8 Don’t-Miss Festivals in BC: May to September

Share  Facebook Twitter

Looking for a new experience this summer? Why not build your travel plans around one of BC’s don’t-miss festivals. There are plenty of options all over this beautiful province, with celebrations centred around food, drink, music, and nature.

Here are eight ideas to get you started.

1. Wings Over the Rockies

Aerial view of the lush Columbia Valley, featuring two stunning rainbows.

The lush Columbia Valley. Photo: Pat Morrow

What: For over 20 years, Wings Over the Rockies has celebrated the Columbia Valley’s location along the Pacific Flyway, a major migration route. The Columbia Valley Wetlands are the longest continuous wetlands in North America, and more than 260 species of birds either call this area home, or pass through annually. The festival is jam packed with events, including guided hikes, voyageur canoe trips, lectures by well-known experts, and tips about how to capture the perfect bird pic.

Where and When: May, Columbia Valley

2. Great Okanagan Beer Festival

A woman pours a draught beer into a small sample glass.

The perfect tasting pour. Photo: Great Okanagan Beer Festival

What: Lovers of craft beer rejoice. The Great Okanagan Beer Festival starts the fun with a series of tap takeovers, live music performances, beer-pairing food events, and more at local pubs and other venues around Kelowna. These lead up to the main tasting event on Saturday, May 13th, held at the city’s Waterfront Park on the shores of beautiful Okanagan Lake. Sample pours from dozens of BC’s best breweries, with a few out-of-province favourites making appearances, too. Admission includes a keepsake sampling mug so you can take a piece of the festival home with you.

Where and When: May, Kelowna

3. BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival

Three women in chef’s jackets smile as they prepare food at an outdoor festival.

Lots to smile about at the BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival. Photo: BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival

What: The BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival, the largest event of its kind in Western Canada, offers a range of experiences to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of BC’s seafood industry. Their signature event on Sunday, June 18 features tasting booths, celebrity chef demonstrations, and the Fanny Bay Oyster Shucking Championship. Add to the fun of the festival by registering for some of the 45+ events and tours on offer, including half- or full-day wildlife tours, a snorkeling with seals adventure, and tours with local seafood producers.  

Where and When: June, Comox Valley

4. Atlin Arts and Music Festival

Aerial view of Atlin, the ocean, and a stunning mountain range.

Stunning aerial view of Atlin, during the Artin Arts and Music Festival. Photo: Manu Keggenhoff

What: The grassroots Atlin Arts and Music Festival is a real community effort that attracts people from all over Northern BC, the Yukon, and Alaska. Come to this beautiful, remote town in the northwest corner of the province and see Atlin taken over by musicians and visual artists. Performers come from across the nation and represent a range of genres; music includes folk and rock, and artistic disciplines include pottery and First Nations dancers. In addition, films are presented at the restored Globe Theatre. All this is set against Atlin’s stunning lake and mountain backdrop.

Where and When: July, Atlin

5. Carnaval del Sol

A woman is intricately painted as a yellow, green, and blue bird-like creature.

Vibrant colours everywhere. Photo: Carnaval del Sol

What: This fun event, the biggest Latin festival in the Pacific Northwest, is held at the end of Latin America Week. More than 250 artists will perform, including musicians, visual artists, and dancers. See traditional folk dances, watch painters at work on both canvases and human bodies, enjoy cuisine prepared by 20+ food vendors, watch live cooking demonstrations, and watch a fashion show. Enjoy  performances on the main stage from a 450-seat beer plaza, or head to the kids plaza to keep the little people entertained.

Where and When: July, Vancouver.

6. Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival

A man and woman try to keep their balance while running on a log in a pool of water.

A good way for competitors to cool off. Photo: Philip Wehrhahn

What: What’s more Canadian than the picture of a burly lumberjack, axe in hand? At the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival, this iconic image is on full display as competitors at a range of skill levels race one another up 80-foot trees, throw axes, show off their chopping skills, and fall trees. Other sights you don’t want to miss include the annual parade, a family favourite, and the Squamish Days Bed Races. Laugh and cheer as teams of five people (four pushers and a rider) push a bed on wheels along a two-block obstacle course. This quirky festival has been celebrated annually for over 60 years!

Where and When: August, Squamish

7. South Cariboo Garlic Festival

A large selection of fresh bulbs of garlic.

Beautiful bulbs to take home and enjoy. Photo: Monika Paterson

What: Ah, the stinking rose. Beloved around the world, garlic has inspired many festivals and themed restaurants, and in the South Cariboo, the love of garlic is strong. Come hungry, and sample garlicky treats from on-site concession stands. Dozens of vendors offer a variety of local wares, including clothing, jewelry, natural wellness products, artisan foods, and, of course, all things garlic. While you graze and shop, you’ll be serenaded by performers ranging from a country rock band to an Elvis impersonator. For close to 20 years, the South Cariboo Garlic Festival has promised a “stinkin’ good time.”

Where and When: August, Lac La Hache

8. Vancouver Island Blues Bash

Boats and seaplanes make up the traffic in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

Traffic in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Photo: Reuben Krabbe

What: BC’s vibrant capital city hosts the annual Vancouver Island Blues Bash, featuring blues and R&B artists performing on a stage overlooking Victoria’s scenic Inner Harbour. Watch boat traffic come and go, and see floatplanes take off and land in the background as you enjoy a combination of free and paid performances. Before and after, take advantage of Victoria’s walkable downtown to sample the city’s thriving food and drink scene, and browse the shops on and near Government Street to find the perfect souvenir.

Where and When: September, Victoria