Winter festivals beat the blues

MUSIC RISING by Bruce Mason

Photo: These friendly giants at Ocean Concrete on Granville Island are silos transformed by Brazilian artists OSGEMEOS. Photo courtesy Granville Island.

Winter festivals, like winter gardens, can flourish here on the west coast and, to put it mildly, they’re quite unlike other winter celebrations throughout the rest of Canada. Two of the best-known and much-loved local varieties – Winterruption and Festival du Bois – have grown steadily over the years and having reached maturity are now ripe for the picking. With something to appeal to every taste, age and interest, they’re also easy on the budget and best enjoyed in groups. Both take place this month.


For a decade now, folks have been gathering on Granville Island to beat the blues in an aptly dubbed communal feast for the senses. The 10th annual version of Vancouver’s favourite winter festival, Winterruption (February 19- 22), is bigger, better and most certainly more colourful than ever. Music, art, dance, theatre, film, food and family fun are served up west coast style with delights and surprises around every corner – most of them free of charge.

It all takes place at the feet of the recently arrived technicolour ‘Giants,’ Ocean Concrete’s six massive silos, now transformed into the largest outdoor mural ever created by Brazilian artists OSGEMEOS. See for yourself and take a giant selfie. Learn more about these remarkable Sao Paulo artists in the documentary film, Grey City, at Emily Carr University Theatre (matinees and eventing screenings offered) or attend a Mini Giants workshop and create your own work of art to take home.

That vibe carries on with the infectious vocals, irresistible rhythm and inspired lunacy of Brazilian-born, BC based, guitarist-singer-percussionist, Celso Machado. Bossa Nova anyone? Coastal Jazz will present live music all weekend, including the hip-shaking, party-starting, Motown-inspired northern soul of the Ballantynes and mountain country special guests Miss Quincy and the Showdown. There’s everything from the Czech-based melodies of Aram Bajakian and Julia Úlehla’s Dálava to Waxwing and Willa with DJ Blondtron.

See the full schedule of music, events, exhibit and activities at, including Kid’s Stuff and the Meet Your Makers Tour: Spirits, Sake and Hand Crafted Beer.

Festival du Bois

Everyone needs to share in some old-fashioned joie de vivre at this time of year and folks will find it in abundance at Festival du Bois. This annual festival is hosted in Maillardville, BC, a community rooted in our French-Canadian heritage and history. From February 26 to March 1, festivalgoers will gather under the big roofs of the festival’s heated tents, including the massive Grand Chapiteau (main tent), Tente des Enfants (children’s tent) and the popular Tente des Ateliers (workshop tent).

Lennie Gallant
Lennie Gallant is one of the attractions at Festival du Bois

BC’s largest and most popular celebration of francophone music, dance, craft, food and culture is presented in a program rich in visual arts, kids’ activities and a world-class performance roster. Kick up your heels to Québécois, francophone, folk, world and roots music artists, including Les Chercheurs d’Or, Bardefou, Le Bal a l’huile, Nova Scotia-based songwriting legend Lennie Gallant, Celtic fiddle phenom Jocelyn Pettit, veteran children’s singer-songwriter-storyteller Charlotte Diamond and award-winning Aboriginal singer Wesley Hardisty. This music showcase is one of the most impressive, enjoyable and infectious you’ll find anywhere.

Attractions include Michel Campeau, a Longueuil region wood carver who will complete an eight-foot wood sculpture during the festival – destined to become a permanent feature in Mackin Park at 1046 Brunette Avenue (across the Lougheed Highway from IKEA).

Festival du Bois (February 28-March 1) is high calibre, community based, entertaining, affordable and family-friendly. Wander the expansive park site, learn about Maillardville and sample tourtière, maple taffy on snow, homemade poutine and other francophone fare. Festival schedules and full information available at General info: 604-515-7070,

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based five-string banjo player, gardener, freelance writer and author of Our Clinic.

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