BC 365 – A Year’s Worth of Festivals in British Columbia

It’s no secret that British Columbia’s weather makes for amazing vacationing all year round. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, there’s always something here worth celebrating. BC has dozens of festivals celebrating everything from the province’s arts and culture to its people and history. We’ve highlighted twelve festivals – one for each month of the year. So no matter when you decide to vacation, we’ll be there with a reason to celebrate our province with you. Here’s a calendar you won’t want to miss…

JANUARY – By far the jewel in the crown of the Okanagan Wine Festival’s quarterly calendar, the annual Ice Wine Festival hosted by Sun Peaks Resort, features some of the world’s award-winning ice wines at one of BC’s favourite alpine destinations. A weekend full of wine master diners, seminars and an exquisite progressive tasting, this not-to-be-missed event is the ideal way to enjoy a Western Canadian winter!

FEBRUARY – The Victoria Film Festival attracts the latest and greatest of the Canadian and International film industry to Vancouver Island’s glittering capital city with dozens of screenings and numerous accompanying social functions. The VFF has enjoyed hosting celebrity guests from the entertainment community as well as screening many short and feature-length films that have gone on to international critical acclaim. Founded by the CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers, VFF includes favourite events such as the Empire Theatres Lounge with its revolving door of musical talent and Sips and Cinema, a screening/wine tasting experience.

MARCH – For a real shot of March madness, the green tornado that is St. Patrick’s Day drops onto Vancouver a few days early with the Vancouver Celtic Fest which kicks off with a dizzying week of rambunctious Gaelic fun. Thousands of people flock to the streets for pub crawls, dance demonstrations, music and of course, copious amounts of Guinness! The highlights is the St. Paddy’s Day Parade which includes over 2000 participants on floats, in bands and even wobbling by on stilts.

APRIL – Nothing says “it’s Springtime on the West Coast” like the mass-migration of over 21,000 Gray whales to the coastal waters of Vancouver Island. And because these mammals travel so close to the shore, the viewing opportunities are exceptional. The Pacific Rim Whale Festival celebrates the West Coast’s relationship with these beautiful creatures via organized boat charters and educational presentations in both Tofino and Ucluelet.

MAY – May is for children. Vancouver’s picturesque Vanier Park plays home to the annual Vancouver Children’s Festival with plenty of attractions to keep the tykes happy. From dance, music and theatre to storytelling and puppetry, from face-painting and juggling clinics to live performances by the likes of Fred Penner and Charlotte Diamond, this event might even bring the kid out in you as well!

JUNE – Summer just got a lot hotter! The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is one of the largest and most popular of its kind on the planet. And it’s easy to see why with over 1800 musicians, 400 concerts and 40 venues! Originating in the 1980’s from a diminutive local scene that centred around CFRO 102.7FM (a co-cop radio station), this hallmark event has come a long way, now attracting greats such as Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis and John Mayall. This is a not-to-be-missed jazz event – ask the half million fans that come here annually!

JULY – Perhaps the most unique festival in the province, Vancouver’s Symphony of Fire is part of a global series of pyrotechnic festivals that choreographs stunning fireworks demonstrations with a music simulcast that’s broadcast on a local radio station. This jaw-dropping display draws thousands of spectators to the beaches and parks of downtown Vancouver as the skies over English Bay burst with light and colour. This, the Canadian leg of the international festival, includes displays from Canada, the USA and China. Quite possibly one of the best photo-ops on the West Coast…

AUGUST – MusicFest Vancouver celebrates the eclectic musical heritage of BC’s biggest city with two weeks of performances at multiple venues. Whether you’re a fan, appreciator or aficionado, this dose of classical, choral, jazz, folk, Latin, Celtic and Asian will satisfy anyone who enjoys music at any level. Venues include the Orpheum Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens

SEPTEMBER – As quirky as the fascinating city that calls it home, the Victoria Fringe Festival sees local and international theatre troupes entertaining at venues all over the city. Whatever you’re looking for, drama, dance, comedy, magic, music… it’s all here.

OCTOBER – Autumn in the interior is amazing but it gets even better when the Fall Wine Festival comes to the Okanagan Valley. The only festival in North America that occurs smack in the middle of harvest season, the public can enjoy the unique experience of watching the grapes ripen in the sun before enjoying their fantastic product. This festival consistently ranks top 100 by the American Bus Association. And with over 165 events and harvest celebrations throughout the region, it makes saying goodbye to summer well worth it!

NOVEMBER – Get up-close-and-personal with one of nature’s most majestic creature at the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival. Not only is this event a perfect opportunity to visit the towns and communities along the Fraser River but also an amazing way of connecting with some of the feathered friends that comprise BC’s diverse bird population. From booths, presentations, art and museum exhibits to field-excursions in Squakum Park and Silverdale Creek Wetlands, this is a one-of-a-kind festival whether you’re an avid avian enthusiast or a curious visitor looking for something a little different.

DECEMBER – Spending Christmas in British Columbia? Vancouver does the season justice with the Rogers Santa Clause Parade, a holiday extravaganza which winds through the downtown core, finishing at the Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. This winter wonderland includes food, live entertainment and loads of activities for the kids such as ice carving, face-painting, balloon animals and a write-a-letter-to-Santa booth. If this doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will.

These are just a few of the amazing events and festivals that BC has to offer. But there are many, many more. And with a little homework, it’s quite possible to fill your vacation with reasons to celebrate. We’re proud of our province. Come, join the party!

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