THE VIKINGS ARE COMING! No, you’re not looking at an episode of “Vikings”. What you’re looking at is the 125th Annual Icelandic Festival in Gimli, MB. Held the long weekend in August visitors surge to Gimli, MB, a quaint town on Lake Winnipeg, to celebrate their Icelandic history. It’s a weekend filled with history, fun and a lot of Vikings. Starting the Friday of the long weekend festival goers can attend various events at different locations – Gimli Park, Viking Village, and Gimli Beach just to name a few.
For the last two years I’ve traveled to Gimli on the day of the parade with my friend Vanessa. It’s become a tradition. We leave the city around 7:30 and get there just before the parade is about to start (10:00). We grab our spot and enjoy the cute little parade that travels down Centre street and is filled with local businesses, community organizations, and of course, Vikings. There’s a lot of them. It really is fun to experience. We pack a picnic and afterward head to a spot to enjoy it – this time, the beach.
Look at that view! Can you believe that only two months ago there was still ice on the lake?! Crazy, right? After a harsh winter it took a long time for the ice to melt on Lake Winnipeg and while it’s long gone, the water was still a little chilly than it should be. But that was okay. It was a warm day and jumping into the cool lake was refreshing. The waves were big and the sound of the water was amazing. We definitely had a great time. Plus there’s always a sailboat, or two, on the water and that is very picturesque.
Over in Viking Village live displays are available for the public to learn how Vikings once lived. Cooking demonstrations, metal smiths and battle recreations were taking place – it was a lot of fun to see. At one display you can even dress up like a Viking and have your picture taken! Volunteers were available to answer any questions you may have had and they are filled with a lot of knowledge. Many of the volunteers have been there for many years and enjoy coming back. One volunteer told us that they have a gentleman that comes from Norway every year to help out and give the authentic Viking feeling that it should have.
Every Manitoban, and visitor, should make plans to visit the Icelandic Festival. Bring the kids and head to Gimli Park for carnival rides, take a picnic or enjoy various restaurants on First Ave (including the patio at the Lakeview Inn Hotel), and don’t forget to stop in at Tergesen’s. Gimli is a great little town that deserves to be explored by you. Bring your sunscreen, your bathing suit and enjoy the day.
The 2015 Icelandic Festival is scheduled for July 31-August 3. Islendingadagurinn!