Festivals Light Up British Columbia Summer

Posted: Wednesday, June 01, 2005
What are you doing this summer? You could, if you time it right, watch a movie projected on floating screen, cheer on a thundering chuckwagon race, hear top country acts singing under the stars, or spot Elvis at the beach in Penticton.

The line-up of summer festivals promises everything from world-class arts events to down-home harvest festivals, with plenty of music, food, scenery, and family entertainment thrown in.

Top-flight entertainers and fabulous scenery headline at BC's performing arts festivals. At the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, for example, you'll hear some of the best in the business with performers that include Diana Krall. At the Harrison Festival of the Arts you can enjoy a feast of international music, dance, theatre and visual arts against a lake and mountain backdrop, or catch a flick at Penticton's Beach Blanket Film Festival, Canada's only outdoor floating screen film festival. In late July, watch for Victoria's Symphony Splash, when the Victoria Symphony plays a free concert from a barge in the capital's Inner Harbour.

If your tastes run more to sagebrush than water music, check out the Merritt Mountain Music Festival. More than 120,000 country music fans are expected at this town south of Kamloops to camp, line dance, and catch shows by Tim McGraw, Ian Tyson, Mel Tillis, Neal McCoy and more.

More country music, plus riding, roping, and chuckwagon races, are in store at any of BC's summer rodeos. One of the most established is the Williams Lake Stampede, where folks have been bull riding and barrel racing since 1919. For a good-natured cross-border competition, check out the International Rodeo in Stewart, a tiny town bordering Hyder, Alaska.

If you're up north, don't miss Terrace Riverboat Days, the largest festival in Northwest BC, or Prince Rupert's SeaFest. Both are multi-day local celebrations with concerts, parades, art exhibits, and kids' events.

Food and drink also inspire celebration in BC, with festivals running from the sublime -- sampling newly released vintages at the Okanagan Spring, Summer or Fall Wine Festivals, for example ? to the messy: a massive group fruit toss highlights Oliver's Festival of the Tomato in September.

Other events celebrate, more sedately, berries in Abbotsford, grapes in Oliver, and bathtubs in Nanaimo.

Bathtubs? Yes. In July, contestants in the 2005 Great International World Championship Bathtub Race will attempt to sail modified bathtubs from Nanaimo's Harbour to the Departure Bay Beach. Part of the annual Nanaimo Marine Festival, this 38-year-old tradition attracts seafarers from around the world.

And don't forget Elvis: At the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival, in July, you can catch a professional tribute show and a competition among would-be Elvi. You may not spot the real Elvis, but you're bound to have fun at this, or any, BC summer festival.

To learn about dozens of other festivals in BC this summer, call 1-800 HELLO BC (800/435-5622 or 604/435-5622) or visit http://www.HelloBC.com.

For travel information and great accommodation deals, ask for one of the free 2005 BC Escapes guides. The BC Escapes Cities guide details great places to stay in Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler; BC Escapes Adventures and Experiences Beyond covers accommodation packages and deals in the rest of the province.

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