Big Fun in Winnipeg

Winter music festival tempts hibernators outside

(Clockwise from top left) The Ripperz, Calvin Love, Close Talker, The Crooked Brothers, Yes We Mystic, Novillero, Mozart's Sister and Fist City

Supplied Photos

While the cold conditions of Winnipeg winters make some want to hibernate, the creators of Big Fun Festival are trying to get people out. 

“It’s always a little bit scary. I mean, if it’s -40, who wants to leave the house,” says Lauren Swan, co-founder and marketing director of Big Fun. “Every year though, we’re surprised at the turnout. Last year, we sold out venues, and people were waiting to get inside.” 

Beginning Jan. 27, Big Fun will bring 50 bands to eight venues over the span of five days. The lineup features local talent across an array of genres, as well as out of town acts coming from as far as Austin, Texas. 

Swan says there’s a gap in the music scene in Winnipeg at this time of year.

“People are sort of slipping into that winter blues because it’s after the holidays. Now that Big Fun’s going into its fifth year, people know it’s there to look forward to,” Swan says.

The festival’s vibe echoes the overall feel in Winnipeg’s music scene.

“Winnipeg is amazing because everyone here knows how to make their own fun. Wherever we like, however we like,” Matt Foster, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with The Crooked Brothers, says. “And that is exactly what Big Fun manages to do on a huge scale – genuine, beautiful events that feel as good as the people at them.”

One of Big Fun’s main objectives in selecting venues is to make sure they’re close enough that people can walk from one show to another. 

Swan says seeing people making their way from show to show gives Big Fun that festival feel. 

This year, on the Saturday, all venues will be in the West Broadway area. Some of the venues include Thom Bargen, The Handsome Daughter and the Sherbrook Inn.

For Swan, Big Fun has been the source of some great memories. 

“One of my favourite times was at an after party for the late show in the Exchange Community Church,” she says. “It was this insane rap show. Tim Hoover was performing, and he just started throwing McDonald’s cheeseburgers.” 

This year, will it be worth it to depart from the comfort of your fireplace and hit up some really great shows? Definitely, according to Swan.

Published in Volume 70, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2016)

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