It's Festival Season in British Columbia
Canada’s westernmost province proves a show-stopping backdrop for celebration — be it adventure, musical interludes, drama, food for thought or consumption. Here’s a taste.
Lend me your Eyes
For more than 25 years the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival has been conjuring mischief and magic, drama and intrigue in Vancouver’s Vanier Park. Starting June 3, take in the fun flirtation of The Merry Wives of Windsor, the tragedy of young love in Romeo and Juliet and the power of Othello. The final curtain is September 24.
The world’s top racers will paddle it out during The Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, June 17 – 19. Here, recreational teams join the action, accented by interactive art installations, the Sea to Sky Circus pageantry and live music on the World Beat Stage on the shorelines of False Creek.
All That Jazz
The city’s theatres, parks, bars and outdoor plazas promise more stage action June 24 - July 3 during the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. A mashup of wildly varied styles, including funk, fusion, blues, electronic and, of course, jazz, this annual jam offers hundreds of free and ticketed performances by nearly 2,000 musicians. The 2016 lineup includes Sarah McLachlan, Joe Jackson, the Oliver Jones Trio, Ms. Lauryn Hill and many more.
Cowboy, Take me Away
The Williams Lake Stampede in BC’s Cariboo Chilcotin promises a wild ride. Set to mark its 90th season June 30 – July 3, this celebration of cowboy culture includes a white-knuckle mountain race, gutsy bull-riding competitions, live music and hard-working rodeo clowns.
Sand and Deliver
On the sandcastle-ready shores of Vancouver Island’s Parksville, the world’s best builders gather yearly for the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition, a key qualifying event for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting. Competitors shape their creations July 15 – 17; the fine-grained results are on display until August 21.
How Coola is That?
Music fans can experience a different coastal shoreline further north at the Bella Coola Music Festival, July 23 - 24. Rock and roots, folk and blues — it’s all here. Jill Barber and Matthew Barber, Bend Sinister, Nick Sherman, and Magical Jesaja (for the kiddies) make this musical fest worth the journey to the windswept shores at Highway 20’s end.
Need down time? Wanderlust Whistler, July 28 – August 1, is a haven for those eager to unplug, reconnect with nature and join a like-minded community. Whistler's four-season mountain village proves a natural setting for the festival's five engaging days of meditation, yoga, hikes, biking, spirited musical performances, thought-provoking lectures and bustling Kula Market.
The quaint Cariboo Chilcotin former mining town of Wells is a hub for artisans and other creative types; it’s home, too, to the ArtsWells Festival Of All Things Art, a showcase of more than 200 musical performances as well as dozens of workshops, kids’ activities, film screenings, an art walk and the One-Minute Play Festival, July 29 – August 1.
Big Bang Theory
Fans of fireworks and seaside views gather in the province’s capital during the Victoria Symphony Splash, July 31. More than 40,000 people take in classical sounds — and say so long to the dog days of summer — in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, a bustling hub that transforms into an outdoor concert hall, complete with a floating stage where the Victoria Symphony orchestra performs Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, backed by brasses, bells and cannon fire.
Into the Mystic
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Busty and the Bass, Mob Bounce and many others will keep the party going in the magical setting of Haida Gwaii. Equal parts energy and chill, the Edge of the World Music Festival, August 5 – 7, melds musical styles and performances, enhanced by the natural beauty that engulfs the tiny hamlet of Tlell.
Adventurers are primed for the Crankworx mountain bike festival at Whistler Mountain Bike Park, August 12 – 21, a 10-day celebration of two-wheeling culture that attracts downhill, slopestyle and enduro pros alongside rising stars and superfans. A host of gravity-fuelled races draw crowds to this four-season mountain village, while the little ones can test their mettle, and develop some skills, during Kidsworx.
In Other Words
The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts is the country’s longest-running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers from around the world. Lineups feature established names alongside burgeoning new talent; this season’s August 11 - 14 event at Sechelt’s Rockwood Centre spotlights celebrated writers Marina Endicott, Lawrence Hill and Lorna Crozier together with new voices Karim Alrawi and Carol Daniels.
The Kootenay Rockies village of New Denver loves bright bulbs — of garlic, that is. The annual Hills Garlic Festival is one of the top garlic festivals in the world. This all-day ode to the mighty bulb, September 11, showcases live entertainment, crafts, soaps, jewelry, local produce — and, of course, plenty of garlic.
Wine Country Beer
A brew fest in the Okanagan? BC’s wine country is also home to some pretty stellar pours. BrewLoops, a yearly Kamloops fest, serves up good times September 28 – October 2 with tailgate-style outdoor block parties, brewery dinners, brewing seminars, home-brew competitions and VIP cask events. Mountain bikes races, guided group bike rides and a beer-pairing brunch round out the four-day festivities.
For more on BC’s boisterous festival scene, visit HelloBC.com/events.
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