Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Folklorama 2015

Have you ever wanted to travel the world in a night? I know it seems impossible, but bear with me here. For anyone not familiar with Winnipeg, we have a festival that runs for two weeks every August that allows you to do just that. Folklorama is a celebration of life and culture; it's the longest running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. Essentially, it allows you to experience the food, the life, the history, and more of over 40 cultures every summer. 

The festival is a staple of a Winnipeg summer. Year after year, I find myself visiting pavilions old and new. Year after year, I learn something new about Winnipeg's many people. I was lucky enough this year to hit five pavilions in one day. Are you ready to hear about my adventure? Well buckle up, because here we go!

UK Pavilion - 1770 King Edward St.
3:45 PM

My family history is closely tied to the UK. On both sides, I have English and Irish heritage respectively. I'm a huge fan of all things UK. The BBC, Benedict Cumberbatch, The Beatles, the food...

My first stop was the tea room. I chose the earl grey tea and a sample of the vegan chocolate cake, the custard tart, and an imperial cookie. My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach. But oh how delicious it was. The cake was moist and chocolately (not a word but it needs to be), the imperial cookie literally melted in my mouth, and the tart had fresh berries all over it. With four more pavilions to go I would definitely need to pace myself better.

During the whole experience, I could almost pretend I was in a Jane Austen novel. I felt so proper sipping my tea from a fancy cup, pinky up. The ladies in the tea room were wonderful. Just about the nicest people I've ever met and so attentive. If you go, tell Lisa I sent you!

As I was finishing up, I noticed my elbows were on the table. Jane Austen would not be proud of me…

Hungaria Pavilion – 2055 Ness
5:15 PM

Next stop, Hungary! Leslie greeted me at the door and was the sweetest. She recommended the chimney cake which was new to the pavilion this year. I chose a cinnamon one and went to town. The soft, gooey pastry was still slightly warm and the sugar covering it was the perfect amount to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Of course, what’s Hungary without goulash? Well I wouldn’t know since I’d never tried it. I changed that quickly. Side note: did you know that it`s pronounced goo-yash and not goo-lash? I did not.   

The pavilion opened at 4:45 and when I got there at 5 the line for food was already around the side of the room. I think that tells you what to expect. Hint: it’s great.

On a screen at the front they had a PowerPoint playing on a loop that pointed out things and people that were from Hungary. I thought it was quite interesting. For example, did you know that the Pulitzer prize is named afterJoseph Pultizer, born in Hungary? Or how about the inventor of Excel, Charles Simonyi, having been born in Budapest? Pretty interesting if you ask me and a great touch to the pavilion. 

Slovenija Pavilion – 720 Alverstone

I rolled my way over to Slovenija for dinner. Bar none, this may have been my favorite stop of the night. Not to say it was better than the rest, but because Helen made it such a lovely experience for me. She greeted me at the door and led me around the cultural display. She then set me up with a sampler platter and the Ukrainian girl in me went nuts. Perfectly spiced pork sausage, coleslaw with a light vinaigrette dressing, potato salad to rival my mother’s and a crepe to top it all off. I knew I was in trouble; I was stuffed. So much for pacing myself…

The glass of white wine I had paired really well with what I'd chosen and was the perfect touch to cap off an extraordinary meal.

The entertainment consisted of lots of accordions which made me want to get up and dance pretty bad. I held back though, don't worry. I wasn't quite ready to grace the world with my Elaine Benes dance moves.

Oh, and I will also give five imaginary dollars to the first person who can correctly identify what is in the below picture. Hint: Some seriously cool Slovenian history.

Ethiopia Pavilion – 215 Selkirk Ave

From Europe we jetted off to Africa and landed in Ethiopia. I've been a huge fan of Ethiopian food since I worked in the West End. But come on, any time I am encouraged to eat with my hands I’m on board. I brought my best friend to this pavilion with me as she'd never experienced Ethiopian culture and frankly, I couldn't keep eating on my own. We shared the injera platter and destroyed it in minutes. If you've never tried Ethiopian, I’ll warn you it can be spicy, but trust me when I say the flavors are an explosion of delight in your mouth.

My favorite part about the pavilion was the coffee. I drink a lot of coffee in a day; 8 cups to be exact. So I know my coffee. They were brewing it fresh up at the front and the aroma was incredible. I highly recommend you try it if you can!

While I was stuffing my face, we watched the dancers on stage. The energy they have is incredible. If I only had 1/5 the energy and charisma they do, I'd be unstoppable. Please, I beg of you, go take in this pavilion. They put so much effort into making sure you have a great experience. GO!

German Pavilion – 121 Charles St.
9:45 PM

Folklorama is amazing for many reasons, but where else can you get from Ethiopia to Germany in under two minutes? Seriously, they are only two blocks apart. But since I'd eaten enough to feed an entire family of 5 by this point, I confess I drove to Germany. I know, for shame, for shame... I could have used the walk!

Now, I have a particular soft spot for the German pavilion because my friends and I have a tradition of going to the late night party every single year. We take a limo bus that’s how dedicated we are (safety first folks)! You could say I’m a veteran at this pavilion. I walked right up to the counter to order my food with pure confidence. Schnitzel please. Schnitzel with a side of Apple Strudel. There was no tort left for me by the time I arrived, but I've had it every other year and I highly recommend it as well. I was nice and split the apple strudel with my friends, who yes, had chosen the same night to take in the German Pavilion.

Hands down, the best part about this pavilion is how interactive it is with the audience during the entertainment. Everyone participates and I know the dances by heart now. I told you, we go every year. 
A video posted by Melissa (@melissanicole14) on


I only managed to hit five pavilions in one day. Honestly, if I had more energy, and the stomach capacity, I would have gone to five more (although time definitely would not have permitted this). Learning about and experiencing cultures vastly different from my own is an eye opening experience. I highly recommend you take a trip around the world too. Folklorama runs until August 15th, so put on your party hats and start prepping your stomachs. You're in for a treat!

Now it's your turn; I want to know about your experiences. What pavilions did you see? What did you learn? But most importantly... what did you eat?

Folklorama Info:

1 comment

  1. This looks like so much fun! I will have to make a trip out to Winnipeg to catch this one year.