History and Background
The Winnipeg International Children’s Festival was formed in 1982 by a group of committed community leaders with the objective of improving the cultural quality of life of Manitoba families. It is registered as a not-for-profit and charitable organization.
The Festival is supported by the three levels of government, our partners in the corporate community and by community oriented service groups, associations and volunteers. The WICF conducts fundraising activities throughout the year to raise funds to cover community programming expenses. The Festival works with a national network, the Canadian Children’s Festival Association (CCFRA) to partner cooperatively in order to present national and international artists that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to present for Manitoba families.
The WICF staged Winnipeg’s first Children’s Festival in Assiniboine Park in 1983 and was enthusiastically received. Kidsfest moved to Kildonan Park from 1983-1989, gradually building a strong base audience with both the general public and with Manitoba schools and daycares. In 1990, Kidsfest moved to its’ current, permanent home at The Forks site.
That same year, Kidsfest became the first in North America to offer general admission all day, all week. One price gets access to all shows so most people who would normally be able to afford to see only one show at the Festival can now take artistic risks and check out new works by new and emerging artists as well as the well-known companies and artists.
The annual Kidsfest attracts between 20,000-25,000 family members each year and has become an essential part of the Manitoban cultural fabric. We look forward to our continued success in helping to make family memories.
In 1997, the WICF took a bold and alternative approach to community engagement, by piloting the Circus And Magic Partnership (C.A.M.P. ) program. This unique arts intervention program became a huge success, winning both the Mayor’s & The Premier’s Volunteer Service awards. In 2000, the WICF expanded this program to include an outreach component which travels to a different Northern Manitoba host community each year. That year, the WICF also began the presenting the smash hit “Festival of Fools at The Forks” during the annual spring school break which ran for seventeen years before it outgrew it's home.