protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and has protected gender identity since 2012. Manitoba was also the first province in Canada to appoint a transgender judge.

Two out and proud boyfriends attend Pride Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Plan your trip to Winnipeg and beyond, and find great travel deals and packages, with the help of Travel Manitoba.

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb

Author

Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award.An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content.Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.
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