Back to Birds Hill: Winnipeg Folk Festival set to return after 2-year COVID-19 absence

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is bringing back the music — and people — after a two-year silence.

The iconic Manitoba summer festival is returning to Birds Hill Provincial Park in 2022 with a requirement that everyone be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Organizers “are aiming for as normal a festival as possible,” stated an email sent Thursday to past volunteers.

They heard “loud and clear” through surveys and messages about the importance of keeping “the spirit of the festival,” the email said.

“And so, for 2022 we’re committed to business as usual.”

The email says all stages will be in operation, including the family area. Both campgrounds will be up and running along with all services, including food vendors and the music store.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is an outdoor music festival that typically attracts thousands during a July weekend in Birds Hill Provincial Park. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

The annual festival, first held at Birds Hill Park in 1974, normally draws thousands of people to the park north of Winnipeg each July. But it was among numerous events cancelled in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe. 

Manitoba brought in public health orders that put strict limits on gatherings in order to slow the transmission of the coronavirus.

The folk fest was cancelled once again this past summer, though organizers had hoped to hold smaller, in-person concerts in August at the festival’s main stage. That was kiboshed as the pandemic’s third wave washed over the province.

In order for the festival to return to return in 2022 “we are dedicated to keeping our folkies, volunteers, staff, and our community safe,” the email from festival organizers stated.

As such, government-issued proof of full vaccination will be required for all in-person shows.

“More details will be shared with you in the coming months regarding our plans to verify proof of vaccination for our volunteers,” the email said.

“We’re making the best decision possible to keep our community safe so we can get back to supporting the live music industry.”

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