‘It’s fantastic’: Manitoba town named to Time’s World’s Greatest Places list

Among the cathedrals of Barcelona and the cherry blossoms of Kyoto, a northern Manitoba town has cracked Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places of 2023 list.

Churchill, Man. was chosen as one of 50 extraordinary destinations to explore, with the magazine praising its polar bear and beluga whale sightings, and optimal viewing of aurora borealis.

“Winter aurora-hunting has opened up a whole new tourist season in a town that has traditionally attracted the vast majority of its visitors during the fall polar bear migration,” Nicholas Derenzo writes in the magazine.

A polar bear walks in Churchill, Manitoba. (File Image: Barbara Walley)

Travel Manitoba president and CEO Colin Ferguson said the town’s inclusion is an honour, but not an unexpected one.

“It’s no surprise to see Churchill on a list of spectacular locations from around the globe. Anyone who has been to Churchill knows this is a world-class place to visit,” Ferguson said in a news release Thursday.

According to the organization, the town was nominated by Derenzo who visited Churchill in August 2022.


The reporter also gave a shout out to Frontiers North Adventures, a family-owned business specializing in northern Canadian tourism for more than three decades.

Jessica Burtnick, the company’s director of marketing and sales, said Derenzo took one of their beluga whale expeditions during his stay.

(Source: Zhang Yongpeng /Frontiers North Adventures)

“It’s fantastic. Churchill deserves to be on that list,” said Jessica Burtnick, director of marketing and sales with Frontiers North Adventures.

“It’s a destination that’s really culturally rich, historically rich. The community is warm and welcoming and interesting, and it’s unparalleled in terms of the wildlife experiences and northern lights.”

The Time article made special mention of the company’s Tundra Buggies. The 40-passenger vehicles enable face time, from a safe distance, with some of Churchill’s wildlife in their natural environment, and transports guests along the frozen Churchill River for a culinary experience.

(Source: Robert Taylor/Frontiers North Adventures)

The company began converting its buggy fleet from diesel to electric in 2021 – a change that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 99 per cent, while making the ride a quieter one. The first came into operation less than two years ago, and a second one is currently in the process of being converted.

Burtnick said the article helps showcase Churchill’s year-round attractions after the pandemic sparked a tumultuous time in the tourism industry.

Still, she notes they’ve seen year-over-year booking increases between 24 to 28 per cent in 2023 for its summer and fall programs.

Additionally, reservations for its winter northern lights season have already started rolling in for 2024, which is not typical for this time of year.

“The trend seems to be that travelers are excited to get out and be exploring again. We’re expecting that we’re going to have a very good travel year this year,” she said.

“We’re just excited to be able to welcome visitors back to Churchill.”

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